2022 highlights – review of the sailing year

After the excitement of the Olympics, Vendée Globe and America’s Cup in 2021, perhaps 2022 could have been excused for being a slower affair. It turned out the year had a few surprises of its own in store and sailors enjoyed another vintage year afloat

Emotion as crews finally finish Clipper Race

A jubilant 180 crew arrived back in London at the end of the Clipper Race, for a parade of sail along the River Thames and a welcome ceremony at Royal Docks, with a huge crowd of family, friends, partners and spectators creating a memorable atmosphere. This edition of the race started in 2019 and was suspended in March 2020 as the pandemic struck, with crews flying home from Subic Bay in the Philippines. It restarted, after a week of crew
re-training, in February 2022, with the remaining legs from the Philippines across the north Pacific to Seattle, then down the west US coast to Panama, before transitting the Panama Canal and racing on to Bermuda, New York, Derry-Londonderry and the final sprint back to London.

The race overall was won by Qingdao, skippered by Chris Brooks and representing the Chinese city of the same name. Crew member Jody, from Michigan, USA, who completed the circumnavigation on board Qingdao said: “It’s been an incredible lifetime achievement. An amazing thing to experience”.

Visit clipperroundtheworld.com to sign up for the next race, dates TBA.

Celebrating Uffa

Vintage wooden dinghies and yachts gathered in Cowes in August 2022 to celebrate the life and work of one of Cowes’ most famous sons, Uffa Fox. More than 80 Fox-designed boats, including the 22 square metre Vigilant, the Flying Fifteen Hobgoblin and the 1934 frostbite dinghy Fay, with bamboo mast, attended the four-day event. Also in the mix were National 18s, Albacores, plenty of International 14s, a Pegasus, National Redwings, a National 12, a Flying 10 and a small swarm of Fireflys. The oldest boat was Anthony Wheaton’s 101-year-old gaff-rigged International 14, Grebe of Hampton, which lost her mast on Saturday. Among many other boats of note were Patricia Knight’s International 14, Daring, in which Uffa won his second Prince of Wales Cup, and Alastair Vine’s Firefly, Jacaranda, which was the GB entry in the singlehanded dinghy class in the 1948 London Olympics sailed at Torquay. Racing took place on Friday and Saturday, with 65 boats starting and a National 18 a Firefly winning the two classes.

 

Spectacle of the year

British-flagged Kismet won the 11th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club’s Centenary Trophy, the rendez-vous at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez for classic yachts aged 100 years or more. Kismet, built in 1898 and famously one of the houseboats pulled from a mud berth on the English east coast, was skippered by owner Richard Matthews.

The boat is the first Fife design to have won the race, having entered twice before, each time making the podium.

Second was the Herreshoff-designed Bar Harbor 31, Scud (1903), owned by Patrizio Bertelli, with Torben Grael calling tactics, while third was another Herreshoff, the NY30 Oriole (1905), sailed by a Spanish crew.

Kismet is coming up for her 125th birthday next year and Matthews said he would love to return to defend the title.

The Centenary Trophy is raced in a pursuit format, with the ‘slowest’ boats setting off first. Consequently the finish is often close. However, this year Kismet, after starting seventh out of 22, was ahead of the rest in three minutes and remained so for the 9nm course.

The Gstaad Yacht Club event welcomed newcomers this year, including the oldest boat at Saint-Tropez, the pilot cutter Madcap, built in Cardiff, Wales, in 1874; a German ketch from 1920 designed by Herbert Wustrau, Wiki; and the Mediterranean’s only regularly competing Solent Sunbeam, Dainty, from 1922. The 22 entrants also included the two boats that enjoyed an epic tussle for first last year, P-Class Olympian (1913) and the Herreshoff, Spartan (1912), the last remaining NY50. The biggest participant was the the 177ft (54m) three-masted topsail schooner Shenandoah of Sark launched in 1902. Further centenarians in this remarkable fleet were the P-class, Chips, of 1913, the Fife ketch Sumurun of 1914, the Fife Jap of 1897, the Liljegren design for the 1912 Olympics, Marga, and the Thomas Rabot-design, Lulu, from 1897.

gyccentenarytrophy.com

Her Majesty The Queen was the Patron of the RNLI for 60 years. (c)RNLI – shot for Nigel Millard’s book the Lifeboat: Courage on our Coasts

Sailing pays tribute

Leading sailing organisations paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, following her death on 8 September.

Statements were released by many organisations, recognising the Queen’s and also Prince Philip’s support of sailing over decades.

