Please select your home edition
Musto 2017 728x90 Surefooted

Learning to sail a Musto Skiff on a limb: You are never far from the support of the fleet

by Peter Doherty 19 Mar 2018 17:42 GMT
Musto Skiff sailing in Dublin Bay © Glyn Williams

The Irish 'skiff scene' has always been something of a misnomer. No club in the country could claim to have anything resembling a skiff fleet. Although they can sometimes be seen honing their skills on local waters, for the most part, the Irish 49er squaddies ply their trade in the Olympic sphere. As a result, there has been no 'trickle-down' effect to weekend-warrior level.

Skiffs remain something esoteric to the average club sailor, tools of the Olympian's trade rather than something to be enjoyed in club races. This is despite Ireland's natural potential. The recent flourishing of the International Moth and F18 fleets, both boats which favour conditions similar to those suited to skiffs, is ample evidence that Ireland's abundance of inland and coastal venues are ripe for exploitation by skiffs.

However, as it stands, any Irish sailor who chooses to invest in a skiff is opting for a very personal odyssey, alienating themselves from the kind of friendly advice available to Laser, Fireball or RS200 sailors in the dinghy park.

I purchased my Musto Skiff in December 2017. Like many others, I had spent a number of years in a 600. For the first two or three of these years, I had the only RS600 in the Republic. Now resurgent, the 600 was an ailing class when I bought my boat and, without the benefit of a fleet, I managed to repeat all of the basic mistakes that UK sailors had overcome in the 90s and early 2000s.

In buying a Musto, I expected to rehearse my experience with the RS600. However, the energy, enthusiasm and generosity of the Musto Class, and in particular that of UK sailors, has made my first few months with this boat an utterly different enterprise.

Nothing is greater evidence of this generosity than the help offered by Jason Rickards. I spent the Christmas period trying to cobble the various ropes and blocks together into something resembling a boat. Jason, over the course of a half hour video call while I was in the boat park, walked me through how to rig the kite.

Jason's help exemplifies the spirit of friendly competition and sportsmanship which animates the class. Having pestered the GBR association with questions on their Facebook page, sailors patiently explained the nuances of rigging the boat and, when I finally carved out some space between winter storms to actually sail the thing, offered advice on the GoPro footage I uploaded to the page.

Although geographically alienated from the largest Musto fleet in the world, the class has gone out of its way to ensure that I can benefit from the wealth of expertise harboured by UK sailors. This support has not been confined to the pages of Facebook and Youtube. Paul Manning has kindly arranged use of the club's demonstration boat for class training at Stokes Bay in April.

In recent years, much ink has been spilled in the pages of sailing periodicals on the decline of dinghy sailing from its heyday in the post-war years. Remedies for this decline have been discussed online, in print and in the board-rooms of the major sailing organisations. However, it is not hard to understand why Ovington Boats are still building new Musto Skiffs nearly two decades after the boat was first conceived.

While sailing organisations might be accused of looking inward in an attempt to arrest the decline, the Musto association has been looking outward. My experience with the boat is evidence of a class quietly capitalising on new technologies to nurture new fleets, to grow the global Musto population and to champion the sport of sailing.

Related Articles

Ovington Boats Merchandise
Perfect for the winter months and ideal Christmas gifts Various Ovington branded merchandise in stock and available on their website, perfect for the winter months and ideal Christmas gifts. From warm, woolly hats to premium quality, branded Ovington T-Shirts to eco-friendly, bio-based sports water bottles. Posted on 4 Dec 2019
2019 Scottish and Northern Skiffs Circuit round up
Around 50 sailors take part at a number of excellent venues Around 50 different competitors raced in at least one event of the 2019 circuit. Racing took place at a number of excellent venues with different event winners in 7 out of the 8 events. Posted on 3 Nov 2019
Musto Skiff Inlands at Grafham Water
7 to 26 knot winds, 180 degree shifts and great racing The weather came good on Saturday with a wind range of 7 to 26 knots and 180 degree shifts. The Race Officer placed the windward mark in the reeds of the windward shore so this made it nice and easy for us to hoist our kites. Posted on 31 Oct 2019
Musto Skiffs at Tynemouth
Racing alongside the International 14s Twelve Musto Skiffs visited Tynemouth Sailing Club on 28th and 29th September for a combined open meeting with the International 14 class. Posted on 8 Oct 2019
Ullswater YC Asymmetric Weekend preview
The last in the club's open meeting programme for the 2019 season Ullswater Yacht Club welcomes all asymmetric classes to a weekend of racing on Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6. Posted on 1 Oct 2019
Boatman Bonanza at Sunderland YC
It's all over... or is it? This event was all about one thing, remembering our friend Martin Boatman who we sadly lost to cancer in January this year. The brief was simple, create a regatta that would celebrate the things that he loved the most, racing, partying and family life. Posted on 11 Sep 2019
Noble Marine Musto Skiff UK Nationals overall
A light wind finish to the event in Largs The day dawned mirror flat allowing the fleet to enjoy a second cup of tea and take in the Largs scenery in all its breath taking glory. By 10:30am a gentle southerly breeze had filled in as per forecast and the race officer lowered the postponement. Posted on 9 Sep 2019
Noble Marine Musto Skiff UK Nationals day 3
A more different day there could not have been! A more different day there could not have been! The fleet awoke to a calm, beautiful morning showing the West coast of Scotland. Posted on 8 Sep 2019
Noble Marine Musto Skiff UK Nationals day 2
Strong, gusty winds in Largs for the fleet The fleet woke nursing aches and pains to a bright morning and an appealing 12kts. As the first boats launched the rain squall arrived right on cue and we settled in for another challenging day! Posted on 7 Sep 2019
Noble Marine Musto Skiff UK Nationals day 1
Some spectacular pitch-poles at Largs Largs are hosting the 2019 National Champs with 36 boats entered. The forecast was looking punchy and didn't disappoint with the fleet launching in 18-22kts with some of the older and wiser heads decided to stay ashore. Posted on 6 Sep 2019