IT WAS high winds and high stakes at this year’s Taittinger Royal Solent Yacht Club Regatta.

The 15th edition, held in Yarmouth, opened with a champagne reception as competitors, friends and families prepared for a weekend of close competitive racing in the Western Solent.

But at 7am on Saturday, racing was cancelled on account of the weather.

The breeze built to 36 knots and the sea was angry, foaming and formidable.

Isle of Wight County Press: X Class winner Gleam.X Class winner Gleam. (Image: Jake Sugden.)

Competitors enjoyed the hospitality of the town, instead, and danced the night away.

Braving strong south-westerly gusts, they hit the water the very next day, heading out of Yarmouth Harbour.

Alistair Clarke’s Happy Daize won the IRC Class 2, with more than half of the 18 boats entered in the class making the start line in challenging conditions.

The crew also claimed the coveted Jeroboam of Taittinger Champagne, as the overall regatta winner.

Meanwhile, in the Contessa 32 Class, four of the 14 boats entered crossed the Solent to the mainland shore for the Black Group start.

Nick Bradley and the team on Merak II led the Contessa fleet, and a bold move on the start line handed them the race.

“We went with a port flyer off the start,” said Nick.

“Luckily, there were so few boats around and we had a bit of space and, basically, got away with it and led all the way round.”

Chris Choules and the crew of Sigma 38 With Alacrity won the IRC Class 3, while Louis Kenna – owner of the carbon fibre, Hinckley-designed Morris M36 Chameleon of Cowes, won the IRC Classic Cruiser Class sailing four-up.

“They were really epic, epic races,” said Kenna, who competes regularly in Solent regattas.

Of the nine boats entered in the Classic Cruiser division, the Swan 43 Reindeer was the only other competitor prepared to take on the tough conditions.

“In spite of the weather, the weekend was a success,” said Martyn Collinson, Royal Solent Yacht Club commodore.

 “Everyone had a wonderful time socially, which shows that the regatta is more than just the racing.”