As the nation prepared for the long jubilee weekend, a fleet of yachts sailed from Brighton to Fécamp for the Royal Escape Race.  The first race was held in 1977 to mark the Silver Jubilee of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II when SYC was asked by the Old Ship Hotel to organise a yacht race from Brighton to Fécamp to celebrate the escape of Charles II from Brighton to Fécamp in 1651. To everyone’s surprise this has become so popular that it has been held regularly since the 26th Race was held on 31st May 2002.

The skippers of the 92 boats registered were briefed at a reception for crews at the Old Ship Hotel, Brighton on Thursday evening by the Commodore of SYC, Richard Jackson, assisted by Rod Patching. Once again the Commodore placed most emphasis on security especially the need for signing on, signing off and boat identification. He also presented the latest weather forecast of a NE wind of about Force 4.

On Friday morning the fleet assembled off Brighton beach watched by a large crowd. The signal for starting the race was the flag breaking from the committee boat Rosita but skippers were helped by a starting cannon preceded by warning shots five and four minutes before, by a radio countdown and by a RNLI maroon released from the Old Ship Hotel by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove. At 0800 the IRC fleet of larger and faster boats set off for the BMYC1 buoy in a NE3 wind. At 0815 the second cannon signaled the start for the main PY fleet.

After watching the start of the race from the roof of the Old Ship Hotel, local dignitaries headed by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr David Watkins, and those who had sponsored the race were entertained to a champagne breakfast at the Old Ship Hotel hosted by Cliff Jenkins and other directors of the Sussex Yacht Club.

Whereas in 2000 the fleet was dispersed by the onset of severe gales the weather on this occasion was unsettled with sunshine, showers and changing winds.

During the first leg from Brighton Marina to the Greenwich Meridian Buoy the wind remained NE and for most boats the going was straightforward and relatively fast. Towards noon the wind died and many boats found themselves becalmed. For those still in the shipping lanes this represented a hazard and they had to motor out of danger. Many others realised that if the calm persisted they would not reach Fécamp before nightfall and 33 contestants opted to motor sail. The majority decided to sweat it out and many reached harbour after dawn.

The official race dinner was held at the Hotel Normandy on Saturday evening and was attended by participants and guests. The Commodore, Richard Jackson welcomed all present and thanked the French officials who had helped to make this event a success.  He went on to give the results and to remind all present that the prizes would be given at the dinner at the Old Ship Hotel on 14th June. The Deputy Mayor, Mme Sirat, welcomed the English visitors to Fécamp.  The President of the Société de Regattes de Fécamp, Jean-Paul Desjardins, presented the Line Honours Cup.

After the dinner most of the guests adjourned to the clubhouse of SRF for disco dancing until the early hours.  At midday on Sunday they re-appeared for a wine and cheese party hosted by the Friends of the Royal Escape and to exchange anecdotes about the crossing.

The final act was the Prizegiving Dinner at the Old Ship Hotel on Friday 14th June attended by about ninety members and guests.  The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr David Watkins supported by his wife, presented the prizes.

Richard Jackson, Commodore, congratulated the winners and all the participants, thanked all the sponsors and welcomed the guests. He announced that the event had raised £1000 for charity and he presented cheques to the Jubilee Trust for £500 and to Sailability for £500. The Mayor thanked SYC on behalf of the guests, and suggested that more publicity be given in future. The view of the start from Brighton Beach was impressive and enjoyed by those present but it was a pity that more did not know about it and come to watch.

 

  Boat Name Owner/Skipper Finish Time Elapsed Time Corrected Time
           
Portsmouth Yardstick Fleet        
           
Fast Fleet          

1

Hotel Vauban / Camaret Sur Mer Emmanuel Winsback 21:40:36 13:25:36 15:47:46

2

Spirit of Defiance Mark Jephcott 22:30:03 14:15:03 15:50:03

3

Chantelle John Hayman 21:33:04 13:18:04 16:13:15
           
Slow Fleet          

1

Grace Steve Thomas 23:46:50 15:31:50 16:11:40

2

Duchess Graham & Janie Smallridge 0:41:25 16:26:25 16:32:22

3

Stina Michael Hatchwell 0:33:34 16:18:34 16:38:32
           
Overall Winner          

 

Hotel Vauban / Camaret Sur Mer Emmanuel Winsback 21:40:36 13:25:36 15:47:46
           
Line Honours          
  Minnie-the-Moocher Anthony Richards   9:48:44  
           
Team Trophy          
  Sussex Yacht Club        

1

Grace Steve Thomas      

2

Duchess Graham & Janie Smallridge      

3

Enigma Tony Cross      
           
Corporate Challenge Cup        
  Sapphira Nigel Rippon / Nigel Howard 1:25:13 17:10:13 16:43:08
  Nor West Holst Construction Ltd      
           
The Editors’ Scroll (Family Trophy) - Presented at the Hotel Normandy    
  Stina Michael Hatchwell 0:33:34 16:18:34  
           
IRC Fleet          
           

1

Moose on the Loose Mervyn Gutteridge / Duncan Money 18:34:13 10:34:13 11:22:25

2

Sleeper Jonty & Vicky Layfield 19:01:07 11:01:07 11:30:52

3

Magic Forties A. N. Robert 20:00:00 12:00:00 12:55:26
           
Line Honours - Presented by Societe des Regates de Fecamp at the Hotel Normandy
  Moose on the Loose Mervyn Gutteridge / Duncan Money   10:34:13  
           
Opted Motor Sailing        
           
Winner          

 

Criquet of Caen John Scott 18:55:51 10:40:51 73:16:17