Thursday, 21 April 2011

A slightly off-topic historical interlude

Our much-loved club - the Forth Corinthian Yacht Club - has a long and distinguished history. I recently came across these gems when rummaging through the club archives.

The year is 1971. The sport of offshore racing is experiencing a golden age. Only 3 years previously, the monumental Golden Globe round the world yacht race took place. Fettler herself has only been afloat 3 years and is currently somewhere on the west coast of Scotland, based in Ardfern.

The FCYC organised and hosted the Fair Isle race, sponsored by Benson & Hedges, which was the third-longest European offshore race at 360 miles, from Granton to Kirkwall via Fair Isle, and the first of its kind to be held in Scottish waters.

My Uncle John Beattie, a Scotsman employee for most of his working life, used to regale me with his tale of meeting Sir Alec Rose in Edinburgh and would wax lyrical about the load of whisky aboard Lively Lady and the prose of Scotsman reporter John Rafferty describing the start of the race. I only wish I'd come across this material when Uncle John was still alive, as he'd have got a real charge out of seeing the photos and all the press cuttings again.

On with the photos (ah, the good old days):

Gadie, skipper Angus McIntosh, FCYC entrant and the smallest vessel (19' waterline) in the race. Gadie's rudder broke off Ratray Head (the broken piece now constitutes the Gadie Trophie) but the crew fought on before being forced to retire and run for Fraserburgh, due to stress of weather, just 10 miles short of Fair Isle.

Crowds gathered at the north end of the Middle Pier to view the start of the race. 12 vessels took part in the first race, including entrants from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Sailing mega-celebrities converge to kick off the race. Here Rear Commodore Robin Fowler shoots the breeze with Sir Alec Rose. Chay Blyth was also in attendance. These days, Robin is our very own Chief Engineer. It's hard to imagine where we'd be without him.

FCYC Commodore Bill Russell and Sir Alec Rose share a joke on the slip before the start. Why don't Flag Officers get snazzy uniforms any more?

Gadie jockeys for position on the start line. Note the iconic Edinburgh skyline, largely unchanged for centuries, in the background.

Think of it. Gadie: 19' waterline. The North Sea - capable of throwing up some of the nastiest sailing conditions anywhere in the world. Today's health and safety Nazis would never allow it.

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