by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Nevís Ann Louise tames a big sea, the enviable Southwold family regatta, Summer Winers and photos `up close, low and personal!í

My friend Hans Staal in the Netherlands convinced me that the best, and certainly the most  realistic photographs of models on the water are obtained using a camera and getting as low down to the level of the water as possible. Another friend, Neville Wade of the UK remembered reading that in the now defunct magazine of mine, Windling World and inspired by Hans, sent me these few photos of one of his three superb square riggers ploughing through pond waters of his local sailing pond in Sheffield, England. A great admirer of Staal’s work, Nev says that he always strives to emulate Staal.

Above is the Ann Louise photographed by Neville  and in the group cluster that follows, are a few taken by Hans, included to further hammer home the points leading to the achievement of such brilliant photos, as well as a couple by Auckland Ancient Mariner, Richard Gross. The first two photos below shows his Garnelenschuit with crew getting ready to sail, the crew also made by Hans, their method of construction outlined in an earlier column. The photograph to the right of that one, the Fife design 12.68m  Lucky Girl  of 1909-1910, the model built by Gisela and Helmut Scharbaum over a period of 1300 hours Enjoy them, have a go with the camera yourselves and remember to get low and capture the model as close to you as possible and just when it` looks right.’

The first of the second pair of photos lower left were taken by Richard Gross – a wonderful shot of Aucklander Ron Rule’s pirate vessel Lady of Fortune, and to the right of that, Richard’s own Bawley,  Anita.


As alluded to above, another model shipwright and model yachtsman taking some exceptional photographs of late is Neville Wade. Immediately above is his Ann Louise caught pummeling into a big sea in a South Atlantic bight (actually the low draft pond where he sails!)  Get in close, crouch low and if possible almost within spray area of the water, and don’t strive to frame the whole model.  (Oh yes…and watch out for the bowsprit in case a rogue wind gust causes the model to suddenly change course and head for you with intent to re-arrange the features of your face!  

Another ultra-close shot, this one from Andreas Gondesen, Master Model Shipwright in the Republic of Germany, this one of his 1664-65  Zeven Provincien, flagship of Admiral de Ruyter gathering momentum in the first shot, and the intricate stern shown to advantage in the second photo.

Kiss’n cuddlin’ up close and personal in full view of spectators, and in broad daylight! Two Starlets, Richard Gross’s Mist and nearest to the camera, Ron Rule’s Star Bd comparing notes (“Hey quit cuddling me!”) while taking time out from Ancient Mariner fleet activity on the water at Onepoto in Auckland, New Zealand.  Come on you guys - you may call it `rafting’ up’ but people are becoming suspicious and beginning to talk! Regular `cuddle ups?  It’s just not cricket  whats more, remember the Papparazi are everywhere!


`Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die,
even the undertaker will be sorry’. (Mark Twain)


Southwold is a small town situated at the most easterly point of England, a town unique in that it has a history of model yacht sailing that dates back to 1892. The regattas held there are unique in that they are family oriented, the boats are free-sailed without radio control usually over two lengths of the pool with the Southwold club in England with events sailed under Victorian rules, the handicapping being based on the length  of a boat hull and with races usually sailed on a reach.

Beach yawls on the charge

The pond was rebuilt in 1995 and there have been immense developments in boat design over the years since. Since 1998 when I did an article in Windling World with great help from the then Commodore , Nigel Osmer who supplied me with information and photographs taken for me by his wife, I have now found it extremely difficult to even make contact with anyone at the Southwold body, making efforts to do so being akin to pulling teeth, not to mention the hours spent on the internet digging and delving in Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Poirrot  style.  It seems to be a closely guarded secret this event to the stage that even for someone trying to tell others about its many charms, the task of gleaning material is one that ends in abandonment. Perhaps that is part of the success of the Southwold Model Yacht regattas, ask no questions, ferret not nor dig too deeply for added information, just come and enjoy these events in Sussex. Hopefully the above throws a little light on the event and long may it continue exactly as it was intended to.


The Tide ever flowed
And the wind always blowed,
From the place where we goed.



Wonder if on their travels, any cruising yachties have ever journeyed up the Ning Nang Nong (where the cows go `Bong’ and the monkeys all say ‘Boo’, (where)  there’s a Nang Nong Ning where the trees go ‘Ping’, and the tea pots Jibber Jabber Joo!)  Probably not, it’s too shallow for a keelboat up there, Spike Milligan (1918-2002) would  possibly  have warned them!

