After a regimental sailing tour to Antigua, wins in the Combat Arms and RAC Cup competitions and strong KRH representation in the winning Army team at the Inter-Services we decided that it would be a good idea to have a crack at one of the biggest sailing events in the world, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race.
Therefore, in the middle weekend of August, Capt Foster and a motley crew of KRH sailors met up with Maj (retd.) Peter “Scho” Scholfield and his yacht Zarafa to prep for the race. A Saturday evening spent in the yacht clubs of Cowes, including drinks with the Chairman of the Regimental Association at the Royal Yacht Squadron, turned out to be the perfect way to prepare for what was to come.
Sunday morning dawned and the Solent filled with boats of all shapes and sizes but very little wind. The first 48hrs of the race were dominated by high pressure and almost no breeze. In conditions that did not exactly suit our boat we had to fight for every inch of water and breath of wind to make gains and this resulted in some extremely stressful sailing for the afterguard. After a pretty ropey start we began to pick off our rivals and over the first day and a half we made the call to stick closer to the coast than the majority of our rivals, twice picking up vital pressure at key headlands. This enabled us to effectively undercut much of the fleet and hit the Isles of Scilly punching well above our weight.
On Tuesday morning the low pressure system that we had been expecting slowly rolled in from the Atlantic and taxing mental sailing turned into a classic offshore “grizzing” in the Celtic Sea. We saw winds up to 26kts and had a tough fetch up to the Fastnet Rock, rounding at 1130hrs on Wednesday morning in big seas and stormy weather. The leg back to the Scillies saw us hold our own before we rounded Bishop’s Rock, popped our spinnaker with the hawk on it and set off for home. At this point we were a bit over-pressed and everyone was feeling the strain of four days of tough racing but we made the call to get everyone up on the side for the fast reach to the Lizard. The crew were forced to dig extremely deep in the final 24hrs and their effort paid off handsomely as we kept climbing to reach our final, and pretty amazing, position of 22nd/356 when we passed Plymouth breakwater.
On reaching Plymouth the best news was that we took both the Culdrose and Inter-Regimental trophies for first service boat to the rock and first service boat overall by a comfortable margin, beating not only five corps teams but also all three services. This is the first time that an individual regimental team has been able to put their name on either trophy and they will soon be installed in the mess for the next two years! For interest, a list of final positions for service yachts is below.
Once again, the team must thank Colonel Tony Singer for hosting us to drinks at the Royal Yacht Squadron before the race and of course Scho, without whom none of this would have been even remotely possible!
Zarafa – Team KRH – Fastnet 2015:
Capt Henry Foster
Maj (retd) Peter "Scho" Scholfield
Maj Rob Hoey
Maj George Tyson
Capt Mark Lambert
LCpl Kris Owen
Tpr Jake Sloan
Tpr Billy Davey
Service Yacht Competition – Fastnet 2015:
1. Zarafa – KRH – 22nd
2. British Soldier – British Army – 114th
3. Jolly Jack Tar – Royal Navy – 121st
4. Blue Juice – Civil Service – 163rd
5. Red Arrow – Royal Air Force – 167th
6. Volunteer – Royal Naval Reserve – 192nd
7. White Knight 7 – Royal Armoured Corps – 195th
8. Spirit of St George – Royal Logistic Corps – 200th
9. Ilex of Upnor – Royal Engineers – 236th
10. Redcoat – Army Air Corps – 266th
11. Kukri – Intelligence Corps – 277th
In October the Annual Mounted Gunnery Competition took place in Lulworth Ranges, Dorset. While our CR2 crews came second, the CVR(T) crew excelled themselves with an amazing performance and you can read the report here.
After three weeks of ranges in Wales and a 100% first-time pass rate at the Annual Crew Gunnery Test, Callsign R22 was selected to represent the KRH at the 3 Div Mounted Gunnery Competition. This was, in effect, the top 10% of CVR(T) gunnery crews – the British Army’s own “Top Gun”. Thus it was that, with “Highway to the Danger Zone” playing in his head, former AFV Gunnery School Instructor SSgt Wayne Buglass led his crew of Tpr Tom Longshaw (gunner) and LCpl Steve Mayer (driver) off to Lulworth for two weeks of hard-core shooting and no-doubt woeful bar chat.
At the draw for the running order, the KRH were selected to go first. This was a worrying start as they would be the first through the main battle run for the competition and setting the standard. Longshaw, after a strong level six in Castlemartin, however was confident. Calming his SSgt commander down he carefully warmed up through his practice engagements and then blew away target after target, including hitting every machine gun target dead-on along the way, to produce an excellent 81% level five. The crew then settled in for a nervous wait.
After the KRH a further seven armoured close recce crews and four armoured cavalry (brigade recce) teams shot. None were able to match the KRH’s standard of gunnery and the team were duly crowned the best CVR(T) crew in 3 Div (and consequently the entire British Army), pushing the newly formed Royal Lancers into second place and the QRH Recce Troop into third. This, together with a hard-fought semi-final place in the falling plate competition, was a truly impressive result for SSgt Buglass and his crew, especially considering the fact that Tpr Longshaw only fired his first round on a CVR(T) Scimitar 6 weeks prior to the event!
KRH Association and serving members of the regiment.