Category Archives: Skylark News

Skylark – Champions of France 2021

The Overall Results for the 2021 Season are in and Skylark has won her Class under the AFYT Ranking of classic boats racing in France. The Trophy will be presented in December at a Prizegiving Dinner in Paris on the banks of the Seine.

This is a prestigious award as many boats sail more regattas than Skylark

BlueBird Cup 2021

This beautiful trophy was once presented to speed king Sir Malcolm Campbell in Geneva 1938 by the predecessor of the United Nations. It is a stunning Art Deco piece of silverware made by Garrards of London. These days, the stunning trophy his competed by sailors … it is a Challenge between Sailors of the Sea. In its 10th Edition, the owner of Skylark challenged the owners of three other famous S&S sailing boats – Stormy Weather, Manitou and Blitzen.

BlueBird Cup Film 2021

Stormy arrived early at the start, tactician Graham Sutherland securing an early position on what was a short tactical startling between the main masts of Talitha and BlueBird. Manitou, owned by Hamish Easton and Blitzen, owned and helmed by Sir Charles Dunstone with olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup tactician Giles Scott assisting him on tactics.

Skylark, helmed by her owner, came at speed from above the line and rolled over all three of her competitors to win the start. The yawls sailed higher angles than the large sloop Blitzen which allowed her an opportunity to recover. By the first mark Blitzen had a small lead and from there was always giving disturbed air (turbulence) to the slower boats behind her. Blitzen finished nearly four minutes ahead of her rivals which won her the Blue Bird by two minutes on corrected time.

After the race was over, and crews were soaked by large water pistols fired by the BlueBird crew, all competitors boarded Talitha for a fabulous prize giving party.

Practice makes Perfect

When it comes to flying drones …

LOCKDOWN LOCK-IN

The normally busy Port of Saint-Tropez under 9pm curfew during lockdown. Fifteen minutes before the restaurants were busy with diners at dinner then suddenly everyone returned home or to their boats respecting the 9pm restrictions. Will we ever see sights like this again?

BlueBird Cup 2020

Each year the owner of Skylark challenges the owner of another classic yachts to a race around the bay. The trophy, originally presented by the United Nations to Sir Malcolm Campbell, was made by Garrards of London in an art deco style. It is presented to the winner of the race at a prizegiving lunch onboard the classic motoryacht Talitha.

INTRODUCTION TO RACE DAY
SKYLARK vs MANITOU – BLUEBIRD CUP 2020

After three laps of the course the race was won by Skylark beating Manitou by a healthy 6 minutes 22 seconds, the biggest margin in BlueBird Cup history.

The BlueBird Cup was presented to Tara Getty following the race at a prizegiving for the crews aboard Talitha. Hamish Easton, owner of Manitou, received a “runners up” prize of a fake invoice for the running of the day. It listed fictitious prices for anything we could think of …! 🙂

BlueBird Cup 2020 IN PICTURES
Crisis onboard Manitou

Voiles Saint-Tropez 2020

Training on the eve of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2020 gave us valuable time to get back into sailing
having had an extended break due to the pandemic. We sailed three times upwind and downwind
the length of the bay on a good 20 knots breeze.

The final event of the 2020 calendar was just about saved … the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions took effect on even the biggest event of the season with only some 38 classic boats participating. This combined with the event being split for the first time, with the 25 larger boats racing a week later. Whilst this detracted from the size of the even it was a sensible move which kept crowds to a minimum during this difficult and challenging time.

Oooops! Talitha’s drone pilot got a little too close!

During the first race of the event Skylark had an excellent start and raced closely with the lighter and narrower Meerblick which was fast in the lighter conditions. However, both Skylark and Meerblick (and some other boats) followed the Sailing Instructions “to the letter” which the rest of the fleet did not. This added another 3 miles onto their course for the first race and the two boats came last and 2nd last respectively. Both boats (and others) appealed for the Jury to discard the race as it was an unfair result, due to the mismanagement of the course, but they would not alter the outcome.

Extract from debate with Tom Whidden on crew salaries and pay grade

For Race 2 the breeze was a little stronger from the south west and both Meerblick (with professional sailmaker and tactician Albert Schweizer on tactics) and Skylark had another good start. In the building breeze Skylark performed better and raced neck and neck with her sistership Comet who had Olympian Stuart Childerly driving and on tactics. As the end of the race approached with a reach to the finish, Skylark caught Comet and the two boats finished metres apart in 2nd and 3rd respectively, a mere 3 minutes behind Meerblick on corrected time.

Captain Tony Morse on the foredeck speaking Australian.
Captain Tony Morse working with Captain Martin Fisher to help Captain Sean Gill drop the spinnaker whilst Captain Richard Kellett trims the mizzen
Captain Tony Morse helps Captain Martin Fox who helps Captain Sean Gill having helped Captain Richard Kellett

Race 3 did not go so well. Skylark had a good position on the startline but in the light wind the lighter boats around her accelerated quicker and she fell back on corrected time. In an effort to win the race (necessary to win the event) Skylark’s excellent tactician made the decision to gybe at the windward mark which was opposite to the rest of the fleet. This never works. As Skylark’s owner was very quick to point out. Whilst the idea was initially genius, and everyone agreed that, the wind quickly died out and Skylark with her white light wind spinnaker was left becalmed whilst the breeze filled in from the south and the fleet sailed away. Unfortunately Skylark finished far from first which did not help her overall standing. She finished the event in a respectable 5th place only 5 points behind the overall winner Meerblick.

On the last night of the event Skylark’s owner announced a Captains’ Dinner. Sean was invited too.

