RCYC Hornet Sailors of Yesteryear

»«Tuesday 21st April 2015

At the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, the Hornet Stand received an unexpected gift - the Hayling Chart Trophy from 1952. Reading about it brought the RCYC Hornet fleet to life and, if you are of a 'certain age', these names will bring back many memories:- Beecher Moore, Musto & Morgan, Tony Allen, Mike & Dave Derry, Ian Gray, Brian & Mary Walker...

Every year at the Dinghy Show the Hornet stand gets a number of sailors of the 'mature' vintage shall we say, who come up to tell us their tales of daring do in the fifties, sixties, seventies etc. Just one of the dubious benefits of sailing such a well known and respected boat.

This year however, we were somewhat surprised to receive a gift from one of these gentlemen in the form of the 'Hayling Chart' Trophy that had apparently been skulking in his loft for a number of years. It is of huge historical significance, hence the report.

Some 112 boats were built in the first year (1952) to the novel Hornet design by Jack Holt, at least eleven of which were registered to the Hayling Island Sailing Club. Hence HISC hosted the very first British Open Meeting in 1952 when an event occurred which was to have lasting consequences. It appears that at the first race ever for Hornets, 'Mistrel' (Hornet No 2), sailed by Mr and Mrs Kenny capsized and during the recovery process broke the centreboard.

Rather than throw the bits away the centreboard was donated to the class as a trophy and this was raced for until 1977 when the second results plaque was filled but a third one was never added. It was apparently a tradition that each competitor got a certificate with a copy of the 'Hayling Chart' and their finish position shown as a memento.

A review of the results plaques on the trophy is astonishing as it takes you through the history of the class. A number of people who won the trophy went on to become household names as far as dinghy sailing is concerned and Hornets in particular. The trophy shows the role of honour of the Hornet class set in silver and wood.

The 1952 first 'open' race for Hornets was won by Beecher Moore, one of the main supporters of Jack Holt in his designing of the boat. But did his crew Barbara Seale become Barbara Moore? I do not know for certain but it is likely. Unfortunately, 'Mistral' never appeared on the trophy.

In 1953 the 'Hayling Chart race' was won by Jack Holt himself sailing 'Dandy', Hornet 140, a boat which is still being sailed today at some CVDRA events complete with sliding seat proving the long life of the boat.

The 1954 & 1955 races were both won by Tom Mann in H39 'Brize'. He went onto to be famous for his success in International Canoes. Perhaps he got his thirst for sliding seats from sailing Hornets.

Trevor Greenslade won in 1956 in 'Scorcher' H 297. He and 'Scorcher' also went on to win the Hornet World Championship in 1956 & 1957. He was the leading light in the Topsham fleet, the fifth Hornet fleet to be formed.

In 1957 & 1958 the race was won by Peter Winibank, but the boat, H303 'Lunkabunk' was the National Championship winning boat in 1957 and World Championship winning boat in 1959 in the hands of Beecher and Barbara Moore.

'Starline' H 553, won in 1960, crewed by A Morgan who crewed for Keith Musto, another Hornet sailor, in the 1964 Olympic Games where they won silver in the Flying Dutchman class. Also, A Morgan crewed in 'Starline' when it won the 1960 World Championships in Copenhagen, where the helm was T Wheeler.

1963 victory went to a new partnership of Doug Bishop and Dave Rayment in H 721 'Oobladee'. Little did the fleet realise what was to happen a few years later when their new boat arrived. Hornet 721 was later exported to Lagos Nigeria to the growing fleet. Doug Bishop went on to co-found the Insurance firm Bishop-Skinner which most people in the dinghy sailing world will be aware of.

1964 and victory went to Tony Allen, of Holt Allen fame, well known manufacturer of dinghy fittings. Along with his crew Dave Derry sailing 'Take-Over' H 914 they later became the 1966 National Champions. Tony Allen is also famous for designing the Toy single hander which with its sliding seat and its similarity when viewed from the back shows its Hornet influence. The boat was designed in 1964, a very busy year for Tony.

1965 saw victory go to Hornet 1055 'Pair of Wot?' helmed by Mike Derry, brother of previous years winning crew David, and his crew William "Bill" Barnes. This was the year they won the Hornet World Championship.

At this time Sailcraft were the leading builders of Hornets having built the world champion boats for 1964, 1965 & 1966. But that was soon to change when previous winner Doug Bishop and Dave Rayment arrived with their iconic Hornet 945 'Mojo'.

1966, 1967 & 1968 Hayling Charts were all won by 'Mojo', which also won the 1967 & 1968 World Championships as well as the English National Championship for those years. The boat went on to win the 1970 & 1971 European Championships in the hands of first Ian Gray and then Dave Derry (winner in 1964). In addition in 1971 Ian Gray won the National Championship. The result was that the Hornet world went Rigden mad. This was to continue for several years until the arrival of another iconic Hornet.

1969 & 1970 were won by Dr Brian Walker who with his wife Mary Walker as crew in Hornet 1462 'Snake', believed to be a Rigden, demonstrating yet again that a good number of Hornet crews were made up of husband and wife partnerships.

In 1970 there were a number of major changes to Hornets including the adoption of bigger jibs and for the first time the trapeze was allowed as an alternative to the sliding seat. In an instant this unique aspect of the boat vanished and with it Rigden boats superiority. The crew-deck on a Rigden was fine for the use of the sliding seat but almost impossible for the trapeze. Rigden had to change his crew-deck layout and never really regained his advantage. But change was just round the corner.

1975 saw victory go to H 1782, better known as 'Revolution'. This boat, helmed by Ken Herve, was built by Malcolm Goodwin and represented a major advance in hull shape, within the narrow rules, and thus performance. 'Revolution' in the hands of its builder won the 1972 World Championship at Shoreham where 73 boats from 17 countries contested the Championship.

In 1977 the final entry was made on the second plaque with victory going to H 1777, 'Something Completely Different' helmed by Dr Peter Bennett and crewed by Giles Weston, a Hornet helm in his own right. Both were based at Shoreham and Peter Bennett later replaced Giles with his new crew John Shelton, who was also a Hornet helm in his own right. The pair still race Hornets, though now less frequently, though they were later to become European Champions.

The list of victories also shows the Horneteers love for names. The 1962 winner H 661 'Slide Rule' referring to the seat as do Hornets 649 'Side-Saddle', H458 'Plink-Plank-Plonk' and H375 'Plankton'. Even better is Hornet 1043 'Sink Unit' where the name alludes to the fact that the Rigden deck-layout (before trapeze) looked just like the sink-unit found in most domestic kitchens. The number of boat names referring to Jack (reference to Jack Holt) are too numerous to mention, the 1959 & 1961 winners are two such examples. Finally, the name that one boat just had to have - Hornet 37 was called 'Trapeze'. Was this 1952 boat foretelling what was to come?

As you can tell, this trophy brought a lot of history back to life for some Horneteers, and the patina it has acquired along the way matches some of us. It was a great surprise, and our thanks go Mr Bines Snr for returning it. We must see about getting the race re-instated.....

With acknowledgements to Yachts and Yachting and the authors below

Peter Willans & Jim Ingram