Corinthians keep Chichester memories alive

 

Gathering in Queen Anne’s Battery, Plymouth, home of the Royal Western Yacht Club of England, is a group of sailors far removed from the professional and grand prix circuit.

The oldest is Nicholas Budel in a Class 40, but not far behind is former Royal Marine Mervyn Wheatley, now 69, doing it for the fourth time and saying: “I take lots goodies; cakes, flapjack, banana bread, fruit, cheese, eggs and bacon. I have a glass of sherry with peanuts every evening, and, quite often, a glass of Merlot with the freeze-dried meal.”

A 50-foot trimaran should be fastest among the 21 who leave on Bank Holiday Monday, but, says race director David Southwood; “We want to support the old-style flavour of adventure. This is aimed at club sailors who are serious yachtsmen but who want to do something extraordinary.

“There is one sponsored boat, but the rest finance themselves, and we don’t want to make money out of this, just break even.” All t5he competitors are automatically members of the Half-Crown Club.

Over 42 years ago half a crown, two bob, and a tanner went out of circulation as decimal currency came in. But half a crown was two bob and a tanner, two shillings and sixpence, twelve and a half pence in today’s currency, and in 1960 it was the inaugural wager between two typically British characters for a singlehanded sailboat race across the Atlantic.

Francis Chichester was knighted for his solo voyage round the world. Royal Marine Major Herbert ‘Blondie’ Hasler, whose idea the race was, had led the Cockleshell Heroes raid, in kayaks, against German ships in Bordeaux in 1942.

Chichester raced to New York in the 40-foot Gipsy Moth III, Hasler in a 26-foot junk-rigged Folkboat called Jester. Chichester won in 40 days, Hasler proved his point just over a week later, but the five which took part captured no just the imagination of the nation but ignited the centuries old, and continuing, rivalry between British and French seafarers.

Four years later, in 1964, along came a man called Eric Tabarly, determined to promote the supremacy of the tricolour. Of the 13 editions in its 43 year history, eight of the winners have been French.

The professional years also saw a split with The Transat running the event just for Open 60s, the Royal Western running the more Corinthian version and changing its four year cycle. It hopes to return to its traditional slot by 2020, which is also the 300 anniversary of the Mayflower leaving for what is now the United States the (now politically incorrect) Pilgrim Fathers landing at what they called New Plymouth.

The OSTAR, Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race, finishes in Newport, Rhode Island, home for so many years of the America’s Cup and still keen to support major yachting events.

Old Plymouth will host, next month, the Route des Princes round Europe multihull circuit and the Royal Western has just hosted the mini-Fastnet race in boats just 21 feet long and won for the first time by a British pair, Pippa Hare and Phil Stubbs.

The Rolex Fastnet with an entry list which has already broken the limit and been expanded, is due to arrive from Cowes in August.   

News
Alex Salmond said he accepted 'the democratic verdict of the people'
newsSNP leader says Scotland must move forward as 'one nation'
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week