KSSA Promoting Youth Sailing in Kent
KSSA event



2007 Sceptre


The 2007 National School Sailing Association Annual Regatta this year was held in Plymouth sound, to a mixture of winds, ranging from 8 – 36 knots of breeze. This led to very mixed and interesting racing. Towards the end of the week, each team was asked to put forward a member of the group to sail on an ex Americas Cup yacht Sceptre in the 2007 summer holidays. This year, I was lucky enough to gain a place on the yacht along with seven others.


Sceptre was runner-up in the 1958 Americas Cup, and has since become a monument to high class British Yachting. She was recently refitted with 12 births, and a new suit of sails, and can be chartered at certain times of the year for recreational use and for participating in races such as the Round the Island Race, and the Fastnet Race.


We all met up in Gosport one morning in August and began preparations for the week ahead, which included shopping, health and safety, and of course, the basics of yacht sailing from the Skipper and his mate. Once we had all settled in, we set sail for Cowes. The weather wasn’t the greatest, light winds and heavy rain meant the passage took us a good two hours and by the time we got there, we were all pretty cold and wet. Once in Cowes, a couple of us started sorting out dinner, whilst the others went to explore the main town of Cowes.


After dinner, we made the decision that we would all love the chance to go for a night sail, and the tides would be with us at that point, so it was early to bed and up at 3 to commence the next leg of the journey. We set off for Weymouth at 5 in the morning in the pitch black, and so our journey began.


Each person was given the chance to helm the boat, and so ensued a competition, of who could get the boat going the quickest! The maximum we got was 13 knots on a reefed main and jib, which is pretty good for a 50 year old boat with a huge lump of lead on the bottom!! I had the privilege of helming around the needles just as the sun was coming up. What a feeling it is to see the sun rising over the needles doing 12 knots! The rest of the journey was pretty straight forward, as Portland Bill was visible almost as soon as we had passed the Needles, so it was just a case of staying to the shipping channels and getting into Weymouth.


We arrived in Weymouth around midday and we were able to have a shower and get some washing done in the local yacht club. We then spent the rest of the day lounging on the yacht and having a look around the wonders of Weymouth. That evening we decided to make a trip to the local pub for a good steak and chips!


The next leg of our trip was to Poole in Dorset, so we set off at 11 the next morning after a fried breakfast. We travelled along the Jurassic coast past landmarks such as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove on just a jib, as the winds were a pretty constant force 7. We were averaging 10 knots along this part of the journey and we all enjoyed standing on the bow and being soaked by the waves breaking over the front.


We arrived on the Poole waterfront at 2 in the afternoon next the Sunseeker factory, and we discovered that the navigation light on the top of the mast had been wired up faultily, so it was up to us to get somebody winched up the mast and rewire it! Most people were reluctant to go up, so I volunteered and was winched 30 metres up the mast to fix it. I was up the mast for half an hour rewiring a bulb, which I can assure you is harder than it looks when the mast is moving about a lot in the wind! I was winched down and the light was checked, it worked!! So we were free to wander around PoolePoole isn’t the liveliest place in the world, so we decided to have dinner and spend the evening onboard.


Our final leg of the journey was back to Gosport the next morning, so we left Poole behind us, and continued back past the Needles, Warsash and Stokes Bay. IntoGosport where we started to clean the boat ready for handover the next day. After getting showered and re clothed, we decided that we would sort dinner out ourselves on the last night, so we all went to watch a certain England Germany match, I wont mention the score and ate dinner there.


I had to rush off the next morning, as I had to go and pick up my GCSE results, but I know everybody enjoyed the week, and  we would all love the chance to sail again on Sceptre.


I must say a massive thank you to NSSA who gave me the chance to go on Sceptre, and to the Kent Schools Plymouth team, for putting my name down to sail on Sceptre!


Daniel Alldis