The Richard Mille Fife Regatta is about many things – a celebration of the dynasty which designed and built these beautiful craft, and the boats that survive to this day. The racing perhaps takes second stage to the spectacle. “The King’s Course” today delivered brutal and testing conditions as racing concluded.
Class 1 started under grey skies and interminable rain. In an 18 knot south westerly, perfect starts by ‘Mariella’, ‘Mariquita’, ‘The Lady Anne’ and ‘Kentra’ spread across the long start line. ‘Moonbeam III’ popped out ahead of her faster sister, ‘Moonbeam IV’, to the delight of some. ‘Mariquita’s’ downwind sail area saw her lead at the first mark, chased by ‘The Lady Anne’ and ‘Mariella’. A fetch brought the fleet towards Bute, in starkly deteriorating visibility. Rounding the second mark, the fleet fetched on port past Mount Stuart on Bute, with clearing skies, winds pulsing, weather front passing.
The passing front brought with it challenging heading gusts. ‘Mariquita’ held on, but ‘The Lady Anne’, flying a masthead asymmetric spinnaker, struggled to retain control. After one broach, spinnaker flogging, sheeting on, the shock load overcame her top mast which snapped like a twig. Going into today as regatta joint-leader, a devastating blow. ‘Mariella’, today’s victor in the murk, and for the week, bravo.
Colourful spinnakers adorned Class 2 as they followed Class 1. ‘Mikado’, with her red dragon spinnaker, led ‘The Truant’, ‘Viola’ and ‘Sonata’ at the start, overtaken by ‘Falcon’ and ‘Kismet’ on the run down the Skelmorlie shoreline. In the challenging, changeable conditions, ‘Falcon’ held off ‘Kismet’ and ‘Sonata’ to achieve line honours, and victory on corrected time. ‘Falcon’, this 8 metre sloop, deserves her win for the week.
For their final race, the smaller boats of Class 3 today enjoyed a rainy rip roaring reach to Rothesay and back. Disappointed, ‘St Patrick’ out before the start with halyard issues. On a course that favoured the powerful lines of the William Fife II design ‘Ayrshire Lass’, she quickly established a lead that was never threatened, with ‘Lotus’ taking the runner up prize and wrapping up the series overall. Congratulations ‘Lotus’.