A short History by Patrick Cooke-Priest

On 1st July 1987 John Bradshaw (Harrow) 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) was elected Commodore and Patrick Cooke-Priest (Harrow) became Competitions Secretary. The matches were duly held in the Solent and Harrow, skippered by international yachtsman Robin Aisher, 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 (with the exception of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic required cancellation), and now up to 27 schools take part every October. In addition to the principal trophy the following have been added:

The Sherborne Salver (for the match racing runner-up)
The Winchester Target (3rd in the match racing)
The Radley Shaker (4th in the match racing)
The Charterhouse Bowl (winner of the fleet racing)
The Stoic Trophy (Awarded at the discretion of the Management Committee)

The original challengers, Harrow, managed the event until 1992 when Bobby Reynolds of Sherborne assumed responsibility supported, among others, by Paul Collard of Charterhouse.  In 2001 a decision was taken that a roster of member schools should run the event for three years at a time.  Since then, management of the Association has been in the hands of the following schools:

2001-03         Winchester
2004-06         Uppingham
2007-09         Harrow
2010-12         Radley
2013-15         Wellington
2016-18         Dulwich
2019-21         Shrewsbury


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