Clipper alumni paints the Solent red in memory of Colin de Mowbray MBE

Colin de Mowbray - Clipper Race Yacht Club
Anna Wardley
Clipper Race Yacht Club - Eight yachts turned the Solent red last weekend in the Clipper Race Yacht Club’s inaugural Red Socks Regatta in memory of its late president, Lieutenant-Commander Colin de Mowbray MBE.

Colin passed away on 11 July at the age of 65 after suffering a heart attack at home in Lymington. Last weekend skippers and crew representing all seven editions of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race gathered to remember the man who skippered Chrysolite in the first Clipper Race in 1996 and went on to become a much-loved Race Director and Operations Director.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder of the Clipper Race and Chairman of Clipper Ventures, the event organiser, said that Colin played 'a pivotal role' in the development of its round the world race that pits amateur sailors against each other and the elements on yachts representing international cities.

'It was great to see the many generations of Clipper crews coming together to remember Colin through the Red Socks Regatta. He was a driving force behind the development of the Clipper Race and our network of international sponsors. The turnout last weekend proved the high regard in which he was held by our many race crews,' Sir Robin said.

A total of 64 past crew members, with a combined log of around 1.5 million sea miles, took part in the weekend on eight yachts led by eight former Clipper skippers. Participants included Colin’s daughter Sarah den Haring who sailed in Clipper 2000 as part of Ed Green’s Glasgow crew. In addition to racing in the Solent, crews proposed an emotional toast to Colin off Gilkicker Point and took part in lively ‘runs ashore’ on both Friday and Saturday evening.

Red Socks Regatta Fleet - Clipper Race Yacht Club
Anna Wardley

Colin’s widow, Vanessa, attended the prize-giving ceremony on Sunday evening at The Mayflower pub in Lymington. She said her late husband would have been ‘thrilled to bits’ with the Red Socks Regatta.

'It was a great weekend and brilliantly organised. It was a big success and it’s just a great shame that Colin wasn’t here to enjoy it as he would have loved it. It was just what he wanted to achieve when he set up the Clipper Race Yacht Club last year, to give past Clipper crew members the chance to get back out on the water together and have lots of fun,' Vanessa said.

Vanessa presented Tim Hedges, former Race Director and Skipper of Chrysolite in 1998, with the first-place trophy for the weekend’s racing. Pete Stirling, Skipper of Jamaica Lightning Bolt in Clipper 09-10, was awarded the Oh So Close Trophy for his team’s second place in the regatta.

But the most coveted trophy for the team which was deemed to have brought the most ‘de Mowbray’ to the weekend was awarded to Simon Bradley, Skipper of Jamaica in Clipper 07-08. Simon and his all-male crew set sail on Saturday morning sporting dinner jackets and red frilly French knickers and suspenders acknowledging Colin’s legendary sense of humour.

Simon, who went on to become a Clipper Skipper after taking part as a round-the-world crew member in Clipper 2000, said he thought it had been a 'fantastic' weekend.

'It was a great combination of fun both on and off the water and I think Colin would have been most approving. We started racing on Saturday morning in very little wind and returned to Lymington on Sunday in a Force 9 after a weekend full of laughs.

'It was great to come back together with so many old friends and also make new friends with the shared connection with the Clipper Race. It’s a very special event that forms a special bond between the people involved and last weekend proved what an impact Colin had on so many lives,' Simon added.

A special trophy fashioned from a broken shackle, named after Fidgit, Colin’s much-loved yacht, was awarded to Ed Green and his crew for ‘the greatest number cock-ups over the course of the weekend’. Despite having logged almost half a million sea miles between them, the crew managed to have a litany of mishaps throughout the weekend culminating in completely missing Race 2 due to a preoccupation with après-sail activities at the Folly Inn on the Isle of Wight.

Event Organiser, Emily Caruso, said: 'The karaoke effort in The Mayflower on Friday evening set the precedent for the weekend and we’re now looking forward to the Red Socks Regatta 2011: The legend lives on.'

'We had huge support for the event, not only from the Clipper alumni but also from the wider marine community. I’d like to express our special thanks to Blackthorn Cider, Raymarine, Chatham Marine and Andrew and Jacqueline Greening who provided their motor yacht White Swordsman as our stylish committee boat for the weekend,' Emily added.

Colin de Mowbray was the President of the Clipper Race Yacht Club which he founded after his retirement from Clipper Ventures in 2009. Former Clipper crew members and staff are eligible for membership. Colin’s stated aim in founding the special club was ‘to bring some gentle order to a special group of adventurers’.

Hundreds of former Clipper crew members, staff and skippers attended Colin’s memorial service at Chichester Cathedral last month which included a military fly past.

Colin was selected as a skipper for the first Clipper Race in 1996 after serving in the Royal Navy for over thirty years. During that time he was appointed second in command of HMS Alacrity during the Falklands conflict and was appointed MBE in 1992.