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The flavour of sailing found itself once again in the Exhibition Room at Arundells, the former home of Sir Edward Heath, on Thursday 19th May when the second of the Morning Cloud Sailing Talks was held.
Featuring an interesting line up of speakers, Michael Boyd, Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, the Honourable Christopher Sharples, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, and Jamie Matheson proud owner of Opposition (formerly Morning Cloud 2) and joint owner of Mariquita.
Sir Edward Heath was a remarkable man as after only starting competitive sailing in the 1960's he purchased a Sparkman and Stephens designed S&S 34, GRP, hull yacht "off the shelf", so to speak, named her "Morning Cloud" then went out and won the Sydney to Hobart race for Gt. Britain in 1971. Four other yachts followed and were also named Morning Cloud. All boats were successful in their competitions which earned Sir Edward great respect in the sailing world, and is still recognised today.
In May 2015 Sir Ben Ainslie came to Arundells and unveiled the bow section of Morning Cloud, which is on permanent loan from Sally Tattersall, a member of the Friends of Arundells. This bow section of the 3rd Morning Cloud is all that remains of the boat which sank in a storm in 1974 and now sits on display in "the Dell", a quiet contemplative area, in the magnificent gardens to the rear of the house. In his speech that day he referred to Sir Edward as one of the greatest and accomplished competitive sailors that Gt. Britain has ever known. This event included unveiling and blessing of a memorial to two of the crew who perished when MC3 sank in a storm off the south coast in September 1974. One of the crewmen was Sir Edward's godson, Christopher Chadd, and his death had a profound effect on Sir Edward who was a very close, and long time, friend of the Chadd family.
Due to the remarkable strong interest in the sailing aspect connected to Sir Edward and Arundells, which was conceived, and has been strongly promoted by The Friends of Arundells, the Trustees decided to follow this up with more "Friends" sponsored events. Firstly the regenerated connection to the Royal Southern Yacht Club when they were presented a long overdue memento promised by Sir Edward in 2004. Secondly the first Morning Cloud Talks held in October 2015 with guest speakers, Chris Mansfield, Commodore of the Royal Southern YC, Jamie Matheson, proud owner of Opposition and Giles Chichester, son of Sir Francis Chichester who gave us a fascinating account of his father's great achievement of the 1966/67 navigation around the globe in Gypsy Moth IV.
On Thursday 19th May Michael Boyd gave us interesting facts surrounding international racing as organised by the RORC plus how the club was started and it's influence in the world of international sailing. He is only the second Irish Commodore in the Club's 89 year history. A committed offshore sailor, Boyd was a member of Ireland's winning Commodores Cup 2014 team, on the Grand Soleil 43 "Quokka" chartered by himself and fellow RIYC sailor Niall Dowling. The team also won at Volvo Cork week.
The Honourable Christopher Sharples followed with facts surrounding the origins of the most famous yacht clubs in the world and how it all began with races in the Solent by the pilot cutters and excise boats. He was elected Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 2013 and is the 22nd Commodore of the RYS which was founded in 1815. Last year the club celebrated it's Bicentenary in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh and most of the crowned heads of Europe. Christopher followed in his father's footsteps as a keen sailor and at the relatively young age of 24 set sail from the Solent as skipper of the family boat with four friends younger than him, with Cape Town as the destination. Learning how to astro navigate enroute, he then raced from South Africa to Rio de Janeiro before returning to the UK via Bermuda. In part due to the recognition of his achievement, he was proposed for election to the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1973 by Edward Heath who was Prime Minister at the time.
After a superb buffet lunch the excited audience took their seats for the long awaited story based around Mariquita by Jamie Matheson. Jamie had everyone spellbound at the first talks with his account of the restoration of the former Morning Cloud 2 to it was bound to be an interesting account.
Mariquita, meaning ladybird in Spanish, is probably the last 19-metre in existence. Designed by William Fife III and built in 1911 at W. Fife yard in Farlie she weighs 36 tons, has 6,171 sq.ft of sail.
It was from Pin Mill in 1991 that Fairlie Restorations rescued Mariquita, she was taken round to the Hamble in a Thames lighter. Work started on the restoration in 2001. She was restored at Fairlie Restorations in the UK and was launched in the summer of 2004. She took part in the subsequent Mediterranean regattas, winning Imperia and looking great alongside the likes of Moonbeam IV.
After a winter in San Remo, Italy, Mariquita headed down to Greece for 2 months of cruising and race training with the owner. She went on to attend 5 classic regattas, including the new Porto Rotondo event and the renowned race week at St. Tropez. In June, 2008 she attended the Fife Regatta on the Clyde in Scotland and then look part in various regattas on England's south coast. There is every likelihood she will be in the Solent and in Cowes during this summer.
It is planned to have other talks centred around Sir Edward's many sailing achievements and other sailing celebrities who add so much to the sailing community and sailing in general.
Bob Hayes May 2016
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