UK: Royal Navy Launches First Racing Yacht

Royal Navy Launches First Racing Yacht

The Royal Navy Sailing Association (RNSA) has officially named its first racing yacht – Jolly Jack Tar – at a special christening ceremony in Gosport Marina.

The 37-foot J/109 class yacht was purchased with grant money from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, Nuffield Trust, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sports Lottery and the Royal Navy Sailing Association.

As well as providing an excellent training resource for the RNSA the yacht has already been put to good use in its inaugural race – the Service Offshore Regatta – where the Royal Navy beat both the RAF and Army in a series of races at the beginning of the month.

Jolly Jack Tar will launch the Royal Navy straight into this season’s racing calendar starting with Cowes, closely followed by the Fastnet, J Cup and Dartmouth Regatta.

The Commodore of the Royal Navy Sailing Association, Rear Admiral Simon Lister sprayed the yacht and its crew with champagne as he officially renamed the second-hand vessel.

“This is a very proud moment for RNSA.

“This puts us the Royal Navy back in with an advantage that is competitive and with an edge that will keep Naval yachting up at the forefront.

“This is RNSA making a clear statement about the future of sailing and yachting as part of the core values and ethos of the Royal Navy.”

Jolly Jack Tar, which was named by popular vote, is moored at the Hornet Sailing Club in Gosport and was blessed by the Reverend Canon Lionel Webber who used water from the Solent.

“There is something very special about this boat,”

he said.

“I thought I would use water from the Solent to bless it rather than holy water as it is in those waters that she will spend much ofher time.

“The RNSA has a tremendous history and stands for all that is good in this sport whether we are talking of cruising or racing – and this is one more special event in that vast portfolio.”

RNSA has had its own racing yacht in the past, but this is the first they have owned for a number of years, having previously chartered vessels to take part in races. The Army and the RAF both have their own vessels, with Jolly Jack Tar now bringing the RN in line with the other two Services.

Rear Commodore Offshore RNSA Commander Adrian Wheal was the driving force behind the charity bid to fund the yacht purchase.He said:

“This is certainly the first racing yacht we have owned since the late 1980s or early 1990s and we are extremely pleased and excited with Jolly Jack Tar.

“We started looking into grants and funding in autumn last year so to be able to have it here ready to launch us into the racing season is fantastic.

“We are grateful to all the charities for funding her purchase and we look forward to taking her racing over the next few months.”

The funds granted by the various charities were broken down as £70,000 from the RNRMC, £30,000 RNSA, £12,000 Nuffield Trust and £10,000 RNRM Sports Lottery.

Anne Carr, Head of Grants at the RNRMC said:

“It’s paramount that the Royal Navy has its own offshore racing yacht. The crew competes regularly against the Army and the Air Force and it’s essential that we keep our Naval crew on the water and competing at an elite level.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is proud to provide finance to Jolly Jack Tar and we wish her, and her crew, a successful racing season.”

Press Release, July 19, 2013; Image: Royal Navy