Category Archives: Skylark Racing

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

Tied in Tropez

Startline action in light winds for Race 1

Straight off the regatta in Cannes, Skylark arrived in busy Saint-Tropez … it almost felt like old times. The boats were packed into the port, the crowds bustled on the streets and the exotic cars cruised along the promenade. The Voiles was back.

The Irish classic yacht Erin cuts across Skylark’s bow leading to a protest. She was later disqualified.

Race 1 took the classic fleet out of the Bay in a triangular course. Skylark sailed well but the breeze was not quite strong enough for her to get going relative to the smaller lighter boats. She finished 4th on handicap. In the evening the crew enjoyed a fabulous dinner aboard Talitha which ran late into the night. Very late into the night.

Race 2 Day 2 was a race to remember run in 30-35 knots of wind (see separate report). Skylark achieved an impressive 2nd place just behind Stormy Weather. In the evening the crew visited friends aboard the classic motor yacht Shemara.

Exciting startling action from Race 2

With famous Dutch naval architect Andre Hoek joining the crew alongside mentor Tommy Tom Tom Mainsheet, Skylark had another great day on the water posting a conservative but consistent 3rd place. On this result she was tied 1st place in the regatta overall with Stormy Weather. But there was likely still a discard to come … which never helps Skylark’s consistent results.

Race 3 start with architect Andre Hoek supporting Tommy Tom Tom Tom

Going into the last race, Skylark had noticed that the penalty for being OCS at the start was proving to be minimal so we pushed it. We needed to beat Stormy and so it was a risk worth taking. Ducking and diving we were a metre overt he line as the gun went and lost one place overall as a consequence. Sadly this dropped us from 2nd Overall to 3rd Overall for the regatta. Naughty Headmaster …

Final Race 4 start – pushing our luck on a likely discard
BlueBird Bubbles salutes the return of Skylark from her last regatta of 2021
Customary water fight ensues – now becoming an end of season tradition
Do any other boats have this much fun?
It gets serious …!

And so ends another season … is that Skylark’s 10th full season? 11th in total. And what a great season it was. Fabulous racing, brilliant crew, amazing boat handling and driving from our talented team, led by one of the most passionate gentlemen in yachting. Bravo Skylark. You are awesome. Chapeau TG! You are brilliant.

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.

Comet in Cannes

NAUGHTY MOMENTS CANNES 2021

VCYC

A-Team A-Game in Antibes

Some say … success at the pinnacle of any sport is a carefully balanced combination of preparation, determination, dedication, technique, 100% commitment and … experience

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 Breakfast Club

intro text

Headmaster meets German Frers to view his fine new boat Racluta. Meanwhile, Stretch prepares.

Mizzens & Motors in Monaco

Classic Week in Monaco is a biennial event and one not to be missed when it comes around. It’s a very different atmosphere to all the other regattas for two principle reasons – firstly it’s staged in the centre of the amphitheatre that is Monaco, over looked by Monte Carlo. Second, beautiful motorboats are invited too! This creates a wonderful ambiance bringing the two aspects of classic yachting together with, occasionally, the most beautiful car or two.

In 2021 both BlueBird and Skylark participated. BlueBird focused firmly on the Prix d’Elegance and other prizes rewarding quality, history and prestige. Skylark meanwhile, was there to win.

The second day of the regatta was cancelled sadly due to a large swell which rolled across the race course and into the harbour making it uncomfortable aboard the boats.

On Day 3 the Race Committee made brave call to send the fleet upwind on a distance race to the new port of Ventimiglia

Despite a pretty good start Skylark was rolled off the line by Comet which took her breeze. Skylark was unable to tack off and struggled to maintain Comet’s pace. In hindsight watching the video, it was likely too much traveller on Skylark for the wind and wave conditions. As the boats ploughed their way upwind towards Ventimiglia thy tacked close to the shore on Cap Martin, right under the big house once owned by Coco Chanel.

Unbeknown to Skylark the race committee shortened the course at the headland and sadly valuable time was wasted sailing parallel to the finish line. As we approached Ventimiglia one of the underwater boats lost its mast. It was windy and bumpy out there.

As the fleet waited patiently to be moored in the harbour, it became evident that a spectacular lunch was in store.

