Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Starling Project - Part 38

I am aware that I have posted umpteen photographs of my little Starling dinghy upside down in various stages of repair. Here she is with her final coat of glossy white paint. This photo is an important one for me because it represents the end of upsidedownness. When the paint is dry and hard I will turn her right way up and continue with the fit out.

In response to a comment by Dan I went looking for the sail and found that I actually had two of them. This one is the best of the two all fitted out with fancy luff tell tales and the significant sail number 133.

The number 133 made me smile when I saw it because this is the number of Bret de Thiers Olympic Finn Class yacht 'FinnSarby' (Sarby being the surname of the Finn Class yacht designer Rickard Sarby).  When I was sailing my P Class yacht 'Elusive' on the Christchurch estuary (South Island New Zealand ) I was always looking ahead  to what I might sail when I got a bit older and Bret de Thier was someone that I wanted to emulate. He was an absolutely outstanding Finn sailor and New Zealand Finn Class Olympic yachting representative. I remember once cycling along the Christchurch Estuary causeway with my little camera furtively taking photos of Bret sailing his Finn. The Finn is a work of art, a beautiful yacht and Bret sailed it with great skill. We all have heroes and mentors when we are young and he was one of my heroes.

I never graduated to the Finn Class. The circumstances (money) of a high school student dictated an upgrade to the OK dinghy, which considering my weight was probably a better option.

Some people (The many) say that watching yachts sailing (A great hobby of the few) is a bit like watching grass grow - bring on the grass growing I say - I know I could watch a Finn sail all day long.

The text reads: de Thier (133) getting in front at the start of one of the heats of the South Island championships at Timaru.

I remember Bret de Thiers Finn being painted a canary yellow with a beautiful varnished mahogany deck. Unlike the usual square sail window in the mainsail, Brets m'sail had a distinctive window not unlike what today you would think was a large trade mark Nike Tick.

Finns back in the 1970s were all wooden including beautifully varnished masts and booms. It would be great to see a classic all wooden Finn again - now there's a small boat restoration idea!!!


Dan Gurney said...

The white paint on the bottom looks beautiful. Still, I can't wait till you turn it back over. Sailboats always look better—and work better—right side up.

Nice sail you have and a great story to go with the racing number, 133. That boat's going to be a keeper.

Having a sailing hero when you're a kid is really important. The boat I most admired as a lad was the 505 sailing dinghy. My local yacht club, Palo Alto Yacht Club, had the then North American champion, Dr. Dennis Surtees. Dr. Surtees imported his 505 and his crew from Australia. World class sailor, he was, and smart enough to get his crew from the part of the world where people really know how to sail. I crewed for Surtees's previous crew member, an Englishman who had gotten himself a 505 to skipper. Those were good times.

You've done a number of restorations, right? Did you restore an OK dinghy, or just think about it? I remember you worked on a much smaller yacht, a P class?

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for your own reflections on childhood heroes. I remember reading a lot about 505s in yachting magazines but I have never seen one. They didn't take off in NZ at all really. I liked the look of them with their flared bow (which would have made them less wet to sail than some boats) Apart from the Olympic classes New Zealanders pretty much built boats by its own centerboard yacht designers - namely the late, great John Spencer. Even the English 'Cadet' class didn't get any traction here in NZ, which is a pity because they would be a natural step up from the single handed P Class if you wanted to race with a crew.

I have now completed two restorations - The P Class and now this little Starling Class sailboat, and have enjoyed doing this work immensely.

The OK dinghy is a long and unfinished story. I continue to look on TradeMe (NZs EBay) for a second hand boat to restore and have come close to purchasing a couple of times. Also a few years ago I purchased a set of OK plans from the UK with the intention of building one. I had a boat builder friend and former OK dinghy sailor of my age all ready to build one each together but he pulled out at the last minute, I hesitated myself and then the Starling appeared and I bought it, but I constantly think about an OK dinghy ---- From my Buddhist perspective this might seem a great load of attachment, which it is, but I am at the stage where if I lost it all I don't think I would worry too much AND restorations are places where I can practise and experience great mindfulness.

A few weeks ago I went to a sailing dinghy promotion in Auckland and saw a beautiful new wooden OK Dinghy. Apparently OK Dinghy sailors world wide are returning to wooden boats since a few new wooden boats have been winning out right and placing very high in the OK world championships. Seeing this beautiful wooden example in Auckland made me think again about building a wooden OK dinghy...... so, watch this space!

Having said all of that, the next restoration will be on my 30 foot yacht Mariners diesel engine which is refusing to pump coolant water and is leaking oil everywhere. This engine task is now the next absolute priority..... made easier by having a veritable brace of small boats to play around with when I skin my knuckles, swear profusely and need a break from the diesel engine.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

That paint job is looking good! Very shiny...

Like you Ihad hero's too... mine were the OSTAR sailors, I still have a scrap book somewhere for the 1976 race.... couldn't afford a boat either (also at school) so went windsurfing instead and stuck with it until 6 or 7 years ago when the first boat arrived... funny thing was windsurfing was WAY more expensive than sailing...! :o)

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for your comment Steve. One of the reasons that helped keep the cost down a bit was that my yacht club in those far off days was only a one mile bike ride from my house where like everyone else in those days I left my P Class and later my OK dinghy in a boat locker at the club. I guess with wind surfing you needed a car?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Alden - eventually - but when I started out I could hire, so I used to cycle down with a wet suit strapped to the back of the bike..