The Brambles sandbank appears only once a year, and then only for about an hour, midway between Southampton and the Isle of Wight. When it does, members of The Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble and the Island Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight race out to it, for a game of cricket.
Dozens of boats containing participants and spectators wait around Bramble Bank for the sea to subside and reveal the bank once more. As soon as it does the stumps are put up and the match gets under way. To any passing ferries and tankers the event must look like some surreal mirage with cricketers standing on water in the middle of The Solent!
The game only lasts as long as the bank lasts, and the sea returns to swamp the pitch. Players and spectators retreat to their boats and all head back to the winning club for a celebratory breakfast.
Who won? I don’t think anyone had a clue what the score was, but it doesn’t matter because the teams take it in turns to win, and this year that meant victory went to the Royal Southern Yacht Club. With an unearthly 0530 start on the pontoon this morning, I think it’s fair to say it’s not the winning, but the turning up.