To Little Britain, where hula girls dance with kamikaze pilots, door suppliers disrobe, fire jugglers find gainful employment and yachts speed determinedly in the wrong direction

Against the tide

Picture the scene: a fine Thursday morning on the Solent; a flotilla of newly liveried yachts cruising out to begin the annual Little Britain festivities; all is indeed well with the world.

Well, almost all. In the midst of the 200-odd boats heading from Port Hamble Marina, near Southampton, out to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, one was determined to be different. Imagine the surprise on the Bovis Lend Lease boat when they saw it was their Multiplex rival that was sailing the wrong way …

Cap’n Jack sails again

Displaying the steely determination required of a former RIBA president, Jack Pringle got his yacht Fraxious to the start line. As I reported last week, Cap’n Jack had been caught in the teeth of the gale that struck this year’s Fastnet race, leaving his participation at Little Britain in doubt. It’s just as well the point of the event is to raise funds for various charities, as I’m sure Pringle would have hoped to finish slightly higher than 82nd.

Credit: Scott Garrett

Get me my telescope!

Racing at Little Britain on Friday was delayed due to millpond-like conditions on the Solent. Some sailors indulged in retail therapy while others gathered at a bay to shake off hangovers. It was soon noted that a female crew member on the yacht of German glass-door supplier Geze had discarded her top. A desperate scramble for binoculars ensued, in particular on the boat of one noted architect, but the European exhibitionist had covered up before a zoom camera lens could be fetched.

Period detail

Mitsubishi should have checked the fancy dress theme before handing out promotional stickers. The Pearl Harbour/South Pacific theme meant that among the grass skirts and coconuts there was a smattering of Japanese kamikaze pilots. Some of you may know that kamikaze planes were adapted Mitsubishi Zero fighters, a fact not lost on the group of pilots who decided that the Japanese air-conditioning giant’s Stay Cool stickers would add a nice finishing touch to their flying overalls. I bet Mitsubishi was delighted to see the pilots walk away with first prize in the fancy dress.

The sum of all beers

As usual, Wilson James provided security and logistics for Little Britain, and managing director Gary Sullivan had his hands full. Before racing on the Thursday, an urgent call came from the Wilson James yacht requesting beers for the thirsty crew via the firm’s ubiquitous inflatable. Sensibly, Sullivan said the small crew could have one each. “Exactly how many are there of you?” he asked. A pause, then over the radio: “Forty, boss.”

Lips reserved for beverages

Gleeds hosted a swanky Little Britain do on the 19th-century Spitbank Fort, a circular stone edifice in the middle of the Solent. Guests arrived via a 40-minute boat ride to be entertained by fire jugglers, bands and food and drink.

I was sternly warned by Gleeds’ PR that any indiscretions should on no account appear in my column. Ordinarily I would baulk at censorship, but I want to go again next year so my lips are sealed …

Meanwhile, back on dry land

My colleague was taken to Wembley last Saturday by the kind folk at Mott MacDonald to watch England thump Israel 3-0. Sadly, the corporate hospitality had been so welcoming that Mott and its guests were still finishing their drinks when Michael Owen put England 2-0 up. “They might have rung a bell or something,” said one fuming attendee.