Photo: Rick Tomlinson
Racing crews will be decked out in the fashions of 1911 when they mark the Centenary of what has become the UK’s largest keelboat racing fleet, with a celebratory race at Lymington on Friday 3rd June. 1911 was the year when seven XODs raced as a fleet for the first time, in a class that has not only survived an extensive period in history, but which will also see it turn out the largest fleet on the start line at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in August, with 100 or so boats expected to compete in a three day Centenary Regatta.
The Lymington Anniversary Race Day will be taking place both on and off the water at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club on Friday 3rd June, when the young as well as the more mature amongst the fleet – boats as well as owners – will compete in this prelude to a season of celebrations for the 100 year-old fleet.
The Lymington and Yarmouth fleets will join together for the afternoon for a Solent Race followed by dinner at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Crews are striving to ensure they are attired much as they would have been during that first race that took place in Southampton Water a century ago. It was won by a Portsmouth brewer named Harry Brickwood competing against such gracefully named Xs as Mistletoe, Mayfly, Mischief, and Merrymaid. One of them, X5 Madcap, survives and still races actively today.
However, the 2011 fleet is by no means left behind in the turn of the century era. The XOD class is widely known to be the hardest class to win at Cowes Week, and the Lymington and Yarmouth fleets will be testing their mettle as competitively as ever on June 3rd. Reflecting on the enduring consistency of the class, Rory Paton, Lymington Division Captain reveals, “We are expecting to see a good performance from Stuart Jardine, who is a consistent winner in our fleet. He first sailed in the XODs in 1952 and has won the class at Cowes Week eight times since.”
Also at the Lymington event will be Eric Williams, the only helmsman to win Cowes Week three times in a row, and, in support of the modern element, Ben Paton, aged 26, recently Laser Radial World Champion who was second at Cowes last year. “The X Class is not standing still,” says Rory. “Several completely refurbished boats will be at Lymington on 3rd June, including X87 Excalibur which has been completely rebuilt by her owner Adrian Summers and looking like new. X32 Ibex has also completely restored after being rescued from abroad.” The grandson of the original 1911 builder Alfred Westmacott, William, is also expected to take part in the Centenary event in X56 Xanthus.
Class website: http://www.xonedesign.org.uk
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