Saturday, May 29, 2010

Round Britain and Ireland Race

'Shyauk' crossing the start line
Official Brochure 1974
A very young me, and my brother

The older one becomes, memories and reflections increase in importance and they can be benchmarks that rank alongside the realities of everyday life. When I learnt that the 12th Round Britain Race will take place this year, starting on Sunday, 6th June, my emotions were stirred. I was taken back in time to the Race of 1974 when my brother Frederick and I crossed the start line aboard ‘Shyauk’, a Wessex One Design to the lines of Philip Goode. Boats of 24’ and over were permitted to enter, providing the two man crew had completed a qualifying cruise, and the inspection committee was satisfied with the quality of the yacht and the competence of the crew. ‘Shyauk’ was originally 2” short, which meant I had to laminate a false stem, making her 24’ 1”.

The first Round Britain Race was sailed in 1966, and the second in 1970, and thereafter every four years. There was no chance whatsoever that ‘Shyauk’ would take any honours, because the trimarans, catamarans and giant monohulls like Robin Knox-Johnston’s 71’ ‘Ocean Spirit’ would be streets ahead. Knox-Johnston and his companion Leslie Williams came first with ‘Ocean Spirit’ in the 1970 race and Derek Kesall’s trimaran ‘Toria’ handsomely won the 1966 race in a time of 19 days, 17 hours and 23 minutes. This time included the compulsory stops of 48 hours at the end of each of the four ports of call.

The Race has traditionally been organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club of Plymouth, and according to their website there have been eleven previous races, which means two of them must have been inserted into the otherwise four year periods between races. The early ones were sponsored by the Observer newspaper organization. This year’s race has the title, ‘Shetland Round Britain and Northern Ireland 2010, since it is being sponsored by the Shetland Islands Council.

The rules of the Race have changed somewhat since its inception, but the clockwise course remains the same: Plymouth to Crosshaven, thence to Castlebay, Lerwick, Lowestoft and back to Plymouth. Boats now have to be between 30’ and 50’ in length. Over 50 of them are set to start, including 8 multihulls and 10 Class 40 yachts.

A number of participants interest me such as Mary Falk, Katie Miller and Will Claxton. Sixty-three year old Mary is sailing with Jerry Freeman. She has already completed five Round Britain Races. A survivor of cancer, she is raising money for Cancer Research, and to date she has raised over £96,000. This time she is hoping to reach her goal of £100,000. Katie represents the younger generation and she will be the youngest female to have entered the Race, but she is well qualified with a solo trans-Atlantic Race to her name. She’ll be aboard her ‘bluQube’, a Beneteau Figaro II, and her co-skipper will be Matthew Lingley who has raced dinghies, skiffs and catamarans, plus his own Dragon. Will Claxton is of interest because of his efforts at restoring ‘Paradox’, a 33’ Dazcat 10 trimaran with the express purpose of entering the Race. He has Matt Gill as co-skipper.


Shetland Round Britain and Northern Ireland 2010 Race

Mary Falk

Just Giving – Mary Falk for Cancer Research

Katie Miller

Will Claxton - ‘Paradox’ Dazcat 10 Trimaran

The Competitors

Shetland Marinas

‘Shyauk’ Observer Round Britain Race 1974


Wotablog said...

Yes, Bill I too have strong memories of our attempt at the Round Britain race and the long qualifying cruise before it up the North Sea in cold dank weather.
It was quite an achievement for me, since before the race my experience was very limited and you tought me virtually all I know about sailing. Thank you Bill. Your brother Fred.

William Serjeant said...

What about the long haul down the Channel for the start of the Race, when during a gale we inadvertently strayed into the firing area at Lyme Bay? That was frightening, wasn't it?