Black Rock Race In Sussex

image of The Italian Job
The Italian Job

By William Mills

who crewed onboard Tyke

Doug Beanlands The Italian Job won the SCCH class in Sussex Yacht Club’s annual Black Rock Race on Sunday 5th June with Brian Thomas’ Tyke winning in the IRC.



The Italian Job stayed close inshore from the start working their way against the west flowing tide before turning at the mark off Brighton Marina in the light winds for the leg back to Shoreham and taking line honours.

Tyke had a good start, leading at one stage, and on handicap beat Barda, Steve Vyse, by 31 seconds in the IRC class.


image of Tyke in light airs
Tyke in light airs (left)


Afterwards Tyke’s Brian Thomas said;

‘It was really down to the wind and judging it. It was fickle and changed direction by 270 degrees during the course of this two hour race.’

From a crew’s perspective it was a thrilling race requiring intense concentration as every zephyr of breeze came and went, but we still had time to enjoy the fabulous lunch laid on by our skipper.


A Racing Tip –


The course included two laid marks and trying to spot them proved problematic as we swept the sea with binoculars trying them.

Being a busy summer Sunday there was a host of small craft in the vicinity of Brighton Pier with a dinghy race in progress, which had its own laid marks.

‘What does it look like?’ called one of the crew. 

‘Orange, or yellowish. Sort of like a mark!’ came the reply.

One boat I sailed on in the years before GPS, found a solution to the problem of mark spotting by having a waterproof folder containing A4 photographs of all the relevant buoys.

This method was pioneered during WWII by the RAF and Royal Navy, but only with partial success. My father, an RAF pilot being evacuated by sea from Narvik in June 1940 as walking wounded at the conclusion of the Norwegian campaign was ordered to the bridge.

There he found the Navy were using a diagram of aircraft silhouettes to try and distinguish between ‘friend and foe’. Yet too many friendly aircraft were being shot at by mistake.

So the Navy had requested an air force officer for each ship to spot the difference between the planes buzzing overhead.

These days we have digital photography!


image of SYC-racing mark
SYC-racing mark




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