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Portsmouth Regatta to raise money for Andrew Simpson Foundation

by Adrian Saunders 11 May 2018 13:32 BST 9-10 June 2018
Squib Class towards Spinnaker Tower at the Portsmouth Regatta 2016 © Russell Peace

The build up continues for the Portsmouth Regatta 2018 to be held on 9 & 10 June in the Eastern Solent. Miles Linington, Regatta Chairman recently announced that the Andrew Simpson Foundation has been adopted as the official Regatta Charity.

Richard Percy, CEO of the Foundation commented, "We are honoured for the Andrew Simpson Foundation to have been selected as the charity of the Portsmouth regatta. Over the past four years, we have supported a number of inspiring projects in Portsmouth with an aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in the local area. Through our recent partnership with the Portsmouth Sail Training Trust and by opening a sailing and water sports facility on Easton Road, we hope we can continue to have a positive impact, and help raise the aspirations of the young people of Portsmouth."

Regatta Director Adrian Saunders said how delighted the team are to welcome the Foundation. "Everything is really coming together now; Wightlink have joined our sponsors, as have Hyde Sails and entrants are building nicely. We expect the rate to increase as the substantial Early Bird discount expires on 18 May. With excellent prizes and a full programme of very competitive races we are confident of an outstanding event."

The J/109 Class will compete in the regatta for the first time this year. They will race as part of the Black Group fleet joining IRC Yachts competing for the Solent IRC series, Cruiser Class Yachts and the Sunsail Match 40 fleet who will be competing for the professional services regatta and the Gill race series. Russell Peace, Regatta Sailing Secretary is particularly happy to welcome the J/109s to a group sure to enjoy first class racing.

The Notice of Race and on line entry is now open. Full details and documentation is available on For further information about the Andrew Simpson Foundation visit

For further information about the Regatta please contact Sailing Secretary Russell Peace on 07800561469 or

Regatta History

The Portsmouth and Southsea Regatta took place along the Southsea seafront and included entries from local fishermen, rowing clubs, local yachtsmen and more distant Yacht Clubs. Members of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, then based in Ryde and one of the premier clubs in the world, often took part. Our regatta was already very well established when it attracted the interest of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in about 1850. In 1853 it was granted the title Port of Portsmouth and Southsea Royal Regatta.

The Navy entered into the competitions and races, held over several days and attracting great interest from an area far greater than that of Portsea Island. Records show something of a decline in activity in the early 1860s, which was rectified very successfully in 1864. Mr Charles Napier-Pearn was honorary secretary with a committee composed of "The right men in the right place, who set to work in earnest to produce a first rate programme." The local press recorded that "the regatta attracted n immense concourse of spectators, who lined the Ramparts, Beach and Piers. The weather was delightfully fine and produced a race seldom equalled in yachting annals."

Later that year those men formed the Albert Yacht Club, soon to receive the Royal Warrant. Charles Pearn was honorary Secretary and the future of the Club and the Regatta became inextricably linked. In 1865 the principal race was for cup value 50 guineas open to yachts of 30 tons but not exceeding 75 tons from any Royal Yacht Club. That was the forerunner of the famous Royal Albert Gold Cup raced for by a host of great yachtsmen including the Prince of Wales (Edward VII), King George V, the Kaiser, Sir Thomas Lipton and many other famous sailors.

Among other races and prizes included were:

  • The Ladies Plate value 25 guineas for yachts of 15 to 30 tons
  • Fishing Boats under 40 feet
  • First Class sailing Wherry
  • Match for barges, pinnaces and launches in Her Majesty's service
  • Gentleman Amateur's Cup value 10 guineas for boats not exceeding 30 feet
  • Cup for cutters and jolly boats in Her Majesty's service
  • Single handed wherries rowed by watermen, the prize a suit of clothes presented by Joseph & Co.
  • The Tradesmen's Cup for yachts and pleasure boats

As the years passed the Regatta was more closely linked with the Royal Albert Yacht Club, who took responsibility for its organisation. The Royal Portsmouth Corinthian Yacht Club were keen participants, later merging with the Royal Albert.

The Royal Albert Gold Cup was always a centre piece and closely contested. In 1866 it was won by the cutter yacht Sphinx owned by H C Maudsley, she flew an experimental large bellied masthead sail, which came to be known as the Sphinx acre and thence the Spinnaker.

In 1895 the race was as ever very hotly contested with Britannia, Meteor II (owned by the Kaiser) and Saint, together with the smaller yacht Isolde in a very tight leading group. Isolde was owned by Baron von Zedwitz a confidant of the Kaiser. As these yachts rushed toward the anchored committee boat, Saint luffed out on to the weather quarter of Isolde to take her wind but caught her boom, slewing her to port, out of control toward Britannia. The resulting avoiding action ended in Meteor II's enormous bowsprit driving straight through Isolde's main and bringing down the rigging. Baron von Zedwitz died as a result of head injuries.

In 1932 in half a gale many competitors dropped out but Britannia, with George V on board and Westward raced so closely that after 47 miles the result was a dead heat!

The Regatta continued strongly until WW2. The Royal Albert Cup was run until 1950. In 2014 it was decided that the Royal Albert Yacht Club, together with the Victory Class and Portsmouth Sailing Club would reintroduce the Regatta to celebrate the Royal Albert's sesquicentennial and in 2016 the 150th anniversary of Sphinx's triumph and the invention of the Spinnaker. The reborn Regatta continues to grow in numbers of classes and entrants.

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