Great Twelve Regatta

Mermaid Start
Mermaid Start

Great Twelve Regatta Report

Seaview. 27/28 May 2022

John Sichel. 29 May 2022

After two void years caused by Covid, it was with a certain apprehension on my part that the Merchant Taylor Sailing Team gathered at Seaview on Friday evening. I need not have worried. Our family of sailors, for the most part, met for supper at the Seaview Yacht Club which welcomed us most effusively.

Our Old Guard comprised Liverymen David Jackson and Max Carter, Freeman Piers Bishop and Court Assistant John Price. The Young Guard included Apprentices Chloe Macaulay and Henry Quekett, Jamie Webb (honorary MT for the day) and Freeman Rhys Jones. Sadly Alistair Macaulay (Chloe’s brother) had to pull out at the last minute due to Covid, and we were able to fall on the skills of Jamie Webb, a friend of Chloe, both of whom have competed in dinghy racing at a high level. And this year we were able to include a Cruising Boat in the MT line-up with Freeman Annie Graham (and her sailing partner Peter Davy), and who could enlarge the fun by taking 2 MT crew, Liverymen Alastair Speare-Cole and Rupert Johnson. Freeman Mostyn Taylor also had to pull out due to business commitments abroad.

Court Assistant Chris Keville brought his motor cruiser, Seabeat, down from Chichester to swell the numbers in the hope of offering spectator opportunities to the MT family. Ably crewed by his sons and grandsons, moored off the SYC where his generous invitation to join him for Nyetimber Champagne, chilled Rosé and delicious warm Pizza for lunch was accepted with alacrity and gratitude by the Captain. 

The conditions were to prove difficult. The northerly airstream made for a bleak and cold start to the morning, which turned into a hot day burning the wind and ending up in a flat calm for the rest of the day. The result was that only the 1st race in the morning (the Old Guard) could be raced properly, and even that had to be terminated in a shortened course. After that with everybody trying their best to make their boats find wind and way, no racing was possible: and the Young Guard, rearing to go, boarded their Mermaids for 2 attempted starts, but, alas, to no avail. Such disappointment for all! The Cruiser Race was also badly affected: ghosting round the course with strong tides materially affecting performance and favouring those yachts with large sail area (especially Jolie Brise, that magnificent and much loved elderly gaff-rigged cutter), it fell to little Dolphin Thetis owned by Annie Graham and Peter Davy, ably helmed by Alastair Spear-Cole and crewed by Rupert Johnson, to have to retire as they were drifting inexorably towards a sandbank. 

The only race, sailed by the Old Guard, resulted in a very respectable 5th place in the Mermaid fleet. In fact, only 10 Mermaids officially took part, the Fishmongers and Haberdashers not having provided teams. But the MT crew ably helmed by Max Carter, navigated by the deeply experienced David Jackson and crewed by Piers Bishop and Johnnie Price, coped with the vicissitudes of strange spinnaker rig, and fluky winds and kept in the top half of the fleet. Since that was the only result, we remain proud of our unbroken record of competent performance.

In the meantime, the MT Teams kept up their part socialising onshore. It was wonderful enjoying the company of Tamsin Johnson (Rupert’s wife) and Max Carter’s family. Piers Bishop and Johnnie Price were as always huge net contributors to the ambiance. We were particularly privileged this year to enjoy the hospitality of the Jackson family who not only provided us with deep all-round sailing experience (David) but also gave us the luxury of a temporary home in Bluett Avenue, just around the corner from the SYC, for Annie Graham and Peter Davy, and also for the Captain. They enjoyed luxurious accommodation and the most opulent cooked breakfast on Saturday morning. Thank you, particularly to Suzie Jackson (David’s wife). Henry Quekett, also a local, was able generously to host Rhys Jones.

Thus the day slowly slipped away as the Mermaids ghosted ineffectually on a glassy sea, and, having slipped away to change into our shore-going rig enhanced by those who could sport their duck egg blue 6s & 7s sailing ties, and our ladies in their finery, we met for drinks before dinner.

It was a happy company who sat to Dinner at the SYC, taking their place among the Great Twelve; and it fell to the Captain to award the John Perring Dublin Cup to the most deserving individual of the event. It was with great pleasure that the choice fell to Annie Graham (and Peter Davy) who had put such inordinate effort and careful attention to detail to bring their beloved Dolphin Thetis into strange waters, and give such pleasure not only to two MT team members but also to the whole Sailing Team in enhancing the profile of the Team. The only disappointment was that the Young Guard had been unable to demonstrate their undoubted prowess, and we all hope fervently that they (and the Dolphin Thetis team) will be able to return next year, and that the conditions will be better.


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