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39th Setley Cup Model Yacht Race

by Luke McEwen 27 Dec 2021 16:26 GMT 26 December 2021

After the challenges of 2020 it was great to see almost 40 kids and their home-made model yachts, plus parents, grandparents, volunteers, spectators, dogs and horses gathering in the New Forest for the traditional Setley Cup and Seahorse Trophy races on Boxing Day.

The fleet included several past champions including Green Dragon, the winner of the first Setley Cup in 1983. And several of the original sailors were back as parents, having since become Olympic sailors, national and world champions in bigger boats.

Challenging the old guard were some imaginative new creations with hydrofoils, wing masts, hulls made of Fever Tree tonic cans and sails made of turkey wrappers. All in the true spirit of the Setley Cup.

Stories abounded of sons and daughters waking their parents early to help with the final tweaks to the boat in the shed.

The racing format took a new twist thanks to Natural England's Habitat Regulations Assessment this year which has decreed that a maximum of 12 model boats could be on the pond at a time.

So the monohulls were sent off in flights of 12, followed by the multihulls, the rescue dinghy sweeping up the tail enders each time so that the next flight could start their race.

Racing got off to an inauspicious start, in absolutely no wind. An enthusiastic push from the kids was enough for the leading boats to drift all of ten boat-lengths, and there they sat for several minutes, pirouetting gracefully. An atmospherically eery mist descended, not a promising sign. Unperturbed, race officers Jess and Emma recalled the fleet, set a new start line further down the pond away from the trees and restarted the race. The merest zephyr eventually appeared, enough to get these highly tuned racing machines to start moving across the pond.

The wind built steadily through the morning to a blistering 3-4 knots and mercifully the rain stayed away, in stark contrast to the soggy gales of 2019. Even the kids who went in over their wellies had no complaints about cold.

After two rounds of heats, the leading boats in each class went into a two-race final series. In a dramatic finish for the monohulls, the top contenders were tied on points going into the last race. Sylvia McEwen's Silver Bullet lived up to its name to edge ahead of Saskia Kilgour's HMS Sassie, taking the race and the Setley Cup.

The multihulls were similarly close: in the penultimate race Olivia MacAlister's Black Widow was so fast it pushed Dirk Rogers' Danger Cat over the finish line; Danger Cat then won the final race to clinch the Seahorse Trophy by a single point ahead of Maisie Hutchinson's Supersonic Tonic.

Thanks to the generosity of all the volunteers, the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, Andy Baker for lending the rescue dinghy, Forestry England for granting us permission and the great spirit of the kids and everyone who took part for making this Setley Cup event so much fun. More photos and details of next year's event will be on the Setley Cup Facebook page,

Monohull results (Setley Cup)

1st Silver Bullet (Sylvia McEwen) 5 points
2nd HMS Sassie (Saskia Kilgour) 7 points
3rd Slipper One (Henry Nurton) 10 points
4th Green Dragon (William McEwen) 11 points
5th Sebass (Sebastian Ström) 16 points
6th Sally (Ari Stock) 17 points
7th= Star Fish (Clara Nurton) 19 points
7th= Blue Squid (Charlie Rea) 19 points
9th= Annie (Joe Clifford) 28 points
9th= Pink Pearl (Nora Hutchinson) 28 points
9th= Stealth (Ben McEwen) 28 points
12th Colin (Matthew Jones) 30 points

Multihull results (Seahorse Trophy)

1st Danger Cat (Dirk Rogers) 6 points
2nd Supersonic Tonic (Maisie Hutchinson) 7 points
3rd Blue Moon (Angus McEwen) 8 points
4th Black Swan (Barney Bulkely and William Reeve*) 9 points
5th Black Swan 2 (Barney Bulkely and William Reeve*) 13 points
6th Black Widow (Olivia MacAlister) 21 points
7th Chilli (Max McCafferty) 24 points
8th Raffatron (Rafferty Kilgour) 26 points
9th Magpie (Ada Bailey) 27 points
10th Duck Tape (Annabel Hutchinson) 28 points
11th Alice Cat (Jasmine Akester) 30 points
12th Sarkie 2 (Freddie Erdbeer) 31 points

*Barney and William jointly built both the Black Swan boats

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