Classic schooner Eleanora and Itchen Ferry Nellie warm up ahead of the JP Morgan Round the Island Race

If you can get past the hype and the relentless boosting of the competition element, there’s some nice footage of both Eleanora and Nellie doing their stuff in ‘entertaining’ conditions off the Isle of Wight. There’s more of Eleanora looking fabulous here.

I should warn you to turn the volume down though – in the way of these things, in this clip the music is truly dreadful night-club ‘excitement’ stuff they churn out on synthesisers and play at dodgy events such as awards ceremonies. I suppose I should also have asked why it’s now normal to play this horseshit over sailing clips! So tell me someone? Why do it?

I also wonder whether the skipper of the Nellie, Scott Waddington, is related to the geezer named Waddington who used to run the Black Horse at Pembury many years ago?

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30-ft stitch and glue Yachting World Diamond racer to join the Round the Island Race on her 50th birthday

  

Greg Dunn and his crew are to celebrate the 50th year of their Jack Holt-designed plywood racer Black Diamond by entering her in the Round the Island Race, raising sponsorship money for the RNLI as they go round (see their Just Giving page), and playing accordions at every possible opportunity.

Black Diamond is a Yachting World Diamond class racing yacht designed by Jack Holt in response to a brief from Yachting World to draw a 30ft keelboat, capable of being home-built.

Like the earlier Mirror dinghy also designed by Holt (with TV handyman Barry Bucknell), the stitch and glue YW Diamond was a deliberate attempt to open up the elitist world of yacht racing to the working man. The YW Diamond was also unusual for its time in that it is a planing keelboat – in that way it was in line with Uffa Fox’s Flying series of designs, including the Flying 15, Flying 30 and Flying 50.

But what about the accordions? Last year, Greg and partner Juliet Doyle founded a company marketing Chinese-made accordions and melodeons fitted with distinctive-sounding Italian reeds – and named it Black Diamond Accordions after Greg’s boat.

So we’re told to expect lots of accordion action before, after and possibly during the race from Greg himself and also from crew member James Delarre, a member of the popular folk-scene band Mawkin.

Greg says Black Diamond has survived until 2012 owing to a restoration that encapsulated the hull in epoxy resin, and will hopefully remain viable for the next 50 years.

Here’s what Greg has to say about Black Diamond:

‘In some ways, she is a Volkswagen, in that her design brief was a deliberate attempt to reduce the elitist image of keelboat racing in what was still the post-war epoch, although I’m sure the ‘you’ve never had it so good’ economy was starting to kick in.

‘Put simply, Yachting World recognised Holt’s use of stitch-and-glue plywood in the Mirror as having potential for a keelboats, and he was engaged to draw a lightweight keelboat capable of being home-built, that would give exciting performance on a modest budget.

‘What he created was the mother of all sportsboats. It does take the best part of a gale to make the hull plane, though, and never wanting to push my old Diamond that hard, I generally suffer by carrying the class yardstick, which definitely assumes planing conditions!

‘The keelboat Holt drew was basically a very large Mirror, but with the sheer line brought up to a bow rather than the pram we see in the dinghy. He also carried the lines including the hard chine that helps in planing well aft, also.

‘He also used the Nordic device of bringing the forestay down well aft of the bow, giving the boat a distinctive skerries-cruiser look.

‘The boats were originally called the YW Keelboat, but changed to the YW Diamond in 1967 to the Diamond. Boat number 1 was Zest, which I have recently seen in a shed in southern Holland, totally original and stripped back to the ply for repainting.

Black Diamond was professionally built (rather than home-built built) in 1962 and this is possibly the reason she’s still afloat, and was restored by a chap called Bob Rule in Portsmouth during the 90s. He encapsulated her in epoxy, and did a good job – I have only had to do a small section of repair under the port chainplates, after a hard winter in the open.

‘There is more of the story at the Bursledon Blogger weblog, more information about YW Diamonds in Australia here, and a very lively video of an Aussie Diamond sailing in 30-plus knots of wind here.

‘I have seen several adapted Diamonds, but the one that takes the biscuit is Saltash II in Brisbane, still a plywood hull, but sheathed, cabined and fenced, with a deep spade rudder, two foot aft of the rudder shown in the plans, a deep bulb keel and faired underwater section, a sugarscoop transom, narrow rigging and 6 feet extra on the mast. She holds the record for the Brisbane Hamilton race, 309 nautical miles in 31 hours!

