Race generations unite at Red Socks Regatta

10 October 2016

Former Clipper Race crew returned to our Gosport HQ over the weekend to compete in the seventh annual Red Socks Regatta, organised by the Clipper Race Yacht Club (CRYC), with this meeting proving extra special in the lead up to the race’s 20th Anniversary celebrations this weekend.

The regatta marked the first ever time all three generations of Clipper vessels have raced together as a Clipper 60, now known as the Clyde Challenger, joined its bigger siblings of two Clipper 68s and five Clipper 70s on the Solent.

The seven teams were made up of 130 former crew and Skippers who spanned an impressive seven editions of the race, with over 4.5 million sea-miles (the equivalent of 112 Clipper Races) of racing experience between them.

The teams took each other on in a series of four races over two days, ending with the Bart’s Bash Race Trophy on the Sunday, and of course it wouldn’t be a Clipper Race event without a lively prize-giving. Live entertainment was provided by the Jean 'Golden Balls' Neal award-winning 2007-08 race crew Nick Jacobs and Mick Corry, with a surprise additional set from the Royal Variety act, String Fever.

The sun was out for the entire weekend with a consistent Force 3 - 4 filling the sails of the race fleet. The Race Committee set some good courses, allowing crew to brush off their kite hoisting skills, which looked to be slightly better than their kite dropping skills, when CV21 seemingly forgot Nab Tower was a mark and headed towards the Isle of Wight rather than rounding it!

The teams showed no loss of competitive spirit at the start line with some jostling, which had those on the committee boat (Head of Training Ben Bowley’s own yacht) looking a little concerned about the breach of their 70 foot exclusion zone.

The Clipper 60 Clyde Challenger showed that bigger doesn’t always mean better, coming first and winning the Colin De Mowbray Red Socks Regatta Trophy with Clipper 68 CV2 in second place, winning the ‘Oh-so-close!’ Award.

The team on CV21 won the Colin De Mowbray award for bringing the most ‘De Mowbray’ spirit to the event for their transformation into the Baywatch team, lifeguard outfits and all. Al Duns, Skipper of CV23, was also awarded the Fidget Thumper Trophy for his crew’s unplanned lunch break which resulted in them missing the start of the second race.

The Bart’s Bash Race Trophy was won by CV29, closely followed by Clyde Challenger (after corrected time) and Clipper 68 CV2 was third.

The success of the Clipper 60 yacht was particularly fitting as it was the same boat Skippered by Colin de Mowbray MBE in the first ever Clipper Race in 1996-97 (Chrystolite). Colin stayed on and became Race Director and later Operations Director, during which time he founded the CRYC and established the Red Socks Regatta, named after his penchant for wearing bright red socks. Colin sadly passed away in 2009 but his spirit and great influence on the history of the race lives on and is celebrated each year at both the Red Socks, and the Tartan Socks Regatta, held annually on the west coast of Scotland.

Clipper Race Yacht Club Vice Commodore Simon Bradley explained: “The seventh annual CRYC Red Socks Regatta was another great success, bringing together crews and skippers from many different races to sail, socialise and enjoy themselves. It's always fantastic to see old friends and new faces getting together and having so much fun.

“These events take a lot of organising but ultimately it's the people that come and take part that make it so successful! This is the reason behind the CRYC being created by Colin de Mowbray, to bring like-minded people together after their races have finished. It was brilliant to see all three generations on the water for the first time too.”

The charity auction on Saturday night raised an amazing £8,000 which will be split between the CYCA’s two chosen charities for this year - Catzero (www.catzero.org) and Walk the Walk (www.walkthewalk.org) in memory of Emma Pontin, another well-loved member of the Clipper Race Yacht Club who is sadly no longer with us. Em was a shore-based training Skipper and Director of Corporate Events who passed away this year after a brave battle with cancer during which she still took time to help train crew members in their Coxwains course in the lead up to the 2015-16 race.

Simon added: “The generosity (and competitiveness) of the club members always astounds me. The bidding was fast and furious and every item was sold for more than we hoped for. Thank you to all of the people who donated items for the auction, your generosity is very much appreciated.

“Finally a big 'thank you' to everyone involved in organising this year's event and to everyone that took part, next year’s Red Socks Regatta has a lot to beat after this, but we do like a challenge at the CRYC!”

Whilst competition is always high on the water, the Red Socks Regatta is about much more than the race results. It marks a great opportunity for crew to join together with old and like-minded new faces within the Clipper Race community and celebrate the sense of adventure and unique challenge that unites them all.

Christina Cunningham, a Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew member who took part in the last race said: “I left the Clipper Race in Airlie Beach at the end of Leg 4 so I haven’t sailed since mid-January and I didn’t think I would miss sailing on the 70s so much but I really have, and also missed all the great people I met along the way.

“There were quite a lot of us from our team who have all become good friends so it was great to come back and sail with them this weekend,” she continued.

“The racing was fun, though we were on CV27 and could see CV29 (Derry~Londonderry~Doire) ahead of us and it was the first time I’ve ever wished the boat would slow down! It was more evenly matched than I expected as I thought the 60 and 68s would be further behind the 70s but actually they were winning it on the first day.

“It was good to be back in the race mode again. We were working hard and trimming and I helmed in the last race which I loved. It was also good to see familiar faces but also enjoyed meeting people from other races too. The food was good, and the auction and presentations were funny too. Overall very good fun,” Christina added at the end of the weekend.

The Clipper Race Yacht Club was set up in 2009 and has more than 840 members worldwide. It is the only club in the world that requires an ocean crossing qualification and has more circumnavigators in its membership than any other club.

Nick Jacobs from the 2007-08 Jamaica team said: “I first met Colin de Mowbray in Jamaica where he welcomed and looked after us, making sure we were all catered for, he was a great personality on the race. When I heard about Red Socks I knew it was something I wanted to do as it allowed me to be able to carry on sailing after the Clipper Race experience, which is something I very much looked forward to doing. I am very happy to say I have taken part in each and every Red Socks Regatta since. I’ve now done four Tartan Socks Regattas as well.”

After picking up a couple of awards at the prize-giving, Nick went on to explain: “I am now the proud recipient of the Golden Balls trophy. I got the award for bringing entertainment to all the Clipper boats apparently. I was amazed. It is a real privilege to be recognised in this way. We also won a trophy for being the only team not to finish a race, and also actually also having not started it too. So we won two awards really! It was great fun.

“I had sailed on a Clipper 70 once before during Bart’s Bash. Sir Robin had the good fortune of joining our team for that one and I’m unsure of whether he has recovered yet as he is not here this weekend!,” Nick added.

Membership to the CRYC is exclusive to anyone who has participated in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. For more information on the CRYC and how to be part of this unique group of adventurers, click here.

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