With ex-racing driver Squiffy ‘Hunt’ Hawkins once again onboard, Skylark headed for the Voiles d’Antibes for her first big event of the season. On arrival, it was apparent that the line up of competition was as competitive as ever with many top boats importing professional sailors. Skylark was also aided on her after-deck by Jose ‘Ze’ Duarte Los Lobos di Championos Mondialos who flew in from Lisbon the night before the event.
After a day’s training, Skylark’s valiant crew of young and very old headed out to the first start line. The Committee Boat end of the line was heavily favoured and, as Skylark approached the start, two 30 ton 70ft boats barged into a gap only wide enough for one, narrowly missing Skylark.
The incident destroyed Skylark’s start and she started well down the fleet, fighting back in a 15 knot breeze to a 4th place, 15 seconds behind Argyll in 3rd and only one minute behind the winner Comet, helmed by Olympian and multi-world champion Stuart Childerly. One unfortunate foredeck incident badly twisted the knee of Skylark’s new captain Carl, who was then whisked off to hospital unable to compete in this event further. Command of Skylark was again under the auspices of the long-serving and patient Captain Tony ‘Commodore’ Morse.
Day 2 was cancelled due to a big swell and gale force wind from the east. Genoa trimmers Evan ‘That’s my D’Arcy’ Marshall and Mogens ‘RB’ Tholstrop joined Skylark’s owner, Los Lobos and The Headmaster on a cultural tour of Pablo Picasso’s Mediterranean residence. Never has so much, been so incomprehensible, by so few.
Race 3 was a tactical affair with a big wind shift during the start sequence catching out most competitors. Stormy Weather, Skylark and Comet started together at the pin of the line and pulled out a healthy lead in the rest of the fleet. Only Comet and Jour de Fete remained and Skylark battled it out with these two well-sailed, well prepared, well tuned boats. As the breeze died Skylark managed to shake off repeated challenges by Comet but was unable to catch the lighter, narrower Jour de Fete, settling for a well earned 2nd. This strong performance placed Skylark in the lead of the event by one point, with one race to go.
After an extravagant evening aboard the motor yacht Talitha, Skylark’s rather jaded crew headed out to the start of the final winner takes all race. With one point separating 1st to 5th everything was to play for.
The race started badly with Skylark being blocked by a yacht not competing and with a lull in the wind Skylark was nearly 5 minutes late crossing the line near the back of the fleet. Importantly, Comet was over the start line and had to restart and both Fete and Varuna had imperfect starts. Skylark held her nerve in the light winds and large seas and sailed off on her own to the left side of the course, arriving at the top mark after some challenging sailing clear in the lead.
With Squiffy Hunt calling the waves whilst skillfully, single-handedly trimming the main, aided by his equally talented counterpart Los Lobos di Championos Mondialos di Lisbonas on mizzen, Skyark maintained her lead in the rough and challenging conditions all the way to the finish. Her race win gave her a 3 point lead overall and a regatta victory which was mostly, in part, sort of, a lot to do with some people.
With Squiffy Hunt taking the stage at the Final Prizegiving, the amassed nations applauded as he lifted the trophy to the iconic Queen rock anthem ‘We are the Champions’. It was a worthy celebration of a moderate and mostly humble display of racing talent.
Trophy in hand, Squiffy Hunt and his followers, groupies, fans and pit crew now move to the Porquerolles regatta where more local challenges await.