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History of the Project

Tony Marston is the driving force behind Dames Blonde. He is a lifelong International Canoe sailor having started sailing them in his early twenties and who went on to win the British Championship. All who know Tony will recognise his passion for sailing in general and the International Canoe class in particular and his determination to make the class available to everyone.

In 2007, the class agreed to a restricted rule, which amongst other changes, reduces the overall weight to 50kg and the minimum beam to 750mm. The purpose was to attract new designs for higher speed. And it worked. The new rules boats sail to a lower PY rating and have won the major championships since 2008. For those seeking to maximise the potential under the rule, you can read more about the new rule designs on the International Canoe web site

The International Canoe Slurp One Design

The new designs are the pinnacle of the class and where the major championships and major trophies will be fought. It is our view that the new rules canoes (and by that we mean canoes that are optimised to the new rule) as well as being faster will also be harder to sail and likely to be more expensive. This may be limiting at first for many folk who are attracted to canoe sailing.

The Slurp meets the new rule but is aimed primarily at those who want to get into canoe sailing and either want to sail under a one design rule or accept a one design rule as their transition to even faster canoe sailing.

The principles of a one-design are well known and understood. The Slurp one-design controls hull shape, deck shape and layout, fittings layout, component dimensions and minimum weights, construction materials, key sail dimensions, mast and boom materials and dimensions, foil dimensions. The overall objective being to give a wider audience the chance to enjoy this great form of sailing, make it affordable and make the supply side possible.

You will find the Slurp remarkably well behaved. She doesn't have a tendency to nose dive in stronger winds and she's particularly agile in light conditions. In fact she's fast throughout the wind range.

Dames Blonde

Dames Blonde is Tony Marston and Neill Goodliffe. We are based on the Wirral in the North West and both sail out of West Kirby Sailing Club. When we were discussing the Canoe's attributes - the sleek form and design that's almost sexy; the speed, on-the-edge sailing and sheer excitement - we thought of it as the James Bond of the sailing world. Unfortunately that name is already taken but some word play gave us Dames Blonde; with the added bonus of the potential for visuals. The name is distinctive and a bit of fun but the principles that guide us are very serious.

Guiding Principles


We want to make sure that the International Canoe available to everyone within a reasonable budget. You can club together and buy a wooden kit and build it yourselves for less than you might think. Build the hull first and then just buy the next component - the carriage or sliding seat - when you're ready. Perhaps you'd like to buy a glass fibre hull but want to make the carriage and sliding seat yourself. Or perhaps you simply want to sail and just buy a completed boat. Whatever your budget or aspiration, we believe we can help you.

Speed of Delivery

The one design nature of the Slurp means that the components are standard; making for easier and quicker manufacture. We aim to supply most spares in around 2 weeks and a ready-to-sail Canoe in around 6 to 8 weeks. Kits are available in 2 weeks from order. You can be sailing in no time.

One Design

The principle of one design is to give sailors a better chance of enjoying level competition. Our aim is to establish a one design rule that provides for effective control of manufactured Slurps yet be encouraging to the amateur builder.


We believe this to be an important part of improving your skills; by sailing against and learning from other International Canoe sailors. You can already compete in open events for International Canoe held across the country. There's an open event planned at West Kirby 17th and 18th May 2014. Our aim is is to work with other canoe sailors and their clubs to establish more events for both racing and training. Keep checking our Events page.

West Kirby - the home of International Canoe sailing in the North West

There are 13 IC's at West Kirby, 10 Slurps and 3 Pyranha's. Of the 10 'Slurps', 4 were originally built in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1970 and have found their way to West Kirby by various means over the years. They have all been renovated to some degree. Three of them have been re decked. The original Slurp is truly original and has simply been repainted. All the slides and carriages have been renewed. They have carbon masts and new sails. The other 6 are new boats; 3 are FRP and the other 3 are made of wood. West Kirby Sailing Club has granted class status to the IC and an open event is scheduled for 17th and 18th May 2014. We'd love to see you there.

At the moment most of the canoe sailing mentioned on this website, is at West Kirby (North West England). Sailing is on the Dee Estuary and on the Marine Lake.

Visitors are always welcome. If you are bringing a canoe you may have to pay a daily lake license (if you wish to sail on the lake), which costs in the region of £13 for the day. All the usual insurance requirements as for racing apply. If you only plan to sail on the estuary, no lake license is required. If you'd like to come along and try out a Slurp, we'd love to see you. Just contact Tony Marston to agree dates and times.


The estuary is approximately 4 miles wide at West Kirby with Wales to the west and the Irish Sea to the north. It's a tidal estuary; when the tide is out, there's a lot of sand and mud and no water, though we can and we have sailed out to Hilbre Island at the mouth of the estuary about 3 miles away, on the ebb tide and raced out there in the deep water channels off the island, returning on the evening flood tide.

The Marine Lake is just a bit on the small side for serious IC racing but is excellent for training. It's about a metre and a half deep and pretty challenging (lack of space) in anything over a F4. We have enjoyed sailing in handicap racing in moderate to light winds and just enjoy going out for a blast in stronger westerly winds on very flat water.