Nestled on Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta’s gilded trophy table in 2018 was a 1759 tankard honouring the ‘Young Classic Boat Sailor of the Year’. The award, fittingly named the FitzRoy Cup after the captain of the HMS Beagle during Darwin’s famous voyage in Tierra del Fuego, is a silver cup, finely engraved with a three-masted warship underway, representing a ship of the rank from the time of Admiral Nelson and Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy RN. It was a perfect compliment to the Regatta closing ceremony, since surely it held a drop of two of grog.
The first recipient of The FitzRoy Cup was Leo Sampson Goolden after he completed a trans-Atlantic, single-handed voyage without GPS in his 1947 Folkboat Lorema. He took the 2015 Regatta by storm, went on to skipper the 95’ Ketch Sincerety, became bosun on the 217’ schooner Adix and is currently rebuilding the 1919 Albert Strange cutter, Tally Ho in Washington State.
The most recent rising stars hail from the Caribbean. The 2018 winner, Alex Goldhill, learned sailing on Carriacou, an island known throughout the region for wooden race and cargo boats built on the beach. Raised with old boats in need of repair led to a degree in boatbuilding from Denmark’s Erhvervsskolen Nordsjælland (Esnord). After an internship with Woodstock Boatbuilders in Antigua, Goldhill sailed his Camper Nicholson 32 solo from Carriacou to New York City, then on to Martha’s Vineyard for more study with builders Gannon and Benjamin. It was there he met Pat Ilderton, owner of the 52’ Sparkman and Stevens Mah Jong and upon completion of her rebuild, was hired as captain. Mah Jong’s impressive performance at the 2018 Antigua Classics was punctuated by Goldhill’s humorous sea shanty vocals.
The FitzRoy Cup Honourable Mention recipient, Nazz Alexander, realized his passion for sailing in 2018 aboard 100’ Schooner Ruth during an inter-island delivery. He enrolled in Ruth’s trainee programme, studying aboard for Yacht Master Certification. A scholarship from St. Lucia’s Jus Sail sent Alexander on a trans-Atlantic voyage aboard 112’ schooner Argo as part of the Seamester programme. That led to RYA PBL2 certification and several more deliveries between the Caribbean and US.
The little silver cup, synonymous with hard work and skill, is now the mark of success for each up and coming mariner awarded the honour.