Norman's 85th Calais Rally - if you can remember it, you weren't there!
An intrepid group of Little Ship Club boats braved a lottery of weather conditions to attend Norman's 85th Calais rally, some having to motor sail and others experiencing a more exciting sail than they (or their crew) might have wished! The Royal Navy provided an escort once again as HMS Puncher turned down an invitation to participate in the Jubilee pageant to attend the rally for the 24th consecutive year. They were joined by seven Little Ship Club yachts as well as boats from the RNSA, the Narrow Seas Club and others, coming from a variety of ports on the East and South East coasts.
HMS Puncher dressed overall for the occasion and welcomed us all aboard on Saturday afternoon for the usual beer call. We then reciprocated on board our boats – with Chamois holding the record with 8 URNU students aboard at one time and Hard Seed’s original optics set up attracting considerable attention (again!).
Then it was off to the Cercle Amical Maritime for the traditional formal dinner and speeches, followed by the less formal visit to the bar of the Societe des Regates de Calais (SRC / les Voiles de Calais). The bar staff did a fantastic job of serving drinks until the early hours of the morning (or later in some cases!).
The crew of Puncher was on duty again on Sunday morning to provide us all with much needed bacon baguettes and recuperative bubbly, which they did with their customary aplomb. It was then back to the SRC for a very warm welcome from the President and officers and the presentation of the prizes – involving an unusual bidding element for the award to the boat that had come the furthest distance (won by Chamois, slightly to Ian’s surprise as he had missed the introductory explanation that there was a prize at stake).
The rest of the weekend was spent in very convivial fashion, with boats inviting other crews on board for drinks and everybody joining up to eat out in some of the very decent restaurants nearby in Calais. There was much discussion of the weather (well we are English!) and the forecast was particularly interesting at times, with the ferries holed up in Dover in a Force 9. The rally ended with boats leaving at a variety of different times depending on interpretation and destination!
Congratulations to Norman on another Classic Calais Rally, and roll on 2013!
Little Ship Club attendees: Chamois, Far Star, Hard Seed, Kazbek, Mon Amie, Pim and Silver Pearl.