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23rd-25th May 2020

Wall to wall sunshine – International Paint Poole Regatta 2018

What’s going on with the British weather? Wall-to-wall sunshine on both May Bank Holidays is practically unheard of, but it has happened. Must be global warming… Whatever the reason, the International Paint Poole Regatta 2018 revelled in it.

While everyone basked in the sunshine, things were looking bleak initially on the wind front, with what would have been a mirror finish to Poole Bay if it weren’t for the motorboats and jet-skis creating wash. Hope was that a sea breeze would fill in before the 2pm time limit, but in the end it was a Northerly land breeze which provided enough to complete a fantastic event. No-one was quite sure why this breeze filled in, but everyone was perfectly happy that it did.

The final race in the Fast 40+ fleet went to Tony Dickin’s Jubilee, but Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran finished second to wrap up the win overall. Stewart Whitehead’s Rebellion capped off a consistent series with a third to take second overall, ahead of Peter Morton’s Girls on Film, who just staved off the challenge from Niall Dowling’s Pace. The new Ran could well show the shape of things to come in sailing and is proving to be a game-changer in the Fast 40+ fleet. The question now is, will this move the fleet on to the next step or prove to be its demise? Development classes always have a delicate balancing act to perform and whether owners buy in to the changes could prove pivotal to the future of the Fast 40+ circuit.

Though the Fast 40+ fleet provides the glitz and glamour, and a feel of the Monaco Grand Prix to the dockside in Poole Harbour, it’s the grass-roots and club racers who are the life-blood to an event like this. The stand-out moment for us on the media RIB was while watching the VPRS1 racing, taking place close to the Bournemouth beaches shoreline, when Ed Wilton’s Tom Tit rounded the leeward mark, and then turned the marinated chicken on the barbeque! Everyone takes the racing here extremely seriously, but they haven’t forgotten that they are sailing for fun and enjoyment. This one moment summed up the ethos of the regatta perfectly.

Honours in VPRS1 went to Richard Powell’s SB20 Marvel, counting straight firsts and discarding a fourth place. Owain Peters’ Rum Juggernaut went one further in VPRS2, discarding a first place in their perfect series.

The event served as the Southern Area Championships for IRC classes and Rob Bottomley’s Sailplane won IRC1, despite their final race being their worst of the series. Phil Plumtree’s Classic Half Ton Cup winning Swuzzlebubble cleaned up in IRC2.

Racing went down to the wire IRC3 as the Quarter Tonners battled it out. Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila won the final race to beat Louise Morton’s Bullet by a single point. This revival class captured the top four places overall in the fleet, as they’ve proved to be an IRC weapon as well as sailing in the Quarter Ton fleet events.

The J/24 National Championship provided the closest racing and the biggest fleet at the event, with the title going down to the wire and beyond. Nick Phillips’ Chaotic team match-raced Duncan McCarthy’s Madeleine from the four-minute gun until the end where Madeleine finished half a boat length ahead of Chaotic. Even this wasn’t the end of the matter as Chaotic protested Madeleine for not keeping clear during one of their manoeuvres, resulting in a tense time as each team put forward their case to the Jury.

Chaotic won the protest and with it the J/24 UK National Championship title by a single point, as a relieved Nick explained: “It’s not good to win on a protest, but we decided to take it there so that there was a fair result. We knew that Duncan was carrying a black flag in his results so had no discard to spare, so we went for them. It was my favourite race as I haven’t had much match racing experience and it was fascinating seeing all the moves for the two laps of the race.”

Megan Pascoe wrapped up a comfortable win in the 2.4mR National & Tidal Championships on the harbour course.

While Crispin Read Wilson on Footloose had done enough early in the event to hold off the challenge of Adrian Tattersall on Defying Gravity and Geof Gibbons on Ffizz, to win the Flying Fifteen class.

Simon Redhead’s Rant ‘n’ Rave won the Poole YC local fleet R19 class and Malcolm Bentley’s Prawn II won the Redwing class overall.

Only five races were possible for the Shrimper Southern Championship with Rod McBrien’s Rascal victorious, and David Law’s Kyperini comfortably won the XOD class.

The HP30 class win went to the well-sailed Farr 30 conversion of Pegasus DekMarx. The boat was always a superb design and had ultra-competitive one-design racing when it was known as the Mumm 30, but the addition of an asymmetric spinnaker has breathed a new lease of life in to the boats. If a few more teams choose to join the HP30 class then this rule has the potential to provide some great racing.

The final day of the DIAM24 trimaran racing proved to be a match-race between 3 Wise Monkeys and Buzz Race Team, but in the end Jon Hutchings 3 Wise Monkeys team proved comfortable winners overall. Nigel Talbot’s Nitric wrapped up a comfortable win in the MOCRA multihulls.

For the overall winner of the event the prestigious Canford Cup is awarded – a trophy dating back to 1849. This year’s recipients were the team on the SB20 Marvel. Skipper Richard Powell said after the prize giving: “Great fun and a great regatta. We weren’t quite sure what to expect as we thought there might be a Sportsboat class, but the Poole Regatta team were great about it, put us in VPRS and gave us a free certificate and got us a berth at Parkstone Yacht Club allowing the whole thing to come together. I grew up in Poole and learnt to sail Lasers here, so to come back here and especially to win something is amazing as I never won anything in dinghies! Sailing with Johnny Greenland and Nick Hornby who are both from Poole has been a bit of a trip down memory lane for me and really enjoyable.”

On the event itself Richard said, “I think Poole Bay is a really good race track and it was great to see the Fast 40+ fleet sailing on a different race course than just the Solent. The tide is slightly neutralised compared to the Solent, so it’s a bit of a fairer course and you don’t have points of reference like you do in the Solent as you’re looking out to sea some of the time. I think it’s a really good regatta and I think having multiple classes with about 10 to 12 boats in each was really clever with tighter fleets. I wish I’d done it before and we’ll definitely be back in two years’ time.”

The Poole Regatta committee is made up of all the Poole Harbour clubs and an immense amount of effort goes in to making this a successful event as Martin Pearson explained: “Organising the weather is the hardest thing, unfortunately I didn’t organise the wind as well which left a few little holes in the three days of racing, but looking at the smiles on faces here, it’s well worth being involved with the organisation, and the more people we have involved, the better these events are. Poole’s clubs have been working together for the best part of 100 years, and with the legislation, days we can use the harbour and travelling through the harbour entrance, getting everybody together makes it all work much better.”

The International Paint Poole Regatta only takes place once every two years, and if it hasn’t come on your radar before then I highly recommend you try to fit this in to your schedule for 2020.

This article by Mark Jardine first appeared on www.yachtsandyachting.com