A short History by Patrick Cooke-Priest
On 1st July 1987 John Bradshaw (Harrow, The Park 44³) wrote to the Old Etonians in the following terms: “I am instructed by my Commodore and Members to extend to you a challenge to participate in a series of Match Races using Westerly Fulmars over the weekend of 16th-18th October next.” From this start began what is now an important yachting regatta attracting up to 25 entries.
A year earlier John, as Secretary, had revived a moribund Old Harrovian Sailing Association. Lord Brabazon of Tara (Harrow, Elmfield 60²) was elected Commodore and Patrick Cooke-Priest (Harrow, Newlands 52³) became Competitions Secretary. The matches were duly held in the Solent and Harrow, skippered by international yachtsman Robin Aisher (48¹), won the first four races (out of seven) and thus the series. The Principal Race Officer was John Cleave an Old Marlburian. Dinner was held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes. The following year the match was again held under the control of John Cleave and this time Eton won the first four races, Harrow being without their winning skipper. In 1989 the match was joined by Winchester and Sherborne who raced against each other. Eton again won the Harrow match.
In 1990 the Eton v. Harrow matches ceased and the event was opened to any independent school. Charterhouse, Marlborough, Downside, Stowe, Gordonstoun & Uppingham joined in. Marlborough won, beating Charterhouse in the finals. By the following year the event had become too big for the OHSA to organise and for a small number of volunteers led by John Cleave to manage so management of the event was taken over by The Royal Yacht Squadron. The Saturday dinner also moved from The Royal Corinthian to the RYS.
In the same year the (Harrow) Arrow Trophy was presented by Mrs W H D Priest (of Jersey) to the OHSA to be the trophy for the event. It is a solid silver arrow mounted on an oak block on which is also a plaque bearing the crossed arrows of the Harrow crest. It was made by a Jersey silversmith and is probably the only sailing trophy of its kind anywhere. That year it was won by Sherborne, but previous winners were inscribed on the trophy. In 1992 with Robin Aisher again at the helm Harrow won, beating Eton in the final. In 1993 the Arrow Trophy Yacht Racing Association was formed and from then on has organised the event. In 2003 race management and the event dinner reverted to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.
With the entry of so many teams, a purely match racing event became impossible and so the format was changed to fleet racing on the Saturday with the top four teams match racing on the Sunday and the remainder sailing two more fleet races.
The event has been held every year since its inception, and now between 15 and 25 schools take part every October using matched Sunsail F40s. In addition to the principal trophy the following have been added:
The Sherborne Salver (for the runner-up)
The Winchester Target (3rd)
The Radley Shaker (4th)
The Charterhouse Bowl (winner of the fleet racing).