Looking for something a little different for next summer's racing programme? Read on...

Gales, flooding, dark mornings, Christmas lights in November and a cocktail of festive TV re-runs and brussel sprouts – the British winter is no laughing matter. With only Gluhwein to fortify the spirit, something more is needed to beat the solstice blues. Now is the time to draw the curtains, throw another dinghy on the fire and start planning your 2002 campaign.

Regattas come in all shapes and sizes. From the cut and thrust of Cowes to the social whirl of Cork, no two events are the same. One meeting which combines class racing with island hopping, low tax shopping, good food and fun, both on and off the water, is the Guernsey Regatta.

As part of Britain, but not the UK, the Bailwick of Guernsey is defiantly different. At once local and continental, the islands are a subtle blend of English and French influences, with an upbeat, cosmopolitan edge.

Sponsored by Heritage and supported by the island’s Tourist Board, the Guernsey Regatta features IRC and cruiser classes, as well as Sigma 33, Melges 24 and X-332 classes. It also includes world class dinghy racing in the form of the Guernsey Youth Regatta, where the current crop of young local sailors lock horns with talented visitors from neighbouring countries and islands. With the Sigma 33 Nationals once again forming part of the programme, the 2002 Guernsey Regatta really offers something for everyone.

The 2001 Guernsey Regatta welcomed boats from UK, French and Jersey clubs, with a full spectrum of wind conditions. With four firsts in seven races, Ian Le Maitre and the crew of local Sigma 33 Alexa were overall winners of the 2001 Sigma European Championships, despite a disappointing final race. Second place went to another Guernsey boat, Saphoenix, raced by Richard and Gill Evans, who beat level pegging UK boats Vela and Bright Sparks by virtue of more top finishes.

Overseas visitors accounted for over half of the 60 strong dinghy fleet in the 2001 Guernsey Youth Regatta. In the Topper Class, Giles Scott of Grafham Sailing Club reaffirmed his national reputation by finishing as overall winner, with James Boyce in second place and reigning World Champion Mark Heather finishing in fourth, ahead of first Guernsey helm Anna Lisa Vaudin in fifth place.

In the Lasers Guernseyman Michael Henning dominated the class by winning all five races, with Remi Morel of St Malo taking second place. James Watt of Royal Plymouth Yacht Club won the Optimist Class, with Kelsy Suggitt of Barnet Green Yacht Club finishing second.

In the IRC yacht racing, Robin Le Prevost and the crew of local Mumm 36 ‘Alice’, in Class 1, tied in first place overall, sharing equal points with Edmund and Theresa Whelan’s X 342 ‘Xarifa’, visiting from the Hamble, in Class 2. Edmund Whelan claimed Xafira’s success owed much to her gender-balanced crew, which he insisted had a very calming effect. The Melges 24 class was won by Guernsey boat Wild Thing, helmed by David Franks.

The Guernsey Regatta is once again on course for some top quality racing. Local talent is in the ascendant, with Martin Ozard and the crew of X332 X-Celerator crowned as Cowes Week 2001 class winners, whilst local Laser wunderkind Michael Henning clinched the National Schools Tournament 2000 before bringing home two gold medals from the 2001 NatWest Island Games, in the Isle of Man.

But with the relaxed charms of the smaller islands set against the expansive gastronomic backdrop of St Peter Port, the Guernsey Regatta continues to unite a broad range of skills, speed and appetite in a spirit of friendly competition, all served up with a lively social programme.

The 2002 Guernsey Regatta will take place from 1-6 June, including the Guernsey Youth Regatta 1-2 June and the Sigma European Championships 3-6 June. Register at guernseyregatta.com to receive a Notice of Race.

For more information, contact Mark Nightingale Tel. 01481-726071