The RYA looked back at how, in 1948, the then Princess Elizabeth and and Prince Philip were listed as new members of the RYA, known then as the Yacht Racing Association. It became the Royal Yachting Association in 1952 when Sir Ralph Gore, then President, spoke of “Her Majesty’s recent command that the name of the Association will in future be the Royal Yachting Association.”

During Cowes Week, RYA Council meetings were often held on HMY Britannia, one of 83 royal yachts over the years.

HMY Britannia was also a vessel for family holidays, on what became known as the Western Isles tour, cruising around Scotland in the summer. In 1997 Britannia was placed in the port of Leith in Scotland, where it serves as a floating museum and events venue. Clocks on board remain stopped at 3:01, the time that Her Majesty disembarked for the last time.

Sir Ben Ainslie gave a tribute at SailGP in Saint-Tropez, after the series’ Commonwealth teams, Australia, Canada and New Zealand observed three minutes of silence and lowered their flags to half mast.

RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie also paid tribute to the Queen, who was patron of the lifesaving charity since 1952.

James Holman, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, whose patron the Queen was, said: “She gave unstinting support to our late Admiral, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in his love of sailing. She owned and sailed in HMY Bloodhound, and she still personally owned the Dragon, Bluebottle, and took a close interest in her recent successes.”

World Sailing said: “Her Majesty was an inspiration to sailors in the UK, the Commonwealth and across the world.”

Stunning Fife regatta

The fifth Fife Regatta supported by Richard Mille concluded in June with an emotional prizegiving at Kelburn Castle and rapturous applause from more than 280 participants who came to the Clyde to enjoy the unique event in 23 different types of yacht varying from 24ft to 125ft all designed by Fife. It was the largest Fife Regatta so far and took place nine years after the last event brought the Fife fleet back to their home waters.

Scottish hospitality and Scottish weather were much in evidence, with racing on day one cancelled due to high winds, but thereafter the event continued in style with three classes, over a series of courses and passage races in the Largs Channel, Rothesay, the Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne, before returning back to Largs. The results often take the backseat in the overall context, but the winners were:

Class 1, Mariella (1938), Antigua; Class 2, Falcon (1930), The Netherlands; Class 3, Lotus (1934), UK.

RORC
Sevenstar
Round Britain and Ireland
Photo: James Tomlinson
Boat: Jangada

Nail-biting finish in Round Britain & Ireland epic

Richard Palmer and Rupert Holmes on Jangada won the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race won after a dramatic, edge-of-your-seat finish with minutes to spare.

The victory means Richard’s much-campaigned JPK10.10 Jangada was in line to take the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Points Trophy, which is given to the boat that accrues the best results across RORC’s international series of races. It is one of the most demanding and logistically complex trophies to win, with amateur crews like Jangada’s up against fully professional teams.

The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race departed in light winds off the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, just as the UK fell under a rare heatwave in early August. The conditions didn’t change until the boats reached the western isles of Scotland. Jangada was racing in the highly competitive double-handed class, sailing against crews including Shirley Robertson and Dee Caffari.

After an extraordinary series of match-racing duels between boats that were within sight of each other for hundreds of miles, the 1,805 nautical mile race came to a thrilling climax on the sixteenth day, when 10 yachts finished in a 14-hour flurry. Among them was Jangada. Five boats were still racing but it was calculated that none of them could better Richard and Rupert’s IRC corrected time. Rob Craigie’s Sun Fast 3600, Bellino, racing Double-Handed with Deb Fish, was second. Sam White and Sam North racing JPK 1080 Mzungu! was third overall, under two hours behind Jangada after IRC time correction. All three teams were racing in IRC Two-Handed. Pip Hare’s IMOCA Medallia had taken line honours some days earlier.

Richard said: “Mentally this race was totally exhausting. The final 12 hours was incredible. As soon as Bellino crossed the line the clock started ticking and we had a goal to aim for. Our routing programme predicted we could reach that goal with two minutes to spare. I woke Rupert up and told him it was game on and we went for it.”

Rupert Holmes writes regularly in our monthly magazine Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting.

Big success for RS Games

The third RS Games comprised an impressive four world championships, two European championships, eight national championships and 16 RS classes racing overall. A total of 713 RS boats and 1,037 competitors took part in the event, the third since the RS brand was launched in 1994. Competitors were treated to a range of conditions and courses in Weymouth Bay and within the harbour. The RS Games 2022 was registered for Clean Regatta status by Sailors for the Sea, which grants sustainability certification for water-based events.

Photo: Jon Buckle for SailGP.

Duchess on the helm as SailGP wows Plymouth again

It was a second spectacular visit to Plymouth in Devon for SailGP, with the world’s top sailors doing high speed battle on Sound while thousands of spectactors enjoyed the action under blue skies. Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain SailGP team didn’t quite manage to “bring it home”, as he had suggested before the event, but they grabbed the headlines as the Duchess of Cambridge came on board, helming for a one-off ‘Commonwealth race’ against the New Zealand team. The Duchess took the victory.

