Cross channel classic attracts 69 entries
The 32nd Royal Escape Race, from Brighton to Fécamp, attracted 69 entries this year and 500 sailors congregated for the start in between the Brighton piers. Under clear skies and blessed with a light breeze from the south west, all the boats were ready for a competitive race across the English Channel to Fécamp some 65 miles away.
Split into two fleet starts, the yachts came from sailing clubs all over Sussex and some from further afield, including four from France. The PY fleet for the traditional yachts such as the magnificent Speedwell and many family crewed cruisers setting off at 0800, with the faster IRC rated racing yachts fighting on the line for a perfect start at 0820.
Heading east for a short leg to a buoy laid off Hove, both fleets set off upwind before turning south, carried by the force 2-3 breeze. Over the course of the day the wind gradually changed direction, moving into the south, which made it quite a struggle for some boats to reach the midway point marked by the Greenwich Light Vessel moored on the meridian, which had to be left on the port hand side. It did not help that as the wind shifted it became very light and at time left parts of the fleet with no wind at all, which made crossing the busy shipping lanes safely a struggle for some who elected to take a penalty and use engines (such boats were able to enter the motor sailing section so all was not lost).
For the leading pack of IRC boats the breeze filled in from the south east and they managed to break away towards the finishing line set from the southernmost harbour pier in Fécamp, initially led by Steve Thomas helming ‘Truant’ from the Sussex Yacht Club. As evening started to fall the lead changed hands with ‘Truant’ eventually claiming third place. The two top podium finishers were both from Brighton Marina Yacht Club with ‘Joe 90’ in second and ‘Sleeper’ helmed by Jonty Layfield claiming not only the IRC class win but also line honours, a prize he admits to chasing for over 13 years.