Date Of The Next Challenge: 28th April - 1st May 2014
Post-Event Press Release - MJ Quinn UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge 2012 - Issued 9th May 2012
In the 9th consecutive running of this event and the last to be organised by serving and ex members of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, there were 27 entries. With 20 fire service entries, 4 police forces, 2 ambulance entries and the title sponsor MJ Quinn the 2012 UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge was truly a 999 community event. The weather was much less kind to us this year, with wind in excess of 25 knots on day one that increased to gusts of 40+ knots by day two. Prudently, but with regret, the race officer cancelled racing on the second day due to the wind conditions. This is the first year that the regatta has lost a day due to weather conditions.
On day one, despite a midday start for the first race, 3 races were completed with one third of the fleet bravely opting to use spinnakers despite the gusty conditions. The usual suspects were at the top of the leader board sharing the honours with some very close racing. The committee boat was not too happy about one boat inviting themselves for tea during pre-start manoeuvres with both of them suffering damage.
Hampshire One had a great start in race one and was showing the fleet the way around the course until the second mark when they decided to follow a different course to the rest. By the time they realised their mistake and take corrective action the best they could achieve was a disappointed 11th and that would see them losing the overall event trophy they won last year.
Henry Scutt and his crew from Warwickshire Police, who only participated in day one of UKFSC 2012, took the honours for race two of the day. They were chased hard by Roger Glass (Met Police) and Dave Sharman (London Fire 1) who took second and third places respectively.
The final race of the day, which finished near our overnight stop in Cowes, saw Dave Sharman (London 1), Mick Stead (Hampshire Fire 1) and Steve Bishop (Hertfordshire Fire) contest the leading places. Dave and Mick regularly duel for the honours so it was not a surprise to see them finish in first and second places respectively. Steve Bishop valiantly achieved a rewarding third place.
Many of the crew members in the event are either novice sailors or novice racers and all skippers are encouraged to bring new people sailing to give them the experience of our sport. A trophy is presented for ‘white sail’ yachts only to enable their skills to be developed safely. It was pleasing to note that a few of the early novices are now skippering their own boats in the event.
To give even the most novice of crews a chance of winning something from the event the fleet is split, at the end of day one, into 3 classes dependant on their finishing position, the lead boat in each of these 3 classes then win a class trophy following the results of day 2 races.
Our evening ashore comprised of an excellent two course meal at the Events Centre at Cowes Yacht Haven and manager Ian Gregory and his staff ensured that our comfort and culinary needs were well met. There was much hand waving as races and close calls were re-enacted between crews, mostly accompanied by a lot of laughter. Christie Prentice-Harrison, an Essex singer, provided entertainment for the evening and drew much applause from the gathering crews.
Competitors retired to their yachts after the evening’s entertainment and settled down for the night in readiness for the next days racing. It was clear throughout the night however that the wind was increasing considerably and was accompanied by heavy rain fall. It was little surprise to anyone that the outcome of the skippers briefing the following day resulted in day two racing being cancelled. Crews chose many differing activities to wile away their wait in the marina and some even chose during calmer periods later in the day to venture out into the Solent and test the level of main sail reefing that would be required the following day.
The M.J. Quinn Gala evening meal was again held in the Cowes Yacht Haven and it was an emotional second evening when the Hampshire committee chairman passed over the organisation of the regatta to the London Fire and Rescue Service committee. Given the lack of racing on day two it was announced the presentation of the Class Trophies would be held over until the events closing ceremony. On the charity front the gala Evening saw £1285 raised by the raffle and a further £1765 gained from an auction of four magnificent prizes donated to the M.J. Quinn UKFSC 2012. The evening closed with the band The Kicks who were superb.
Day three found the winds only slightly moderated but coming from the South so that racing could take place in the lee of the Isle of Wight. Conditions were however testing so the race officer set a long line and started boats off on a beam reach to reduce the chance of broaching and the inevitable close quarter positioning at the start. A sail plan of no spinnakers was also ordered.
Honours were even between the overall winner and second place with boats sharing the first and second places on the 2 races held, the third race being abandoned as the wind became constant above 30 knots.
