Trophies and Honourable Gentlemen!

During the 1970’s while I was working for Sabre Engine, a pleasant gentleman called Roy Fisher joined the company to take up the position of Contracts Manager. At the time, I was chief service engineer, and much of the records of customers and engine sales were filed in Roy’s office. Inevitably we struck up conversations and I learned a little of his history. His engagement at Sabre was something of a career ‘wind down’, courtesy of his friend and fellow Royal Motor Yacht Club (RMYC) member, John Freeman, owner of Sabre Engines.  I soon learnt that Roy was the man who had, in a long marine industry career, introduced Mercury outboards to the UK. I also learned that Roy was an RYA scrutineer, measurer - and chief timekeeper for the RMYC races and the Cowes-Torquay. Not least, Roy was also a UIM International observer.

Gentleman that he was, Roy took an interest in my powerboat passion and my somewhat low key, club racing effort with the ‘Cotswold Motorboat racing Club’ on Fairford Lake during 1979. Far from being the class of circuit racing Roy had known with the Mercury supported top level circuit racing teams, Roy suggested he and his charming wife would welcome a day out at Fairford, catching up with the ‘circuit’ aspect of the sport. So the very next club race, Roy shows up with stop-watch, lap-chart and some very professional mentoring! By the end of the season I had come second in the ‘Duckhams Oils’ club championship and received my very first powerboating trophy. My little ‘team’ stopped off at a pub on the way home that day, where Roy and wife, had the Champagne on ice! We all drank to our success from the trophy – which is one of the few I still have – and Mrs. Fisher pressed a silver threepenny coin into the cork, which she assured me would bring lots more Champagne!

The friendship and mutual respect endured, and I recall Roy - upholding his position with the utmost integrity - as Chief scrutineer and UIM observer, called me in the strip and measure Renato Della Valle’s engines, which were being swapped out, after he had won the first two heats of the Class 1 World Championship in 1982. I had an interesting conversation with Mercury’s Rick La More, during the inspection, including revelation of the ‘secret’ impending GM 502 blocks. Della Valle went on to win the ’82 World Championship with legal 482’s.

Roy became one of several RMYC ‘true Gentlemen’ members, who were also RYA officials of the highest moral integrity, with whom I became acquainted. John Iddon, with whom I also developed a friendship and the highest regard, again as a mentor and in his role as measurer for all the boats I rigged. Also, Ron Challener with whom I worked on the revised RYA National Production Cruiser rules. And later my good friend, customer, Sweet Revenge sponsor and all round Hero, Tom Crump. When my Father died and I flew back to the UK, I called Tom to ask if I could hire one of his auto repair shop courtesy vehicles, his immediate reply was ‘no problem’. Another Hero, Steve Salmon, picked me up at Heathrow and took me to Tom’s house. There was the courtesy car – but Tom threw me the keys to his LR Disco and said ‘it’s your as long as you need it’! Needless to say he wouldn’t accept a cent for the hire.

                        Roy telling me to lose weight if these lap times are to improve! 

My particular reference to Roy Fisher, is simply to illustrate the calibre of RMYC members of that era. This was epitomised recently by a news item which someone, referencing the previous blog post ‘A View from Down Under’, sent to me. I will say now, that since publishing that post – which has gathered more than double the ‘likes’ of any other post – I have received many private and confidential communications expressing utter condemnation for what occurred, and equal astonishment that the present trustees could allow it to happen. I can only say at this point, I again have a far clearer picture of what took place in 2018. However, I understand a challenge to the result is still on-going, I will therefore refrain from commenting on facts now apparent.

The said news item, dated 17 March 2005, was a statement released by then Chairman, of the British International Harmsworth Trophy, The Earl of Normanton, advising the withdrawal of the trophy in 2005 and the reasons why. The first words of the statement are: “My fellow Trustee, Roy Fisher and I……”  It then goes on to say: “This trophy, first raced for in 1903……has always been a true test of both competitor and machinery against the sea....…”  It subsequently states: “…..neither Roy nor I can award this prestigious trophy unless we deem that it meets the requirements of the Deed of Gift of Sir Alfred Harmsworth……..”  And again: “……we intend to exercise our right to withdraw the Harmsworth Trophy this season, to ensure this trophy remains as the most sought after in the sport and is competed for in the spirit in which it was originally donated.”

The ‘spirit’ of the entire text actually suggests to me that the news release was in fact written by, Roy Fisher.

For reference: I have a copy of the ‘Deed of Gift’ which states the rules, and ‘spirit’ under which the races will be run, and the signatories to the Deed, including, the entity which is now the Royal Motor Yacht Club. Again I will refrain from revealing more, expressing my opinion, or saying exactly how I feel. I guess much of my disappointment is expressed elsewhere on this website.

Perhaps one day, the truth will out!

For now, I will say again: Draw your own conclusions!