Half Crown Club

Origin of the Half Crown Club and its Membership

The memorable 1960 first OSTAR had five competitors (Blondie Hasler, Francis Chichester, Valentine Howells, David Lewis, and Jean Lacombe) and the Duke of Edinburgh presented the prizes at the Arts Club.  The upcoming 2013 Reunion will be 29 years after creation of the Half Crown Club through the stimulation of Tim Hubbard, Alan Wynne-Thomas, and Lloyd Hircock “… one evening in a country pub tucked away in Cornwall while escaping the pressures of the build up before the 1984 OSTAR”;  the trio produced Go for broke with the Half Crown Club T-shirts.  Hubbard’s book THE RACE [ISBN 0-393-03313-9] devoted a chapter to the Club and recorded that Mike Richey was one of many who sported the new shirt; does anyone know Tim’s whereabouts?;  Lloyd Hircock (now Lloyd Elliott) lives in Ontario, Canada.

Although Hubbard’s book (p. 42) stated: “In that contest [1960], Chichester bet Hasler half a crown (about fifty cents) that he would get to America first”, Mike Richey and many others who were associated with the first OSTAR have been energetic over the years in assuring everyone that although suggested before the first race, an actual half-crown wager did not occur;  recently, Michael Ellison (’64) wrote confirming this matches his recollection of events before the first race.  However, “the myth” provides a memorable name for the new Club and, as Mike Richey wrote shortly before his recent death, “ . . the title of the Half-Crown Club should remain”.

In 2007, Alan Wynne-Thomas noted “… the Club was founded to celebrate the camaraderie and spirit of the skippers just getting to the starting line … [and that it] would be unique and have no rules.”  Each of the 535 skippers who crossed one or more of the OSTAR start lines  from 1960 to 2009 is automatically a member, whether they got to other side or not;  unhappily, some of these skippers have since died and contact has been lost with many others.  If you know of any OSTAR skipper who is not currently receiving Half Crown Club News Letters by e-mail, please let the Club know (halfcrown@rwyc.org).

Valentine Howells (’60, ’64, ’76), veteran of the first OSTAR, and close to 200 other members around the world keep in touch – their 2013 Reunion will be on Saturday 25th May 2013 at the Royal Western Yacht Club (while OSTAR 2013 itself starts on Plymouth Sound at 1200 on Monday 27th May 2013). Members from Finland to the USA have already signed up for the Reunion – to be at the Reunion with them complete the Registration Form (on this website) or contact halfcrown@rwyc.org for additional information.

The RWYC has created a special category of full membership available only to skippers who completed one or more OSTAR races.  Sign up with the RWYC to take advantage of this special membership, created in recognition of the contribution single-handed OSTAR competitors have made to the yacht racing world;  this membership costs only £75 per year.

A current list of Half Crown Members is posted on this website..