Displaying items by tag: Uffa Fox
My first experience of racing was in a National 18 wooden dinghy and it was rough. Inexperienced as a crewman during a race in Monkstown Bay, I slit the top of a finger across a chain plate while pulling in the headsail sheet.
Blood started to pour out of the cut. With the dinghy having only a short freeboard I did what seemed best. To avoid getting blood on the sail which is a heinous crime aboard sailing boats, I put my hand in the water to wash away the blood.
A roar from astern heralded the Skipper's response:
"Get your b....hand out of the water, you're causing drag," which meant I was being accused of the crime of slowing the boat down in a race where there was little wind and every bit of forward momentum was important.
I began to explain and made the mistake of asking where I should put my bloodied finger!
The answer is not printable, but taught me that National 18s didn't take competitive sailing lightly.
I grew to love those boats, their beautiful lines, their speed and their demands on the crew with a spinnaker up. Inevitably, with the cost of maintaining wooden boats, the glass fibre boats (GRP), took over, but the National 18 Class kept going, primarily based in Crosshaven.
Then the 1720s arrived, named after the year when the Royal Cork Yacht Club was founded, powerful new boats which were predicted to wipe out the National 18s. They didn't. Despite becoming very popular for a time, their support declined and the National 18s continued, not alone surviving, but strengthening
This week the Class has announced that it intends to host "the largest gathering of National 18s in the history of this legendary boat."
Next year's Class Championships, better known as the Cock O' the North and sailed in alternative years in Ireland and the UK, where the National 18 is also popular, will be held in Crosshaven from July 24 to 29.
"We are calling on everyone interested to get in touch and take part in what is going to be a great occasion, whether you are a former 18 sailor or someone looking for a new challenge," Class Captain Peter O'Donovan told me. "We are putting in a big effort to get former 18 sailors and their boats back on the water."
It is hoped that at least 50 boats will take part "and perhaps even more," said Peter who has been trawling class records to find former owners and boats which will be arranged in three divisions for the event.
"We decided to include a Classics section, which will encourage those who owned the beautiful wooden, clinker boats, to sail again with us. Some of these boats have reappeared in Crosshaven, we know of others in West Cork and further afield," said Peter.
There will be a section for the "Penultimates," the older fibreglass 18s which "have been hiding in garages, just waiting to be taken out again" and the "Ultimates," the modern fibreglass boats at the front of the present fleet.
"We want to make this a special event and so far there has been interest from Schull, Baltimore, Waterford, Wexford, Arklow and Lough Derg. Further afield, we expect to see visitors from Scotland, the Isle of Man, Essex, Tamesis and Chichester Harbour and we have even had a request for information from Germany."
One of the famous boat building family in Arklow, James Tyrrell, is amongst those who have owned and sailed a National 18. Another sailor of the boats was Peter Crowley, present Chairman of the Irish Sailing Association.
He sailed with Tommy Dwyer from Monkstown who is regarded as an icon of the National 18 fleet in Cobblerod. Tommy now sails Das Boot.
Fun in the National 18. Photo: Bob Bateman"She was recovered from the bottom of Cork Harbour and I refurbished her. said Tommy, "We named her after the U-boat which featured in the film of that name."
Tommy has been sailing National 18s for over 40 years. Every year his name has been amongst the trophy winners.
"For those interested in sailing, we would like to hear from those who would like to crew in the championships," Peter O'Donovan told me. "In addition, we are compiling a list of boats available for charter across the three divisions. For anyone not looking to sail, but just to be part of the event, we will also require assistance with rescue vessels, committee boats and other aspects of the event. It is also hoped to put together a collection of photographs from days gone. We would like to hear from anybody with material. Former 18 sailors who cannot get involved in the event could join us at the Class Dinner and renew acquaintances."
Anyone interested can contact the National 18 class by Emailing Peter O'Donovan at [email protected] or on phone 087 2491720 or Email Kieran O'Connell at [email protected]
The original idea for the building of National 18s was that of Frank Knowling of Whitstable YC in the UK, who later became known as the 'father' of the class. In 1938 he wanted an 18-foot dinghy, suitable for day sailing, yet fast enough to be of interest to racing sailors and at a reasonable cost.
The UK national sailing association and Yachting World magazine organised a design competition won by well-known designer Uffa Fox with a proposal for a clinker-built wooden boat. Another major designer, ¸, had also submitted a proposed boat. The first National 18 was named 'Hurricane,' owned by Stanley Beale and sailed at Whitstable.
It was not until after World War that building of 18s got underway. The Class Association was established in 1947 and by 1950 fleets had appeared at clubs around the coast of Britain and Ireland.
Seventy-two years after the first moves to build National 18s they still survive, a tribute to a great boat.
