Last update 1/4/17
Many thanks to Raymond Grieve, JP Drever and John Leslie for information on details below.
The Enterprise class was designed by Jack Holt in 1956, taking advantage of new construction techniques using plywood. The class became popular because of it’s relatively low build cost and the design suitable for home construction. The first Enterprise to sail in Orkney was J. Wheeler’s Nefertiti which came over from Caithness. In Orkney the class first established itself in Westray in the 60s (J P Drever ‘Myrlin’, J. Burgher ‘Diana’, Norman Cooper ‘Ella’ and Billy Brown’s ‘El Diablo’). All these boats were locally built.
At the time the Merlin Rocket was popular in Kirkwall, but due to being a development class competition was becoming expensive. Around about 1967 Russell Croy brought kits for two Enterprises to Orkney, he constructed ‘Merry Dancer’ for John Leslie (John helped with construction), the other kit went to the Orphir Youth Club. Once these two boats were completed the formers were sold to Jim Meason of Shapinsay who built another boat ‘Thevnick’. Jim’s son Kenny sailed Thevnick for a time.
The Kirkwall Grammar School also built a couple of boats which were used for training.
The class lost momentum in the late eighties although A. Leslie bought a fibreglass boat ‘Blew Bird’ which cruised round the isles for a time. In fact Blew Bird can still be seen sailing about near in Scapa Flow from time to time.
The Merlin Rocket fleet in Kirkwall is a fleet that has seen numerous changes over the years. The changes of ownership will always happen with natural progression, but with a development class like the Merlin Rocket design and build has also changed over the years. The first Merlin rocket in Orkney was 'Orcadian' sailed by Jimmy Wylie with James Barbour as crew. Ian Mackay's Njord (sailed with Roy Thomson) was another early boat along with Pat Sutherland's Ferrylouper and John Tait's Rock n Roll. Leslie Wylie built some of the early orkney Merlin Rockets including First Attempt (owned by Dan Grieve), Ronnie Drever's Freya (a long standing crew was Alistair Learmonth) and John Laird's Corona. Dan Grieve had numerous crews over the years in First Attempt they include Alfie Walls, Ron Celli, Alex Mair. In the early days Ron Celli crewed with Dan in First Attempt. Brian Kynoch also crewed with Dan Grieve for a time, now Brian is the principal of the Orkney Sailing Club RYA training centre. First Attempt was skippered by Raymond Grieve with Laurence Celli as crew in 1975.
Corona was owned by John Laird, she was sold in the 1960's and raced out of Stonehaven for many years. The very early Rockets were all copper fastened, very solid heavy boats. Another Rocket that was copper fastened was Njord owned by Ian Mackay (with Roy Thomson as crew), later owned by John Newlands, she had a much narrower beam than the others. After these boats came the first of the proper Merlin Rockets - glued together, therefore lighter. Rock'n Roll and Tyste. Tyste's long standing skipper was David Kemp. Over the years she had numerous crews who went on to skipper including Russell Croy (before Russell Croy bought the cat Rip Tide), Malcolm Gilbertson, Raymond Grieve and Laurence Celli. Ally Kirkpatrick raced Tyste for a season. In 1974 Malcolm Gilbertson started to race Selkie with Laurence Celli as crew. Rock'n Roll had a number of skippers in the early years before coming into the ownership of Bruce Dunnett. Bruce sailed with Eric Brown for a number of years but as Eric worked for Orkney Steam he spent some evenings overnight in the isles. So Bruce introduced a few people to sailing and some remained with the club for a long time. Eric Brown then went into partnership with his son-in-law Harcus Hutchison and purchased Ella, named after Eric's wife. Harcus still races Ella at some of the local regattas.
Perhaps due to the ever changing skippers both Rock'n Roll and Njord gained reputations for being "cuppy", both having capsized in the Basin! In later years when both boats came under more regular ownership they were highly successful and spent most of the time upright. Njord was raced for many years by Leslie Tait with his crew John Skea until Leslie decided to buy into the "soup plate" design with Skadi and then Skidblabnir. John went on to skipper Falcesa and Veni Vidi Vici (with Willie Watters as crew) before returning to crewing in Albacores and now Snipes.