One crew member on West Yorkshire 2 broke his shoulder and lost several teeth between races when the mainsheet became wrapped around the wheel and control of the yacht was lost for a period. Despite the Coastguard helicopter offering their assistance the crew returned to Cowes where they were met by an ambulance. After a short visit to the hospital the casualty was able to return to the mainland by ferry where he met with his crew for the journey home.
UKFSC 2012 Results
Overall Event Winner – Peter Crowther (West Yorkshire)
2nd Fire Service – Mick Stead (Hampshire 1)
3rd Fire Service – Dave Sharman (London 1)
1st Non Fire Service – Met. Police – Roger Glass
1st White Sails – Steve Bishop (Hertfordshire Fire)
Sponsors Trophy –– Dave Redman (MJ Quinn)
Class Trophies were also awarded to:
Peter Crowther (West Yorkshire)
David Redman (MJ Quinn)
Carl Penney (London Ambulance)
Post-Event Press Release - MJ Quinn UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge 2011 - Issued 30th April 2011
The eighth running of the UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge (UKFSC) racing series took place on the testing waters of the Solent between 26th and 28th April 2011. Being a 999 community event this years Challenge was contested by 25 crews of 8 people each representing members of the emergency services from around the UK. The UKFSC 2011 also attracted major sponsorship from Liverpool based MJ Quinn Integrated Services Ltd, a well-established and successful multi-disciplined services operation with over 25 years' experience in the industry. As a result the title of the event was changed to MJ Quinn UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge to reflect this.
Day one saw crews collect their F40 yachts from Sunsail at Port Solent. The series requires that all competing crews, who are of mixed ability, use identical yachts prepared to ensure an equal competitive standing. On leaving Portsmouth the UKFSC’s committee boat set the fleet a race course that would ensure that competitors, and particularly the novices amongst them, would gain through their qualified skippers a familiarity with the yachts and their location in a relatively safe environment. This three and a half hour passage race would also be used to separate the fleet into three groups that would compete for class trophies that would be awarded at the end of the next day.
The race course set took us from Spit Sands Fort out around the Nab Tower and a return to the central Solent via several marks towards Cowes which was to be the base for its overnight stop. The wind at Chichester was showing in the region of 22 knots so the race officer prudently ordered no spinnakers and mandatory lifejackets. Sadly on this race the wind simply stayed at a maximum of 10 knots but it allowed crews to get used to the new F40’s chartered from Sunsail. This first race was won by the yacht skippered by London Fire Brigade’s Dave Sharman.
Late in the afternoon competitors made their way to the Cowes Yacht Haven where, having moored their yachts, crew’s were able to renew old acquaintances and meet with new entrants. The event regularly attracts competitors from fire, police and ambulance services as well as personnel from airport fire stations and mountain rescue teams. Crews gathered for the first of two evenings at the Cowes Event Centre where they were entertained by members of the Joke Klub whilst they enjoyed their evening meal. The UKFSC raises funds at these evening events which it contributes towards charities and good causes. Over the course of seven years over £35,000 has been raised and distributed in this way.
An early start was made on day two of the event in order to accommodate five ‘round the cans’ races set for the day. Although the wind was a bit fluky over the central bank it was generally steady at around 15 knots and with short racing and with half the fleet using spinnakers the racing got really serious. All skippers and crews were to be commended on their behaviour as there was only one OCS and no collisions throughout the event, although the committee boat did get worried on a couple of occasions with boats finding that small gap between the committee and the next boat! The winner’s spoils in these races were shared amongst yacht crews of ‘Hampshire Fire-1’, ‘Met Police’ and ‘West Yorkshire-1’. Late in the afternoon crews returned to Cowes.
The MJ Quinn Gala Evening saw the winners of the Class Trophies announced. This allows crews to compete for recognition of achieved when compared to their peers and is run outside the competition for the event’s principle trophies. The three course meal was followed by the event raffle of prizes donated by supporting business community and an auction of those prizes considered to be particularly special. These included a 40 inch flat screen TV, a balloon ride for two, a five day yacht charter in Gibraltar and a pair of boxing gloves signed by the Ukrainian world boxing champions Wladimir and Vitalii Klitchko. In all £3,198 was raised towards the charity giving fund in just under an hour.