This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie
Three intrepid young British yachtsmen, Luke Yeates, Jack Gifford and Will Shepherd, have taken up the challenge by the Scandinavian Classic Yacht Trust, SCYT, for British classic yacht owners to retrace Uffa Fox's famous 1000 mile, 1930 voyage from Cowes to Stockholm. Sailing the Vixen, a 1937 classic yacht, the team hope to be in Trosa, Sweden, between 3rd and 6th August 2010 for the start of the Trosa Tullgarn Royal Palace Regatta, part of a new classic series, the Baltic Classic Master Cup.
"This race is unique in the challenge it offers, particularly the interesting route and heritage of the trip," says Luke Yeates, "the freedom it allows for people to select their own yacht, route, stopovers etc. Is unprecedented and makes it quite an appealing adventure, especially for a young crew."
Vixen is closely related in design to the Vigilant, in which Uffa Fox made his historical journey says its skipper, Luke Yeates. "The attraction was obvious, 'it felt like the right thing to do', was my immediate reaction." All three of the crew have grown up sailing Uffa's designs and reading his books. As Luke says, "It would be an honour to follow in his footsteps and to have a grand adventure to boot!"
In addition to the facing the vagaries of the weather, the crew have agreed to help in a scientific study related to environmental issues during their journey from the North Sea to the Baltic. The crew will record and report on visibility and the presence of seaweed, plankton and debris in the water and take water samples. The study programme has been developed by the Asko Laboratory, a marine field station which is part of the Stockholm Marine Research Centre within Stockholm University. The aim is to better understand the conditions that give rise to the annual algae blooms that adversely affect the beaches in the Baltic region.
"We are delighted to have our first challenger signed up. The added environmental element means that as well as retracing Uffa's historic journey, the Vixen crew will help scientists gather data to help them better understand the nature of the algae blooms that wreak havoc each year," says Olle Appelberg, Executive Director of the SCYT.
Luke Yeates hopes that more boats will join the challenge, particularly as he is quite competitive. Olle Appelberg adds that whichever boat makes it to the finishing line first, the current owner of Vigilant, Andrew Thornhill, will be presenting the first of, what it's hoped to be an annual presentation cup for winners to keep for one year. It is clear that the Vixen crew have their hearts set on that cup.
The Vixen and its crew
Vixen was designed by Knud Reimers and built at the Kungsors boatyard in central Sweden by Oscar Schelin. Imported to the UK before the Second World War, she was one of only a handful of the elegant Square Meter Rule yachts. At the time building to the rule was prolific in the Baltic but scarcely known in the UK. As co-skipper Jack Gifford explains, "Much finer in form and lighter in displacement than her British counterparts, Vixen and her kind were viewed with suspicion by the (British) yachting establishment and with her light and efficient construction deemed as 'un-seaworthy." One famous British sailor had fallen in love with the Swedish Square Meter yachts and collaborated with Reimers to build his own yacht. That, of course, was Uffa Fox, and the boat he built at Cowes was the Vigilant. So confident was Uffa in its sea keeping that he set out to sail it to its spiritual homeland of Sweden to take part in the Swedish championships.
Now Vixen is owned by twenty five year old Luke Yeates who has been passionate about sailing since his schooldays and already has a wealth of experience behind him, particularly in multihull racing. His ambitions are to become an all-round sailor capable of competing at the top level of the sport. Both skipper and co-skipper have extensive experience of the North Sea with Luke having raced F18 catamarans through the Swedish archipelago. Co-skipper Jack Gifford, is now a full-time naval architect, with the third crew member, Chemistry student Will Shepherd having notched up many miles in the Irish sea.
About Uffa Fox
Uffa Fox is not simply known as a sailor and boat designer, he was also a philosopher and eccentric as well as a media celebrity. Uffa was the father of the planing dinghy and his International Fourteen Footer Avenger won many races including the coveted Prince of Wales Cup. For many years his designs were the most sought after. It was in Vigilant, a new 22 Sq.m design with extremely light displacement that he made his famous voyage to Sweden to participate in the Centenary Regatta of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club in July 1930. Vigilant's design and construction was substantial enough to be sailed to Sweden and back in a summer of strong winds. He made the journey in 17 days and after the racing was over, Uffa received special recognition for his sailing feat and his promotion of a Scandinavian yacht rule in Britain.
About the Scandinavian Classic Yacht Trust
The trust's mission is to preserve classic yachts as part of Scandinavia's cultural heritage by making sure that they are sailed and seen. As a non-profit organisation the trust helps to develop a strong community for classic yachting by promoting, organising events and regattas.
About the Regatta
The Trosa Tullgarn Royal Palace Regatta offers four days of championships, parades and races, running Swedish Championships for 22 square metre skerry cruisers (A22) and four classes of mälarboats, the 15,22,25 and 30 sq.m Swedish Mälarboats, one-design yachts. On 6th August there will be a sail past in front of the 18th century Tullgarn Royal Palace to select the most beautiful yacht and the best crew. On the last day of the regatta, 7th August, a spectacular international archipelago race is planned to include the larger classic yachts such as 95 and 150 sq.m as well as 8, 10 and 12 mR and is open to all classic yacht owners.
More information about Uffa Fox and the Raid is available at www.news-lab.com/press/scyt