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in Great Britain SailGP team kit as she prepares to take on the New Zealand SailGP team, co-helmed by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo: Bob Martin for SailGP.

In the series itself, Ainslie’s normal starting prowess deserted him, showing just how competitive the fleet has become, with every mistake punished. On day two a close cross with Australia ended with Ainslie and crew being given a penalty, one which he said was a ‘bad call’, but which knocked them out of the final race-off. They finished the regatta in fourth overall, leaving their overall championship standings in good shape with three events done at that point.

The Grand Prix was ultimately won by Pete Burling’s New Zealand SailGP Team who performed consistently well throughout the weekend. Twice America’s Cup winner Burling, who was the master of the F50 boat used in SailGP back in the 2016 America’s Cup in Bermuda, said: “I think a lot of people would have expected this of us by now and it’s great to have put together a good weekend and put in such a dominant performance.”

Kids go round Britain with Tall Ships Youth Trust

The Tall Ships Youth Trust – our Charity of the Year for 2023 – visited ports around the coast over the summer of 2022 in a 72ft yacht crewed by young people.

The trust’s Round Britain Adventure started in July from Portsmouth, with Ipswich the final stopover in September. Overall 80 young people aged 12-25 benefitted from doing a leg or more, joining the boat as it stops at their lcoal port.

The trust’s CEO Alastair Floyd said: “The pandemic stopped us from running this fantastic tour but not anymore! It’s been great to offer young people the opportunity to sail from one part of the country to another and experience different sailing and living environments.

“It’s also helped us to spread the word about our work with open events in Whitehaven, Greenock, Newcastle and Ipswich to come.”

The trust runs voyages for young people aged 12-25. We’ll be reporting on more of its activities over the coming 12 months.

tallships.org

(c)Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing is still booming in British Marine survey

The boom in boat ownership since the pandemic looks likely to continue, a survey by British Marine predicted over the summer of 2022.

Twenty three percent of respondents to the survey said they were likely to purchase a ‘new boat or watersports craft’ within the next 12 months, with most interested in sailing yachts (32%), motor cruisers (25%) or trailerable powerboats (19%).

Meanwhile the survey shows that nearly a quarter (24%) of participants had their first experience of boat ownership or getting afloat in 2020. Most popular have been what the survey calls ‘gateway’ boating activities, such as paddleboarding and kayaking. Boat sales are said to have increased by 9% in 2020 and a further 2% in 2021.

Separately, manufacturers at boat shows globally have continued to report their busiest years ever since lockdown.

UKHO to cease making paper charts

There was dismay from UK sailors as the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) announced it would be stopping paper chart production by 2026. The “sunsetting” process began in 2022, starting with larger scale charts. The plans affect the UKHO’s portfolio of Admiralty Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts “in response to more marine, naval and leisure users primarily using digital products and services for navigation”. The UKHO said its digital charts could be updated “in near real-time, greatly enhancing safety of life at sea (SOLAS)”. In response, the RYA said it would continue to teach both traditional and electronic navigational techniques through its courses.

Meanwhile chart publisher Imray said they had no plans to withdraw paper charts, saying: “Our focus is the leisure and small craft sector, which has different conditions and requirements to the UKHO’s primary commercial shipping market. There is still strong demand from leisure customers for paper charts.”

Falmouth trials eco-moorings

Falmouth Harbour has begun trials of a unique eco-mooring system, designed to protect the seabed from scouring by mooring chains. The harbour monitored how a yacht attached to the buoy sat in the water, in all weathers and tides, to gauge how safe and practical the system is for wider use. Results, yet to be released, may see the scheme introduced elsewhere in the UK.

Decorated gravestone Mortar wreck copyright

Britain’s oldest shipwreck

Britain’s oldest shipwreck, dubbed the ‘Mortar Wreck’, was located on the edge of the Swash Channel in Poole bay, Dorset, writes John Greeves. The wreck was first identified by divers from Bournemouth University who were investigating a known obstruction spotted by Trevor Small, of Rocket Charters. Trevor’s dive boat showed an unusual reading from the Dorset seabed but it wasn’t until several months later that the 54-year-old dive charter operator asked a colleague to take a look.

Within minutes a medieval copper cauldron appeared at the surface and Trevor knew he had stumbled on “something special”. Historic England and an archaeological team from Bournemouth University were called in.

Analysis of the hull planking gave a date of 1242-1265, during the reign of King Henry III.

 

 

 

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