Royal escape 2017

Monday, June 05, 2017

Redeye retains trophies

The 40th running of ‘The Royal Escape’ took place on Friday 25th May.  It's a distance of 67 nautical miles and celebrates the escape across the channel of Charles II in 1651 – and here’s the history bit …

Following the first English Civil war, in January 1649 Charles I was executed for high treason. The King had refused to properly recognise the power of Parliament and the House of Commons. But the death of one monarch passes power to the next in line – so just before Charles I climbed the Whitehall scaffold to face the executioners axe, Parliament rushed through an emergency bill to make it an offence to proclaim a new King and declared the House of Commons as the source of all just power. England effectively became a republic, led by Oliver Cromwell.

The Kings son, Charles II, had legged it north to Scotland, which was then still a separate Kingdom – and history may still repeat itself!! Anyway the Scottish Parliament proclaimed Charles II King of Scots and he set about raising his Royalist Scots army to move against Cromwell and the English Parliament. This culminated in the Battle of Worcester on the afternoon of September 3rd 1651 where Cromwell’s Roundheads had a brutal clash with the new Royalist. The Royalists were chased and cut down through the narrow streets of Worcester, so bringing the Civil War to a final and bloody conclusion.

Charles and his supporters legged it again – eventually hiding themselves in the fishing village of Brighthelmstone (now Brighton). They took rooms at the George Inn in West Street where they started looking for a way out. They found Nicholas Tattersell the captain of a small 31ft coaster named ‘Surprise’, which was lying in the mud off Southwick. Her normal trade was lugging coal from Newcastle round to Poole, but Captain Tattersell sniffed out the value of this cargo and agreed to give them passage to France.

He set sail for the Isle of Wight then changed course and sailed on through the night towards the French coast where Charles and his gang landed on Fécamp beach and began nine years of exile.

1658 saw the death of Cromwell, England faced a political crisis and Parliament sought to reunite the country by inviting Charles II to return and assume the throne. After the bloody years of civil war and the oppression of Cromwell’s roundheads, Charles II was a popular King, popularly known as the ’Merrie Monarch’ and admitting to at least 12 illegitimate children.... a habit he probably picked up in West Street (Brighton)!

Following his return from exile, Charles had no sooner settled into his Thameside Palace at Whitehall when the ‘Surprise’ appeared, scrubbed clean of coal dust and moored on the opposite side of the river. Captain Tattersell had dressed his little ship with flags so all would know it was in his modest little vessel that Charles had made his escape ten years before and that it was to Captain Tattersell that the King and country owed a debt!

Tattersell’s reward was a commission in the Navy, and the Surprise was commissioned and renamed the ’Royal Escape’. The King kept the ’Royal Escape’ moored in the Thames opposite the Palace of Whitehall as a reminder to himself and his subjects and it became Britain’s first ‘Royal Yacht’.
Tattersell also trousered a tidy reward and with his new-found wealth returned home to Brighthelmstone/Brighton where he purchased the Ship Tavern... now called the Old Ship Hotel on the seafront.

And now the race bit.  With the start line set off the Old Ship Hotel, a fleet of 77 yachts that were split into two fleets took part, with the SHHC fleet starting at 1005 and the IRC fleet starting at 1020. The race starts with a short mile long leg along the coast either to the west or east depending on the wind direction with the channel light vessel as a passing mark, to port, and a finish line set just to the west of the pier in Fecamp.

Redeye took advantage of a slight port end bias and led the fleet off the start line, but being the slowest boat in IRC1 was overhauled prior to rounding the mark off Brighton marina by some of the higher rated yachts.  Amidst the many ‘game plans’ was getting a tow off the larger/faster boats, however this had to be amended as they soon found themselves passing the supposedly faster boats.

With the wind backing, kites were flown for the final miles towards the Channel Light Vessel.  Deciding on using the fractional reaching kite, as the wind continued to back it looked like the masthead reaching kite should have been used and discussions were held about carrying out a peel.  However, once the light ship had been passed the fractional sail once again came into-its-own and was carried for much longer than other competitors could carry their kites.

With the breeze then veering kites were dropped and a fetch to the finish ensued.  As the finish line neared the breeze dropped and the tidal factor became an ever increasing topic of conversation.  Thankfully, for those on-board, Redeye managed to creep across the finishing line against a building tidal current and much muttering.

Having secured the boat for the night a beer in the yacht club was enjoyed whilst watching many of the remaining yachts still racing struggling to complete the course, with many making little or no headway whilst just meters from the finishing line.

With the last yacht finishing at 0400 results were not published until later that morning.  Having the boat scrutinised is a good sign as it shows that a favourable result has been recorded, and Redeye was on the list for such an activity.  With this carried out, and passed, the crew could finally celebrate winning not just IRC1 but also IRC overall, and complete the double double.

Where as in 2016 the masthead reaching kite had been weapon of choice, the fractional reaching kite had in 2017 provided the additional power when conditions allowed to complement the ‘class’ main and headsail, all of which were sourced from Hyde Sails.

Boat – J105

Sails – all supplied by Hyde Sails

Main & headsail – Carbon GPL laminate,

Kite – 0.75oz spinnaker nylon


Beth – Bow (and wave stopper)

Bear – Mast (and reserve wave stopper)

Pit/Nav – Terry

Trim/Nav (and co-owner) – Pete

Trim – Mike

Main – Mutley

Helm (and chief mutterer) – Wooderz

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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