A Legendary sailing race
A Legendary sailing race
The last event of this competition contested by nations took place in 2003. A look at the history of one of the world’s most illustrious sailing events.
Initiated in 1957 by members of the British sailing club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), the Admiral is amongst the most legendary ocean races in the world. Over the course of its 23 events, it became the Holy Grail in this category and may be compared to what the Davis Cup represents for tennis.
Contested by teams of three yachts from the same nation, the event takes place in six legs: three Olympic triangles, a coastal route and two races at sea, the Channel Race and the Fastnet. The latter takes place between Cowes and Plymouth via Fastnet Rock in the Irish Sea, and is undoubtedly amongst the most difficult sailing competitions. Bad weather is frequent and the ocean can be particularly fierce in this region, even in summer. During the 1979 event, no fewer than six sailors lost their lives during an exceptional storm.
Before opening up to other nations, the Admiral was contested between the United States and the United Kingdom. To date, the latter holds the record number of victories with eight trophies won between 1957 and 1989.
It is amusing to note that British Prime Minister Edward Heath skippered one of the winning boats at the 1971 event. The United States holds three victories (1961, 1969 and 1997), while France won the 1991 event against seven other nations with Corum’s three boats: Saphir, Rubis and Diamant. A feat that represents one of the highlights of the historic association between the brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds and the sailing world.
In its heyday, the event took place every two years. In the second half of the 1970s, it attracted up to 19 teams from all over the world. Nevertheless, the number of participants declined over the years, inevitably leading to viability issues. The final event organized to date was in 2003. It was won by the Australian team from the Sydney Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
The competition became a race between sailing clubs, with each team composed of two boats instead of three. Due to an insufficient number of participants, the 2005 event had to be cancelled. An official ocean racing world championship was nevertheless held in the Solent – a stretch of water between the Isle of Wight and the south of England, as well as in the Channel.
In tribute to this legendary competition and to men of the sea, Corum launched the Admiral collection of sports watches in 1960. To this day, it continues to be associated with all major sailing events and notably accompanies Frenchman Loïck Peyron as well as Britain’s Ben Ainslie in their various races around the globe.