Attention switched from inshore to offshore last weekend and the big breezes finally appeared to mark the occasion.
The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Cervantes Trophy race to Le Havre saw the easterly knocking on the door of 30 knots as the 100-plus fleet made rapid progress across the Channel.
From a Royal Yacht Squadron start off Cowes, the fleet set spinnakers for the run down to the Needles before a rather lumpier beat around the south of the Isle of Wight to Nab Tower.
There the crews were able to bear away for an often exhilarating blast reach to the Normandy finish line at the end of the 125-mile course.
Line honours by a three-hour margin – and eventually a race win on corrected time – went to the Farr 52 Bob.
‘We had a great Cervantes,’ said Bob’s trimmer and driver John Brinkers.
‘The blast reach in fresh conditions was very exciting.
‘We had 29 knots of breeze at one stage, blasting along under jib top and genoa staysail on the leg from Nab Tower to the buoy off Le Havre.
‘As we came off one big wave, the boat accelerated to just under 22 knots, with big whoops from the crew.
‘All credit to skipper Brett Aarons and the Bob team for impressive crew work. They did a great job.’
Behind Charles Ivill’s IRC1-winning Grand Soleil 54 John B, two First 44.7s had a close battle for second in class, with John Stapleton’s Vespucci’s Black Sheep taking the runner-up spot ahead of Andrew Arthur’s Koko Kai.
The class also contained four identical Challenge 72s competing for the Tall Ships Youth Trust and using the race as part of their qualification and preparation for the Rolex Fastnet Race later this year.
Stephen Durkin’s Challenger 4 was first home in an elapsed time of just over 18 hours.
Andrew McIrvine scored his first win of the season, taking IRC2 in his First 40 La Réponse.
Neil Kipling’s J/122 Joopster enjoyed the fresh conditions to claim second place in class but by less than two minutes on corrected time from the X40 Exception, owned by Frenchman Patrick Ponchelet.
Noel Racine’s Le Havre-based JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew won class three for the second year running, while William Hutchinson’s Fandango had a high-speed surfing duel with David Aisher’s J/109 Yeoman of Wight, crewed by the British Keelboat Academy.
Fandango took second place by just 23 seconds on corrected time.
IRC4 was decided by just 30 seconds on corrected time, with Philippe Rios’ Dufour 34 Gwaihir Ventur heading Frederic Waniart’s Aphrodite 101 Vim.
Waniart, however, took a startling win in the 19-strong two-handed fleet beating Fastnet winner Mirabaud, skippered by Nicolas de la Fourniere.
Peter Olden’s A 35 Solan Goose of Hamble was third.