Contest of Seamanship 2004 – Events on the Water
This year the UK introduced a system of heats and finals
to each event in the Contest, rather than running two
fleets. This was done in order to be patently fair to
all crews and it meant running three events per day instead
of the usual two. With the gift of a compact site and
massive goodwill from all concerned, we managed to achieve
our aim. For this we are particularly indebted to the
members of the Events Committee for giving so much thought
to the preplanning; to Charlie MacAllister and Peter
Bell for their highly efficient course setting and to
Joe Kelly for taking over the Chair of the Events Committee
from David Byatt for the actual Contest and being so
firm, fair and even handed to all.
The Practical Challenge, a new event in which crews
had to improvise a replacement for broken masts, proved
a valuable exercise in seamanship skills and fulfilled
a dream of UK AC’s Founder, John Kerr, who had
long mused over this possibility. It was won by the Danish
crew and the prize was a seaman’s knife each.
Sadly the two other innovations in the events (sailing
backwards and the rudderless slalom under sail in L’Esprit)
had to be cancelled because of a huge swell. But the
mixed crews had already put to sea before the cancellation
and very much enjoyed the experience. The objective of
L’Esprit was achieved; the fraternization and mixing
of crews early in the contest.
As in previous contests, there was an International
gig. The crew included young people from Northern Ireland
, Eire , Wales and Norway and they were lent Harmonie by
Northern Ireland . They had trained in Fishguard alongside
UK’s Intégrité and had knitted together
into a spirited unit, coached first by Charlie MacAllister
of Northern Ireland and then by Diarmaid Murphy of Eire.
Russia was lent the brand new Cwch John Kerr and
with their highly proficient crew were a joy to watch..
Trophies were given at the end by Admiral Sir Jock
Slater GCB LVO DL, the UK ’s Patron. UK received
the first prize, a trophy made from wood from SS Constitution
and a magnificent Waterford crystal bowl. Belgium received
the runner’s up trophy, a silver cup. Canada received
the new Spirit of Atlantic Challenge trophy donated by
the Rotary Club of Fishguard & Goodwick, judged by
jurors and crews using new objective guidelines. Italy
was presented with an award for greatest effort in building
a boat and getting to the contest. A new trophy this
year was the John Kerr Seamanship Award and it was shared
between the United Kingdom and Denmark .