Duet wins Tall Ships Race
The recent Falmouth – Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta, organised by Sail Training International, included a race from Falmouth to St Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight. Starting on Sunday 31 August, the race officially finished on Tuesday 2 September, following which the international fleet of over 40 Tall Ships, sailed in company up the River Thames to Royal Greenwich.
A 4-5 knot westerly got the vessels off to a good start, but the light airs in the final stages presented a challenge to many of the vessels with a number of them having to finish at sea.Not so for the Essex based, 102 year old, Duet, which crossed the line after 37 hours, coming first in her class and winning overall on corrected time by 13 minutes.
Duet, which visited Fox’s Marina & Boatyard on a couple of occasions for some work prior to the event, was skippered by local Brightlingsea sailor Tom Bridle aged just 26 years. Tom took over as skipper of Duet – a 22m long Edwardian classic gaff rigged yawl (which was originally owned by explorer Augustine Courtauld) at the beginning of this year, having begun his sail training career with the Pioneer Trust six years previously.
Duet is still owned by the Courtauld family but has been operated by The Cirdan Sailing Trust for nearly 20 years for the purpose of providing young people, in particular those who are disadvantaged in some way, with the opportunity to develop life skills through off-shore sailing. On this occasion, in addition to Skipper Tom and Mate Ed Humphries, Duet was crewed by a group of youngsters from Enfield Police Volunteer Cadets, aged between 15 and 18 years.
Following the race, all the participating vessels, including another Cirdan Sailing Trust vessel, Queen Galadriel, sailed to Royal Greenwich for the 2014 Tall Ships Festival. A spectacular parade through the streets of Greenwich Town by over 1,000 participating crewmembers was followed by the race prize-giving, which took place on the lawn of the Queen’s House, close to the National Maritime Museum. HRH The Countess of Wessex attended the event and Duet’s crew was among sailors and young trainees to be introduced to the royal visitor.