On Thursday, the third and last day of the event, two more long races were set by the committee boat. These races consolidated the position of those seen as favourites the day before. Again Hampshire skipper, and event organiser, Mick Stead showed last years winner Roger Glass and contender Nick Harding that he and his crew were a force to be reckoned with gaining a third place in the first race of the day and a first place in the second. On the completion of the last race crews returned to Port Solent for the event’s closing ceremony and prize giving.
Hampshire’s Chief Fire Officer John Bonney presented trophies to the following to mark the merit of their achievement:
• First Fire team placed – Mick Stead (Hampshire Fire 1)
• Second Fire team placed – Nick Harding (London Fire 3)
• Third Fire team placed – Dave Sharman (London Fire 2)
• Best Non Fire team placed – Roger Glass (Met Police)
• Best White Sail team placed – Mark Rowden (Hampshire Fire 2)
• Best Sponsors team placed – David Redman (MJ Quinn)
The UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge 2012 will run between Tuesday 24th April and Thursday the 26th. Anyone interested in participating should contact the event organisers by email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Release 16th May 2009
The 28th April 2009 saw the start of the 2009 UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge, the sixth running of this increasingly popular annual three day regatta, organised by serving and ex members of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The weather was less kind this year with strong winds and rain greeting the competitors, some of whom had travelled from as far away as West Yorkshire. The number of entries once again showed an increase on previous years with 31 boats leaving the pontoons for the race area, including 1 yacht from our ‘Gold’ sponsors telent and six yachts crewed by representatives of five Police forces, one Ambulance service and one Mountain Rescue Team, making this probably the only ‘999 Emergency Services’ sailing event in the country. To allow the more inexperienced crews to compete, skippers were given the option to race with white sails only (no spinnaker) and 12 boats went for this option.
Day 1: Having made their way to the indicated mark competitors were first kept waiting whilst one of the yachts was held up at the pontoon as a result of defective equipment. The flat seas and light winds that were to become the dominant feature of the first day’s sailing then caused a further delay whilst the regatta officials were forced to switch from their intended initial start point to one where we would at least get some racing in. The only bonus was the fact that when the first race started, at a just after midday, the lighter winds enabled the 31 entrants to ease themselves over the start line without incident.
The racing format has always been a passage race to start the event, to give crews a chance to get to know their boat and indeed each other as many crew members are trying sailing for the first time. The UKFSC organising committee actively encourage skippers to enter crews of mixed ability so that newcomers to sailing are provided with a safe but exhilarating introduction to sailing. For the first time the passage race was won by Peter Crowther who skippered yacht number 8 from West Yorkshire. Peter had proven in 2008 that he was particularly adept at maximising progress even the smallest of breezes and 2009 was to be no different. Peter Crowther won the first and only race of day one with Roger Glass (Met Police 2) in second place and Robert Jones (Oxfordshire Fire) in third place, Michael Holt (Suffolk Police) was the first ‘White Sail’ yacht over the line. With deteriorating wind strengths racing for the remainder of the day was abandoned and the fleet made its way to Cowes Yacht Haven for its overnight mooring.
Mick Stead, chairperson of the UKFSC organising committee, opened the gala evening by welcoming the 248 competitors. Using the results of the day’s racing he announced that the 31 boat fleet was to be separated into one of three classes to facilitate a secondary competition on day two of the event. The Haven Events Centre staff had prepared a delicious meal and we were joined by the author of the award winning book ‘Left for Dead’, Nick Ward and his wife Chris. Nick was the last survivor to be rescued from the ill-fated 1979 Fastnet Race and had kindly agreed to be our guest speaker for the evening. His captivated and harrowing experiences enthralled competitors and Nick was given rapturous applause at the end of his talk in appreciation. The rigours of the day certainly told on the crews though as many retired to their bunks before 11 pm ready for the next days racing.
Day 2: The day commenced with the same very light winds experienced the previous day and race official Simon did a commendable job in locating a section of the Solent that offered some improvement to facilitate quality racing. In all four races were to be achieved on day 2 and whilst they involved the same buoys in many instances each produced a variety of outcomes.
