East coast’s largest regatta for classic yachts delivers on sailing, sunshine and socialising

The east coast’s largest independent marina, Suffolk Yacht Harbour (SYH), in conjunction with Haven Ports Yacht Club, hosted its annual Classic Regatta last weekend (9th-10th June).  Now in its 18th year, the event sees classic yachts from across East Anglia and further afield race in three classes (Fast, Slow and Stellas) across two days in Dovercourt Bay, Harwich Harbour, and the Orwell and Stour river estuaries. 

Yachts ranging from Gaff Cutters to West Solents, Stellas and modern classics convened at SYH on Friday 8th for pre-regatta drinks and socialising, before crews were up early for briefing and bacon sandwiches on Saturday morning.  The forecast predicted light winds, particularly in the mornings, but as both days progressed the wind filled in and the fleet enjoyed a pleasant 8-14 knots across the weekend.

Day one saw a shorter race in the morning, which was won overall by Andrew Gilmour in Stella Timoa with Mark Wincer’s International One Design Whisper and Stephen Jones’ Masthead Sloop Phialle taking first in the fast and slow classes respectively.  The race was not without its drama and on the final spinnaker reach 40 Square Metre Spissgatter Venya’s mast broke, which earned her helm Rufus Gilday the Spirit Yachts’ sponsored hip flask for someone “in need of a stiff drink”!

Race two brought more wind and some competitive sailing across a longer course.  Whisper clinched the overall win, with Stella Timoa taking first in her class and Jonathan Thompson’s Tumlare Zest winning the slow class.

The sun was shining as the yachts made their way back to Suffolk Yacht Harbour for an evening of socialising and live music aboard the Haven Ports Yacht Club lightship.

Sunday morning brought a cloudy start with light winds, which increased as the sun broke through the clouds for race three.  This final race brought the most challenging leg of the weekend, with crews having to take advantage of the tide on a beat from the Penny Hole to Outer Ridge marks that was fraught with tricky wind shifts.

Phil Plumtree in his West Solent Arrow took first overall in race three, with Stella Timoa making it a clean sweep with a trio of Stella class wins and Zest winning the slow class.  With a first, second and fourth overall Andrew Gilmour and his crew of Luke Porter, Angus Gilmour and Tom Taylor-Jones took the regatta trophy.

Andrew commented, “This is our seventh Classic Regatta at Suffolk Yacht Harbour and Jonathan Dyke and his team have delivered once again on competitive and varied racing as well as providing a fantastic venue for socialising with like-minded people.  I have members of my family as part of my crew every year; it’s the perfect event for sailors of all ages.”

The fast class was won by Phil Plumtree in Arrow and Jonathan Thompson took the slow class in his Tumlare Zest.  The Saphir trophy, which is the regatta’s equivalent to the concours d’elegance prize, went to the beautifully restored Gaff Cutter Fable, owned by Andrew Balfe.

Suffolk Yacht Harbour managing director Jonathan Dyke added, “Despite a late spring delaying many people’s maintenance and launch plans, we have enjoyed a strong turnout of 35 boats this year, proving that the classic yacht scene is alive and well on the east coast.”