At the time Skadi arrived into the Kirkwall fleet there were a lot of older Merlin Rockets being purchased south by a chap called Maxi Dunn who sailed out of the Newbigging club. As the North Isles ferries went off to South Shields (near Newcastle) for refit each year it gave an excellent opportunity for local sailors to purchase cheap boats and get them transported home very easily. Ella came home that way, Tammie Norrie owned by Ian Pole, Rural Girl - Edwin Rendall, Snoopy - Ian Eunson, Falcesa - John Skea then Tom Flett, Veni Vidi Vici - John Skea, Wake - the Pottinger boys, Bora the Foulis boys. Bertie Burgess had Snoopy before moving on to Albacores and then 505s. There are others but can't recall boat names - Bob Moar and Gordon Hill had one in partnership, John Orr had another, Malcolm Gilbertson was another owner, Stewart Hutchison from Finstown.
In 1975 Leviathan and Onedun Line arrived in Orkney for the Regatta's these were both 'soup plate' designed Rockets - Soup plate due to the boats beam. These very wide boats had greater righting moment, allowing more power and speed upwind. Leviathan stayed in Orkney, she was purchased by Raymond Grieve in 1976 who had finished a season racing First Attempt. Onedun Line appeared the following season with a new name - Skadi.
John Skea started with Leslie Tait in 1971 in Njord, prior to that we think Leslie was John Leslie's crew in Merry Dancer. Laurence and Raymond Grieve were the last combination to race First Attempt over an entire season (1976).
Back in 1967 a chap called Dick Percival took an Albacore Vanity and sailed her in the Orkney Regattas with great success. Shortly afterwards Dan Grieve bought a brand new Albacore from Knight and Pink rigged with sails from Ratsey & Lapthorne. This boat was named Mizpah and she became a legend within the Orkney sailing scene; Vanity dissappeared from the winners lists and subsequently vanished from the local regatta circuit. Mizpah was named after William Grieve's (Dan Grieve's father)yole. After Dan sailed Mizpah for a few seasons Jim Shearer from Willam Shearers took home another Albacore named Marion Olwen II. Jim has raced a Bosun (445) for a number of seasons prior to purchasing his Albacore, his Bosun was named after his two daughters Marion and Olwen. When Jim purchased his Albacore the local Sea Cadets purchased his Bosun, this gave Cadets a taste of dinghy racing besides the more traditional Royal Navy RNSA's they used. The Kirkwall Sea cadets eventually had four bosun dinghies (Thor, Odin, Tyr and Har, all named after Norse gods). Raymond Grieve's first taste of skippering 445 was in the 1973 Holm Regatta where with Willie Pottinger as crew he was pipped for the cup by Mizpah in the Mixed Centreboards class.
Raymond Grieve raced Leviathan from late 1976 until around 1978-79 when he discovered an Albacore called Moonshadow lying unused in Burray. Various people took her out including Alfie Flett at Burray Regatta. Around the same time Ian Eunson had purchased an older Albacore. During the winter months Ian went to the trouble of building buoyancy tanks inside the boats cockpit as this was a more open designed cockpit than other Albacores raced locally. Leviathan was sold to Willie Groat of Sromness as there were a few people in Stromness hoping to start a Merlin class. The Kirkwall club around this time were keen to name the Albacore as the 2nd "club class" alongside the Merlin Rocket.
Around the same time Donald Glue had been racing a Wayfarer called Lindsay Jane, he sold her to someone in Rousay (start of the Wayfarer class in Rousay) and took an Albacore called Samara home. Donald's regular crew was Brian Sutherland. Through Donald's involvement in the Sea Cadet's he gave Cadet's the chance to crew with him from time to time when Brian was unavailable. Another Merlin Rocket skipper who decided to move over to Albacores was Tom Flett. Tom had raced Falcesa for a number of seasons and then purchased an Albacore he named Galatea, she was the same colour as Moonshadow.
Turns out that a regular visitor to the islands on business was David Urquhart, a member of the Royal Findhorn club. David was Scottish Albacore champion who had raced in British and World Championships. He was selling his wooden Knight and Pink hull to finance a new boat. It's name was My Highland Queen, the boat had just returned from that seasons (1980) World Championships in Canada. The reason for the boats name - David was employed by Mathew Cloag & Son who produced Famous Grouse Whisky. Highland Queen was also one of the brands produced, the boat's name was a form of advertising - sailing was still supposed to be amateur at this time. It seems Mathew Cloag & son contributed to the cost of shipping David's hull to Canada for the world's. It turns out that Moonshadow was an ex David Urquhart Albacore too.
