The SailCraft story is getting to the scary part. Ancient history can be comfortable; there are no eye-witnesses to come up with inconvenient truths or dissenting opinions. When I was exploring the first phase in the history of the racing dinghy, everything was wrapped in the safety blanket of the distant past.
In the current posts, dealing with what I like to call the era of nationalism, I’m treading on more dangerous ground. For a start, as the sport of sailing grew, trends became wider and harder to follow (or perhaps easy to exaggerate); there were few occasions when a single boat, designer or class had the impact of Truant, Rob Roy Macgregor or the Half Raters. Secondly, while there’s no one around who can recall the impact of people like George Quayle, Larry Huntington or Linton Hope, there are plenty of people who have first- or second-hand experience of designers like Ian Proctor or Sandy Douglass and their contemporaries and the boats they created. Finally, the main theme of the second era (as I can discern it) is nationalism, and that’s always a touchy subject. It becomes even more sensitive when an outsider is writing about a country, region or class, and when we’re dealing with an international multi-class history every writer must be an outsider to some extent.
To all those who feel that I’ve got no right to comment on the US midwestern sailing scene, or what goes on in the Solent or Bavaria, I can only say that I’ve tried as hard as I can to research what goes on across the sailing world. Nor do I believe that any one area of the world has better designs or better sailors; in fact one of the great driving forces of this whole project was the belief that (contrary to what some people claim) there is no one area that produces the best of dinghy designs.
So, as always with this project, if anyone feels I’ve got it wrong I would love to get your comments, insights or (hopefully) constructive criticism. There’s a very encouraging number of people who read this every week, and it would be wonderful to hear more information about what is being missed out, and what I’m getting wrong.
This is also a good (although rather belated) time to apologise to some people who have contacted me with messages, including fascinating information like pics of the fascinating ballasted dinghies of Plockton – sorry, my lack of computer skills seems to have caused me to lose your messages. I’ll keep trying to find them so that I can reply!
Cheers in sailing