On Friday morning the Royal Naval Unit at Sussex University provided a guardship, HMS Pursuer from which the starting cannon was fired at 0800 and the IRC Fleet of about 20 larger and faster boats set off for the BMYC1 buoy in excellent sailing conditions.
At 0815 the second cannon signalled the start for the main PY fleet watched by a large crowd from Brighton beach.
Local dignitaries headed by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, who had been watching the start of the race from the Old Ship Hotel, and crowds on Brighton beach, then saw a pageant involving a skirmish between Roundheads and Cavaliers. This concluded with the rescue of the "King" who was taken off to sea.
After this HMS Pursuer, with "King Charles II" aboard completed a sail-past along Brighton beach and the dignitaries were entertained to a champagne breakfast at the Old Ship Hotel hosted by Frank Kay, Commodore, and Cliff Jenkins, Director, of the Sussex Yacht Club.
The Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Andy Durr, who has nominated the RNLI and the Fishing Museum as the favourite charities for his mayoralty, welcomed the SYC Royal Escape Race as a major nautical event during the Brighton Festival.
Conditions in mid-Channel were variable. Severe conditions were forecast and during the day a storm warning was broadcast; for these reasons 15 of the 102 boats starting retired. In fact the bad weather did not appear until after 2000 hours BST.
The first boats to complete the course on Friday between 1930 and 2030 (French time) were Balou, Fays Fantasy and Blue Yonder under power and J-Go, Jagga and Black Adder under sail alone. Thereafter the offshore wind increased alarmingly and several boats reported difficulties. The Finish monitoring team led by Frank Kay was on duty from 1700 hours and were expecting a long and worrying night.
Soon after 2000 hours the weather deteriorated sharply with the wind increasing from 4-5 to 8-9 within a few minutes and very soon ships were in difficulties. Apart from the 102 boats entered of which 15 had retired before or soon after the start, there were several French and British weekend sailors at sea.
Mayday calls were received causing the French coastguards to impose radio silence. One race participant Riot was wrecked on the rocks east of Fecamp and the crew were rescued and hospitalised.
At midnight the fate of fifty boats was unknown but throughout the night the finish team, aided by the rescue authorities in UK and France were seeking to locate them but it was not until noon on Saturday that the whereabouts of all the competitors in various Channel ports were established.
The results of the Royal Escape Race (subject to scrutiny and protest)are as follows:
1st J-Go (corrected time 12.15)
2nd Blackadder (12.25)
3rd Freebird (12.28)
1st DOS (14.20)
2nd Duchess (14.25)
3rd Chiron (14.35)
1st Giminy Kricket (14.20)
2nd Great Kerfuffle (14.38)
3rd Koul et Watten (14.39)
1st Great Kerfuffle (14.38)
2nd Cloud Nine (15.03)
3rd Enigma (15.32)
1st Barda (21.42)
2nd Ciao (23.06)
3rd Stina (25.40)
Opted Motor Sail
1st Fays Fantasy
2nd Blue Yonder
3rd Tuvalu (revised placings)
Overall Winner PY Class
D O S
Line Honours PY Class
Sussex Yacht Club: Giminy Kricket, Duchess, Chiron