Blow by blow

Simon Russell reports on the annual blow-boat competition held at the Sailboat Show.

Wednesday March 5th 2003, Author: Simon Russell, Location: United Kingdom
The RYA “Gybe Zone” was the venue for the 2003 Holt Blow-Boat Challenge held at the Sailboat and Windsurf show at the weekend.

Last years entry of 97 was doubled to well over 200 kids who turned up and had a go at yacht design and building. Identical kits supplied by Holt were issued to all competitors for a small donation towards the John Merrick's Sailing Trust.

The aim was to design a craft that fitted into a 3metre length of water filled guttering and propel it by human wind power (Mouth preferred) from one end to the other against the clock.

The boat packs contain many different items including balsa wood, sticky tape a kebab stick and string. Scissors and sandpaper were also on hand to assist in perfecting a dynamic hull shape and a smooth finish.

Many different designs appeared over the weekend varying from square-riggers to multi hulls. Unfortunately quite a few resembled the Kiwi’s America’s Cup challenge!

Rig failures, sinking and capsizes were a common sight. Last years record time of 2.48 seconds set by Olympic Tornado sailor Adam May was never threatened, however John Thomas from Scunthorpe set the weekends fastest time of 3.97 and just nudged Harry Isherwood from Chew Valley into second spot with 4.46. Stuart Meadows from Suffolk finished respectable 3rd in 5.64.

A few “celebrity “ sailors who fancied their chances, turned up for a pop at a fast time. The most successful being star of the new “Smack down Under” 18ft skiff video Peter Greenhalgh. He did manage a sub 10-second run however complained of being light headed and dehydrated after a recent training session!

Only a handful of competitors failed to complete the course. One sulked of the course complaining of being tired and hungry and another needing a nappy change after getting a little excited on the start line. It was all good fun with smiles all round. With the event being such a big hit. I’m sure it will be back again next year.

Thanks to everybody who donated money towards the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
Holt have matched the amount raised with the grand total reaching £ 286.00

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