Ray Crouch and his crew aboard yacht number 14 (Hampshire 4) were to show by winning the first race of the day that they were major contenders for an event trophy. By race two however Peter Crowther and the crew of yacht 8 (West Yorkshire 2) returned to their winning ways and were to complete their hatrick of first places by race 4 on day two of the event. Adrian Murphy and his crew aboard yacht 22 (West Sussex 1), who had been so dominant in previous years, had to wait until race three of the day to secure their first win of the 2009 Challenge.
Frustratingly an anticipated fifth race of the day was cancelled due to the race official’s yacht fouling its propeller whilst trying to retrieve a large inflatable buoy it had laid earlier in the day. The UKFSC photographer’s rib was able to assist the official by transferring him to the designated marker for the completion of race four of the day. With racing unable to continue all crews returned to Cowes for more fun and games in the evening.
The telent Gala Evening was particularly busy and following a first class chicken dinner Mick Stead rose to provide the commentary for the prize giving, raffle and charity auction. Dave King, of telent Technology Services Ltd, kindly agreed to present UKFSC mid-event Class Awards to West Yorkshire 2 (Peter Crowther), Hampshire 1 (Mick Stead) and West Yorkshire 3 (Robin Moore).
UKFSC committee member Shaun Coote had done some sterling work in the period leading up to the UKFSC 2009 and had gained over £2,500 worth of prizes for the raffle and auctions which were held during the course of the evening. Vic George, one of our event photographers, and his wife kindly added to our auction with a yacht charter for 10 people on their luxury yacht. Not to be outdone BAA Heathrow also came up trumps when they donated a SatNav system towards the auction. The raffle that followed the prize-giving raised just over £1,800 and a further £1,325 was added with the auction of significant donations.
Returning to Port Solent the crews gathered in the bar in readiness for the UKFSC prize giving event. Prizes this year were presented by our patron, Mike Golding OBE, and the children of our former fire service and sailing colleague the late Ian Thresh. The UKFSC committee are very grateful to Mike not only for his continued support but also his willing contributions as Patron. The trophies presented were:
Despite the lack of consistent sunshine, good sailing winds and three boats potentially losing their security deposits all competitors thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have said that they will be back next year. With the great help of our ‘Gold’ sponsor telent, Silver sponsors Boddingtons Electrical and Inspired 2 Learn, Bronze sponsors SolentNightz and SunSail and the ongoing generosity of crews £2,500 has been raised for each of our two deserving charities of this year – The Fire Fighters Charity and Care of Police Survivors (COPS).
Extract From the HFRS 'Exchange' magazine - October 2008
The prestigious and demanding UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge took to the waters of the Solent for its fifth successive year, attracting and unprecedented field of 23 yachts.
Over 180 competitors from fire and rescue services acroos the country pitted their sailing skills against teams from both City of London and the London Metropolitan Police, as well as the South East Coast Ambulance Service.
The Fleet was split into classes at the end of day one, providing the opportunity for crews to compete in class races on day two, as well as contesting the overall event competition. This enabled less able crews to compete for UKFSC trophies on an equal footing to the regatta veterans. West Sussex successfully clinched this year's UKFSC title, ahead of Hampshire and West Yorkshire.
The UKFSC has a proven track record of providing vital support to charities. The event organisers work hard to encourage sponsors to to support their good causes, raising money from competitors through raffles, auctions and by inter-crew competitions. This year's fundraising saw the Ellen MacArthur Trust and the Fire Fighters Charity both benefiting from donations of £2,000 each.
It was a very proud day for the UKFSC organisers, as retired HFRS Divisional Officer Mick Stead, seen here with Shaun Coote and Debbie Gregory of the FFC, presented a cheque for £2,000 to Dame Ellen MacArthur at the Southampton International Boat Show this September. Launched in 2003, the Ellen MacArthur Trust takes young people sailing to help them regain confidence, on their recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illnesses. If you're interested in participating in the 2009 UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge, or you jus wish to be kept informed of future events, please visit www.ukfsc.org.uk
Press Release Issued 16th May 2008:
UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge 2008...............and the winner is
The 29th April 2008 saw the start of the 2008 UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge, the fifth running of this increasingly popular annual three day regatta, organised by serving and ex members of the Fire and Rescue Service.
