Tag Archives: jolie brise

Tally Ho, Jolie Brise and Ilex: the story of the first three Fastnet races

Tally Ho

‘A hundred years ago public interest in yacht racing was widespread and the press, both dailies and periodicals, printed long articles covering races in and off shore. People came to sit on the headlands and watched in their thousands as well. Offshore ocean races did not favor the picnicing crowd ashore and the tales needed to be told by the sailors. Ocean crossings in small boats and private races between big boats got wide coverage in the 19th century. In the early twentieth century periodicals like The Rudder and Yachting Monthly took the lead in sponsoring and promoting ocean races, starting with the Bermuda Race off the US east coast and the Fastnet Race starting at Cowes, England.

‘The first three winners of the Fastnet Race were old boats of widely varying character and all three of these boats still exist 90 years later, all over 100 years old. Jolie Brise, 1925 winner as well as in 1929 and 1930, was built as a French pilot boat in 1913. Ilex, 1926 winner, was designed and built by Camper and Nicholson in 1899 as a yacht. Tally Ho, 1927 winner, was designed by Albert Strange in 1909 and built in 1910 as a cruiser from which the owner, a fishing fleet owner, could fish.’

Read the rest of Thad Danielson’s article here.  Read more about the historic Tally Ho and find out more about the Albert Strange Association’s efforts to give her a future here.



Hanging onto a topmast, aboard the Jolie Brise

That wonderful chap John Simpson has sent us another of his great stories, this time about two famous old sailing yachts (check the links below for some great background).

Do keep the stories coming when you can John!

(He’s just completed a voyage with a friend from the Hamble to Arisaig via the East Coast and the Caledonian Canal, by the way… )

‘Sailing old gaff rigged boats can be a bit different, particularly if you have a topmast to deal with…

‘Once we did a night passage with a young crew on Jolie Brisea fine old French pilot cutter with a lot of history.

‘We left from Scalasaig, Colonsay just before sunset then rounded the west coast of Mull finishing in Tobermory. The wind had been blowing quite hard SW F6/7 most of the day while we’d visited the island. According to the forecast the wind was due to moderate to SW F4/5 that night.

‘After we’d cleared the northern end of the island we felt the full force of wind and swell left over from the day’s blow. Thankfully the meteorological gods had judged it right, and had given us fast reach along our course in 15-18 knots of breeze.

‘Jolie Brise would easily have carried much more than all plain sail (consisting of mainsail, large jib and staysail) but the crew were all teenagers, and for that crew hoisting and setting even these sails took a lot of sweat, effort and time.

‘With a different sort of crew, we might have had the topsail and maybe even her enormous yankee with its 95ft luff hanked on at the end of her 19ft bowsprit, but we were slipping along well at seven or eight knots I judged that was enough. There was no need to have young folks on deck (or out on the sprit) coping with more heavy gear at night.

‘After clearing the SW corner of Mull and Iona and bearing away the wind suddenly died. The sea and swell left over from the earlier blow began rattling her huge gaff, boom and sail around frighteningly. Her heavy mainsail with all its ropes, blocks, gaff and boom plus associated iron work started making horrible noises and threatened to tear the rig apart.

‘Though her topmast was supported by a long forestay plus one running backstay. The young mate and I had a bad feeling. We might easily break or spring (split or crack) the 30 ft. spar if we didn’t do something rapidly to stop it waggling around. I should add that Jolie Brise’s topmast was a new one, but had already been broken in the Channel Isles earlier that season, though not by me. (I did see one break on the Fife schooner Belle Adventure in the Caribbean once, though… )

‘The pilot cutter was sporting a brand new bowsprit too – when a topmast breaks on the foremast of an old vessel very often the bowsprit also snaps because there is no forestay to stop it flexing downwards.

‘We started the engine, turned and ran gently with the swell behind us. This headed us NE towards quite a mess of rocks and islands, but the nasty sound of iron and wood crashing around stopped and the topmast stopped flexing!

‘Our minor crisis was over… but Murphy’s Law decreed that the wind would return just as suddenly half an hour later. We resumed our course north and all enjoyed a lovely broad reach until arriving at the northern part of Mull.

