With the IRC European Championship only just completed in Cork, Ireland the Northern Hemisphere sailing season quickly moves onto the next chapter. In this case it could not be more diverse with the Panerai British Classic Week taking over the Solent, being organised by Royal Yacht Squadron Racing between the 16th and 23rd July.
As per the previous BCYC events, the majority of the fleet races under the IRC (International Rating Certificate) system. Of the 61 entries 48 are competing in IRC classes, with the remainder being one-design or cruising. Whilst the yachts all seem to slip through the water with a great deal of style and elegance, there the similarities seem to end. The list of designers is long and distinguished, including Sparkman & Stephens, Laurent Giles and William Fife III amongst many others. The size, type and age is also as wide spread with gaff yawls, Bermudan sloops and gaff cutters all out competing in the long awaited British summer weather.
Many of the competing yachts will have been seen racing in the Solent well over 100 years ago, whilst some are a more modern takes on the theme, with current knowledge in yacht design influencing where it was more of a gut feel when Olin Stephens drew some of the competition. Along with the variety in rig design it is however very interesting to see that many features of the modern IRC fleet are not new at all, with plumb bows and bowsprits being seen again, and gaff riggers not that dissimilar from the square top mainsails seen in IRC fleets around the world today.
We do however hope that the Panerai British Classic Week doesn’t keep all of the British summer to themselves and that they leave us with some sunshine for the start of the Brewin Dolphin Commodore’s Cup, where the RORC Rating Office will be busy carrying out equipment inspections as these beautiful classics make way for the newest breed of IRC racer cruisers in the Solent. A busy time for all.