The weather was less kind this year with strong winds and rain greeting the competitors, some of whom had travelled from as far away as West Yorkshire. The number of entries once again showed an increase on previous years with 23 boats leaving the pontoons for the race area, including 2 yachts from our ‘Gold’ sponsors telent and four more yachts crewed by representatives of the Police and Ambulance services, making this probably the only ‘999 Emergency Services’ sailing event in the country. Sadly one boat forgot to turn left in the Portchester channel and spent several hours aground on a sand bank. To allow the more inexperienced crews to compete, skippers were given the option to race with white sails only (no spinnaker) and 6 boats went for this option.
Day 1: The first race started at 1100 with the wind up to force 6, occasionally gusting to force 7 and a rough sea. With the expectation of a decrease in the wind strength most boats decided on a full main but with lots of twist to stop the boat becoming overpowered, crews and helms certainly found the conditions testing and as it turned out they would do so for the whole of the regatta, with only one race on the second day being in light winds.
The racing format has always been a passage race to start the event, to give crews a chance to get to know their boat and indeed each other as many crew members are trying sailing for the first time. The UKFSC organising committee actively encourage skippers to enter crews of mixed ability so that newcomers to sailing are provided with a safe but exhilarating introduction to sailing. For the first time the passage race was won by Hampshire(1) (Mick Stead) and not by a West Sussex boat who have been so dominant in the past four years.
A shorter second race completed the first day off Cowes, with Hampshire (1) and West Sussex (2) swapping the first and second places, followed by a gala dinner in the Cowes Haven Event Centre. Mike Golding, who has a fire service background, opened the gala evening by providing a televised interview to wish all 184 competitors good luck and fair sailing. One crew had to return their boat, for replacement, to Port Solent following a crash that left a large hole in their side – the offending crew said that they did not have any damage to their boat and yet their anchor roller was found still embedded in the hole! Using the results of the day’s racing the fleet was separated into one of three classes to facilitate a secondary competition on day two of the event. The Haven Events Centre prepared a delicious steak meal for the crews which was enjoyed by all but the rigours of the day certainly told on the crews as many retired to their bunks before 11 pm ready for the next days racing.
Day 2: The day commenced with very light winds, much favoured by Peter Crowther on West Yorkshire (1) who dominated the first race of the day. The wind returned to the boisterous conditions of the previous day for the second race however with several crew struggling with the strong winds and some very large shipping in the main channel, who loudly proclaimed their presence on their horn. The main event contenders of Murphy, Stead and Crowther all finished in the top four yachts home and tightened their grip on UKFSC trophy positions.
Frustratingly the third race of the day was cancelled due to several yachts being coated in fuel oil from a large slick that appeared close to one of our racing marks on the second race. With decks and crews slippery from the oil it was felt to be too dangerous for them to race so all crews returned to Cowes for a clean-up and more fun and games in the evening.
The telent Gala Evening was particularly busy and following a first class chicken dinner, where the wine was kindly provided by telent guest Oliver Youldon from EADS Defence and Security, Mick Stead rose to provide the commentary for the prize giving, raffle and charity auction. Steve Harris, Managing Director - Enterprise of telent Technology Services Ltd, kindly agreed to present UKFSC mid-event Class Awards to West Sussex (2) (Adrian Murphy), Isle of Wight (John Stannett) and London 3 (Chris Knight).
The raffle that followed the prize giving raised just over £900 and a further £610 was added with the auction of significant donations which included a day’s sailing on the Solent for four people, courtesy of Mick Norman from the yacht London (2). Mick Stead was also pleased to announce that the four crews from West Yorkshire had managed to raise in excess of £6,000 in the build up to UKFSC 2008 and had presented this to charities in their local area. Mick was joined by everyone at the evening in congratulating them on their superb fund raising efforts.
Returning to Port Solent the crews gathered in readiness for the UKFSC prize giving event. Prizes were presented by Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Trish Thresh, widow of our former fire service and sailing colleague Ian Thresh. The trophies presented were:
Despite the lack of sunshine, the strong winds and three boats losing their security deposits all competitors thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have said that they will be back next year. With the great help of our ‘Gold’ sponsors telent and the generosity of crews several thousand pounds has been raised for our two deserving charities of this year – The Fire Fighters Charity and the Ellen MacArthur Trust.
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