SAILORS from West Sussex were among those taking a rare chance to sail in and out of Portsmouth Harbour.
Normally, private boats aren’t allowed to sail through the harbour entrance without using their engines but as there are no commercial or military vessels using the harbour on Christmas Day, the Queen’s Harbourmaster now gives Portsmouth Sailing Club special permission to run a sailing race starting and finishing at the harbour entrance.
The event is now called the hot turkey race as competitors are back in time for Christmas dinner.
A total of 11 sailing boats, including a 12ft Firefly, an RS 400, Phantom dinghies, a Dart 18 catamaran and several cruising yachts gathered for the start. The race followed a course around Spitbank Fort.
There was a lucky break in the weather which brought perfect conditions - sunshine and a good breeze.
Entry fees go to the RLNI and they were alerted so as to be ready to help should the need arise. However, safety was taken care of by many members of the club on the six RHIBs went out on the water and the harbour police launch.
The first boat home in a record time of 17min 51sec was the Dart 18 Here Pussy Pussy sailed by Portsmouth Sailing Club’s most successful racing helm, David Lloyd, who added the result to his large number of other wins this year that included the UK, Dutch and Belgian Dart 18 Nationals.
However the winner according to the secret hot turkey handicapping system was the smallest boat in the fleet - Kem, a classic Firefly helmed by Angus Ross. All 11 boats finished just before a storm came through.
The race will be run again on Christmas Day 2014 and all boats will be very welcome - details at www.portsmouthsc.co.uk