RCOD 70th Anniversary 23 Jul 2005
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, arrived at the RCYC Clubhouse to the sound of cannon. Not, as you might imagine, a Royal Salute, but the starting signals of the second race of the Royal Corinthian One Designs’ seventieth Jubilee Regatta.
Once the greetings and the formalities were over, Commodore Martin Makey led Her Royal Highness down the ramp to where former Commodore Edwin Buckley’s motor cruiser Phoebe was moored on the hammerhead. In a short time, Phoebe was underway, her skipper weaving skilfully between the fleets approaching the start line and those already battling with light airs and the strong tidal conditions of the Crouch in order to give HRH the best possible view of the racing.
This event was a celebration of the fact that the RCODs have been rescued in the nick of time after several years of effort, plotting, scheming and encouragement to restore this classic fleet back to racing trim. The boats suffered badly during the 1987 hurricane leaving only three boats in a sailable condition. Previous attempts to resurrect the fleet came to nothing until it seemed that these lovely, old, historic boats were doomed to rot into obscurity. However, John Heathfield and his new team showed such dogged determination that the fleet should sail again, that a near miracle has occurred and the sight of nine of these familiar boats, dressed overall on their moorings, was enough to gladden the hearts of many of our special visitors and get the reminiscences flowing.
The Crouch waters round the Corinthian line were full of boats vying for a good start. The event was well supported by local one-design classes, ECODs sailed round from the Blackwater, Broads One Designs, often called ‘brown boats’ and one Wyvenhoe One Design, trailed down from Suffolk, Estuary One Designs made the trip round from the Thames and the numbers were further boosted by the home fleets of Dragons, Squibs, RBODs and Elites. Once the fleets were away, Phoebe sailed their courses and left Her Royal Highness to respond to the waves of the crews as they passed by. With both Pat and Kim Allen on board to explain the proceedings, HRH was able to make some pertinent and crisp comments on tactics and manoeuvres!
Whilst this activity was taking place on the river, guests for the Celebration Luncheon were arriving. Former owners and crew, and friends and supporters of the RCODs over many years, were delighted to greet each other. Once Her Royal Highness was refreshed, she spent the next hour chatting and laughing to the guests as they swapped stories and regaled her with tales of disasters and ‘derring-do’! The only concern was whether the RCOD fleet would make it to the dining room before she left but all was well and the timings of Rear Commodore Sailing all worked out.
This is a year for special jubilees as the Corinthian Otters are also celebrating. It’s seventy-five years since the foundation of the Otters and the Princess was pleased to meet their Flag Officers and remember the time she visited in 1990 when her two children sailed in Squibs. The photo collage of that visit along with pictures over the years since the start of the Otters made for an interesting display.
Time was up and the Commodore escorted her Royal Highness to the entrance hall where she was pleased to accept two special celebratory RCOD mugs for the Royal Mug Tree. With a wave of her hand, she departed and the sailors in the dining room had to grab a hasty buffet before getting back on the water… the Regatta must go on!