Close and exciting racing enjoyed across all classes in the Harken May Regatta - Royal Southern Yacht Club

Report by: Phil Riley

IRC3 Harken May Regatta

Black Jack II (left) won the start in IRC 3 and went on to win the race on Day 1 of the Harken May Regatta.

All images: Jay Haysey/

May 2015

Hamble, Hampshire, UK: 

There's nothing like variety to spice up a sailor's life, and the Royal Southern Yacht Club's opening regatta of the year certainly delivered.

The Harken May Regatta began on the Saturday (May 9th) with grey skies and 30-knot gusts from the western Solent, and race officers took the prudent decision to postpone racing in the hope conditions would moderate. In the event, while the solid breeze never eased off enough for racing in White Group, the larger yachts in Black were rewarded for their patience with a single race and even some afternoon sunshine.

By contrast, Sunday saw near ideal conditions which allowed an expanded programme of four races in White Group and the planned two in Black.

Close and exciting IRC racing

As ever there was close racing across the classes, no more so than in IRC 1 where Nick Rawbone's Playing Around  took two wins to fend off the challenge from three J/111's, led by Tony Mack's McFly and Chris Jones & Louise Makin's JourneyMaker II  followed by Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug.  Only two points separated the first three places overall. McFly crew George Collett said: 'There was interesting weather and some nice courses, so we all really enjoyed it.

'Saturday was a bit more challenging and it was the first time we've been out this year,  but bar a couple of issues the boat handling was pretty good.'


The J/111 McFly (Tony Mack), enjoyed a race-long battle with JourneyMaker II (Jones & Makin).

Chris Jones and Louise Makin's JourneyMaker II won the third race from Cornel Riklin's Jitterbug by just two seconds on corrected time - close racing indeed.

Meanwhile, Giles Redpath's Cor Blimey doubled that winning margin in their third race in IRC 3, taking victory by three seconds over Peter Bromley's Aneet Djinn. That win, along with another first and a second place, took Cor Blimey to the top step of the podium ahead of Annie Kelly and Andy Howe's Black Jack II and Richard Sparrow's Only Magic.


 A clean sweep for Hot Rats.

Hot Rats cleans up in IRC 2

In IRC 2 a clean sweep gave victory to Robbie and Lis Robinson's Hot Rats, the First 35 holding off the challenge presented by a gaggle of J/88s.

'The trick was that we were the only boat in our class that wasn't a J/88, so consequently if we could beat one there was no reason in our minds that we could not beat them all,' said Robbie.  

'The crew work is excellent and we were actually doing some training on Sunday - we didn't have an official bow person with us but Jo, our normal pit person, she stepped up to the mark and did  foredeck. And we have an Italian crewmember, Guido, who is learning to do mast, and they both did really well. They were getting really synchronised as a team - doing it is what teaches you.'

Contessa 32s & Cruisers

It was tight in the Contessa 32 class with Richard Vanner's Blanco and Ray Mitchell and Sarah Gordon's Conspiracy tied at the top, with victory going to Blanco as winner of the final race. Eldred Himsworth's Drumbeat was third in the competitive fleet.


Eight Contessa 32s battled it out.

In Cruiser Class Mike Rowlatt's Giuliana took two wins to finish ahead of Paul Waxman's Imperator and Serena Alexander's Watermark of Hamble.

Cut & thrust of the J/70s

J/70s showing the close and competitive racing amongst this fleet.

In the J/70s two wins and two seconds gave Nigel Evans'

Little Louise  a clean margin of victory which belied the cut and thrust evident in the class.

'It's always very close in our fleet so any little mistake and you get punished,' said Nigel, adding: 'It's such a fun little boat it really doesn't matter what the conditions are - one mistake and you can go from first to last.

'We got our tactics right and it was great to get four races in on Sunday. The second race was shifty, and on the second leg some boats got a shift we never saw and we must have dropped four or five places. But some decent crew work and some luck downwind - we've been practicing a lot keeping the pace on the boat when we are soaking and that helps a lot.

'This is our first season racing together and we are campaigning mostly for the Worlds in La Rochelle in early July and then on to the J/70 Nationals, so we are doing all the practice we can.'

Niklas Zennstrom's Ran took second on countback from Allan Higgs' ESF Energy, while Cosmic and Spitfire  both took a win on the way to fourth and fifth place respectively.

Betty's time to shine in the J/80s

John Powell's Betty posted three wins on the way to winning the J/80 class in front of Romain Paternot's Exess and William Tahourdin's Swallow both chartered from the RSrnYC Academy. Alec Russell and Ethel went one better with four wins in the SB20s ahead of Natalie French's Turbulence and Gary Baker's Trio.

Diana Wilson does some sail tweaking on her XOD Mischief.

XOD MIschief on form

In the XODs, Andy Hamlett's Satu  took the first win but had to give best overall to Diana Wilson's

Mischief  who won the next two.

The next Summer Series Regatta will be held at the Royal Southern over the weekend 20-21 June.

Full results & an image gallery


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