‘As we turned east dawn was already breaking giving a veiled glimpse of Ardnamurchan Point in the north.

‘The SW’ly breeze died away completely as we came under the lee of the island having to motor the last few miles into Tobermory. After mooring to the spare ferry buoy, we asked the crew if they’d enjoyed their first night passage offshore it was a resounding, yes. Despite heavy and persistent rain which seemed to have set in for the day, they still wanted to explore ashore.

‘Leaving them in the capable hands of my three older crewmembers. I decided to stay aboard and have a glance at the next leg of our trip.

‘Poking my head out the hatch for a break, another old white wooden yacht caught my eye. Her crew were looking for a mooring in a very crowded harbour, and I realised it was Temptress, Edward Allcard’s 1910 34ft yawl, which by this time was owned by friends who kept her in Falmouth.

‘I hailed them and suggested to my friends Vicki and Mark that they came alongside Jolie Brise. Both were very damp and looked quite relieved having being unable to find a vacant berth.

‘After they’d dried off, I invited them aboard for a brew. Mark began to speculate if these two old craft had ever been alongside each other somewhere, probably it would have been after George Martin converted Jolie Brise into a yacht in 1924, and would have happened well before we’d all been born… ‘

‘Feature vessels’ at the PSP Southampton Boat Show

Steam Pinnace 199

Jolie Brise Rosenn 210908 Caroline Allen

Armed Steam Pinnace 199, Caroline Allen, Rosenn and Jolie Brise – click on each of the thumbnails for a larger photo

Boat shows can be fun, but apart from one or two rather special events they aren’t events I tend to seek out. Perhaps I should got to them however – I was rather taken by this collection of photos of what are called ‘feature vessels’ appearing at the PSP Southampton Boat Show. ‘Feature vessels’ reminds me of the ‘personality girls’ they hire for the stands to lend a little stockinged glamour, and I guess the purpose is similar.

Naval steam pinnace Maintained and sailed by volunteers from the Society of Friends of the Royal Naval Museum at Portsmouth, the 98-year-old Armed Steam Pinnace 199, is one of the last few boats in working condition still powered by steam.

Armed Steam Pinnace 199, along with her Hotchkiss three pound gun and a full crew dressed in the uniform of the era will arrive on the Show’s marina on public preview day to kick off the world record breaking semaphore attempt. See Armed Steam Pinnace 199 on Friday 11 September, berth 521.

Btw – have you noticed that the man on the stern is having a bit of moment with the ensign? Captions and speech bubbles please in the comments via the link below!

Caroline Allen The Caroline Allen is one of two 30ft steel brigs operated by the Little Brig Sailing Trust, and is the world’s smallest tall ship. She is fully equipped to take five young sailors aged 10 years and above for their first trip out on a tall ship. A typical trip sees five new sailors on the water for up to three hours, two each working the sails on each mast and one to steer.

The Caroline Allen has the same rigging as a much larger vessel, but with smaller sails the loads are a lot lighter, and to make things easier the ropes are colour-coded. She will be at berth 521 on Sunday 13 and Monday 14 September.

Jolie Brise The last sailing boat to carry the Royal Mail, Jolie Brise is a 96 year old gaff pilot cutter that became world famous when she won the very first Fastnet Race in 1925. A former fishing boat, Jolie Brise has also recently become a record breaker by setting a new ship’s record speed of 14.1kts whilst surfing down a wave.

Jolie Brise is sailed by pupils of Dauntsey’s School and has successfully competed in six Tall Ships Races – twice being the overall winner of races to the USA and Canada and twice winning the award for the youngest crew in the fleet. She will be at berth 521 on the marina on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 September.

Rosenn One of just 22 yachts built at the end of the 19th century, Rosenn is the last of the Solent One Design yachts still afloat, not to mention still racing, and is part owned by renowned yachtsman and journalist, Bob Fisher.

After spending an astonishing 60 years on the River Crouch, she returned to the Solent where she races from Lymington, recently completing the 2009 Round the Island Race. She will be at berth 521 on the marina on Thursday 17 and 18 of September.

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