2018 Wilkinson Sword Trophy

The final standings after the final event. Only two points separated first from second overall, with third a further 4 points adrift. Close at the end.

Congratulations Terry Curtis and your crews Peter Greig & Andy Rushworth on winning 2018 Wilkinson Sword Trophy.

Keep a look out for the 2019 Wilkinson Sword events list.

Classic Boat Article

Classic Boat magazine have an article on the Osprey. Alan Henderson & Oscar Chess helped them with the article.

The following information was received in January 2006


Osprey Musings from a Ex-Pat…

My life appears to emulate American history for, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have A Dream”.  Actually, to be more precise, I have had this same dream for years, and mine is a lot less altruistic than was King’s; mine is to own an Osprey.

I don’t remember the first time I set my eyes on this now-classic beauty, but as my childhood sailing interest was nurtured at my parents’ summer house on the Norfolk Broads I can only assume that it was somewhere like Hickling Broad or Goreleston.Truth be told, at that tender age of pre-pubescent discovery, my desire for an individual class of dinghy was simply dictated by whatever class I had just discovered; every six weeks or so my family would find me daydreaming about something new – National 12s, Fireballs, Enterprises, 505s etc. However, as I grew older I also grew more discerning; some might say ‘warped’. I tended to be attracted to classes that were not no so commonly found in handicap fleets, so my interest in classes like the Fireball and 505 was soon replaced by an appreciation for classes such as the IC (which I have since owned), Wizard, Toy, Spearhead, Javelin, Hornet, Scorpion, Osprey, Norfolk Punt etc. Some of you older Osprey sailors may even remember the more obscure of these.

Many years on, with a young family of my own and the worries of mortgage payments, education costs and the like to keep me awake at night, not much has changed – I am still interested in many of the same, rather unique classes and I am still a dreamer…I have to be, because I haven’t lived in the UK for 20 years, so actually owning a great British-designed classic is an aspiration or dream that is unlikely to be fulfilled.

What astonishes me as I write this is that despite the fact that my love for the Osprey has never waned, I have yet to actually sail the boat! I have sailed pretty much every class I can think of, and have found pleasure in many of them. Another Phil Morrison-modified boat, the 22’ Norfolk Punt, though limited to the flatter waters for which it was designed (a beautiful cold molded example of which is owned by the UK-remnants of my family) is the clear favourite of classes sailed so far, but my favourite sea-going class has constantly eluded my grasp, which leads me to reflect upon the roots of this desire; why is the Osprey so appealing to me?

The uniqueness of the design may well be a big draw.  Clinker planking ‘chines’ went out with the Ark, which makes up-to-date racing classes like the Merlin and Osprey something of an unusual design statement.  Longevity as also a big deal.  In this era of throw-away boats like the 49er, 470, 29er, MPS etc, where anything over 2 years old is considered to be antique, it is refreshing to see 20+ yr-old Ospreys still winning races and fighting at the front end of the fleet.  I have lost count of how many years I saw the name Oscar Chess and the sail number 1085 at the forefront of the fleet racing results.  How old is Infidel?  30 yrs old?  It makes the Osprey an investment rather than a financial drain.  And finally, while the big companies turn out soulless, identical, and often flimsy glass/epoxy soap dishes it is refreshing to have a solid one-design that still offers the choice of glass, wood or composite construction, control layout and sailmaker.

When I first moved to the US I came within a hair of buying an Osprey and shipping it out with me. I flew back to the UK and looked at a few on the south coast and London area, but at that stage the quality of the ones available left much to be desired.  With poor choice and my return flight fast approaching, I ended up instead buying a used ISO (do I hear acollective gasp of abject horror?!)…a decision I regretted very soon afterwards, and have done so ever since.  Getting rid of that poorly-constructed boat a year later, I have since done my best to resist the west US coast disease of big boat sailing (the biggest boat to race locally is the record-breaking 77’ Alan Andrews 2004 design maxi) and have tried to keep my string of boats as small as possible while still allowing me to race in local competition – quite a challenge in this ‘bigger is better’ society. 

So what does this US-stranded Osprey lover, race in lieu of his passion?  Something that would be deemed huge, heavy and cumbersome in the UK dinghy world, but which contrarily is deemed tiny, light and unstable locally.  It’s called a Viper 640, a Kiwi-designed precursor to the RSK6.  Indeed, the builder of the K6, Rondar Raceboats in Wiltshire, is now the new builder of the Viper, with the intention of shipping boats out to the US from the UK.  The Viper is as close to being one-design as those mass-produced boats I deplore, but for the US it is small, fast and just plain unusual – only 48 are in existence, 6 of which are in Europe (Denmark and Burnham upon Crouch) and New Zealand.  At 21’ long, 725lbs (330kg) including keel and rig, and sporting a generous sail area and asymmetric kite, this is a hugely fun sportsboat to sail, and competes on level terms with the larger Melges 24.  It is, quite frankly, the closest thing to a dinghy I can find that still permits me to compete in the handicap racing each “Wet Wednesday” evening.

Viper Sailing in Santa Barbara, California

Some of you might be thinking, “Why doesn’t he simply race a different class of dinghy; one that is sailed locally?”.  Therein lies the problem.  Apart from a few select areas of the US, there is very little organized dinghy racing.  The East Coast is not too bad (although pitiful when compared to the UK), but along the West Coast those areas are terribly few and far between, principally just in Mission Bay in San Diego, Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, Richmond/St Francis in San Francisco, The Gorge in Portland, and Shilshole in Seattle (the Vancouver area in Canada has a much better offering, but that’s further north), and when you consider that the US West Coast is 1,400 miles long you will understand why, as I do not live in any of these afore-mentioned areas, I have sold my soul and now sail a sportsboat!   Even the ubiquitous Laser is only raced in certain areas.

I race out of Santa Barbara, California, a beautiful, almost European coastal town about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, with a mountain range running parallel to the beach set just a mile or so inland.  The prevailing sea breeze is easterly, and as this part of the coast runs east-west before turning north to San Francisco, the wind is relatively steady and the swells relatively gentle…add the beautiful sandy beaches, the almost-constant southern Californian, or “SoCal” sunshine and the temperate climate, and this area becomes an ideal playing ground. 

The one requirement for small boat racing here is a good wetsuit – the Pacific is not a warm ocean (unless you get lost and end up in Hawaii or Tahiti!), and the surfers and kiteboarders keep the local beach suppliers in business.  Conditions are generally light to moderate, with the sea breeze generally blowing 2-5 knots during the morning and 8-12 knots in the late afternoon, allowing the powerful Farr 40s, OD35s, J133s, Mumm 30s, Melges 32s, etc to excel.  However, when the warm Santa Ana winds blow south from the inland deserts, it howls over the coastal mountain range at 35 to 40 knots, knocking these powerful boats on their beam-ends and giving the less powerful, and less expensive, boats a chance to shine.