Celebrities Sail 4 Cancer

10 July 2007

Top British comedian Griff Rhys Jones and esteemed comedy actor Geoffrey Hughes took on sailing celebrities Laura Baldwin and Phil Sharp last week in a pro-celebrity sailing race as part of the British Classic Yacht Club and Spirit Yachts Regatta.  The race was also designed to raise awareness of Sail 4 Cancer and its work.

Griff Rhys Jones, made famous for his comedy series ‘Smith and Jones’ and recently his TV programme Restoration, has a passion for sailing and was keen to give the professional sailors he was pitted against a good run for their money!

Geoff Hughes (best known for his roles as Twiggy in The Royle Family and Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances) is also a keen sailor, though confesses he doesn’t spend nearly enough time on the water these days.

Also supporting Sail 4 Cancer were two up and coming sailing celebrities!  Laura Baldwin and Phil Sharp. Phil Sharp recently won the transatlantic single-handed yacht race, The Route de Rum.  He was  was joined by fellow Sail 4 Cancer Ambassador Laura Baldwin who is currently ranked 2nd in the world for her class and has represented Great Britain in the Olympics.

All four celebrities were delighted to help Sail 4 Cancer in their bid to improve the quality of life for those living with cancer.  Sail 4 Cancer is primarily a provider of water based respite days and holidays for families affected by cancer.  The charity takes cancer patients and their families away from the disease and the nightmare that they are living through and offers them the chance to create positive memories and have some quality time together.

All four competitors were allocated a classic boat each, though Griff had the added advantage of helming his own classic yacht, Undina, a Philip Rhodes 45ft which he has lovingly restored, whereas the other three found themselves in unknown territory on boats they had never sailed before.

Conditions were far from perfect as the four contenders crossed the Royal London start line.  Sharp gusts of wind up to 30 knots and a strong spring tide meant that all the boats were sailing at hull speed down to the first mark in danger of broaching at any moment!  All four boats were almost overpowered by the conditions, as their rails were buried deep in the Solent chop.

Offshore sailing hero, Phil, helming ‘Strega’, finished first, completely awestruck from his first experience of helming a Spirit 37, and claimed he had surfed a classic yacht on the very edge of control!  Griff came a good second, admitting that after a lifetime spent cruising, he has only relatively recently started racing and still finds it a little unnatural not just taking the safest course. He felt he had learned a huge amount out on the water, but was glad to get back to the pontoon with no damage to his well loved boat!

Laura came in in third place, having been surprised at how maneuverable her International 5 Metre, ‘Sensa’, had been after her familiar Laser Radial.  Geoff finished fourth but was utterly delighted helming the Philip Rhodes 45, ‘Josephine’.

Geoff claimed it was like:

“Like letting a kid loose in a sweet shop!”

Sadly conditions were worsening and the afternoon’s race had to be cancelled, so the return ‘grudge’ match was out of the question.  The evening reception was hosted by the Royal London Yacht Club. Local artist Michael Frith kindly donated two of his stunning paintings, which were auctioned off during the evening to raise more funds for Sail 4 Cancer.

The British Classic Yacht Club Regatta is always a spectacular event, with so many classic boats out on the water. Sail 4 Cancer was chosen as the official charity for the event and any funds raised will be used to help improve the quality of life for those living with cancer.

The charity would like to thank Cornelius Van Rijckevorsal, Sandy Fielding, Tim Blackman and of course Griff Rhys Jones for risking their beautiful classic boats out in the Solent last week.


Celebrities Sail 4 Cancer
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