by Mark Steele, Auckland, New Zealand

Too low a tide, lady of Fortune, Boat Man, Southwater`Footy-ing, Lensman Supremo!

“Trust the damn tide to be out just as I arrive and am all ready to launch my Footy from the dock! Now I have to walk forty metres or more just to be able to float the boat and enjoy a sail!. Been looking forward to this all week – honestly! life is just so complicated at times!”   Steve Levesque of Massachusetts, USA, (photographed by Bill Richards) appears definitely not amused!



Richard Gross of our Ancient Mariners (Auckland) windling group took this photograph (above) of Ron Rule’s pirate vessel Lady Fortune sailing on Tuesday 14th April. It is an impressive model no doubt and one that sails well and always draws attention. Although I have shown the model before it is well worth another look, particularly as it is a new photo. Maybe it should be our fleet Flagship, but will Pirate Ron agree to wearing his eye patch and headband, and blackening  one tooth every time he brings the galleon to the pond for a sail?

Vic Smeed hardly sails these days but here he is (above top left) with S1, the very first Starlet designed so many years ago which he still owns. He set alight the interest of a great many in various parts of the world who went on to build and now sail Starlets.

Bruce Ewing in New Plymouth in the North Island of New Zealand designed, built and raced this one-off bright yellow Trimaran called ThE WING THING.  Ever seen a rocket propelled extra-wide yellow banana almost take off from the water headed for the moon?  Impressive sight indeed but you’ve got to be a quick-thinking windler to sail this one. (This picture is for you dear friend Bruce!)

Then there is Creole, a model of the Gucci family owned three-masted staysail schooner built by Derek Nicholson of the Ancient Mariners in Auckland. It is a good looker but is not a particularly fast model which could be rectified I think with taller masts and a bit more sail area. Then again why must it be fast?  Some of the most beautiful women are slow and graceful in movement which makes it easier to feast ones admiring eyes on them! Same with boats my friends, same with boats!

Ron Rule of Auckland's RC model of the Dutch Duyfken replica built in Australia. The original ship built in 1606 sailed from the Indonesia island of Banda in search of gold and trade opportunities on the fabled island of Nova Guinea.

John (inset) of the very active Hull Model Boat Group in Britain regularly sails his Kiosho Fairwind.  A class very popular in both the US and Britain.


The name Hans Staal comes up frequently in my columns. A model builder and sailor, as well as a  photographer of great skill often going to extremes to capture sailing models in action on the water, he is a member of The Hague Model Boat Club in the Netherlands and his images are held in high esteem not only by this columnist but by scores of model sailboaters and readers.  Above is his model of the Hengst mussel-fishing boat from the South Western part of the Netherlands. The photo is so realistic it could be the real thing!

`The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, and the realist adjusts the sails’

Robert L Summers is  an each issue cartoonist in my friend Bob Hicks' now monthly magazine, Messing about in Boats. The above is reproduced courtesy of Publisher/Editor Bob and the artist. In humorous vein it suggests  the all important aspect of competitive sailing and winning at all costs.

In Britain’s Horsham District of West Sussex lies Southwater Country Park with its many lakes, the main lake used by the Southwater Dabblers Model Boat Club one of the most active clubs with sailing and power boat members.

In the sailing division there are fleets of 1 Metre, 6 metre, 8 metre, Fiesta, and Footy boats plus a huge following of scale sailing models including schooners, ketches, Thames barges and other sailing boats mostly scratch built.

I can in all honesty say that the club’s website is not only extensive but it is full of photographs and well worth visiting. Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed!

The Footy class is popular with the Southwater Dabblers and they hosted the Model Yacht Association Footy Open in November 2008 for the John Cadenhead (Wooden Foot) Trophy. The fleet is seen top left, the trophy top right, Jimmy Tippett’s Footy in the third photograph and a rather intriguing little scale Footy in the fourth photograph. Roger Stollery won the event. In another issue, I’ll show you some of the lovely scale boats that sail the waters of the big lake at Southwater. Something to look forward to, believe me.

Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi photo

A beautiful and mood evoking shot by yachting lensman, Carlo Borlenghi at the 2007 Rolex sponsored Fastnet Race in the UK should please all those who love sailing boats and the colours and moods of the tides, the sun’s rays and cloud shadows upon the water over dear old England.. Acknowledged as one of the true Classic yacht races and run every two years over a course of 608 miles, it starts off Cowes and travels to the Fastnet Rock off the Southeast coast of Ireland, and then back to Plymouth via the South side of the Isles of Scilly.

John Trimmer



Barge Elise

Vane steered Starlet

John Trimmer (top left)of the Poole Radio Yacht Club is up with the keenest of keen model yachtsmen in Britain, a keen RC Laser competitor, Secretary for the club’s Scale section, Laser Class Captain and a collector of model sail (and power) boats of his own that keep him busy both sailing, maintaining and restoring.

He started RC sailing with the una-rigged Laser, a boat that has served him well. Easily and quickly rigged the 42” long boats form a sizeable fleet within the club. Asked about `favourites’ the Laser rates high but he also enjoys competing with his A Class yacht,  R Ada (R signifying it is under radio, and Ada his wife’s name. His 36” with a 9” beam Grand Banks schooner Columbine, scratch-built on a moulded hull by another club member, Nigel Woodstock, and his 42” plank on frame-built Thames Barge Elise he  also fond of sailing.

Lady Barbara


A couple of International one metre yachts, a Bantock `Ragtime’ called Lady Barbara and Blue Boy, an early vane-steered Starlet , a Volvo Open 70 featured in last months  column which John assembled, and a tidy looking Robbe ketch Topaz are among a sizeable personal fleet. John also enjoys the intricacy of both freesail and vane steering but with both,  time on the water is limited as such boats don’t mix with other craft. Once set sailing there is no stopping them, until they reach the other side of the pond. 

What would Ratty have to say about  `ebblee bobdy’ these days swallowing copious quantities of Warfarin rat poison `stuff’ all for health  I wonder? We will never know?  Ratty took it  and he’s long  gone, rotting neath the roots of some English willow!  He aint messin’ bout wid boats no more!


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