DIARY: Lawsuits not wetsuits thrown about as Lewis Silkin goes overboard

Was it not Oscar Wilde who once said "There's only one thing worse than being talked about, and that's not being seen at the Inter Agency Yacht Race"? No? Oh.

Well, whoever said it knew what they were talking about. The event, now in its 15th year, is a thoroughbred among industry fundraisers, boasting a rich history of mishaps and shenanigans.

And this year's race proved no exception. In the name of the children's hospice Helen's House, staffers from six advertising and media-related businesses donned their life jackets and set out on an epic voyage around the exotic shores of the Isle of Wight.

On this year's starting grid were Mike Tunniclife and his Initiative team, the financial advisers Kingston Smith, and a crew made up of former D'Arcy staff.

The race was won by a joint team from Radical and Channel 4. The crew was skippered by Channel 4's head of commercial marketing and research, Hugh Johnson, and the former Young & Rubicam head honcho Tim Lefroy - a man who once received a pay-off so huge he could probably have bought the Isle of Wight and turned it into a holiday home. (Don't forget, £200,000 went a long way in 1991.)

The result was a bit of an upset - the smart money was on the yacht chartered by the advertising lawyers Lewis Silkin. The team, which comprised Roger Alexander, Brinsley Dresden, the ex-HHCL man Robin Price and the skipper, Masius' Ian Henderson, had an ace up its sleeve - that able seaman Andrew Cracknell.

With Cracknell on board, you might have thought they'd have walked it, and when the team used all its legal knowledge to disqualify two competitors for failing to circumnavigate a buoy in a practice race, things were looking good.

However, disaster struck the following day, when Henderson found himself stuck between two rival yachts. Like any responsible seafarer, he attempted to reverse his way out of trouble, but before he could say "this bloody boat's knackered" the yacht had lunged forward and mounted the vessel chartered by the Planning Partnership - unfortunately it also happened to be the race organiser Barry Pritchard's team.

From that point on, pandemonium ensued. Pritchard's poor yacht was left with a sodding great big hole in it. And several of his team members, claiming whiplash, served the Lewis Silkin crew with law suits.

Pritchard has something a little more sedate planned for next year. Book your places for the Inter Agency Pony Trek now.

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