War in Iraq? Terrorist threats? Staff Sergeant Smith and his team sail away from it all aboard their Prima 38 Coldseal
Can you be both soldier and sailor? Age-old rivalries between the land and water-based armed services aside, the army isn’t famous for making sure that its soldiers can keep their weekends clear. Despite this, Prima 38 sailor Staff Sergeant Smith has somehow managed to take part in most major competitions this season while holding down his day job serving at the Bulford Camp as part of the Bowman team, digitising the army. “This season we’ve had the spring series, the Easter challenge and then the IRCs. We sailed at Cork Week, where we came first against 12 other Primas, and Skandia Cowes Week is part of the series of racing that we’ve had.”
Nine out of ten of the crew serve in the army in various regiments, both as soldiers and officers. Most are in the artillery with a few from the tank regiment. The boats they sail are varied as well: “We sail dinghies, team racing RS200s. We also did the UK match racing in Fireflies”. However, Smith favours the Prima 38 describing them as “fun boats, rated well, exciting to race in and excellent for cruising.”
Designed by Steven Jones, and built by Seaquest Yachts, there are only 25 Prima 38s in existence, although number 26 is being laid up at the moment. With only six of the 25 registered to race at Cowes this week (three of whom have retired), the fleet is too small to have it’s own class. For the regatta they have joined Class 2 IRC.
How does the army select its team for Skandia Cowes Week? Smith explains: “We are selected through our past experiences and previous results. We turned up and raced Sigma 38s in 1999 and 2000 and we won the whole of the Sigma 38 championships in those two years. For Skandia Cowes Week, we’re going with the core crew. There is another army boat,Redcoat- they’re not doing quite so well but at least other people are getting the chance to go out and race.”
With just two days of racing left here at Cowes,Coldsealare leading the fleet of three Prima 38s but are placed fifth overall in their class. When the regatta is over, the crew will return to their barracks to continue their roles as protectors of Queen and country, until their services to sailing are next required.