Regates Royales 2020

The 2020 season was severely hampered by the Covid pandemic however it was exciting to see most of the top classic racing boats arrive in Cannes for the Regates Royales 2020. Most exciting of all, the crew of the modern mini maxi Spectre had chartered Comet, the sister-ship to Skylark, which would no doubt lead to some close racing. After all … Skylark had her A-Team.

For the Cannes event Skylark was joined by professional nice person Charles Orchard. It was to be Charles’ first time racing Skylark – in fact his first time racing anything on water – and he impressed the crew from the outset with his grasp of *can anyone think of something to go here …?;) and his personal fitness. It was a level of dedication and commitment not seen previously on the 53ft S&S.

Charles Orchard. Always ready … forever prepared.

Race 1 and Skylark picked the Committee boat end of the line which was favoured. Comet soon crossed on port behind her and Skylark kept a loose cover on her whilst heading to the right of the course towards the headland. Rowdy, also a well sailed big boat owned by Howard & Donna Dyer, led the fleet however Skylark sailed extremely well – not just to keep ahead of Comet but to finish close enough to Rowdy to win by several minutes on corrected time. On the water she finished 11 minutes ahead of Comet. However, once back at the dock it transpired that Comet had a split in her stem head on the bow, potentially from too much backstay tension, and she was to no longer take part in the event.

Close cross with Circe during Race 1
Discussing the autopilot which momentarily did a better job than the helmsman
Starboard tack Meerblick tacks in front of Skylark forcing Skylark to protest
Martin and Matt top foredeck team
By watching if the bow of the other boat is moving to the left or right against the shore its possible to call cross tacks with great accuracy. If its stationary its a collision course. Whilst boats on starboard tack have right of way, good sailors on their favoured tack will want a give-way boat to cross to not tack in front of them, quite possibly making them tack. In this example Skylark crosses just ahead.

The second day dawned with a light offshore breeze which was guaranteed to be super-tactical. On the startline the wind died quickly and the top boats of Meerblick, Jour de Fete and Rowdy went right. Skylark along with Circe decided to stay to the left side of the course in search of new breeze. A huge left shift handed both boats a handsome lead by the first mark. Eventually the larger Rowdy overtook Skylark and managed to finish the race before the wind died again close to the finish. Skylark and Meerblick managed to sail right round Jour de Fete but as they two boats crossed the line Meerblick was just ahead meaning the Skylark finished 3rd on corrected.

Tara Getty advises on strategy and tactics during a challenging Race 2
Race 3 the final race bearing away through the finish

Race 3 … quite possibly the best race we have done on Skylark. Gusty, shifty, tactical, flat water … the magic ingredients for the good ship Skylark. “It was the perfect race … quite possibly the most perfect race ever … everyone knows it was a perfect race!” commented The Headmaster on crossing the finish.

Skylark has a cracking start to Race 3 being nearly “killed” by Rowdy on the startline

This memorable day started out with good breeze on the start and with over 20 knots coming off the shoreline the shifts were pronounced and intense. A right shift in the wind gave Skylark an advantage and, whilst she was soon overhauled by the larger Rowdy, Skylark flew her largest spinnaker and thundered down the runs at 10 knots and more. As the wind became stronger the Race Committee decided to shorten the course at the past windward mark and Skylark stormed to victory. As the crew congratulated each other on an excellent race Will Nutting, who had just arrived from the airport, signalled his appreciation by dipping his ensign. It was truly a day to remember. Race No. 221.

Big Bad Evan
De-Brief by Charles post regatta win
Darling of the S&S Fleet, Hamish Easton owner of Manitou, congratulates Tara and the Skylark crew on their regatta win

Voiles d’Antibes 2020

Martin Fox runs the foredeck with Emma & Matt during a rounding with Jour de Fete
Headmaster Cam
Temple Cam … Temple Temper
Temple let’s go of the mainsheet during a crisis and denies any involvement

Corsica Classic 2020

Is it the best event in the Med …? Quite possibly. It is not the largest regatta but it is the longest and 2020 was fabulous – the best Corsica Classic to date. First days were memorable for the 30+ knots of wind which fortunately were blowing offshore. After a lively training day the Skylark “B-Team Maison-de-Chien” headed out to the start of the first race. A short start line put emphasis on boat handling and Skylark threaded her way at speed through the fleet. After a run and a gybe in over 30 knots there was a 10 mile reach to the finish where Skylark raced neck and neck with the larger Olympian all the way. It was a really exciting race which Skylark won.

Send it … Smokin

Sadly celebrations that evening were dampened when one crew member decided the restaurant found by another crew member was not up to scratch (a local pizzeria with very attractive prices) and a marital World War III was narrowly averted. However, everyone was terribly relieved when The Headmaster stepped in and generously bought everyone dinner. Next morning … after a good night’s sleep and with the passage of a little time … all was not forgotten and at-fault crew member was still, at breakfast, in the Maison-de-Chien.

The racing went from port to port and the stronger winds continued. After each race the Skylark crew often headed out on bikes to view the beautiful island of Corsica, the home to event organisers Thibaud & Katia Assante. The passage up the east coast was beautiful. Fortunately Skylark won every race except the 2nd one when she was beaten by Vistona owned by our friend Gian Battista Borea.

There are starts and there are startlines … Skylark threads her way through the Corsica Classic fleet and nails the start
“I want to ride my bicycle … I want to ride my bike”

At the end of the racing a generous speech was given by Monsieur Le Tommy Écoute de Grand-Voile Franglais.

Le Gagnant … Monsieur Le Tommy Écoute de Grand-Voile Franglais