Racing in Star Swan

»«15th -17th August 2008

Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta, Yarmouth
This wet and windy summer was not good for cruising so when Anne and Arthur Heasley on Star Swan discovered there would be a class for Classic Swans ( those designed by Sparkman and Stephens) at the Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta in August, it seemed an event designed for them, especially as it was sponsored by Taittinger Champagne.

Fourteen Swans built in the 1970s entered from 36 to 65 feet with Star Swan weighing in at 40, complete with cruising sails that have seen many thousands of miles in the Atlantic. An RCYC crew joined in enthusiastically.

On the far left is Arthur's nephew Andrew who had sailed in a Folkboat up to the age of ten. Then there's Andy Ramsey, ace on the foredeck and also at the top of the mast when Mel - "oops, was that the spinnaker" Titmus - let things go in a hurry. But, fuelled by chocolate cake, she was a powerful jib player and great at spotting racing marks. Arthur, the skipper, laughed a lot on the foredeck and caught spinnakers as they crashed round his ears. Graham King was the gorilla on the mainsheet. However, coming from the cruiser fleet where this amount of sail trimming is not the norm, he found his arms much longer than usual by the end of the weekend. Emma Rigler was indomitable on the winches and the dance floor, Sue King managed the backstay and packed the spinnaker while Tim Rigler (the original recruit for this venture, thank you, Tim) was a hero at the mast. A great team. Anne steered and took the photo.

The result on the water was not - given that we have never raced Star Swan - a total disaster (boats were sometimes behind us) and we were definitely ahead at the Champagne Reception and the very good party on the Saturday night.

The most testing part of the weekend was getting a crew of Squibs, not used to cruising boats, into their bunks. This was not helped by having nine people and eight berths - don't ask.

Mel had 'rationalised' down to three suitcases and her jewellery box but no towel - of course we do a linen service. Tim and Emma had been through fire and water to get to Yarmouth so their wardrobe was unorthodox and, after midnight, irresistibly funny.

So inspired were we by the racing experience, and the enthusiasm of the crew, that we got Star Swan home on the first day of Burnham Week and tried to join the Squib fleet.

Anne Heasley