‘There are many hybrids, as most Diamonds have been fiddled with at some time or other, including mine. The design had great qualities, but back in 1960, underwater dynamics were not then a fully explored science, and the keel and rudder are, quite frankly, disaster areas! I am planning to take the back edge down to a point next winter.

‘I did pay a small fortune to have a carbon fibre rudder designed and moved three foot aft, and this turned her into the last boat in the fleet to drop her spinny – the control we now have is utterly amazing! I’m not claiming to have had the idea: I went to Australia to research the Diamond, where they still race them as a class, with two guys on trapezes, and that was where I discovered Saltash II.’

In fact, the story of Black Diamond, Greg and the accordion business is one for the ‘small world’ file. I remember reading about the boat from Max the Bursledon Blogger’s website some years ago, and I knew Greg from his stand at music festivals and events such as Melodeons & More (some readers may spot someone familiar here). What I didn’t know was that there was a connection. How could I have guessed?

Fifie Ocean Pearl has won the Round the Island Race gaffer class

Ocean Pearl raced in the Round the Island Race gaffer class – and won

Emsworth-based boatbuilder and Intheboatshed.net reader Nick Gates has written into report that his fifie Ocean Pearl has won the gaffer division 1 class in the Round the Island Race this year. (I call Ocean Peal a fifie, but her upright stem and somewhat raked stern Nick has other names for her, including half-zulu. It’s a topic that has been aired here at intheboatshed in the past – click here and here.)

Anyway, here’s the story for this grand old lady’s tremendous victory:

‘Hi Gavin – I’m not really one to blow my own trumpet but the old tub Ocean Pearl put on a hell of a show on the Round The Island Race last Saturday. As you have probably read there were plenty of boats entered and plenty of wind. Our start was at 0610, which meant I had about two hours sleep before hand-a combination of too much rum and waking up early listening to the wind.

‘We set of to windward with one reef in the fore (main) and just the small stays’l. Down the Solent we regulary crossed tacks with the pilot cutter Polly Agatha. We had eight crew in total, and they soon had the tacks fine tuned into a neat manoeuvre, although the odd one was a three point turn!

‘At Hurst Castle and the Needles the seas built up and we broke out the genoa to power her through the swells. She was a bit overcanvassed really. The bowsprit was going under, we had water in the scuppers, and the crew on the foredeck were getting vertigo as we dropped into the 15 ft swells of the Shingle Bank. With a reef in the mast puts in a curious bend, and the hard eyes in the 12mm rigging had become stretched…..

‘As we turned the Needles the sheets were eased and we had a sleigh ride to St Catherines Point. Luggers aren’t great on a run and Polly Agatha slowly passed us, her long boom catching all the wind. She was about a mile ahead when we
finally lowered the fore, shook out the reef and set of in pursuit. We were maintaining about 7 knots, but on the big swells we were surfing, with the GPS showing 10.7knots!

‘Across Sandown Bay we kept in closer than most, with a small genoa poled out on the port side, leg-o-mutton style. By Bembridge Ledge we had closed the gap on Polly Agatha, and now it was a beat to the finish.

The majority at this point hug the cost of the Isle of Wight, keeping out of the tide and hoping for a lift as the wind comes off the island, but we did the opposite, staying on one tack over to Lee on Solent, through the flooding tide, and on towards the top of Southampton Water.

A final tack put us back across to Castle Point, and the finish line. Polly Agatha was closing fast, but we pipped her at the post by 5 minutes.

It was a long and exhausting day but what a result! Ocean Pearl was first with an elapsed time 10.36 hours, corrected 11.13 hours; with Polly Agatha second with an elapsed time 10.41 hours and 12.08 hours and Maybird third with  11.32 and 12.22 hours. The pilot cutters Merlin and Morwenna came fourth and fifth, and the pilot cutters Amelie Rose and Westernman,  (pilot cutters) and plank on edge gaff cutter Aeolus retired. Not bad for an old motor boat!

I’m impressed! I get breathless just reading this story – and it’s amazing that no sleep and a generous helping of rum can be so helpful in a race. Full results are of course at www.roundtheisland.org.