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No one could complain about lack of variety during the International Paints Poole Regatta, held over the late-May Bank Holiday weekend.
First there was the weather: a strong north-easterly wind and a sizeable swell in Poole Bay produced challenging conditions on Saturday. Some found it hard work, while others relished the tough beats and sleigh-ride downwind legs.
Despite the dire forecast, Sunday saw a complete change: a gentle southerly, a flat sea and near wall-to-wall sunshine. Rarely-hoisted spinnakers came out of their bags yet there was enough consistent breeze for close, enjoyable racing.
Then on Monday the predicted deluge and near-gale materialised – at least for a time. Only the bigger boats went out to race, but shortly after the start the rain stopped, the cloud broke up to allow some spells of sunshine and the wind moderated from ‘hang on to your hats’ to ‘what great conditions for a sail’.
As notable as the varied racing conditions was the enormous diversity of boats. IRC Class 1 attracted some big names from the Solent including Peter Rutter’s new Corby 36, Quokka, who cleaned up, and the Dehler 39, Deliverance II.
At the other end of the spectrum were several Cornish Shrimpers, a Pandora and family cruisers including three Bénéteau Océanises.
Three one-design fleets ran their own championships as part of the regatta: the Sonatas (Southern Areas), the ever-competitive J/24s (Southern Areas) and a 10-strong fleet of Sigma 38s (Nationals). Other classes included the fast-and-furious catamarans and trimarans from MOCRA (Multihull Offshore Cruising and Racing Association) and a variety of Dehlers competing for the Dehler Plate. In the harbour, races were run for smaller keelboats including Flying Fifteens, Redwings and 2.4s.
For those who had energy to spare after the racing, social events ran well into the night at Parkstone and Poole Yacht Clubs. Main sponsors International Paints provided an enormous range of prizes for the prize-giving at the Royal Motor Yacht Club after the racing on Monday afternoon.
First held eight years ago to mark the Millennium, Poole Regatta is run every two years and has established itself as one of the major early-season events on the south coast. More details and full results can be found on the regatta’s website: www.pooleregatta.co.uk
David Harding – Sailing Scenes