VMYG meeting, Xmas on the Rick



'Cream Cracker'

An impromptu meeting took place on the 28 December 2004 at the Rick Pond and what started as a few friends gathering after Christmas to blow away the cobwebs, turned out to be a delightful day shared by a good turn out of VMYG as well as a number of HCMYC members together with their various friends also dropping by. HCMYC's secretary Laurie and sailing secretary Dennis visited early on, expressing their admiration for an excellent turnout.

Miraculously, the lake itself having been frozen to a depth of 20mm virtually all over the previous afternoon, had completely melted by the next morning. The brilliant light, crisp air, cloudless sky all day and a good stiff breeze gusting at times to 20mph+, gave marvellous waves and great sailing conditions for all but the smallest boats. The many water birds and others that visited clearly also welcomed the disappearance of the ice.

The boat house and car park were wonderfully full of previously unseen or rarely sailed boats and the lake edge and waters had a procession of vessels all day. The clubhouse, itself a warm refuge from the biting wind outside, the central table covered with a variety of most interesting vintage boats and literature, formed a suitable backdrop for the exchange of hushed boat talk and mince pies. Surprising little hot punch though; and the good number of youngsters around did not seem unduly put off.

Trevor Smith as usual did us proud with an interesting collection of books, postcards and boats, the latter including an early round counter sterned Star, a twin oscillating cylinder Bowman speedboat which cost 42/6d (presumably originally in the 30's!) and a small fleet of nice, mostly pre-war tinplate clockwork motor boats. He also mentioned to me discretely about a special order 69" trade catalogue Triang Bermudan sloop, that has never been seen. Extremely impressive, but I have to warn the readership that this may have been a play for attention by the Small Boat Section (SBS) in the face of the significant number of A boats which emerged during the day.

7711 Stars, caught this time on the Measurer’s table

Graham Davis brought 3 nice Stars, as well as a 24" Alexander and a 26" Bassett-Lowke model yacht each in its own box. During the day they sailed confidently about the lake with AW's relaunched blue sailed Southwold boat. Andy Tribble also brought stars, 5 of them and Tony Hatherall another 2. In fact so many turned up, a Star regatta was held which included an individual race for the 4no SY7s. At one point children were even seen sailing!

Patrick Naylor and his wife brought a Vic Smeed Starlet and a large bottle of something intoxicating to share about, which in the event never got opened! It will be awarded as a prize complete with its untouched Christmas wrapping for a suitable summer event…..over to you Committee! David Sauerteig brought some most original boats including one with a wishbone mast and lateen sail; also a unique rotary sailed vessel which works apparently rather like a gyrocopter. Anyhow it seemed shy with the force of the winds on the day and lurked principally among the reeds. Fully tuned with gentler conditions she does rather well as does her large sister, apparently in a museum in the Isle of Wight.

Vic Wilson's Q boat to a Highlander design was the first large boat to charge around the lake in the fresh wind to great effect, followed eventually, after much help from his children to rig it, Colin Trower's splendid large, scale sailing cruiser. This was apparently a model of his father's boat built by him in GRP with a wood superstructure and deck. Colin as could be expected had her going well and surprisingly she proved more than able to keep up with a number of the older A boats. John Gale sailed for us another of his delightful creations, this time in mahogany, a 25" half Marblehead, the Model Maker class of 1957 by McDonald. I must say that for such a small boat she sails exceptionally well on every point, her course kept perfectly by a tiny vane of John's construction. I think she leaves the Alexanders standing!

Charles Howe brought two most interesting old racing yachts. The one is a very nice 10 rater, which judging by her flat floors and the most cursory of glances, to be from the late 20's, has been carefully restored for Braine steering; she incorporates an interesting false bowsprit, internally sprung as a bow fender; later in the day she took to the pond and was involved in a nail biting near miss as overpowered in her top suit by the force of the wind and lying pretty flat on the water with little way on her, 58lb vane A boat Impala bore down, having sailed from the far clubhouse end of the lake as an arrow on a powerful and very fast beat, missing the 10r by a whisker, to whoops of relief from the bank. The other is a delightful 36R sail number 76 named IMP. She is entirely original in sails, rigging, spars, fittings and hull. She has that well balanced classic look of a Daniels design and is currently being checked out in the register. An article suggests itself in the future on this and Chas' other early and original 36Rs.

Max Buttimer came with a beautiful Marblehead to the Cheerio 1 design. Her 'bread and butter' hull and deck in pine had been expertly built and wonderfully finished as usual by John Gale to the designs by John Black . Max completed her and has made an excellent job of it; on the day he had rigged her with vintage cotton 36R sails which were just about right for the prevailing wind conditions. To watch her sailing was delightful. Here was a seminal model yacht design of the mid 1930s and World Champion in 1936, explaining to us as she moved through the water with such ease and speed why she was. This could only have happened by means of such a beautiful replication of the design; it was like watching the original sail, incredibly instructive; and that is what the VMYG is in part about, bringing to life once more old designs and understanding how and why they worked…..Yes!

But the day really belonged to the 'A' class boats, the wind being for the most part on the limit for the top suits which they carried. Odin particularly, 64lb 1650sq" SA dreadnought that she is, crashed through the waves with gay abandon and showed how impressive a heavy boat can be in the right conditions. Rebel similarly enjoyed the water until her batteries let her down. This Chris Dicks Revolution design is particularly impressive when heeled at speed when her considerable and elegant stern overhang enormously increases her sailing length. But the fastest boat on the water (and non vintage) was probably the newly John Gale built vane A, a slightly elongated Cream Cracker, apparently never seen on the water before. A thoroughly elegant John Lewis design executed in cedar, we shall see what she does in 2005. She sailed particularly well on the beat gaining ground in a very controlled way to windward with each gust. On one notable run she planed the clubhouse end of the lake (without spinnaker), very nearly taking off onto the bank at the finish…or so it seemed!

And then there was the beautiful Sharma.
As the wind dropped towards sunset she was rigged in a cotton second suit ready for re-introduction to her home waters, possibly for the first time in over 40 years for it was at the Rick Pond that Corby and later Blogg sailed her in the 40's and 50's, but more of that in the write up due in the Turning Pole I understand from Gareth later in the year. Even for a boat of her time she is complicatedly rigged and must have been a challenge to sail competitively. She is undoubtedly an exhibition boat with fittings unique for Corby to my knowledge and sporting such delicacies as adjustable sheet horses. Anyway this was an emotional moment as proud owner Paul Drewett released her for her first board beating up the lake into the setting sun accompanied by the somewhat younger Impala. As the dusk drew in on her return run and both boats arrived with a good turn of speed within yards of each other, it seemed a wonderful finale to a most enjoyable day.

By popular demand the fixture is to be repeated after Christmas again next year so do come along especially with family, friends and kids ! Bring toy boats, vintage yachts free, Braine, vane or radio sailing and expect an impromptu race or two….or just cruise about.

More photos here. if you have any photos taken on the day do send them along to Gareth Morgan (on disc by preference).