The Alster Piraten visit the Otters

»«11th, 12th and 13th May 2007

The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club enjoyed close contact with the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein in Hamburg during the 30's, racing with them on several occasions. In 1937 four youngsters from their junior club travelled to Burnham to race against the Otters in 12sq metre Sharpies. The situation in 1937 was very difficult; the four boys were obliged to join the Hitler Youth in order to have passports and permission to travel. One of the boys was a C A Grau.

Seventy years later and the Otters again entertained the Piraten who travelled together with a team of Dragon sailors to race against the RCYC Dragons. This was something of a pilgrimage for Cornelius Grau, son of the lad who came in 1937 and Constantin Grau, his grandson. Cornelius and Constantin brought with them newspaper cuttings of the original visit and presented the Otters with framed photographs of the 1937 visit.

For the record in 1937, "the Germans won the series, though one race was disallowed as the upriver mark had sunk; a hazard of east coast racing which puzzled the visitors."

In 2007, the racing was really close with a total of 15 points each. However, the Otters were deemed to have won with two 1st places against the Piraten's single first place.

A return trip is to be arranged. The Piraten will be on their home waters, a large lake, and the Otters must learn to watch out for pleasure craft... could be interesting!

Wendy Eagling

History came alive when the Alster Piraten Yacht Club came to Burnham to race against the Corinthian Otters. The last time they had visited us was in 1937. I was very moved when I was presented with two framed photographs marking that event by Cornelius Grau. His Father had been a member of that team and now he and his son were back in Burnham making it the third generation to race against us.

We have always read of Tiny Mitchell's visit to Hamburg and his being so impressed by their childrens sailing organisation that he returned home to set up The Corinthian Otters loosely based on The Alster Piraten.

There are differences, not least that they are not an independent club in their own right but rely on their parent club for funds, but what became very clear this weekend was that although we knew Tiny had had plans for an Otter uniform it has never reached the sartorial elegance of today's Piraten. The boys looked exceedingly smart in their white trousers and navy blazers with gold lapels and the embroidered badge on the pocket, it is the original design! All is forgiven, Otters, as you did win a closely fought match!

After the prizegiving the team burst into their traditional song, but were careful not to divulge the apparently unrepeatable words, as one of the team said to me, "We have been singing it since 1898 so why stop now!"

Everybody appeared to have a great time and grateful thanks must go to everyone involved in the organisation. There was such a happy atmosphere and it is hoped this exchange will become a fixture in the calendar.

Judy Waples
President of the Corinthian Otters