This year’s British 6mR Championship is taking place over two weekends and the weekend of 3 and 4 June saw the fleet come together off Cowes for the first leg of the event. The weather gods were smiling and the fleet enjoyed some wonderfully close racing as well as a very convivial atmosphere ashore at the host club, The Royal Yacht Squadron. The 6s were racing alongside the 8s which made for a wonderful spectacle and added greatly to the overall ambiance of the event.
“It was a truly lovely weekend with two days of champagne sailing and a very friendly atmosphere with both us and the 8s. Having completed 4 races we already have a valid series and can look forward to more terrific racing in two week’s time.” Noted British 6mR Association Chairman Robin Richardson.
Saturday’s first race took place in a lovely 12-16 knot westerly and with the tide flooding the boats took off in lovely flat water. The original intention was to run a 5 leg windward leeward course over the Bramble bank, but the impending 90 minute time limit meant that the Race Committee wisely decided to shorten to 4 legs. Robin Richardson’s St Kitts drew first blood, closely followed by Tom Richardson’s Thistle with Robert Owen and Dirk Stolp’s Valdai third.
The tide was on the turn and the breeze had picked up to 18-22 knots by the start of race 2, which resulted in some wind over tide chop and added to the apparent wind strength on the beats. Whilst the right side of the beat had paid during race 1’s flood, for race 2 the smart money was on the left. St Kitts had the measure of the conditions, taking her second victory of the regatta, with Valdai second and Andy Short’s Nancy third.
After racing Tom Owen noted that “St Kitts pulled away quickly from the four classic boats in both races. Valdai started well in both races and finished strongly in the second race to take 2nd place for the day. Thistle also showed good speed in the heavy breeze.”
Sunday brought light and variable conditions with the breeze never really getting above 10 knots. With a strong flood tide against them and not a lot of wind with which to make progress, the entire fleet was late to the line for the start of race three. St Kitts was the first to make it across the start line. Valdai and Thistle followed St Kitts out to the left while Andy Short’s Nancy and David Roberts’ Melita took off right. Melita initially looked to have the windward advantage, but Nancy was able to sail higher whilst maintaining pace and eventually Melita was forced to tack off. The strong tide swept the fleet downwind and early drops at the leeward mark were the order of the day to avoid being swept past the mark. Valdai had damaged a spinnaker on the opening day and was forced to use a smaller kite and struggled on the first downwind leg before hauling herself back up the fleet again. Once again St Kitts took the line honours with Valdai second and Thistle third.
The Race Officer elected to run a short fourth and final race for the weekend on a single lap course. Valdai got a bad start in the final race of the weekend because the light airs had resulted in delays to racing and they had been forced to drop a crew member into a RIB to catch a flight. Off the line she and Nancy went hard right with the other boats going hard left. By the time they had reached the windward mark they appeared to have a healthy lead over Thistle, but they hadn’t quite laid the windward mark and instead of tacking they tried to hold their speed and shoot the mark. They didn’t quite have the legs to pull it off and Thistle cruised passed. By the wing mark Thistle had pulled out a lead of about 6 boat lengths. The lead shrunk but Valdai didn’t quite have enough pace to pass them before the one lap race finish. At the line St Kitts once again claimed victory with Thistle second and Valdai third.
In the overall standings at the end of the first leg of the National Championship the Modern 6 St Kitts unsurprisingly leads the fleet from her Classic counterparts, while second placed Valdai has a single point margin over Thistle in third.
The second leg of the Nationals will take place over the weekend of 16 and 17 June, when competition for the final honours will be fierce, particularly for the Dudley Head Salver for the Classic Division.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend of 6mR racing with varied conditions; heavy breezes on Saturday, light conditions on Sunday and warm sun all weekend. An excellent dinner with the three 8mR crews at the Royal Yacht Squadron was enjoyed by all on Saturday night and all the crews are looking forward to the second weekend of the championship.
Much missed this weekend were Scoundrel, Cream, Valhalla, Bobkat and Sioma who we hope to see racing with us soon. Best wishes to Sir Robert’s speedy recovery from a hip operation – we look forward to having him back on the water with us very soon.