An excellent band greeted the hungry sailors upon arrival in Ventiniglia

Once dried out and replenished with plates of pasta and local Italian wine, crews enjoyed camaraderie and dance into the afternoon. But more was in store … a long windy full on run back to Monaco.

Crews from about 40 boats dined together on the quayside of the new port hosted by classic yacht owner and Captain of the Port GianBattista Borea.

Skylark had a great downwind start at the favoured end of the line alongside her nemesis Meerblick and soon pulled into the lead under full spinnaker. It was great fun surfing down the waves at 10-11 knots. Skylark led the fleet all the way to the finish and took line honours and victory on corrected time.

Monaco Classic Week is also well known for its parties at the Yacht Club de Monaco hosted by Prince Albert and YCM President Bernard d’Alessandri. Skylark friends Carsten, Mimi & Charlotte partied into the night along with another lovely lady who made a big impression on friendly members of Skylark’s afterguard …

Yacht Club de Monaco hosts the fleet on its moorings in the Port

Befitting an event of such importance and prestige, there is a Parade of Sail organised by YCM in front of the port. All boats were invited to participate. The parade was led by SS Delphine with MY BlueBird close behind.

When the final day dawned it was a light wind affair, testing the most hardened of helms, tacticians, trimmers and crew.

Skylark started the final race at the other end of the line to the fleet but there was little gained or lost – but at least she had clear air.
Final day Parade of Sail
At the end of the first beat Skylark arrived at the same time as Meerblick but was unable to use her starboard advantage as she did not keep clear. Skylark chose not to protest

Bluebird’s talented chef Conner won the prestigious Best Chef Award but was relegated to 2nd Place on a technicality.

At the final mark of the regatta Skylark again closed up on Meerblick who again infringed her at the mark. Skylark again chase not to protest. Consequently Skylark finished the regatta in 3rd Overall with Meerblick 2nd and One Wave in 1st. Skylark’s main rival Comet finished 4th.

Riva Aquarama fleet during the Parade of Sail
18m fleet during the Parade of Sail

Bella Imperia!

The regatta held on the Italian Riviera in the port of Imperia, located between Monaco and San Remo, is one of the favourites on the classic yachting calendar. Not only is the racing excellent, but the atmosphere shore side is just fabulous with great music, fireworks and a warm welcome from the residents of the town.

The 2021 regatta went ahead despite the problems with Covid still evident in Europe. The fleet comprised many top boats including Comet, Skylark’s near sister ship and nemesis, crewed by top sailors including an Olympic medalist straight from Tokyo.

Images above ©James Robinson Taylor

Race 1 started in a fresh breeze blowing from the east set around a triangular course along the coast. Comet and other competitive boats sailed well on the first beat and at the top mark Skylark trailed by several minutes. A better spinnaker set and close reaching staysail allowed Skylark to close right up to Comet by the gybe mark. But unfortunately, Skylark’s gybe did not go well and the kite wrapped on the forestay just at the point where Comet was vulnerable. On the spinnaker run Skylark overtook Comet but was not far enough ahead by the finish to win on corrected time.

Each night after racing the Skylark crew cycled along the coast. On several evenings this involved a cycle track which passed through the old train tunnel. After, the crew dined at Ristorante Lanterna Blu where friendly local Chef Massimo created the most spectacular dishes and enlightening conversation.

The highlight for the rest of the regatta was a windward mark incident where Skylark and Comet met on opposite tacks. Skylark approached on starboard building speed and, when Comet tacked into a lee bow position beneath her, Skylark rolled right over her forcing her to tack two more times.

The fabulous racing was complemented by camaraderie with Hamish on Manitou. Great stories late into the night.

At the end of the regatta Skylark was tied on 5 points in First Overall with Mariella and Rowdy. On countback to break the tie she dropped to 4rd with Comet 2 points behind on 7 points in 4th.

Peaking Parking Porquerolles

One of Skylark’s favourite classic events is on the island of Porquerolles located just west of Saint-Tropez and to the south of Marseilles in France. With Covid-restrictions partially eased along the Riviera, the regatta was able to take place under strict guidelines and once each competitor had had PCR tests. There were no social functions or prizegivings and competitors were asked not to congregate.

