Belmont Reservoir, winter of 81/82

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Thomas, Belmont Reservoir, winter of 81/82

I took the photo.

Thomas is my eldest son of four. Bolton Sailing Club sails here on Belmont Reservoir. Out of the blue in about 1968 my father (who didn't sail) bought a Merlin-Rocket racing dinghy from John Clapperton who lived on Somerset Road in Bolton and joined us all up as members of the club. The boat's name was Jindivik, sail number 1567. I soon took it over, repainted it and renamed it Jack's Rake, and started racing it with Martin, my brother, as crew.

That was the start of my sailing career, such as it was. Merlins first, then OK dinghy (which I loved) and back to Merlins when Thomas became 'sailing age'. For me, dinghy racing is easily one of the best sports there is, to take part in at least. It's not much of a spectator sport but I did enjoy watching the OK World Championships from on a naval vessel in Falmouth one year. The OK dinghy is a small Finn. You had to be a nut case to sail one and not bother when your nut got whacked by the boom – some OK sailors wore a helmet. But the main thing was no crew to argue with, just the opposition.

One of my first dates with Sandra was the Merlin-Rocket Open on Leigh Flash after I'd bought one of the new wide Merlins. The design was 'Expectant' and I still have the seat with 1976 carved on it. Sandra ripped her fingers pulling the jib sheets and needed hospital treatment the day after. Apart from that, the date went well because she is still my wife. A bit later on she bought her own Merlin-Rocket and won a trophy at Bolton Sailing Club.

Cutting a long story short, Thomas sailed an Optimist (which I built) at Bolton Sailing Club for a while, sometimes with Robert, and got interested in sailing proper yachts eventually, which he does now with official sailing qualifications (I'd need to check what they are, but at least Day Skipper). Two of his brothers (Robert and Nick) also sail yachts regularly.

Of course they might have got interested in sailing even if my father hadn't gone out and bought a Merlin-Rocket. Here they are:

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Some of my sons sailing in the Mediterranean

This is the life.
(some years ago in the Aegean)

Thomas is helming with friends on board – at least Rachel, Alice, and maybe Robert. Possibly Amorgos in the background. See also Belmont, 1990s »

Family photos »

Page last modified: 13 April, 2024
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Patrick Taylor