Sounds a bit `Summer wine-ish’ all that, which takes me back a few years in time to our Last of the Summer Wine group of five `oldie’ model `yatch-sters’ who met and sailed on a quiet private lake  situated kinda North West-ish of Auckland in New Zealand. All of us fans of the British sitcom of that name, a story of three men in the Autumn of their lives set in Yorkshire, England. Dennis, Graham, Roy, the late Bill and myself assumed the personas and present  day roles of Clegg, Foggy, Compo (and two others whom I shall mention as Tacker and Whoosh) and we spent many a happy day ribbing each other and windling. 

How seriously one takes model yacht sailing is largely attributed to attitude and the best form of model yacht sailing is often best enjoyed with fellow friends who have done their serious sailing and racing fullsize boats and who are now at that age where they `take seriously the art of  not taking it all too seriously. Instead they just enjoy seeing their model sailing boats on the water while poking fun at each other, laughing a lot and revelling in each others company. (A bit like our Auckland Ancient Mariners come to think of it!)

We who are still around (three in the photograph and I who took the shot) are quietly happy, nay let’s be honest we’re doggone proud that we  were the `Summer Wine sailors’. I should not speak for Compo (Bill who passed away) because one must not speak for the dead, only `kindly’ about  them!


Prepare thee thy sails for the `Windler’. The wind that almost always blows in on Onepoto at about ten am on a Thursday is known with affection by Auckland’s Ancient Mariners as `the Windler!’


The Santa Barbara One Design is a fractionally-rigged sloop with an almost six foot long hull and is a popular class registered with the American Model Yachting Association. It could well be described as having a `drop dead beautiful’ appearance and fleets are raced in Las Vegas, Buffalo, Chicago, Omaha and Calgary and obviously in several areas of California. They also have a following in Honolulu and in Ontario, Canada. Impressive because of their size and clean flowing lines they are growing in popularity.  Hard to choose what you would like to sail isn’t it?  Life is difficult sometimes!

Contrasting to the Santa Barbara Own Design, many readers will remember their very young days when they hammered and sawed to fashion wee boats often of crude appearance, many of them often with questionable sailing qualities. I well remember the Brahmin that as  a youngster perhaps aged about nine or ten at the time and named after a cantankerous bay gelding raced at D’Urban Park where my dad trained a few gallopers.

My sloop (well I must have thought it looked like one!) had two old handkerchiefs for sails which my `gran’ gave me, a chisel-gouged and stained in places pine deck, a crude looking mast, a keel flattened out of a vegetable soup tin can and  a rudder, the latter locked for straight running in drains swollen by excessive rains that flowed past the family home. Just as well I never got a photo of her for she was pretty crude and did not seem to be able to hold a straight course, I wonder why?

Now had I then had Brahmin II  (seen above) given to me by Roy Lake a couple  years ago, I could well have become the `Laud of the swollen drains’. Well, possibly so, although `Bangalang’ Green,  a fat boy from up the road usually won most of the races.

None the less these `nautical masterpieces’ often delivered pleasure and made many a young lad very happy. So as they could not get away, stern-tied string was the `in’ thing! Don’t laugh, another late Milligan’s song went `String, string an important thing!’ Irwin Schuster of Tampa, Florida sent me photos of this 33 cm LOA boat that he has owned for some ten years, a quirky `daddy’ boat built by someone with no maritime knowledge but not lacking in the determination and enthusiasm areas, and with a good supply of string.



And so I will end, with the hope of another journey into the world of model sailing boats next month. I’ve been wondering how long I can continue to provide what hopefully some might just possibly consider to be` interesting stuff ‘ while constantly reminded of the words of Charles de Gaulle that old age is (nothing more than) a shipwreck.  (Oscar Hoodwink my pc of questionable age keeps telling me that he is ill and tired!) What’s more, although depending on ones religious beliefs the souls of the good either instantly or eventually go up, from my observations our often aged ship-wrecked  'remains' do all go down.

The dramatic 85c denomination postage stamp image from the Republic of Transkei, a region in the Eastern Cape of  South Africa indicates the sad final moments of a vessel’s descent into the sea.


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