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Back in 2003, I took my family to Orkney for the first time, having been intrigued by the articles John Love had written in the UK Bulletin about the wooden Snipes which were sailed exclusively at Holm Sailing Club until as recently as the turn of the century.Holm had just started to 'move with the times' and allow GRP boats into their fleet. Over at Stromness Sailing Club,Orkney's other Snipe fleet,GRP Snipes had been permitted from the start.

By 2003, a smattering of Mark I Skippers and Miller Snipes had been acquired by Holm as the English fleets upgraded to Persson and Devoti. But there was still a good few wooden Snipes in full working order which got sailed in the Holm points series every Tuesday evening between May and August. As well as at Holm, Stromness and the main town of Kirkwa ll, Orkney has regattas at other islands within the archipe la go, such as at Wes tray, Hoy, Stronsay and Rousay. The first regatta I took part in was at Longhope on the island of Hoy. It was sailed fairly informally with not too much attention paid to rules, but great fun and in a beautiful setting to sail Snipes. I was hooked

This year was my seventh trip to Orkney, and the secon d time I have sailed at the Holm Regatta. Orkney is well known for strong winds but in all the times I have been up, no regatta has been abandoned to the weather. As the regatta approached I nervously looked at XC Weather, with the wind for Saturday predicted at around 20mph, I was concerned it might be too strong. On the day it was windy enough but sailable and 14 Snipes entered the event, making it easily the biggest class, well ahead of Wayf arers, Lasers and the beautiful Orkney Yoles.

I have teamed up with Pete Tipler so that when Pete is in England, I crew for him and vice versa when I'm in Orkney. Pete is looking after “Freyr” (20557) a Mk I Skipper I restored last year which went up to Orkney after the Nationals at Stone. Pete's looking after her and sails Freyr at Stromness

Further into the Flow to the west, a Buoy marks the spot where a U - Boat sunk HMS Royal Oak, taking 833 servicemen down to a cold, watery grave. T he ship remains just 5 meters below the surface with the servicemen within, many of them Navy Boys (under 18). Royal Oak is a designated war grave.

The regatta was reduced from three races to two as many boats suff ered gear failure in the first race, but the level of sailing ability and boat tuning and equipment has steadily improved each year I have been up. If you'd like to go up and get a taste of Orkney Snipe sailing before the 2013 Nationals, anyone would be very welcome to borrow Freyr and race in one of the Regattas or join in the Summer points Series at Holm (Tuesday) or Stromness (Thursday). Just contact me or Pete.

It's not all that expensive to get to Orkney for a short trip. Y ou can fly EasyJet to Inverness fr om Luton or Gatwick for about £50 return, hire a car in Inverness (about £60 for three days), drive up through the beautiful Highlands (about 3 hours) to a choice of three ferry ports, leave the car on the mainland and cross over as a foot passenger for about £30 return. Then there is excellent camping at Stromness or lots of accommodation options from hostels, self catering to hotels.

The regatta was almost ‘la st man standing’ and Pete and I managed to stay upright for both races.

On the Sunday there was a port to port lo ng distance race from Holm Pier to the pretty vi llage of St Margarets Hope, which took about an hour and a half. The race took us i nto Scapa Flo w and in much lighter wind Neil Foubister showed us all the way in h is other Snipe Kontiki . The sun shone and the sea was crystal clear and teeming with fish.

Orcadians love their dinghy racing and in 2013, everyone will have an opportunity to meet the members of Holm and Stromness when you will be able to sail your Snipe in a unique setting at the Nationals. You can be assured of a warm welcome.

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