Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Classic Boat awards 2017

I had not previously noticed a flagpole and blue ensign among the fashionable shops and hotels in Knightsbridge in West London. But here, backing onto Hyde Park, is the club house of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, founded in 1775 and one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world.  Perhaps it might have been possible to see the river Thames from this spot in 1775 looking over the fields and marshes of rural Chelsea, but you certainly can't today.

However the elegant  Royal Thames Yacht Club was a very appropriate place to host the 2017 Classic Boat award ceremony last night. The clubhouse was packed with boat builders, owners, sailors and traditional boat enthusiasts from many countries. The whole occasion was generously hosted and organised by Classic Boat magazine.

There were prizes in several categories including restorations and newly built boats along classic lines.

The awards have been running for some years but a new prize this year, awarded jointly by Classic Boat and Gstaad Yacht Club, is for the 'Centenarian of the Year'.  One of the speakers suggested that there were only about 200 boats over a hundred years old in good sailing condition in the world. This surprised me as we have seen quite a lot on the East Coast of England and in Holland and I would have thought there were rather more. Maybe this is where they are all congregated, where people appreciate and understand the pleasures and problems of looking after these old ladies?

Bonita was one of six centenarians shortlisted (see the full list here), and the oldest by several years. The prize went to Jolie Brise. Built in 1913, she is a relatively young centenarian but is one of the best known yachts in the world and is still very actively sailed covering thousands of miles every year introducing schoolchildren to the rigorous benefits of traditional boat sailing.

 D with Bonita's runner-up certificate

An interesting and enjoyable evening and a pleasant contrast to a busy day at work and the bustle of London's West End.

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