Between 1960 and 1963 the annual Cross Channel rally/race was arranged each Whitsun. On the second occasion in 1961 there were 14 entrants and the event was kindly started at 1900 hrs from Yarmouth Pier (IoW) by the Solent Yacht Club who described it as a rally “with no one expected to take any racing risks.” A perceptive clause as it turned out because, in the absence of wind, a number of boats were unable to save the tide round the Needles and had to motor clear. It was a beautiful night, however, and made all the more interesting by a mix-up with vessels of the Island Sailing Club which were racing at the same time. During the middle watch a huge liner, looking like a floating city, altered course for one group of yachts and, coming upon another contingent, went right round in a circle. Clearly there was some sympathetic soul on the bridge.

No sensible breeze sprang up until 1430 hrs next day and Cherbourg was not reached much before 1800 hrs. Twelve Atalantas made the passage and their crew had a jolly get-together in the evening. Bernard Argoed, the French Fairey Marine agent in Paris, arrived to welcome them and, to everyone’s surprise, produced a silver cup. By general agreement this was presented to John Strubbe, skipper of A48, Atala, who had organised the event. With the cup went half a gallon of brandy, on which the British Customs subsequently charged full duty. Only some fast-talking avoided duty on the Cup also.

Possibly because of the distance involved and the unpredictability of the weather for a Cross-Channel event, the Cherbourg Rally was abandoned after 1963 in favour of a local race off the Isle of Wight and the Cup re-named the Coupe Argoed was reserved for South Coast events. However, in 1987, Cdr. David Lovelock (A102, Atalanta Mary) revived the event with a race from Poole to Cherbourg for which 5 boats entered, including one French owned Atalanta sailed by M Blavier (A35, Scherzo). Atalanta Mary won in a closely contested race at an average speed of more than 6 knots. The success of this revival led to a proposal to organise a Cross-Channel race every second year, though no necessarily to Cherbourg.

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