At a later date Samara was taken over by the Kirkwall dentist Bruce Dunnett, and later by David Pottinger. Bertie Burgess had Scarlet Lady, 6404 in the mid to late 80s, with various crew (Neil Burgess, Neil Watters, Kevin Linklater, Thorfinn and Eric Leslie). The Pottinger brothers took the Albacore class further in the 90s, with David sailing Dog Woof and Brian sailing Barbarian, unfortunately at that time the class had lost momentum. There are surely still a few ageing Albacores lying in Orkney sheds. At the height of the Albacore class there were about eight boats racing in Orkney waters.
Raymond Grieve purchased My Highland Queen at the end of the 1979 season after selling Moonshadow to Davy Cursiter from Stromness. The name was changed to Corona in recognition of the help Raymond had received from John Laird. John was the owner of the original Corona - one of the early Merlin Rockets built by Leslie Wylie. Russell Corsie crewed for Raymond for a time.
By 1980/81 Kirkwall (OSC) had Albacores - Mizpah - Dan Grieve; Marion Olwen II - Jim Shearer; Corona - Raymond Grieve; Phynx? (can anyone confirm this name) - Ian Eunson; Samara - Donald Glue; Galatea - Tom Flett. Dan Grieve had a number of crews in Mizpah, but main ones were Kenny Linklater, Ian Eunson, Jimmy Craigie, Linay Linklater, Brian Kynoch.
Corona and Moonshadow were other Albacores owned by Dan's nephew Raymond Grieve.
The Wayfarer class started in Orkney when Dr. Sydney Peace bought Eynhallow, she won the Holm Mixed Centreboards with Alfie Walls as skipper in 1969 (the same Alfie Walls who was Dan Grieve's first crew in First Attempt). Doodie Robertson bought Eynhallow later.
The Wayfarer class had a golden era in the 90s, when boats such as Jimmy Clouston's Smyril, Michael Miller's Andante, Simon Butcher had Fair Dinkum, Donnie Sinclair's Eclipse and Leighton Venables' Hronn formed a competitive fleet in Kirkwall. Later Alan Hale's Das Spoot was a regular sight at local events. The Wayfarer class was popular for cruising and made up the main part of Orkney Sailing Club's training fleet till 2012 when the more up to date RS Feva was introduced. One intrepid boat was sailed to Fair Isle with Daniel Sargent and David Golding. Peter and Kay Mills had a Wayfarer for a time, then bought an RS400 Jammie Dodger which they sold in 2008.
The 505 class was kicked off in Orkney with the unusual circumstances of Ian Pole inheriting a boat (Lintie) from a relative in Shetland, this would have been around 1980. Kenny Foulis crewed on Lintie for a time. Some of the other Orkney sailors were attracted to the 505 class; Leslie Tait bought Abra, and David Sabiston bought Sunburst. David Sabiston went through several 505s; Sunburst, Evil Edna, and Best Kens and then moved on to an Alto Aegir. Bertie Burgess took Abra, 7496 in hand in the early 90s and then White Knight.Brian Kynoch bought a Laser EPS when it looked like the EPS might be the next best thing. Unfortunately the class died before marking any significant local trophies. After Albacore Samara Donald Glue bought a 470 Zendik with which he made his mark on some of the local silverware before retiring from sailing. Neil Burgess had an RS600 Atomic Betty, 834, before moving on to the laser class.
Various locals have had a crack at the Laser class, including Willie Pottinger, George Ratter, Robbie Bruce, Malcolm Foulis, David Foulis, Lee Thomson, Magnus Bain, Neil Brown, Neil Burgess (Cracklin' Rosie 155890), Ann Shearer (nee. Thorne-Large, Skellum), David Clouston, Peter Tipler, Ian Rushbrook (Solitaire), Andrew Leslie (Lazy Linda, Warspite), Michal Meszka (Little Gem), Jonathan Walters (St. George), Fredrik Sundman (Lazy Linda).