There are many overused superlatives in sailing, “Champagne Sailing” probably being one of them. The 2017 Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classic Regatta, held over the weekend of 17th & 18th June, however, certainly provided just that! As Jonathan Dyke, SYH’s MD, classic boat guru and all round good bloke put it, “…if you didn’t enjoy sailing this weekend, you should probably give up sailing…”
Boats gathered at the marina on Friday 16th and crews socialised in Haven Port YC’s famous Lightship clubhouse that evening. Saturday dawned (a little too early for some…), bright and warm but, as forecast, with very little wind. Breakfast in the Harbour Room was followed by a Skippers’ Briefing. Peter Martin, the ever reliable and knowledgeable race officer at these events and his team set a superb round the cans course out in Dovercourt Bay for the morning’s race 1. Crews then made final preps and motored out to the start line in frankly Mediterranean conditions. The wind gradually built to a rather variable force 1-2 as we reached the line off Beacon Hill Buoy. Nine Stellas, who get their own start followed by slow and fast handicap fleets, jostled for position on the line. Five minutes, four minutes, one minute, gun! Line clear. We’re off! Timoa, Scorpio and Centaur hit the front and that was the way it finished, the course having been sensibly shortened at Pye End buoy. Scorpio And Timoa battled for top spot, Centaur followed on just about staying in touch but clear of the rest of the fleet, individual battles took place further down the order and as the larger handicap boats started to catch up blue skies, blue water and beautiful boats provided a breath-taking spectacle. The East Coast, really!?
After a brief lunch break on the water, Saturday’s race 2 started from the same line at Pye End. A clear start and a good one from Centaur who hit the front only to be reeled in by Timoa and Scorpio with superior boat speed in the steadily increasing breeze. Once again, they set off to settle the line honours between them with Timoa emerging victorious. Centaur and Lodestar battled for third with Lodestar ultimately prevailing. The rest of the fleet stayed more in touch in the strengthening breeze and various individual battles decided the final finishing order.
Back to the marina and a chance to discuss the day over a beer followed by a splendid evening’s entertainment aboard the Lightship.
Sunday dawned hot with literally not a breath of wind. Everyone, I’m sure, feared the worst but Race Officer Peter Martin’s sixth sense kicked in once again and the fleet were sent out to the beacon Hill start line for race 3 to be met by blazing sunshine and a steady force 3! A broadly triangular course split the Stella fleet again with everyone having their own take on how best to deal with the long beat out to the first mark. Timoa and Scorpio rounded ahead of the rest and hoisted spinnakers for a perilously close reach to the second mark. Lodestar rounded third with Centaur and Stardust rounding together. Centaur hoisted earliest and got away with Stardust in hot pursuit. At the final mark, a bear away on to the run home, Scorpio and Timoa were together, Lodestar was in clear water and Centaur and Stardust were still contesting fourth. Scorpio and Timoa virtually match raced to the line with Timoa prevailing to make it three straight wins and Scorpio three second places. Lodestar picked up third and Centaur managed to hold off Stardust to claim fourth.
Final Stella results for the weekend saw Timoa the clear winner and Scorpio in second place. Lodestar narrowly pipped Centaur to third leaving her to claim fourth with Stardust fifth and Lys of Slaughden sixth. Full results can be found at stellaclass.org/racing. The conditions proved favourable for Stellas with no less than six boats featuring in the top twelve for the regatta overall. Timoa was, in fact, only very narrowly beaten into second place by the very beautiful West Solent One Design, Arrow. A truly wonderful weekend, the only sad note being that Mike Spear, SYH’s founder didn’t quite get to see it, having passed away only a few weeks ago. Huge thanks from the Stella fleet to all those involved in organizing the regatta and congratulations on 50 Years of SYH.
Stella Class Association