Story from Peter White. 1972
With the 505 fleet at Felixstowe Ferry becoming more and more competitive, John Davies and myself decided that early summer in La Rochelle was a good place to go, to try our luck.
The French 505 federation were giving some sponsorship towards the Ferry crossing and free entry to any non French competitors.
They were keen to have good competition.
Brother David had been the year before, so we decided to give it a go!
We had been to Denmark for a European Championship, but that was a couple of years earlier. I was still developing our technique and sail designs at Seahorse Sails, Hadleigh, where I was main dinghy sail designer.
We were about the only boat at the time using the Proctor “D” section mast. This was after a meeting with MD at Proctor Masts one Mr John Oakley (of FD fame!)
He wanted us to use the “B” section, but the likes of British legends Larry Marks and Derek Farrant were using the “E” section, I thought the “D” which was a bit lighter was the best way to go.
I digress. On arrival in La Rochelle we registered in the club and then to the Hotel Du Commerce in La Rochelle Square. No marina in those days!
94 entries in our class, and racing about 7 miles from the river entrance, with hundreds in the other classes inc Yachts, windsurfers, and loads of dinghy classes. Not sure how many race tracks there were, but lots! 2000 + competitors.
We shared the race track with the Fireball Class, so it was not too difficult to find the Committee boat.
With 68 fireballs and our fleet of 94 they still as far as we could see only one rescue boat! Crazy! That far offshore. How things have changed!
Day one after 2 races, we had 2 wins! I thought well, 12 knot wind and waves similar to the “Ferry” is what we were used to.
Day two we started with a second, giving us 2 total points, nearest competitor was on 11 points.
Final race we did an horizon job on the fleet, our nearest competitor retired. So regatta was won with 3 wins and a second. Happy days!
We did not go to Hanko in Finland for the World Championships that year, but a Frenchman by the name of Nicholas Loday won the regatta to become Champion Du Mond!
After blitzing the fleet only one Frenchman came over to us to say congratulations.
That was Marcel Buffet, many of you will remember he won the 505 National Championships in 1974, at the Ferry!
After hearing the World Champions result later that year, we decided we would not miss another World Championship, until we won it!
1973 the following year in Hong Kong is history, as our names are indelibly on that trophy!
Sadly today I learnt that Bill Parker who built me many 505’s passed away! RIP Bill.
That news is what prompted me to write this story!