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31st May 2015

HAVE - A - GO SESSION - Swanage Sailing Club

This was the first ever promotional event we have attempted. A friend and long time Canoe Sailor, Perham Harding, recognising that maybe the challenge of a new rules IC might be a step too far for many, asked if DB would be prepared to take some 'SLURPS' to Swanage SC for their members to try out. We jumped at the chance and so with the agreement of the club we took two fully operational Slurps and a brand new FRP Slurp to Swanage last weekend. (9-11/5/15).

The club enabled two ribs to get available for supervisory/rescue and crew change duties. Perham organised another driver (Phil Palmer) as well as himself. Six members signed the disclaimer forms (!) 5 for Sunday and 1 plus Perham for Monday morning.

Obviously with such a session it would be nice if the conditions were perfect. How often will that happen?! Well it did last weekend! We had raced on Sunday morning in the club racing when it was overcast, quite breezy and with a bit of a lumpy sea condition. Having a go on an IC for the first time would not have been for the feint hearted in those conditions. But after an excellent lunch at the club the sun came out and the wind eased enough to make it well nigh perfect.

The IC class chairman Gareth Caldwell had driven down from Staffordshire to help and support us in the activities which was very useful indeed. We had two brothers, Sam and Ben, both of whom are in the RYA squad system, the eldest being in the National Laser squad, Phil and Steve an RS Vario and Laser sailor respectively, Harry, an RS 400 sailor and Jess, a Dart 18 sailor. From my memory all of them had much wider experience than just the classes mentioned.

It's fair to say that all the sailors accomplished handling the Slurp well for a first session. Of course there were capsizes - that comes as a natural part of getting used to a narrow beamed hull and coordinating a sliding seat for balance as well as two sail rig. I think they all enjoyed the experience. Poor Jess had her go curtailed prematurely on the Monday through a minor gear failure. I think they all got some buzz from the IC's performance; Harry expressed the comment that "it exceeded his expectations".

It was a big learning curve for Neill and I. There were plenty of things we had thought about doing but when it dame to the crunch we simply didn't do them but it was very satisfying to simply enable some folk to have a go on an IC.

Just to repeat something said elsewhere, if you would like us to enable some of your club mates to try an IC just contact us or send an email to tony@damesblonde.co.uk.

21st December 2014

'Sailing a Slurp' by Alan Powell

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity of sailing Zest , the Sailboat Slurp, on the Marine Lake at West Kirby on Sunday 12th October. The weather was perfect for me, as a very rusty Canoe sailor, with a light breeze and warm sunshine. We mustered seven Slurp canoes and posed for a photo-shoot, doing several sail -pasts, in front of our photographer on the Lake wall as a fleet. We then had two informal races, on a pursuit basis.

Initially, in a new boat and sailing in very close company, I was somewhat apprehensive, but the simple layout and relatively stable platform, in canoe terms, quickly reassured me. When we started the races I managed to get the centre mainsheet take off and cleat tangled in the bridle and I tended to try to tack too quickly. On my own boat I just use a ratchet block. By the end of the first race I was getting flustered and frustrated at my lack of boat handling skills. Tony advised me to cleat the mainsheet through the tack and in the second race I tacked more carefully and slowly - and far more successfully - so I came off the water much more encouraged and confident.

I really like the idea of a one-design option in the International Canoe as it clearly offers a very good value entry level boat which is competitive at club level and probably at higher levels when it blows. My own preference is for a boat I can tinker with but this comes at the considerable cost of time and effort in making custom parts. The only changes I might make to the current layout is to perhaps cant the boom higher by raising the clew by about six inches to make getting under the boom easier, putting an elastic bungee under the seat from the ends of the jib sheets and putting a wedge under the jib jammers to enable quicker cleating. Perhaps the angling of fittings might remain optional although their placement should be fixed in the rules.

My thanks are due to Tony for giving me this opportunity and to the other sailors who made me so welcome. I had a great sail which has really served to rekindle my enthusiasm for this fantastic class. It is no wonder that the Slurp has been such a success at West Kirby and introduced so many younger sailors to the class. Just brilliant!

More picture are shown in the gallery.

Autumn Update (October 2014)

This business of updating the website is akin to my new year resolutions! Summer is over so time to bring you up to-date.

The first FRP Slurp IC Zest GBR 332 was launched back in June and she has been tested in normal sailing throughout the season. No defects detected so far. I am working on dagger boards and rudders at the moment towards the completion of GBR 331 'Black Knight' and GBR333 'White Knight', both FRP IC Slurps - seen below as they arrive from Hungary.

We have had a pretty good season at West Kirby SC. This has been the first season where we have been officially recognised by the club for tidal class IC racing on the estuary in our own right rather than as part of a handicap class. The courses have been more to our liking and much longer. We have had some good races with many different winners. Good competition.


Now we are moving into the autumn we have reverted to an early Sunday morning session on West Kirby marine lake with lots of short races which is good practise!

On the development side we are developing a stiffer carbon mast and flatter mainsails. The earlier bendy masts are being stiffened by various means; spreader deflection, mast chocks and if necessary we may add some more carbon. One consequence of this might be a need to recut some of the mainsails - we will see.

Feedback from Dinghy Exhibition (31st March 2014)

This year was the first time that DamesBlonde attended the International Canoe Class Association stand at the Dinghy Exhibition at Alexandra Palace. It was hugely enjoyable. The stand was busy with lots of people coming by. Some shared their past glories and fond memories; of people they have sailed against or events attended. Of adventures on the water or indeed adventures off the water! For others it was their current experiences at local clubs or national events. There were those who had not seen an International Canoe before and were a bit bewildered by the sliding seat. 'Whats that?' 'Does it move?' were some of the comments made. A favourite was the gentleman who simply stared at the IC Slurp One Design eventually breaking out in to a fond chuckle 'Thats a silly boat!' What shone through from everyone was a real love for the class; of its culture and special appeal.

For some of you though this was tinged with sadness and frustration about the lack of competition at your club. We heard many stories where there are only one or two Canoes at your club very often resulting in you sailing alone or in handicap races. We heard other stories where this has lead to the class simply dieing away in some clubs.

At DamesBlonde, we believe we can help with this. We would like to work with you to promote the class. We would like to bring a Canoe to your club so that interested sailors can try it and experience for themselves the thrills, spills and excitement of an International Canoe. We would like to talk about the culture and rich history of the class and share the appeal that was so evident at the Dinghy Exhibition. If you would like us to come to your club and help to raise the profile of International Canoes, please contact us.

26th February 2014

On Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd March, Jamie Marston's IC Slurp One Design - GBR 332 'Zest' - will be at the Dinghy Exhibition at Alexandra Palace on the International Canoe Class Association stand (stand B6 in the Great Hall). 'Zest' is one of the first three FRP Slurps to join the class.

Built by Pata Marine in Hungary in association with Dames Blonde Ltd, the FRP Slurps mark another phase in the development of Slurps as an entry level IC to canoe sailing and for those wanting to sail one-design. Dames Blonde Ltd have already developed a laser or CNC cut Slurp kit for the amateur builder and the FRP development enables a completed Slurp to be available ready to sail. Incidentally, Pata Marine make the International Olympic Finn Dinghy, A Class Cats and a Carbon Mast for the Finn which is a work of art.

The FRP development uses experience gained over many years in terms of layup, building technique and completeness of offering to produce a product to be enjoyed by a wider market. And there's further exciting developments to come. WATCH THIS SPACE.

"Built in association with...." these words mean so much more. The 'Slurp' project has been born out of great 'associations' with many people and organisations and we will tell the full story in future news items. So, again, WATCH THIS SPACE.