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Osprey Class 71 Years Young

by David Downs 4 Mar 15:16 GMT
Matt Burge & Vyv Townend (1353) playing catchup during the 2023 Nationals at Hayling Island © Paul Hickson

Following a highly successful 70th Anniversary year in 2023 there are exciting things happening in the Osprey Class for 2024 as witnessed by the many visitors to the Osprey and Hartley Boat stands at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show held at Farnborough International on the 24th and 25th February.

The 70th Anniversary events last year included a "Tour of the North" with sailing events at Kielder Water, Lochaber YC at Fort William and Royal Tay YC. It was a week of sailing and great social occasions that was enjoyed by all.

The 70th Anniversary National Championship excellently hosted by Hayling Island SC attracted an entry of nearly 50 boats who were treated to some champagne sailing in Hayling Bay in the early September sunshine. The 70th Anniversary Dinner at HISC was attended by several past Champions of the class and with some very entertaining after dinner speakers a good time was had by all.

The sun continued to shine on the Osprey class for the 70th Anniversary Coronation Round the Isle of Wight Race in late September. Commemorating seventy years since Osprey Number 1 won the Coronation Round the Island dinghy race in 1953. It was good to see that the Royal Family joined in the spirit and arranged another Coronation in 2023 to coincide with the race.

A video of the 2023 race has been compiled by Oscar Chess and can be seen here:

The video features photos from several photographers around the course along with onboard footage from Oscar and Nick Daily Hunt plus Keith MacDonald and Andy Brittain. This video premiered on the Osprey stand at the Dinghy Show and together with other videos attracted a lot of attention. Thanks to Oscar and Jamie Blake for putting these together.

At Farnborough the Osprey Class Association's brand-new Class Boat, a brand new Mark 6 Osprey no 1385 was on display on the Hartley Boats stand. This beautiful and exciting boat attracted much attention and following the success of 1360 the previous class boat this boat will be used to encourage new blood into the Class. The boat was formally handed over to the Class Association by Mark Hartley at the show and received on behalf of the Class Association by two young men from Poole YC who we hope to see out in the new boat. Anyone interested in trying out a modern Osprey should contact the Class Association at www.ospreysailing.org.uk where an application form to loan the Class Boat can be found. In the meantime, Osprey 1360 has flown North to Hornsea Mere, a former stronghold of the Osprey Class and we look forward to seeing it and its new owner Stephen Sharp at Poole YC for the Championships in September.

Mick Taylor's beautiful Alan Jackson built, Paintcraft finished wooden Osprey no 1297 was the centrepiece of the Osprey Class Association stand. As expected, this attracted a large number of visitors, some to reminisce over old times, some to enquire about future Osprey events, some to chat and some just to stroke the beautiful varnish. The Wilkinson Sword Travellers Trophy was on display thanks to the current holders Alex and Nick Willis. This trophy a mounted full-size sword was donated to the Class by the Wilkinson Sword company many years ago and is a monumental trophy.

Visitors to the stand were able to see that the Class is in the process of finalising Championship venues for the next six years:

  • 2024 Poole Yacht Club - 5th to 8th September.
  • 2025 Mumbles Yacht Club - date to be finalised
  • 2026 Mounts Bay Sailing Club - date to be finalised
  • 2027 TBD (May be Castle Cove)
  • 2028 South Caernarvonshire YC Abersoch - 2nd to 5th September
  • 2029 Looe - to be confirmed

The 2024 Championship at Poole looks like being another great event. There are currently around 48 entries or Expressions of Interest and others expected. Competition at the front of the fleet looks to be getting hotter and current Champions Matt Rainback and Phil Angrave from the home club will have to work hard to retain their title. Entry forms for the Championships can be found on the Class website www.ospreysailing.org.uk The Class Association will endeavour to help find boats, crews etc. for anyone interested in joining this event.

The 41 teams that had registered an Expression of Interest to enter the Championships at the end of 2023 were entered into a prize draw with prizes of boat covers kindly donated by Hartley Boats. The draw was held at the Dinghy & Watersports Show by Mark Hartley and the winners are:

1st Rob Burdekin and Ali Raynard who win a boom up cover
2nd Alex & Nick Willis who win a flat cover (just in time by accounts of their current one!)
3rd Matt Rainback & Phil Angrave who win an undercover

The 2024 season kicks off with the season opener at Tata Steel SC in South Wales on April 6th & 7th. Learn how last year's winners DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend did it.

A warm welcome awaits all the teams at Tata Steel SC and the local pub is currently stocking up with beer and food as the Osprey fleet are known to work up a thirst when sailing.

May sees the fleet return to Mounts Bay - a long-time favourite of the class for the Southern Championships and Panmorra Cup. The Notice of Race can be found at www.ospreysailing.org.uk.

At Spring Bank Holiday, the fleet will return to another, but very different, old favourite at Coniston Sailing Club for the Scottish & Northern Championship. Hopefully both events will attract a sizeable fleet.

There is a full calendar of open events throughout the season which provide something for everyone and involves visiting some interesting parts of the country.

In July Ospreys will be sailing in the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association rally at Roadford Lake in Devon. This will be a weekend of semi formal racing and socialising for older boats. It is always a fun event and great to see vintage and old boats competing and to admire the handiwork of those who have restored older boats. The event is open to any Ospreys built prior to 1990 and is a great opportunity to dig those old boats out of the garage and give them an outing.

A recurring theme throughout the Dinghy show was people remembering Osprey fleets racing in Singapore and Lagos. Hartley Boats are reported to have delivered an Osprey to a customer in the USA and an entry has been received for the 2024 Championships from a team based in Bremen, so you never know a European Championship could be on the agenda in future years. Watch this space.

Finally congratulations to our very own DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend on their marvellous second place finish in the recent Fireball World Championships in Australia.

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