WESTWARD CUP REGATTA – FINAL REPORT
by: Peta Stuart-Hunt
The Westward Cup Regatta finishes in style
The final day’s racing in the Westward Cup Regatta took place in the Solent on Saturday 10th July, with the four competing yachts getting the gun at 1100 to allow the breeze to build nicely and get these massive yachts off and running. As it turned out, all four put on an end of term show screaming towards the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) start line doing eight knots to the delight of the crowds amassed under the Castle battlements and along Princes’ Green in Cowes.
The RYS Race Committee plotted a 30nm course that took the Westward Cup fleet up to the Needles for a rare photo opportunity for those lucky enough to be in the vicinity and then home to Cowes by mid-afternoon, setting an average speed around the course of 7.4 knots.
The 15m Fife-designed Tuiga took the final day’s line honours, also winning overall and therefore being the first beneficiary of the Westward Cup. Mariquita, the sole survivor of the 19m Class built in 1911, was second over the line, followed by Mariette, built in 1915 and 138ft and then the stunning Eleonora, the 160ft replica of Westward, launched in 2000.
A glorious Prizegiving
In beautiful early evening sunshine, the RYS hosted the Regatta Prizegiving at their Pavilion, attended by Commodores and representatives from the participating yacht clubs and the competing yachts, the yacht captains, crews, sponsors and guests. Pride of place went to the exquisite Westward Cup sitting graciously in the centre of a display groaning with silverware, including some lovely Armada dishes presented on behalf of each of the participating yacht clubs, and Boat International trophies.
A distinguished group comprising the yacht owners or their representatives stood alongside the Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Michael Campbell and his wife Linda, the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, Bob Towbin and his wife Lisa, and Captain Simon van der Byl, Rear Commodore Yachting RYS, and his wife Suzy, and Alice Widdows, Events Director of Boat International Media. Joining them all were Eleonora’s owners, Zbynek and Susanne Zak.
Captain Simon van der Byl introduced the proceedings by thanking everyone who has been instrumental in making this very special Regatta come to fruition. The Westward Cup Regatta was organised by three of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world, the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) and two partner Clubs, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) and in collaboration with Boat International Media.
Image: L-R: Zbynek and Susanne Zak, The Westward Cup, and Linda and Michael Campbell at the Westward Cup Regatta Prizegiving. Credit: RYS.
However it was the dream of one man, Zbynek Zak, the owner of the largest of the four yachts, Eleonora, that ignited the passion behind bringing this Regatta to life and to Cowes in 2010. The Westward Cup was initiated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the launch of the racing schooner Westward in 1910. She was designed and built by one of the most successful yacht designers, Nathanael G. Herreshoff, in Bristol, RI, USA. She was one of the fastest and most famous of the Big Class racing yachts, regularly competing in Cowes and most successfully against King George V’s yacht Britannia, and other Big Class yachts.
Built in Holland at Van der Graaf Shipyard in steel, Eleonora was launched 90 years to the day of Westward’s launch, on 31 March 2000.
Tragically, Eleonora suffered a major blow to her racing capability when she lost her two top masts last weekend when out practice racing before the start of the regatta on Tuesday. The drastic outcome of losing around 45ft of mast and 50% of her sail plan put paid to this stunning Big Class yacht being able to race on an equal footing. However the owners maintained a full programme of competition and gave the thousands of spectators over the week plenty to cheer about as she elegantly manoeuvred around the Solent and was moored off Cowes for everyone to enjoy seeing each evening.
Mr Zak spoke with great charm and heartfelt emotion as he paid tribute to and thanked everyone involved in bringing his dream to life. He described the Regatta as being “a dream that has come true and produced an exceptional week of sailing, an exceptional week of organisation and an exceptional week of hospitality wherever we went in Cowes but especially from the host, the Royal Yacht Squadron.” Mr Zak went on to say how, despite their evident sadness and disappointment about the damage to their yacht, “when we come back it will definitely be with longer masts,” a lighter note that drew much applause.
The individual Yacht Club Race Day prizes were presented as follows:
The NYYC Race Day on Tuesday 6th July: 1st Tuiga, 2nd Mariette, 3rd Mariquita.
The Boat International Race Day on Wednesday 7th July: 1st Mariette, 2nd Tuiga, 3rd Mariquita.
Thursday 8th July was a Lay Day.
The Yacht Club de Monaco Race Day on Friday 9th July: 1st Tuiga, 2nd Mariquita, 3rd Mariette.
The Royal Yacht Squadron Race Day on Saturday 10th July: 1st Tuiga, 2nd Mariette, 3rd Mariquita.
All yachts received a set of Westward Cup engraved glass tumblers, as did the individual members of the large RYS Race Team in acknowledgement of their superb teamwork on and off the water throughout the week.
A special prize of a painting of Westward was presented to a representative from the winning schooner, Mariette, by its artist Marc Berthier.
The overall Regatta prizes were then presented as follows:
Overall winner of the Westward Cup was Tuiga. 2nd place overall went to Mariette and 3rd overall to Mariquita.
The RYS Commodore then wrapped up proceedings by thanking everyone for taking part and saying that he was looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the next iteration of the Westward Cup.
Further details about the Westward Cup Regatta and final results are available on the Royal Yacht Squadron’s website at http://www.rys.org.uk via the home page.