Once again the great and the good of the construction industry started arriving on Thursday, 12th September at Shepards Marina for the 32nd running of the Little Britain Challenge Cup, an annual event that was borne out of one construction project (Little Britain, a street in London) whose professionals wanted to do something other than a golf day. Whilst in its heady days the regatta attracted over 200 boats it now boasts a more modest 30 to 40 boats, although is no less keenly fought over.
LBCC 2019 – Credit Paul Wyeth.
The event is organised by a committee of volunteers, all from the industry, and they had spent the days before the event, as usual, agonising over weather reports with each person preferring their own gospel. As it transpired, the weather on Friday morning presented entirely different to expected but the combination of sun and some breeze was welcomed. The Island Sailing Club manages the racing and provides excellent stewardship. They set station off Osborne Bay with courses for the four fleets. Unfortunately, despite all best efforts, they were thwarted to secure at least two races as the dying wind left the fleet adrift by mid afternoon. All boats returned to Shepards Marina, with the debate raging about how courses could be shortened but the Friday afternoon pontoon party soon diverted all attention from sailing to ‘networking’.
LBCC 2019 – Credit Paul Wyeth.
A unique feature this year and something that the committee were delighted to see was the presence of ALL the charities that the event currently supports. The first to arrive was the Cirdan Trust and their 32.9m Baltic Trader, Queen Galadriel, which they also very generously allowed us to use as the Protest Room. Cirdan provide disadvantaged young people with the opportunity for self-development and get them aboard for a week away from their environment. Next, and an equally longstanding partner of LBCC, was the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, and their relatively new addition to the fleet, Solent Hero II, an adapted 42ft yacht which takes teenagers, in remission, away for often their first week at sea.
We were then joined by the Rona Trust and their 23m Donald Searle which runs therapeutic voyages for groups of vulnerable adults and young people, including those with learning disabilities, mental health issues, in treatment or recovery from substance misuse, and those who are living with chronic conditions. The RNLI also attended and provided an excellent service of checking life vests as well as educating the competitors in sea safety. And finally, our smallest charity, Cowes Sailability, who we are most proud of being able to help them to acquire their newest craft, a Drascombe Longboat, which they brought over from East Cowes. We were delighted for them all to be there and give great visibility to our competitors and what they help to achieve.
Much of the conversation on Friday night was also dominated by how much wind there would or wouldn’t be on Saturday. As it turned out there was some breeze and in the face of much challenge ISC managed to organise three races on the Saturday. This required some dogged determination for the third race when wind and tide were about equal and getting over the start line was an achievement in itself. Despite this, the racing was very competitive and of a high quality with every start line and mark being keenly fought over and ultimately we were pleased to achieve our complete regatta quotient of four races.
Saturday evening saw another pontoon party followed by the usual boisterous prize giving which sees trophies awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in all four classes. The overall victor for the Little Britain Cup 2019 was Knight Build. Partying then followed late into the night, filling the dance floor and draining the bar. Everyone then leaves on Sunday morning after three days of great enjoyment and a resolve to be back in 2020.
Whilst the LBCC committee awaits the ‘final account’, it appears again we will have exceeded our target to donate over £20,000 to our various charities. We also look forward to being back at Cowes, on 12th / 13th September 2020.
By Tony Poole – Director – Little Britain Challenge Cup
Top photo – LBCC 2019 – Credit Paul Wyeth