Notice Issued 23 May 2013
There is no easy way to put this but I am cancelling the 2013 Royal Escape Race.
I am very grateful for the skippers who communicated their intentions and comments to me by email and phone during today; it will come as no surprise that the vast majority have concerns.
The current MET Office Shipping Forecast issued 10:30 UTC today is for NW force 5-7. I would add that the low pressure that is behind our problems may track down the course on Friday and has the potential to deliver unexpected shifts and wind strengths - I am now seeing forecasts indicating up to 27 knots into the harbour entrance which will make it hazardous to say the least. The pilot warns against even attempting the entrance in F7+.
Steve Thomas, Race Director, has been comparing actual observations with those in the current forecasts and found significant differences. The sometimes large divergence between the mean and gust predictions is worrying.
In short I do not have the required confidence in the forecasts to go for a start and those who had a taste of the 2000 race will understand why we need to be careful. Starting in the lee of Brighton is not a problem and I have no doubt that the starting area tomorrow will look tenable, mid-channel will be lively but the potential for things to go wrong on the French coast cannot be ignored. In poor conditions the alternatives do not look attractive.
Waiting until the last minute in the hope that things will change is also problematic as there are race followers booked on ferries early in the morning and I have no desire to totally ruin their weekend.
I know there will be skippers and crew who will feel I am being over-cautious, but I have to remember that the Royal Escape is not a RORC event and that it attracts all kinds of yachts with crews of varying ages and experience. With this in mind I feel it is right to give firm direction.
As disappointed as I am I shall be at SYC from 7pm where the bar will be open and Simon will be serving chilli on the house. The bus from/to Brighton Marina will still run so if you want to have a pint and talk over what might have been then come along.
With regards to entry fees we cannot offer a full refund as costs have been incurred (our race team is cursing me from France as I type) but once we have had a chance to sort out the bills I intend to distribute the balance in the form of a significant discount on next year.
Chairman, Royal Escape Committee
Footnote: With the full support of the race sponsors and the Sussex Yacht Club, we not only refunded every entry fee, but we also made a substantial donation from reserves to Sussex Sailability to assist them in their worthwhile work. The Royal Escape also made a substantial donation towards the Sussex Youth Team campaign to compete in the Sonar World Championships held in September 2013 in the USA.