A-Team A-Game in Antibes

Some say … success at the pinnacle of any sport is a carefully balanced combination of:





100% Commitment and …


In sailing … on Skylark … our ‘Talent-on-the-Team’ initiative takes sporting excellence to a new level. Strength & Stamina are key performance indicators for influencers of the (cooked) Breakfast Club

It was a controversial move for some but loved by many … the 2021 Voiles d’Antibes was relocated from the old harbour wall to the new port where all the boats were moored seemingly closer together. The shops and bar area were positioned right next to the boats which made the atmosphere more friendly – conveniently right behind BlueBird which enjoyed the Place d’Honneur bang in the middle. Whilst the old port has an atmosphere of its own the new location and set up made the interaction of boats more convenient and sociable.

BlueBird enjoyed Place d’Honneur in the centre of the regatta

Race 1 started in relatively light wind and Skylark was so close to the line alongside Rowdy we thought for a moment we may have been called over OCS. But we were clear and enjoyed and excellent race finishing at the head of the fleet winning on corrected time with Meerblick 2nd and White Wings 3rd. Of particular note was Skylark’s circumnavigation of a moored super yacht where we passed to windward with the rest of the fleet taking the shorter route through her wind shadow.

Hells Bells on Mizzen and we win! Again.
Evan McDarcy cleverly overlays the MarineTraffic AIS data onto one chart in order to replay the races.

Headmaster meets German Frers to view his brand new boat Racluta. Meanwhile, Stretch prepares … Chimney Smith & Gigi Hawkins join Squiffles, Hells Bells & Co for dinner.

Perfect drop gybe rounding (half Kiwi half Mexican) finally feels like we are really sailing this boat. Stunning crew work and helmsmanshipping.

Race 2 will be remembered for a long time to come. Full of confidence from the Race 1 win The Headmaster totally ignored everyone saying we should tack and we went on a flier which looked really great for a long while until it didn’t. The wind shifted and strengthened from the other side of the course and Skylark did recover a little but finished 5th. Meerblick (who she was alongside 3/4 of the way through the race) came 1st. This proves four things: 1/ The Headmaster is always right except when he’s wrong. 2/ Even when The Headmaster is wrong it really doesn’t matter (we still won the regatta). 3/ Even when The Headmaster is wrong he was very nearly right. 4/ Just cos The Headmaster was wrong doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else was right.

Evan McDarcy cleverly overlays the MarineTraffic AIS data onto one chart in order to replay the races.
Meerblick barges on the line and is later disqualified for not keeping clear. It takes her out of contention for an overall regatta win.
Deep into the leeward mark with two top lighter narrower faster day boats converging either side. Considering how much heavier and more complicated our yawl is to sail our crew does really well here. All those long hard days of practice … finally paying back?

One of the outstanding moments of these classic regattas – most mornings – is the work out on the dock performed by the most serious of crew. In particular, the crew of Viola lead other teams in an aerobic, stretch session. Each manoeuvre of the day is practised from pulling up sails, hauling on sheets, and winding wenches. It’s always easy to spot the captain of the boat who leads each session. He wears a feather in his hat in order to be recognised.

The professional crew and helmsman on Racluta are a threat to Skylark going into the start of the 3rd race. She’s a much bigger boat and comes from leeward on a timed run. We can see the bowman checking his watch signalling back to the helmsman. Skylark slides across in front of her and weaves about on her line throwing disturbed wind right onto her sails. Onboard Racluta it would feel terrible. Skylark holds her position just in front of her as she reaches the line just as the gun goes. A great start in the end and Skylark secures a 2nd place to put her in 1st Place overall with one race to go.

Going into the final race Skylark was in 1st position. She didn’t;t have to win the regatta but she couldn let her main rivals get too many points back on her. She needed to finish 1st or 2nd. Meerblick stayed on the dock having received a second disqualification for being OCS the day before.

Out on the race course and it was windy! Gusts of 25-30 knots rolled across the course and the start was made difficult by the line being almost in line with the wind. It was essential Skylark was not over the line and in a moment of misjudgement we got rather too close. As it was so windy we really struggled to stop the boat but the helmsman did a fantastic job of holding her almost head to wind. As the gun went we tore off and had a pretty good start as it turned out. But we would not want to do that again …

As we raced into the windward mark just behind Comet we were really flying. The strong gusts made gybing the boats a challenge. Then we rolled straight into a hoist – however, the spinnaker twisted and we spent ,most of the leg trying to unravel it. It was not too painful however as the boat was still at hull speed under just the main and mizzen sails. Comet flew her kite successfully but we all ended up at the bottom mark together. With Skylark holding 2nd place.

Approaching the top mark
Gybing behind Comet into Mark 2

Following mark 2 the race was abandoned by the organisers. Not only were the gusts incredibly strong but the marks were starting to move so the course was no longer fair. But that was enough for Skylark and she won an incredibly competitive regatta First Overall!

When it came to receiving the honours … the glory … the awards … racing driver Squiffy Hawkins leapt forward and grabbed the chocolates. A man of experience, a high flyer, no messing about. It was a stamp of authority on a highly competitive event and crews from numerous nations were left in no doubt as to who had beaten them.

Skylark wins the regatta with a one point lead over White Wings. Rowdy finishes 4th, Comet 6th and Meerblick 9th. The crew and Squiffy with Hells Bells take the stage.

Race 1 victory after 2hrs 40 mins is by a mere 10 seconds over MeerBlick. Squiffy Hawkins celebrates his Bullet in the Blue Sky whilst other crews lick their wounds after Sunday. Bloody Sunday.

A fabulous U2 tribute band celebrates the end of the event. Truly one to remember.