New yacht as navy prepares for the races

LAUNCH Rear Admiral Simon Lister sprays the bubbly over the Jolly Jack Tar. Picture: Paul Jacobs  (131994-1)
LAUNCH Rear Admiral Simon Lister sprays the bubbly over the Jolly Jack Tar. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131994-1)
The Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov as seen from HMS Somerset in the Moray Firth

Royal Navy ship shadows a Russian destroyer

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The first racing yacht in more than two decades for the naval sailing association was named at a ceremony yesterday.

Members of the Royal Naval Sailing Association gathered at the Hornet Services Sailing Club, in Haslar Road, Gosport.

The Rev Canon Lionel Webber, life vice-commodore of the association, led the ceremony, sprinkling water from the Solent on the boat.

Rear Admiral Simon Lister, the Commodore of the association, officially named Jolly Jack Tar – spraying her and the crew with champagne.

He said: ‘I rename this yacht Jolly Jack Tar, may God bless her, and all who sail and win in her.

‘This acquisition of a top-class racing yacht puts, with RNSA in charge, the navy back with a yacht that is again competitive.

‘It gives us that edge, that I know, in the hands of this team will keep naval yachting right up at the forefront.’

The £122,000 second-hand 37ft J/109 class yacht was bought with cash from a number of charities.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity gave £70,000, the Nuffield Trust £12,000, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sports Lottery £10,000 and the association paid £30,000.

The crew have already beaten the army and air force in races during the Service Offshore Regatta in June.

Commander Adrian Wheal is in charge of offshore racing.

He said: ‘It will hopefully allow us to compete in some of the high-level national, and perhaps international sailing events.

‘It gives us a focus to direct the enthusiasm that sits in the team.

‘We’ve got some top-end sailors but they hadn’t had the equipment to compete – we now have that.’

The boat will compete in the Cowes Week, Rolex Fastnet and in Dartmouth this year.

Around 200 to 300 sailors will crew the boat each year, depending on operational deployments.

Veterans also take the boat out – something which matches up with the RNRM’s ‘through-life’ approach to supporting the navy.

Jessica Ortllepp is the charity’s head of marketing.

She said: ‘We’re a highly competitive bunch and we need to support our sailors.’