Fly is a Hunter Impala OOD — a David Thomas designed cruiser racer built in 1980. She’s the fourth boat I’ve owned, but the fastest and most fun to sail. When afloat (sadly ashore since late 2005 pending completion of a sporadic internal rebuild!), she spends the summer months racing and (sometimes) cruising on the fabulous West Coast of Scotland. We’ve had some good results since I bought her in November 1998, but her finest hours so far have to be two race wins at West Highland Week, three leg wins in the Round Mull Race and, most treasured of all, her victory in the 2003 Scottish Two-Handed Race (for which I was partnered by Sandy Loynd).
Competitive club racing for even a fairly modest yacht doesn’t come cheap, but here’s where most of the money’s gone:
While Impala Class Rules also allow further headsails and kites, quality sails simply don’t grow on trees (ours come from Owen Sails!) and our core racing inventory consists of the four listed above. We saved money (but not time!) by building the rudder and installing the engine ourselves, the resulting labour of love being the smartest Impala inboard installation we’ve seen and leaving us with enough step-by-step photos to form the basis of a fairly hefty web page...
I’ve been sailing ever since I can remember, which must be some time in the late 1960s. Although I spent more time climbing while I was at university and for the next few years, four boats owned since 1991 have certainly proved the old adage about the sea being ‘in your blood’ to apply to me. I had great fun for five years with two Drascombes, Uaithne (Dabber) and Magic III (Coaster), the second of which I sailed single-handed to the Outer Hebrides. Next, as the racing bug really started to bite, came Wyvern (Jaguar 21) — a pretty little boat, but twitchy, tippy and not really as fast as she looked. A 95° knockdown and near-sinking experience at West Highland Week 1998 was the last straw, so she was sold to make way for Fly (Impala) — a fast, weatherly and comfortable boat that’s proved perfect for my purposes and looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
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