Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2012 – Les Voiles d’Antibes

History, beauty, elegance, and fun in abundance, is how I would describe racing in Les Voiles de Antibes. I was privileged to have been invited to race with Nick Hill, Managing Director of Hill Robinson, onboard his beautiful yacht Dambuster. Dambuster was designed by Illingworth & Primrose, who also famously designed Sir Francis Chichester’s yacht, Gypsy Moth IV.

She was commissioned in 1962 by the Royal Air Force, and then owned by Nick Hill’s grandfather and then father before he took proud ownership. She has had a colourful racing and cruising life crossing many seas and oceans. Dambuster was in her element, although disappointed with the light airs I suspect, to be racing amongst the largest fleet of yachts to partake in Les Voiles d’Antibes history of 17 years.

The yachts were divided into four main categories: Vintage Yachts (built pre-1950), Classic Yachts (built between 1950 and 1975), Metric Classes (International 6-Metre, 8-Metre and 12-Metre Classes, former stars of the Olympics and America’s Cup) and Spirit of Tradition (modern yachts built along classic lines). In the Vintage class were four 19th Century-built yachts, MARIGOLD celebrating 120 years since her launch at the Camper & Nicholson yard in 1892, LULU (1897), TIGRIS (1899) and BONA FIDE (1899).

For any sailing enthusiast, it truly is ‘a must’ to witness these staggeringly stunning sailing yachts race against one another. The next Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is held from Yacht Club Santo Stefano, Porto Vecchio in Italy.

By Richard Callender

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