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Yachting in the Isle of Wight

There are some days in this job when you need to pinch yourself. I had one of those on Friday when I was asked to join Panerai in the Isle of Wight to watch its Classic Yachts Challenge.

Every year classic yacht owners from around the world assemble in Cowes on the Isle of Wight to take part in the British Classic Yacht Club Panerai Cowes Regatta. This year the regatta formed part of the Panerai Challenge, in which more than fifty five yachts battle it out on the open seas over five races.

I joined on day five with the course taking the competitors down the coast towards Ryde.

A group of lucky journos, and the lovely PRs from Panerai Marie and Martha, boarded the Bounty (no mutiny alas), which was to take us down the coast in order to follow the race.

Bounty

Bounty

Despite the threat of rain, the skies remained blue and, much to the frustration of the yachts crews, the sea remained calm.

Being a classic challenge, we were treated to the view of some of the most incredible vessels still sailing today. The real star of the show was the Mariquita. Meaning ladybird in Spanish this is probably the last 19-metre in existence and dates from 1911.

Mariquita

Mariquita

At a distance she is beautiful, up close she is breath-taking. And we were lucky to get very close indeed.

After following the yachts for the best part of the race, the pace of which was somewhat slowed by the lack of wind, we were offered a ride back in the RIB, which, according to the wonderful world of Google, stands for rigid inflatable boat. Sounds unspectacular but it is anything but. These powerboats are incredibly fast, can get some serious air under them when they hit a wave and, because of some miracle of engineering, are unflippable. A reassuring fact when you are at an angle so deep you could touch the water were you not going so fast that doing so would probably take your arm off.

The other benefit of the RIB was, because of its size, we were able to get close to the yachts, including the Mariquita.

Speeding alongside a 1911 yacht on the open sea on a Friday afternoon - the job doesn’t get any better than that.

The yachts may have had to navigate calm seas and fast tides but only challenge for me was trying to convince the Boss that this was really a day’s work.

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