Folkboat Week at Royal Solent Yacht Club

Patrick Eden’s image perfectly captures the Folkboat Crackerjack with Valhalla in hot pursuit during last year’s RTI Race
Patrick Eden
The 46th Folkboat Week, hosted by the Royal Solent Y.C. and sponsored by Lymington Yacht Haven, saw record numbers of Folkboats gathered in Yarmouth harbour during the last week of August.

Traditionally the highlight of the Folkboat season in the Solent this year proved to be extra special for several reasons. The Association celebrates its 50th Anniversary. 46 boats entered, 35 in the Open (Nordic) division and eleven in the Cruiser division.

The weather, although mixed, enabled a full programme of races to be completed, something that has not happened for a good few years. Ashore in the evening more members attended the daily social events, which culminated on Saturday evening when 110 members and guests sat down to the prizegiving dinner at the Royal Solent Y.C. and afterwards were entertained by Vice-Chairman Christine Webster, who with ruthless wit, examined in verse the foibles and mistakes of the whole fleet.

Afloat two boats stood out at the head of the Open (Nordic) class. Stuart Watson’s ‘Crackerjack’ and Jeremy Austin’s ‘Tak’ have spent most of this season fighting for honours at either club or national level and this week was to be no exception. Monday’s race took the fleets into the Eastern Solent. ‘Crackerjack’ and ‘Tak’ rounded the first mark together but ‘Crackerjack’ found a little more downwind speed to pull away. Tuesday’s two shorter races saw the boats sharing the honours with a first and second each. On Wednesday the Ladies and the Crews took their turn to inflict their orders on the helms.

A change in the Sailing Instructions overnight on Wednesday caused ‘Crackerjack’ to retire from the first of Thursday’s three windward / leeward races held in the shadow of Hurst Castle and gave ‘Tak’ the bragging rights that night. Friday saw the boats racing into Christchurch Bay for the Christchurch Ledge race. On the beat to SW Shingles ‘Tak’ broke away from the main fleet and elected to head towards the Needles.

It didn’t pay and she rounded the mark in the middle of the fleet. ‘Crackerjack’ took the lead and although Chris Hills, sailing ‘Padfoot’ in his first race of the week, slowly narrowed his lead over the remaining legs it wasn’t enough and‘Crackerjack’ hung on to take the gun. ‘Tak’ recovered well to finish third. The final two races on Saturday saw wins for both ‘Crackerjack’ and ‘Padfoot’.Overall ‘Crackerjack’ took the win three points ahead of ‘Tak’ with the next six boats all within a point or two of each other.

Although as not clear cut the Cruiser division also became a contest between two boats, both of them ‘visitors’ from the eastern Solent. Colin Eales sailing ‘Mistress’ had a string of five wins in the middle of the week and this was enough to see off the challenge from Susan Rutter’s ‘Folkdance’ helmed by Lyn Evans. However Susan had her revenge on Wednesday when she took both the Ladies’ and Crews’ prizes ahead of Jenny Wilks sailing ‘Yo-Ho of Wight’ (FB 1). Wednesday evening also saw the arrival from Poole of Mike Martyn-Jones’s recently restored Folkboat ‘Sandmartyn’ afloat for the first time in several years.

In thanking the Royal Solent Y.C. for the week Association Chairman Thomas Case paid special tribute to Jeremy Willcock, who had played a double role this year both as Commodore of the club and as Chief Race Officer for the regatta. The full results can be found on the Royal Solent Y.C. website. For more information about the Folkboat Association visit the Class website, or contact the Secretary at eddie@eddiemays.com or on 02380 402194.