When Skylark’s American counterpart Dorade was craned off a ship from the States, excitement was at an all time high with the prospect of some close competition. As far as records show, this is the first time these famous yachts have raced together since Skylark’s launch in 1937.
Dorade arrived in Cannes with a full pro crew of Americans and a portfolio of new North dacron sails. Of particular note she sported a large flat reaching mizzen staysail – battened down the leech and with a full length batten making it into a square topped sail – a most advantageous design feature not seen before on the CIM classic yacht circuit.
Sadly the uncustomary light winds experienced for most of the week favoured the lighter (16t vs 22t), narrower Dorade (by 3ft), which made it tough to match race the two yachts in anything under 8 knots. On the occasions when the wind increased above 8 knots the two yachts were more equal which made a race of it. Dorade won Race 1 convincingly, as did Skylark on Race 2 until the final leg when Dorade cut inside some outlying rocks which Skylark and most of the fleet understood to be a mark of the course. This allowed her to cut into Skylark’s lead by several minutes giving Dorade the victory on corrected time. Race 3 in particular was an exciting and fascinating one, with the two yachts match racing alongside each other for first place in fleet for most of the course.
Rather disappointingly, the close boat-on-boat tussle ended in the protest room. Whilst the Jury concluded that Dorade had indeed infringed Skylark by not giving her room at Mark 2, a technicality in form filling made the protest invalid which allowed Dorade to escape disqualification.
The event ended with Dorade winning overall with four victories and Skylark tied on 2nd place overall with the larger Blue Peter owned by the Matt Barker – an upbeat, popular face on the classic yacht scene. On count back Blue Peter was awarded 2nd and Skylark dropped to 3rd overall. Yes yet another 3rd!!