The Royal Southern Yacht Club's glittering annual prizegiving concluded a highly successful 2017 season which has seen the Club run and host a succession of high-profile events including World, European and National Championships.
With well over 50 trophies, cups and bowls presented, along with a plethora of additional glassware also awarded, it was an evening that provided a cause for celebration for more than a few of the 150 guests in attendance at the sumptuous Clubhouse event. None, however, were more surprised to see their success recognised than Royal Southern Commodore Karen Henderson-Williams who saw her Cruiser Class sailing team aboard the Dehler 37 Illywhacker awarded the evening's main prize, the 'Champion of Champions' Trophy. Presented by one of the Club's longest-established sponsor partners, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., the striking 'Champion of Champions' Trophy is awarded to the owner/skipper of the yacht scoring the highest number of points across all four of the Royal Southern's Summer Series regattas. Once recovered from her surprise, the Commodore accepted the trophy from Barbados Tourism's representative Lennon Chandler, and immediately announced that the accompanying prize of a week-long holiday for two with flights and accommodation taking in Barbados Sailing Week would be going to Illywhacker's helm throughout 2017, David Hitchcock. "The great thing about the Champion of Champions Trophy is that it can be won by anybody taking part in the Royal Southern's Summer Series regattas including, as we have shown, those racing in the Cruising Class," said the Commodore, speaking at the prizegiving. "This is a great story as well because it also shows that a mixed-gender crew that spans a considerable age range, and with a variety of experience, can also succeed even when taking on semi-professional crews. "After undergoing major back surgery I was not sure I would even be able to go racing, but David and I sat down at the beginning of the year and said 'let's just go for it'! We pushed Illywhacker really hard for a cruiser-racer yacht, and I can't tell you how much gear we broke over the course of the season, but we had a really good time. Hopefully even more people will get involved in our racing next year - it really is open for all."
Preceding the prizegiving ceremony, Sailing Manager Tim Thubron highlighted the numerous racing achievements of Club Members at events far and wide.
These included first place finishes for Hannah Diamond (Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race), Mark Lees (RYA National Match Racing Series), Ian Williams (Congressional Cup), Rob Greenhalgh (MS Amlin International Moth Regatta), Niklas Zennstrom (Porto Cervo 52 Super Series) and many more. Another to feature on the list was Piers Hugh Smith who, along with fellow Member Libby Greenhalgh, won Class 1 of a notably challenging Rolex Middle Sea Race recently. Piers was the evening's guest speaker and entertained his audience with an account of his baptism of fire as a member of Team Maverick SSR, the first British team to take on the marathon Tour de France a la Voile event since it switched to the Diam 24 trimaran. Once underway, the prizes came thick and fast. Following on from Illywhacker's success in the Summer Series - which included receiving the Wollen Cup for the Club Series - the other overall season trophies went to Mike Blair (Cobra, IRC1 - Aisher Bowl), Malcolm Wootton (Pegasus DekMarx, IRC2 - Fairhaven Bowl), Claire Dresser (Lady Penrose, IRC3 - The Bay Cup), Peter Parker (Stan The Boat, IRC4 - Export Woodbine Trophy), Patrick Liardet (Cosmic, J/70 - Monty Bradshaw Bowl), Jon Powell (Betty, J/80 - WD & HO Wills Trophy), David & Kirsty Apthorp (J-Dream, J/88), Andy Hamlett (Satu, XOD - Meon Challenge Trophy) and Tom Clay (Whyaduck, Mixed Sportsboats - Secretary's Chalice). The Richard Cann Trophy, awarded to the Junior Cadet who had demonstrated that they go the extra mile for others, was presented to Lucy Davis, while The Lightfoot Trophy, also for a Junior Cadet who has shown enthusiasm and encouraged younger Club sailors, went to George Sunderland. The Youth External Competition Trophy was awarded to William Sunderland. A new trophy, The Rutherford-Johnson Salver, which is to be awarded following an act of courage, was presented to Paul Jones for his action in saving a child who had fallen into the Hamble River. The Westbound Trophy - The Travellers Trophy was awarded to Peter Cameron who travelled from Northern Ireland to compete in Royal Southern events. Peter also won the Foster Trophy for the highest placed Club member in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Commodore's Cup - presented to the Royal Southern Academy member for outstanding achievement - was awarded to Annabel Vose as part of the winning Land Rover BAR Academy team in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. The Tony Davis Memorial Trophy - awarded in memory of Tony Davis for achievement in offshore sailing - went to Miranda Merron for a successful Class 40 Championship winning season as co-skipper of Campagne de France. The Duke of Edinburgh's Trophy for conspicuous achievement went to Jerry Hill after he won both the SB20 World Championship and Half Ton Classics Cup, the latter alongside Club Member Leslie Greenhalgh. The final presentation of a memorable evening was a special award to Tony Lovell in recognition of over four decades in race management, many of them as the Club's Principal Race Officer. Report: Phil Riley