Please select your home edition
GJW Direct 2020

Solway YC's online 2021 season launch and the Club's poignant connection to Uffa Fox and 'Coweslip'

by Ian Purkis 12 Apr 2021 07:49 BST
The Regatta at Kippford in 1898 © Rev. Bill Holland collection

Despite the ongoing Covid restrictions still preventing in-person gatherings, the Club went ahead with an online season-opener to coincide with what should have been "Craning-In" day, traditionally followed by the Fitting Out Party in the Clubhouse.

Instead, Robert Dinwiddie, the Club Commodore and local historian, gave a great presentation of the Club's background, intertwined with the Kippford village's history from the mid nineteenth century. However, what no one could have predicted was how the very sad news of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, and his close connections both with Uffa Fox and his yacht 'Coweslip' were so closely linked to the Club's history in the 1950s.

Kippford, as a local centre of shipbuilding and commercial shipping, goes back centuries and no doubt many local rivalries were played out afloat during this period. Sailing as a sport was first recorded in the inaugural Kippford Regatta in 1885, organised by Agnes Houston, then owner of Hestan Island. By the early twentieth century sailing had become a regular feature with the founding of the Yacht Club in 1904. Interrupted by the First World War, it resumed in the 1920s with the appearance of a fleet of one-design, Kirkcudbright clinker-built, yachts, "The Solway Dinghy", all named after local Galloway hills. Flourishing in the 1930s, wartime again put a temporary end to sailing and sadly the end of most of the Solway Dinghies.

By the 1950s, the Solway YC was enjoying growing membership and needed bigger facilities. The old wooden commercial pier had fallen out of use and the Club members took the opportunity to rebuild it with an improved slipway and enlarged hardstanding. This was a big project, and its opening in 1958 was a special occasion. Uffa Fox, the internationally famous yacht designer who already knew Kippford though the Club's then Commodore J J Girotti's connections, was invited. Not only did he accept; he brought his wife and Prince Philip's Flying Fifteen yacht No 192 'Coweslip', all the way from the Isle of Wight. 'Coweslip' was already famous as Uffa Fox regularly sailed her during Cowes Week with the Prince Philip. Film of them sailing together has been prominent in this week's many wonderful tributes to His Royal Highness. Once Mrs Fox had cut the ribbon opening the new SYC pier, Uffa Fox and his local crew, Tommy Hutchinson entered the race for the Kippford Quaich trophy and, almost needless to say, 'Coweslip' won!

The same period saw the founding of the Club's Cadet Fleet and ever since sailing for young people has been a big part of SYC's success. By 2004 the Club was celebrating its centenary with another highly distinguished yachtsman, Sir Chay Blyth as special guest.

Bringing his talk up to the present day, Robert Dinwiddie reflected on the Club's continuing strength, recognised by RYA Scotland's Club of the Year 2018 award. Covid has been a major setback but with the enthusiastic membership and hopefully the end in sight, the Club's future is assured. Of the boats, 'Coweslip' is now a precious museum piece elsewhere but SYC continues to be home to a strong fleet of Flying Fifteens. We believe one Solway Dinghy survives; last known of in Castle Douglas in the early 2000s but unheard of since. There are a group of SYC members still very keen to restore her and see this historic local class back on the waters of the Solway once more.

Related Articles

Kippford Week 2022 at Solway Yacht Club
Sun, sea breezes inshore and close racing After the busy Cadet Week at Solway Yacht Club, it was another early start for sailors in Kippford Week 2022. Unusually the sailing started on Tuesday, demanded by the tide times and as crews arrived at 8am, it was flat calm and windless. Posted on 16 Aug
Solway Yacht Club Cadet Week 2022
Sun, fun, mud and close racing Third time lucky! After two years of no Cadet Week 2020, and a severely Covid restricted Cadet Week 2021, finally it was almost back to normal for 2022. Posted on 30 Jul
Challenger Travellers at Solway
Trimaran racing enjoyed by 92 year old helmsman During the weekend of May 28th and 29th the Solway Yacht Club had one of the busiest and most rewarding series of sailing activities so far this season. The club was privileged to host "The Challenger Travellers Open Meeting". Posted on 1 Jun
Willie Patterson's Outstanding Contribution
Recognised with RYA Award presented by the Princess Royal Willie Patterson of Dumfries, one of the Solway Yacht Club's leading members was presented with the RYA's national "Outstanding Contribution" Award by the Princess Royal in a glittering ceremony in London last weekend. Posted on 6 Dec 2021
Solway Yacht Club Cadets Autumn Adventure
Including map reading, RIB journeys, radio usage and simulated search and rescue During a recent autumnal weekend the Solway Yacht Club Cadets took part in a two day "adventure". This was designed by Willie Patterson, a member of the club's events organising committee. Posted on 30 Oct 2021
Kippford RNLI Regatta Day
£700 raised for the lifeboat services by Solway Yacht Club Usually one of the highlights of Kippford Week, this year bad weather forced the original RNLI Regatta long distance race date to be postponed to Sunday 22nd August. Posted on 25 Aug 2021
Kippford Week at Solway
Stormy seas and exciting sailing... while it lasted With entrants from far and wide, as well as the well-established home fleet, stiff competition was guaranteed, and it was overcast skies with strong gusty winds that greeted those heading out on Sunday morning. Posted on 15 Aug 2021
Scottish Challenger Championships at Solway
Sandeman Trophy awarded in Mediterranean conditions The Scottish Open Challenger Championships were held at the Solway Yacht Club, Kippford (Dumfries and Galloway) on the weekend 10-11 July. A small (but perfectly formed) fleet of six Challengers were assembled, cleaned and polished by Friday evening. Posted on 14 Jul 2021
Solway Yacht Club June Open
From International Moths to the Laser Grand Prix and much more! Lakeland Laser Grand Prix result: 1st Richard Benson (Tynemouth SC) 2nd Jonathan Nicol 3rd Myles Ripley (Sedburgh School) 4th Dewi Williams (Solway YC) 5th Guy Liggins (Derwent SC) Posted on 15 Jun 2021
Solway YC 'virtually' launches 2021 sailing season
Virtual RYA Dinghy Show presents a unique opportunity for the Scottish club Presented with a golden opportunity by the annual RYA Dinghy Show moving online, the Kippford based Solway Yacht Club is delighted to be launching its own stand on 27th February. Posted on 22 Feb 2021