Regatta sails back into Portsmouth

The Victory Class in action during the Portsmouth Regatta. Picture: Robin Blair
The Victory Class in action during the Portsmouth Regatta. Picture: Robin Blair

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The reborn Portsmouth Regatta got off to a flying start at the weekend, with plans already taking shape for a repeat event next year.

Its revival saw more than 50 yachts competing across 11 different classes, with the wind and weather combining to provide some sparkling sailing for competitors and Southsea spectators alike.

‘All the competitors really enjoyed the regatta,’ said the event’s CEO Adrian Saunders.

‘We offered them different race courses to those they are used to, so it was a new experience for them.

‘In particular, the IRC and NHC cruiser classes were racing to the east of the submarine barrier off Southsea.

‘There’s much less traffic there compared to the Solent and it’s shallower so the tide is less of a factor – many of the competitors were asking “why don’t we race there more often?”’

Local sponsors who got behind the modern incarnation of the Portsmouth Regatta – which was last held before the First World War – have already pledged their support for next year’s event, which Portsmouth Sailing Club organisers hope to stage on July 4-5.

This year’s regatta was inspired by the 150th anniversary of the setting up of the Royal Albert Yacht Club and the 80th birthday of Portsmouth harbour’s own Victory class.

Appropriately enough, some of the closest racing in the regatta came among the 21-strong turnout of Victorys, with six race wins shared among five different boats.

In addition, the first race saw a dead heat between Andrew Terry’s Minx and Janet Dee’s Variety.

However, the only helm in the fleet to take two wins over the two days of racing – Clive Cokayne aboard Zara – topped the Victory leaderboard a clear nine points ahead of Duncan and Carol Evans’ Peregrine, who were in turn two points in front of Russell Mead’s Shearwater.

The Mermaid class was won by Jonathan King’s Sirena and the XODs by Itchenor SC’s John Tremlett.

The day boat classes were also boosted by the participation of the Bembridge One-Designs and Redwings, who also sail from the Isle of Wight community.

Saturday saw racing for the IRC big boat classes, with the event also forming part of the season-long IRC Solent Championship.

James Gair’s Mills 39 Zero II took two wins to head IRC1 and consolidate his lead in the championship.

Peter Hodgkinson’s X362 Xcitable also scored two bullets in IRC2 and shaded Zero II when the regatta standings were amalgamated.

IRC3 and 4 were also combined in the final regatta scoring, with Richard Hollis’ X95 Crakajax winning IRC4 to edge out class rival Derek Budden on Crazy Horse, as well as IRC3 double winner Kit Buck helming the Elan 333 Tinker T.

‘We will be sending out a questionnaire to all the competitors to get their feedback on the regatta,’ said Adrian Saunders.

‘And we will be back bigger and better next year.’