Having been brought up in Norfolk I always seemed to have some old boat or another, which are listed somewhere on my Racing Dinghies Blog – www.pegasus18.com/dinghies. I gave up dinghy sailing when I was 17 (after sailing Toppers, OKs, Enterprises, various local keelboats, Mirrors, Fireflys, National 12s) and started to race offshore.
An advert in a 1983 copy of Yachts and Yachting along the lines of 17 year old gorilla available for East Coast racing gave me my entry into big boat racing.
I spent the 1980s racing or working on IOR boats from 1/4 Tonners to Maxi Raters (though I did end up doing the Firefly Nationals in the late 80s – a pier head jump off a Swan 57).
I also sailed or worked on most of the Ocean Youth Club fleet, raced Swans, was a paid hand on the ‘J’ Class Velsheda and raced on a Formula 40 Cat.
After a few years away from sailing I bought a small racing yacht, Rocket Flare, but sold her when we moved next to the largest lake in the South West. On my first visit to the lake I saw a fleet of Flying 15s. I’d always had an interest in the 15 having admired the designs of Uffa Fox when I was student at the Falmouth Maritime College.
I bought a Flying 15, Encounter, on my second visit to the lake and soon realised that I also wanted a single handed dinghy.
Having looked at available boats I quickly realised I did not want a soulless, grey, standard production boat (couldn’t afford one either!) so I started looking at older sailing books to see what possibilities were out there.
I always wanted an International Canoe (got there in the end though) but thought I’d better find something a little bit more sedate. I found a 1970s ToY for sale ‘up country’ and bought her for not a lot to see if I would get on with the sliding seat before buying an IC.
After surfing the web for information on the ToY dinghy I came across the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association web site (www.cvrda.org). The CVRDA was my introduction to older boats. The down side of getting involved is being part of the grapevine that hears about old boats that are desperate for a new home. It was bizarre to hear about boats that are going for free or for next to nothing – unfortunately I could not say No and soon ended up with a small collection of ‘Classics’ and in my search for relevant fittings and spares I kept on coming across more boats the needed a home.
It was through the CVRDA I came own a number of classic racing dinghies over the last 20 years – some of them are detailed at my (out of date) Racing Dinghies Blog – www.pegasus18.com/dinghies.
After moving back to Plymouth a few years I downsized the fleet and just kept Zenith, the boat you can read about on the blog. I do also have another interesting boat, a Harrier+ and really must update the other blog with the Harrier + details