HMS King Alfred Reservists sail to victory


Just another day in the Royal Naval Reserve

Sailors from HMS King Alfred achieved success in the Royal Navy Reserve regatta held in Portsmouth harbour. Able Seaman Rachael Asquith from Gosport, with her crew Leading Seaman Liz Grady, sailed their Bosun dinghy into overall second place but won the prize for the highest placed boat sailed by ratings. Rachael beat off stiff competition during the 9 race series in conditions that varied greatly, the later races proving testing for even the most experienced crews.

Another King Alfred crew among the prize winners, AB Alex Snow, won the Novice Cup, for being the highest placed helm that had only learned to sail in the last 18 months; he was ably supported by CPO Ian Chown from HMS President.

HMS King Alfred prize winners, LS Liz Grady and AB Rachael Asquith, celebrate their success

The RNR regatta is held at the Royal Navy Sailing centre on Whale Island each year, the centre runs a fleet of sailing dinghies, teaching Naval personnel and Sea cadet and their families how to sail and handle small RIBs . Units from all over the UK took part from HMS Eaglet in Liverpool to HMS Flying Fox in Bristol. In all there were 16 boats taking part, many with experienced helms and crews, but also some novices.  For 2 of the crews, this was their first weekend ever being in a dinghy, it was “an amazing experience, great fun” one was heard to say.

With 16 boats in the fleet the starts were keenly fought. Start lines always look much longer than they are, with the wind direction constantly varying, one end of the line is almost always favoured, with the strong winds making the starts very lively, there was plenty of white water splashing about, loud shouts of “water”, “Starboard” and a fair number of bumps thrown in.

One boat got accidently “T boned”, which is when one boat crashes straight into the side of the other (ramming in all the movies), causing damage to the rubbing strake which needed to be replaced. Due to the superb skills of the Sailing centre staff; the boat was all fixed and ready to race only an hour after being pulled from the water.

Every leg and mark on the course was keenly fought for, the heavy conditions catching out even the top boats. One boat that had been in second place found itself with its mainsheet wrapped around the first windward mark, the helmsman holding a disconnected rudder, the rest of the fleet then had to navigate their way around this unusual obstacle! A few boats did capsize but in the end every boat much to the credit of the novice sailor’s went on to finish.

The wind strong as it was, produced a great weekend of sailing, there’s nothing like a testing weekend to get the blood going, but then that’s life in the Royal Naval Reserve.

For more information on the Royal Naval Reserve see: http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Careers/Maritime-Reserves/Royal-Naval-Reserves

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