One of the fleets at the regatta. Picture by Jake Sugden.
A RECORD entry of almost 170 boats took part in the Taittinger Royal Solent Regatta last weekend.
On Saturday, a total lack of breeze mid-morning delayed the start, but as clouds arrived with a marked wind shift to the west, the regatta’s 11 classes began the competition in the event began racing. The two IRC divisions, the Swan Classics, the Contessas, classic cruisers and Gaffers started mid-Solent between Yarmouth and Lymington, while the international 6 Metres, international Dragon, international Folkboat, XOD and YOD were dispatched upwind from a separate start line off Yarmouth Green.
On Sunday, the westerly wind held and increased to 20-plus knots delivering some challenging conditions as the ebb tide funnelled into Hurst Narrows.
The overall winner, and receiving the Taittinger Trophy, was Chris Hills on Padfoot, with a 1-1-1 scorecard in the Folkboat division. "It was fantastic racing and a great pleasure to race against the Yarmouth fleet as well as the Lymington boats that we race against regularly," he said.
The big local win came in the XODs where, James Meaning, 42, won the intensely competitive class of 30 boats from Yarmouth with Gleam, delivering a 1-2-2 scorecard despite severely misjudging the conditions.
"Before the weekend we took a look at the weather and decided to race two-up," Meaning said. "We were horrified to get two days of quite windy conditions. We had above 20 knots of wind against tide, so we were hanging on for grim death."
By contrast, the largest boat in the regatta, the 80ft, 1902 gaff schooner, Coral of Cowes, found the conditions almost perfect.
Richard Oswald and his 20-strong crew of family and friends enjoyed the weekend, Richard saying: "The regatta has been top stuff and by far the best regatta I’ve come across in England."
There was a very busy programme off the water as well, with the Towers Party, taking part at John and Sarah Caulcutt’s waterside property adjacent to the club.
John, who also won the YOD class in Puffin, said they sold 1,000 tickets, with fundraising for an African charity called Jo’s School which provides education and care to 50 Aids-affected and vulnerable children in South Africa. The money raised at the party raised enough to keep the school open for a year.
Mark Hall, rear commodore, thanked sponsors Champagne Taittinger and Charles Stanley, and added: "Numbers at this year’s regatta were up and I’d like to thank all our competitors and their families and friends for keeping this event at the forefront of south coast racing."