Fly is a Hunter Impala OOD — a David Thomas designed cruiser racer built in 1980. Now (summer 2017) sitting too along ashore with long-problematic main bunk tops finally destroyed by water damage (discovered in 2009? on a too-occasional inspection during her fourth year laid up) and a main cabin purposely gutted to facilitate their replacement, but the sporadic (and daunting!) refit has at last moved on from identifying and rectifying all the guilty deck leaks (forehatch, windows and mainsheet track) to the serious work of putting her back together for 2018.
She’s my fourth boat and, prior to coming ashore in 2005, spent the summer months racing and (sometimes) cruising on the fabulous West Coast of Scotland. We’d had some good results since I bought her in November 1998, but her finest hours so far have to be two race wins at West Highland Week, three leg wins in the Round Mull Race and, most treasured of all, her victory in the 2003 Scottish Two-Handed Race (for which I was partnered by Sandy Loynd).
Competitive club racing for even a fairly modest yacht doesn’t come cheap, but here’s where most of the money went during these first years:
While Impala Class Rules also allow further headsails and kites, quality sails simply don’t grow on trees (ours come from Owen Sails!) and our core racing inventory has so far consisted of the four listed above. That said, I’ve bought an almost new heavy kite during the long lay-up and still covet a nice full-hoist No.2. We saved money (but not time!) by building the rudder and installing the engine ourselves, the resulting labour of love being the smartest Impala inboard installation we’ve seen and leaving us with enough step-by-step photos to form the basis of a fairly hefty web page...
I’ve been sailing ever since I can remember, which must be some time in the late 1960s. Although I spent more time climbing while I was at university and for the next few years, four boats owned since 1991 have certainly proved the old adage about the sea being ‘in your blood’ to apply to me. I had great fun for five years with two Drascombes, Uaithne (Dabber) and Magic III (Coaster), the second of which I sailed single-handed to the Outer Hebrides. Next, as the racing bug really started to bite, came Wyvern (Jaguar 21) — a pretty little boat, but twitchy, tippy and not really as fast as she looked. A 95° knockdown and near-sinking experience at West Highland Week 1998 was the last straw, so she was sold to make way for Fly (Impala) — a fast, weatherly and comfortable boat that’s proved perfect for my purposes and looks set to stay that way when back where she deserves to be.
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