During the practice day for the Skylark crew, it was observed that there was a huge wind shadow by the lighthouse at the northern end of the island – something that was noted as being a potential factor if a Round the Island race was run.

Race 1 start line was heavily biased towards the committee boat in light winds. Skylark chose the favoured end of the line but the lighter, smaller boats were able to accelerate quicker and Skylark did not have the best of starts. The windward mark was only 0.4 miles away so the poor start meant Skylark was on the back foot from the very beginning. Two long reaches ensued to the finish line which were a procession. At the end Skylark placed 5th out of 18 in her class. With no discard for this event it meant that Skylark would have to sail incredibly well in the remaining two races with at least podium finishes in each.

Following racing the crew took an eMTB tour of the island – on such a beautiful isle one of the highlights of the day.

Perspective of the Race 2 windward mark rounding from the bowman

Race 2 brought about a more aggressive start – Skylark pushed three boats over the start line and began in clear air right on the gun. However, a gradual right shift went against her – she tacked early of the layline to be out of phase with the dense fleet above her and tacked two more times than the opposition, remaining out of phase and in clear air, to reach the windward mark on the opposing layline and rounded in a lead position.

The larger S&S LYS tries to overtake Skylark to windward but resigns to take a position behind.
“Don’t look back in anger”

Two long reaches ensued, the latter turning into a run on the forecasted shifting breeze. Skylark lost a little of her lead but was still winning the race. She rounded the leeward mark 8 miles from home alongside the faster Jour de Fete however, in the light wind she was no match for Jour de Fete who extended to an 8 minute lead by the finish. It was enough to give JDF the race win, with Skylark a respectable 2nd, enough to keep her in contention for the overall regatta victory.

The larger S&S LYS attempts to pass to leeward – filmed from Skylark’s mizzen trimmer Kos
Gybing round the leeward mark alongside Jour de Fete racing for the win

After two races and with the final race to go, Skylark was 4th overall and required a race win ahead of Andale and Windhammer with Jour de Fete placing 5th or lower.

A little more breeze on the startline of Race 3 – a race Round the Island – gave Skylark more power on the startline relative to the smaller boats and she hit the line perfectly in clear air. It was just the start she needed, successfully stealing the wind from Jour de Fete as she crossed the line directly behind her. Jour de Fete tacked inshore as soon as she could and Skylark tacked to cover both her and Andale. It was all on …

Perfect start for Skylark in the final Race 3

As the boats approached the first headland, Skylark held Jour de Fete offshore and tacked first onto the layline for the long port biased beat to the 2nd headland 4 miles away. However, Andale was lifted inshore and crossed just ahead of Skylark on starboard. Skylark saw the manoeuvre coming and built speed from a minute before so that when Andale tacked on Skylark’s wind she miscalculated Skylark’s high speed and Skylark was able to push through her wind shadow to leeward.

Andale tacks on Skylark’s wind for the long beat around the island – but Skylark anticipates the move and powers through to leeward
Skylark powers through to leeward after regatta leader Andale tacks on her wind. In the background, BlueBird leaves for Greece

By switching modes between power and point, Skylark edged her way into a lee bow position on Andale whilst simultaneously putting dirty air onto Jour de Fete who fell further and further behind despite the wind being quite light at times. In fact, so detrimental was the effect that JDF did not make the next headland and had to make an additional tack offshore.

Skylark led the whole fleet all the way round the island. She peaked her performance just at the right moment and was in a strong first place with JDF way down the fleet – exactly what she needed to secure the regatta win. And then we arrived at the lighthouse … a mere stones-throw from the finish.

As we noted on the first practice day, the wind completely disappeared here and Skylark slowly drifted to a halt. She parked up. There was nothing she could do as all the smaller lighter boats glided up to her. The race restarted in mirror calm right before the finish. It was a painful way to lose the regatta win and, dare we say it, it felt a little unfair that the organisers did not finish the race at the lighthouse knowing there was zero wind afterwards and that this would make the race a lottery.

Andale managed to find calmer water inshore and nearly an hour and a half later slipped across the finish to win the regatta. Skylark finished 11th meaning she remained 5th overall. It was a disappointing end to a fabulous regatta.

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