'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the fleet
Not a classic was stirring, not even a sheet;
The main sails were furled 'neath their covers with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there;
The Skylark crew nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of first places danced in their heads;
When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my berth to see what was the matter.
Away to the companionway I flew like a match,
Climbed up the ladder and threw open the hatch.
The moon on the bay at the edge of the shore
Gave a lustre of midday to the anchorage before.
When what to my wondering eyes should glide in,
But the beautiful Baruna so long and so thin,
With a keen Aussie skipper, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than Blitzen his crewmen they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
Tommy & Nuts, Temple, Stumpy & Stretch,
Die hardened in battle, pressed on a 5-sail fetch,
They climbed to the spreaders! to the top of the mast!
Now sail away Stormy! sail away fast!"
As sailors that before the wild hurricanes fly,
When they meet with a wave, and mount to the sky,
So up to the mast head in the spinnaker they flew,
With a boat full of toys, and St Nicholas, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard overhead
The scampering of feet, wearing non-skid tread.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the Dorade vent St Nick came with a bound.
He was dressed all in oil skins, from his head to his foot,
And his foulies were tarnished with salt spray and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a seaman just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The bit of his pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it circled his head like a wreath.
He had a kind face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and sweet, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Filling Skylark sea boots; he then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, back up the Dorade vent he rose.
He sprang onto Baruna, to his fine crew he spoke,
And away they all flew like a wisp of fog smoke.
But I heard him exclaim, sailing past Comets into space,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good race!"
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. It rewards consistency which is one of the features of Skylark’s performance. It will be interesting to see how we do with Baruna in 2022 – will we be able to replicate Skylark’s performance? She will be a harder boat to sail but we will have more space in which to do it, on most occasions ahead of the chasing fleet.
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.
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.
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?
Voiles d’Antibes has been put back to September due to the Covid-19 global pandemic