During a visit onboard Britannia I spied a pretty little ocean racer lying alongside. With her mast out she looked somewhat distressed on a cold, grey, uninspiring morning in late December. But the little I saw under wraps got me excited and I pressed against the larger ship’s rails to get a closer look.
Bloodhound is a 63 ft (19.2 metre) Bermudan Yawl built in 1936 and owned by Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip from 1962 – 1969. Prince Philip was a keen yachtsman, always learning from the best. On his bedside table on Britannia I had noted books piled high on Sail Training, Tactics and Sail Trim! Uffa Fox CBE the legendary yacht designer sailed onboard Bloodhound during one of her first outings in Cowes in August 1962.
The yacht was a regular sight, along with Britannia, on royal holidays in the Western Isles. It was during these times that the young members of the royal family learned to sail on her. When not in royal use, Bloodhound and her crew were made available to yacht clubs across the country, used to teach thousands of young people how to sail.
Bloodhound was originally designed and built by Charles E. Nicholson for the Irish – American offshore racer and huntsman Isaac Bell. He had previously built Foxhound in 1935, a very pretty fast boat , Bloodhound was designed to improve on the RORC rule, built to the 12-Metre rule but beefed up to be heavier with a more powerful hull. Indeed during her lifetime she has been extremely competitive. She won the Fastnet race in 1939 with Charles Nicholson at the helm and went on to win many offshore races including The Morgan Cup in 1936, the North Sea Race in 1949 and 1951, and the Lyme Bay Race in 1959 and 1965.
In 2006 she underwent an 18-month restoration in a barn in Dorset. The project was undertaken by her British owners, Tony and Cindy McGrail who went on to sail her extensively. Nine years ago they sold her to the Britannia Trust where she went undergoing further restoration work.
Today Bloodhound lies alongside Britannia in Leith 11 months of the year in a specially built pontoon so visitors can see her. In Summer 2019, she began chartering from Oban Marina around Scotland’s West Coast. The Skipper and crew are all former HMY Britannia Royal Yachtsmen so I imagine guests will be enchanted and in safe hands.
Cruising will take in some of Scotland’s finest coastal areas including the Sound of Mull, passing Duart and Torosay Castles; Ballachulish, passing the Isle of Lismore into Loch Linnhe and past Port Appin; Jura, through the Sound of Kerrera, past Easdale, the Isle of Seil, Isle of Luing and the Isle of Scarba.
The priority is for private charters and corporate bookings, but individual places can be reserved on select dates. For an opportunity to go sailing in Scotland and pretend you are an extra in the Netflix blockbuster “The Crown” contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to Britannia. The Royal Yacht has had to show grit and grace in abundance in recent years and has since been decommissioned.
In the words of the late, HRH Prince Philip, “Britannia was unique. She was the first Royal Yacht to be genuinely ocean-going and able to bring her particular magic to maritime nations in every part of the world”, not unlike his Royal Highness.
THE NEW ZEALAND MILLENNIUM CUP
Following an exceptional summer of racing in New Zealand, the final event of the season promised to wrap things up in style, and that it did!
The New Zealand Millennium Cup took place at the end of March in one of the world’s best patches of yacht racing water. With world class crews and experienced owners and captains, superyachts enjoyed a grand finale of an exhilarating summer of yacht racing in New Zealand.
Former America’s Cup luminaries joined the event, which is known for battles on the track, and hospitality off it, and which comes at the end of a season of racing which saw New Zealand successfully defend the America’s Cup.
Adding to the excitement is the introduction of a revised handicap scoring method developed for superyacht racing by the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC). This is the first time it will be used in a superyacht regatta and takes into account the exact wind experienced by each of the competing yachts, on each leg of the course. The new system: Performance Curve Scoring was developed as a collaboration between the race’s handicappers and competitors specifically for the NZ Millennium Cup regatta, with representatives of each yacht expressing excitement about the new method to be used in the coming week.
“The ORC has fine-tuned its international superyacht handicap system specifically for our regatta to allow for boats of different sizes and sail configurations to race more fairly”, said organiser Stacey Cook.
Miss Silver took the first win of the NZ Millennium Cup on Orams Marine Race Day.
With the two leading yachts finishing within four seconds of each other, race officers are pleased with how the new rating system was working.
Racing began under glowering skies, unusual in this part of the world, and saw returning competitor Aschanti IV cross the line first in the start sequence.
The 1954 Burmester yacht returned to the Cup, alongside captain Kalle Ebner, with both racing in the inaugural NZ Millennium Cup in 2000.
However, her lead wasn’t to last for long, with former Cup champion Tawera passing her before the first mark after a higher line from the start saw her make good time towards the first rounding mark.
Catalina and Miss Silver rounded the first mark within one minute of each other, with Sassafras two minutes behind, setting the tone for a close race which remained tight until the end.
From the Nine Pin, the fleet gave spectators a glimpse of the quintessential NZ Millennium Cup sight; yachts dotted across the famous waters of the Bay of Islands as they stretched out for home.
Coming down to the final mark, Tawera and Miss Silver locked into battle before a gybe saw Miss Silver pick up more pressure close to the line. On corrected time they were just four seconds apart, but it was Miss Silver who was declared the winner of the first day’s racing and set the tone for the week.
Guests gathered for an evening sponsored by Prospeed with a wine tasting carried out in person by Josh Scott of Allan Scott Family Winemakers.
Brilliant and breezy was how Tawera owner, Mike Mahoney described Boat International day 2 which saw Miss Silver maintain the overall lead. After today’s two races, characterized by good breeze, an appearance by the local dolphin pod and close racing, Miss Silver emerged as the leader in the race for the 2021 Cup.
While Sassafras took line honours in both races of the day, no-one could hold back Miss Silver and she was declared winner of race two and three, as well as winner at that point in the regatta.
The final day of the NZ Millennium Cup sponsored by Royal Huisman was noticeably lacking in breeze, though entrants didn’t let that dampen spirits.
While the race committee worked to plan a race around the conditions, the fleet headed to Motuarohia Island to make the most of the beautiful weather; and the opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Unfortunately, at 3pm the announcement was made to cancel racing for the day.
The cancellation of today’s racing left plenty of time for competing yachts to enjoy some of the best of the Bay of Islands. The local dolphin pod has become a much-loved feature of the regatta and crew were thrilled to be joined by them as they cooled off in the turquoise Bay of Islands waters.
The race day turned into a fun day as crew dived into the waters of Motuarohia with curious dolphins watching on as they swung from halyards and dived from bow sprits.
Prizegiving was held at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel where Miss Silver was crowned the 2021 winner. The 36.2 metre Alloy Yacht won three of three races which were handicapped by the ORCsy using the PCS system: a first in superyacht regattas.
“The spirit of this regatta is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Sean Whitney, captain of Catalina and coincidentally my first yacht Captain on W-Class 76 White Wings in 1999!
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About Alice Widdows
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