Photo: Rick Tomlinson – www.rick-tomlinson.com
The Hamble Classics Regatta is designed as a late-season celebration of classic yachting, with racing formatted to suit a wide range of yachts, including the International Metre classes, pre-1971 Classic Racers, cruisers, dayboats, old gaffers and modern classics.
Founded by experienced Solent sailors Jonty Sherwill and Vicki Weston, the event’s raison d’être is to deliver great racing while also being innovative, reflected in its Concours d’Elegance Awards in four categories: Ultimate Condition, Most Authentic, Best Spirit of Tradition and Best GRP. The criteria are originality, pedigree and elegance, but a yacht with more ‘charisma’ can sway the judging if deadlocked.
The first edition in 2016 had a special entry: Sir Robin Knox-Johnston sailing his round-the-world yacht Suhaili, and who afterwards declared, “It is just what yachting should be about”.
The sixth edition hosted again by the Royal Southern Yacht Club attracted 51 boats up to 63 feet, with racing in seven classes. The previous best was 72 boats in 2018. With stiff competition under the IRC system, plus an empirically handicapped ‘Regatta’ class, the one-designs include the 1908 Solent-based ‘XOD’ and internationally successful Dragon and Folkboat classes sharing a windward-leeward course with classic 6-Metres.
This year after exciting racing in a building breeze on Saturday, Sunday’s forecast for more sunshine but no wind proved correct, so with class winners confirmed and grateful thanks expressed to the sponsors, race team and volunteers, attention turned to the Concours Awards.
Giovanni Belgrano’s 39ft Whooper, designed by Jack Laurent Giles in 1939, was judged best overall. Most authentic was the immaculately restored Sparkman & Stephens designed 1966 Clarionet. Best Spirit of Tradition went to the 2007 Pilot Cutter Polly Agatha, and best GRP yacht the Nicholson 55 Quailo III, designed by Raymond Wall of Camper and Nicholson, and though not racing was the most elegant of committee vessels.