Ralph Hammond Innes CBE was born in Sussex in 1913. A journalist at the Financial Times from 1934 to 1940 he then served with the Royal Artillery during World War II. It was during this time that he began writing adventure novels. His books, set in locations around the world, regularly feature spies and intrigue, black markets, counterfeiters, liquor-running, skiing, whaling, exploring, and shipwreck. He was a prolific author and has many international bestsellers to his name. He also wrote of his world travels and sailing. He achieved international fame in the early 1950’s when his books, The Lonely Skier, Campbell's Kingdom, The White South and The Mary Deare, became renowned films. (Click on the image below to view a full list of titles or alternatively, visit Amazon or Waterstones and purchase your own copy whilst helping to raise funds for ASTO.)
Sailing and Ocean Racing He was an accomplished yachtsman and together with his wife Dorothy (an actress and author in her own right) ventured far and wide. In their yacht Triune of Troy, and later in Mary Deare, they took part in ocean races and explored much of the coastline of Europe.
Introduction to Sail Training He sailed as Purser on the Sir Winston Churchill on a voyage from Portsmouth to Stockholm and at the end of the passage he asked the Captain if he could write the voyage report: "It was a wonderful sunny morning. Trees blazed like giant flowers in their autumn tints. The Skargard that morning was so beautiful that the dirty weather, the headwinds and the cold were forgotten. We had come almost 1,300 miles. We were in the north now and the air was crisp and bracing. It all seemed suddenly enormously worthwhile and boys who had come on board, raw to the sea, moved now with greater confidence - most of them one step nearer to adulthood."
His chosen words clearly reflecting his first impression of the value of Sail Training.
Tall Ships, ASTO and the Legacy
The experience stayed with him for over 30 years and was reinforced when a trip to the Isle of Man co-incided with the ending of a Tall Ships Race. Shortly after this Ralph Hammond Innes agreed to become a Vice Patron of ASTO, a post he held from 1978 until his death in 1998. In the last few years of his life he indicated that he was considering leaving a legacy to ASTO to enable the association to continue its work promoting and supporting Sail Training. His wife Dorothy had pre-deceased him and neither of them had close relatives, but no one had any idea that the legacy would be the majority of his estate.
Public Lending Rights In addition to the legacy, Ralph Hammond Innes’ Will also transferred ownership of copyright of his many books and films to ASTO. Every time a Hammond Innes book is borrowed from a public library a small amount of money is payable to the author, or the owner of the copyright. The rate per loan is minimal, varies year on year and is dependent on books being borrowed – so bear this in mind next time you’re searching your local Library’s shelves for a good read, or alternatively, visit Amazon or Waterstones and purchase your own copy whilst helping to raise funds for ASTO.
What Ralph Hammond Innes’ generosity means in real terms is that ASTO's member organisations are able to provide the adventure of Sail Training to many young people who would otherwise not be able to afford this amazing personal journey and experience the life-changing benefits of Sail Training, enabling them, in Ralph Hammond Innes own words, “to take one step nearer to adulthood”.