Fly is a Hunter Impala OOD — a David Thomas designed cruiser racer built in 1980 and bought by me in November 1998. Laid up ashore for far too long after the 2009 discovery that her long-problematic (and structural!) main bunk tops had finally been destroyed by water damage resulting from unsuspected deck leaks, she returned to the water in 2019 after a daunting, initially sporadic but latterly concentrated, total refit that now has its own 56-post index on my blog.
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 seven years previously, but her finest hours so far have to be two race wins at West Highland Week (which really should have been three), 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:
Of course that all pales into insignificance compared to the cost of her subsequent total refit but, not even wanting to add that up myself when even the minimum off-my-head figure is scary, I’m just not about to starting itemising it here!
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 in those early years consisted of the four listed above. That said, I bought an almost new heavy kite during the long lay-up and coveted a nice full-hoist No.2 for years before changing needs led me to order new cruising laminate furling genoa and mainsail in 2019 (we can still also use the separate racing headsails having fitted a Harken twin-groove furler with the drum down in the bow well). 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 now she’s back where she deserves to be.
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