On Watch in Argentario

By posting three 1st places in class and a 5th, 1st and 1st overall across the entire fleet, Skylark has finally won Argentario Race Week in 2016 – a regatta which has evaded her three years in succession. Along with three salvers for her race wins, and a larger salver for her overall class victory, Skylark won a beautiful Black Seal Panerai watch and the S&S Trophy for the highest placed S&S designed yacht overall.

The opening race on Friday 17th brought a two hour delay as the fleet was becalmed in the bay waiting for the sea breeze to arrive. Once the race course was set in the building breeze, Skylark chose the favoured committee boat end of the line but was unable to protect her position on her timed run to the start and was forced to start late in the third row of yachts competing. She fought back a few positions on the first beat towards the port before catching the majority of the fleet as it was becalmed on the next reach leg. With the wind coming from every direction the sailing was very testing with the smaller, lighter boats making gains. After the second mark Skylark and its main competitor, the Argentinian yacht Fjord, separated from the fleet in search of a new breeze along the shoreline. As it arrived, both yachts took off under spinnaker at over 8 knots overtaking all but the leading four yachts. Skylark then held this position for the rest of the course finishing 5th overall on corrected time and winning her class handsomely.

Race 2 started in more favourable conditions and Skylark had a great start at the pin end and by the first windward mark was already leading her class, hotly pursued by Argyll owned by famous British actor and comedian Griff Rhys Jones. By the second mark deep into the corner of the bay, Skylark had held her slim lead and rounded alongside the bigger yachts Manitou and Argyll, closely followed by Fjord who was 2nd in class on the first day. After a long beat offshore, Skylark was dogged by the larger yacht Eilean which kept overtaking her and taking her wind, then slowing due to poor crew work, to then overtake her again and again. By the finish in building breeze back by the port, Skylark held her lead over Argyll and won not just her class but a 1st place by 24 seconds over Enterprise for the fleet overall.

With shutters banging overnight at the crew house (aka villa), Day 3 brought a fresh breeze and decent waves running across the bay. Skylark was later than usual arriving on the race course and whilst testing head sails upwind the race committee called her class start earlier than expected. The crew quickly sailed Skylark on port tack back down to the line on the course side, gybed into position with one minute 30 secs to go, built speed and crossed the start line on the gun. Skylark then had an excellent first leg upwind gaining considerably from the lift on the headland by the port. At the windward mark Skylark hoisted her spinnaker and caught a tow in the wake of her larger competitors along the first reach, closely followed by Argyll. Three legs later and Skylark held her lead over Argyll until the lazy sheet parted from her spinnaker going into a gybe and Argyll sailed past to windward. Argyll maintained her 20 second lead to the finish, but was unable to open up enough time and distance to beat Skylark on corrected time. With another class win and a second overall win – this time by a full two minutes – Skylark won Argentario Race Week 2016.

Crew Roll of Honour – Tara Getty (helm), Tony Morse (captain), Chris ‘The Headmaster’ Savage (tactician), Nigel ‘Squiffy’ Hawkins (mainsheet), Will ‘Nutty’ Nutting (trimmer), Charlie ‘Robo’ Stopford-Sackville (mizzen), Adam ‘Ado’ Wheeler (trimmer) and Skylark’s full-time crew Jack (bow), Rob (foredeck) and Emily (mast). Last but not least credit to Skylark’s hardworking shore and support crew of James, Rachel, the talented Lucky and the magnificent Mousa!