John Laing

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OYT South bulletin 25th June 2004

Many of you will know of the long tradition of OYT sailors going on to skipper in the Clipper round the world yacht race. The story goes that one of them, Ed Green, after a run of poor placings in legs of the Clipper 2000 race in Glasgow Clipper, told his crew that the longer they stayed at sea, the more sailing they were getting for their money. As a result they developed a reputation for sustaining the highest possible morale whilst enjoying more than one last place.

This therefore seems to be a good approach to take whenever a passage takes longer than expected; and it would certainly have been helpful this week. It all started out okay, with a passage from Southampton to Gunwharf, and a good crew including a number of police cadets organised by Doug Fogarty’s mum (Doug has been a regular and enthusiastic crew member since early last season).

The trouble began on day 2, when JOHN LAING set out for Brixham via the Needles. Unfortunately, as they sailed down the western Solent, the weather conditions changed into something quite unlike the forecast: SW6 (which meant wind over tide). This made the Needles Channel quite impossible, and they turned round – back towards Portsmouth….past Portsmouth….through the forts….round the eastern end of the Isle of Wight….past St Catherine’s point and so on in a westerly direction.

Regular readers will remember that not long ago, JOHN LAING did Portsmouth to Brixham in under twelve hours. Well, this time it took thirty six hours; and no-one could complain that they hadn’t had their money’s worth. However, fish and chips in Brixham was all it took for them to recover, and several of them are keen to come again, including the son of the Southampton harbourmaster, who was ready to sign up for the 2005 Tall Ships Race on the spot.

Wolf says that this was a really strong crew, with a number of people who could be future sea staff, and several who are interested in coming along to help with the next refit.

Despite the strength and enthusiasm of the crew, the Force 9 winds that came along next made sailing out of the question on the following day, which they spent holed up in Brixham, where they enjoyed a tour of the Coastguard station – many thanks to the local coastguards for arranging this.

Once the worst of the weather had gone through, they finished the voyage with a 14-hour passage to Poole, down wind – lots of gybing in 30 knots of wind and big seas. They managed a total of 252 miles in little more than two passages – definitely among the tougher voyages of the year so far.

Wolf’s thanks go to sea staff Matt Reid, Di Francis, Phoebe, Andy Royse (guest starring as relief bosun) and Iain Ballantyne, who successfully completed his third mate’s assessment.

Wolf is now going on relief and Brian Eyres is taking over as skipper.

Two more bits of sea staff news: Alice Poyner has passed her exams and is now officially a doctor. Those of a nervous disposition might like to avoid injuries and illness in Essex from September onwards….

And Rosie Lovett, last year’s staff bosun, finished the first year of her psychology degree by coming top in her first exam.

More news: OYT South is just about to move its website to a new server. With any luck the transition will go smoothly but there is just a chance that www.oytsouth.org may not work for a day or so.

And finally, Chris Hirst has asked to publicise an EU exchange scheme which still has spaces for two people aged 18-25 to sail in this year’s Tall Ships Race.

An EU funded youth exchange programme called ‘Seafarers Then and Now’ is being organised by a Dutch lady called Monique Touw with the assistance of partner charities in Holland, Belgium, Denmark and the UK.

The exchange runs from 18th July – 1st August, and participants will spend several days visiting maritime museums and modern day vessels following which they will race as the crew of DE GALLANT (a Dutch Sail Training Schooner) for the first leg of the race.

Each country is putting forward four young people between 18 and 25 for the scheme, but two of the UK participants have had to drop out. The EU is funding the bulk of the programme from the Youth Fund. The EU pays €400 and participants have to contribute €200 (about £140) and also have to pay 30% of the travel to and from the Continent (estimated at €100 or about £70). The British youngsters will have to meet before the departure and this will be organised. There are EU funds to cover their UK travel costs.

The international programme begins in Amsterdam on 18th July. Transfer to Antwerp on 21st July (probably via a visit to the historic square-rigger 'Mercator' in Ostend). Join the Dutch schooner 'Gallant' in Antwerp for Race 1 of the Tall Ships Race to Aalborg. The programme finishes in Aalborg on 2nd August.

Apart from the Tall Ships Race, activities in the programme include visits to museums, visits to ports and modern vessels, tours around the cities and, in Aalborg, probably a trip on a fishing vessel.

Anyone interested should contact Chris Hirst via email cj.hirst@virgin.net as soon as possible.





“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16

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