The Holm sailing club committee is currently (2023) made up of:
Holm Sailing Club is based in the village of St. Mary's where we race Snipes. The Snipe is an International One Design Class which offers competitive racing, with a friendly informal atmosphere. The Snipe has a relatively narrow hard chine hull. Spinnakers are not allowed on the sailplan. A fairly hefty aluminum dagger board is used and the mast and boom are made of aluminum. As far as speed goes the Snipe is similar to a Wayfarer; upwind the snipe can be a little faster downwind the wayfarer will have a speed advantage once the spinnaker is hoisted.
The Snipe Class has now been around for over 85 years and is well established throughout the world. The class rules are well controlled; differences between boats tend to be minor, winning is more often through sailing skill. At Holm Sailing Club we have a wide range of sailing abilities.
As far as racing goes, good competition is more important than outright speed. Sailing in Orkney, the best competition is within the snipe fleet; typically regattas attract around ten boats within the snipe fleet, other popular classes in Orkney can draw about four boats (e.g. Wayfarer). Orkney has hosted the Snipe UK championships, in 2013 and 2017.
The facilities at St. Mary's include a pier and a slipway. The slipway allows easy launching of small boats at most states of the tide. Once on the water the racing tends to be around laid marks within the small bay at St. Mary's. The bay is on the Eastern side of Scapa Flow, protected from the North Sea by the first of the Churchill Barriers.
Each Tuesday evening in the summer points racing is held by the club. The racing is round laid marks within the bay and courses are typically of short duration (around 20 minutes) with maybe three races.
If you are considering buying a sailing dinghy to race in Orkney there are many different types to choose from. If you go for a snipe you will be able to compete with some of Orkney's better sailors. The boat will be easy to handle both in light wind as well as a strong blow with big waves. The boom is relatively high, an important safety factor when teaching children how to sail.
Holm Sailing Club is based in the village of St. Mary's, in the parish of Holm (pronounced Ham, from the Norse Havn), and is one of three sailing clubs based on the Orkney mainland. The sailing is based in St Mary's Bay on the Eastern side of Scapa Flow. Holm Sailing Club is based on One Design racing, with all boats being the International Snipe Class. During the summer the club runs evening points racing every Tuesday. The club also hosts an annual regatta open to all types of sailing craft.
Why One Design? The idea of One Design racing is to have all the boats in a race to be nearly the same. No handicaps are used and there is no requirement for races to be timed. The first boat to cross the finish line is the winner. Providing the class is well controlled in terms of design, differences in boat speed are due to how the boat is sailed, other factors are greatly reduced. If you want to win races you have to be well prepared, boat handling skills must be good and the boat has to be sailed quickly. Tactical factors also become important in One Design racing. With Snipe racing the fleet doesn't tend to spread out much, when boats are close together gains can be made by knowing the rules, and how to take advantage of them when you meet other boats on the race course.
In the words of the great Paul Elvstrom, good competition is more important than speed. Sailing in Orkney, the competition within the Snipe fleet is generally good. Typically local regattas attract around twelve boats within the class, other popular dinghies can draw up to four boats (e.g. Wayfarer, Merlin Rocket, Laser). The larger fleet sizes make it more difficult to win trophies, as the competition is tight at the front of the fleet. The racing is run to the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing, however protests are very unusual.
The facilities at St. Mary's include a pier and a slipway. The slipway allows easy launching of small boats at most states of the tide. Once on the water the racing tends to be around laid marks within the small bay at St. Mary's. The bay is on the Eastern side of Scapa Flow, protected from the North Sea by the Churchill Barriers. The racing area is well sheltered and largely free from creel buoys and shipping activity.
Holm Sailing Club's first regatta
Holms first regatta held in front of the village of St Marys on Saturday 30th July 1949, was a great success. 31 boats made the largest entry in any regatta in Orkney for 25 years.
Many of these were highly tuned racing dinghies while others had their colourful, barked working canvas with fishing registration numbers stencilled on. All were welcomed and everyone entered into the spirit of the day. What must have been a record crowd enjoyed an ideal day watching the races from the pierhead, on seats all along the villages, from both causeways, Lambholm and even Glimpsholm.
The first party of visitors arrived about 11am - a wagon with a dinghy on board and another on a trailer behind. This was shortly followed by another lorry with a dinghy and then a third lorry with 2 dinghies and towing a trailer with three up. All hands set to with a will and using a low two-wheeled trailer, all the boats were very soon afloat and rigged for the fray. That was Kirkwalls contribution to the days entry - 8 dinghies. Shortly afterwards, Dr Thompsons well appointed motor cruiser was seen nosing its way into the anchorage off the pier with another 4 dinghies in tow. These had just arrived from Stromness.
From that time onwards many craft of various shapes and sizes were seen coming in. Some were under sail while others were being-towed. A drifter with a big compliment of spectators and 7 boats in tow, arrived from Longhope and Lyness.
The handicap committees work now started in earnest. All the dinghies which had been racing in various places at other times were well known as were their performances, so their handicaps had been published previously. But what about the fishing boats, few of which had ever taken part in an organised race before. They had to be measured and their time allowances figured out.
In attendance was PAEs loudspeaker equipment, which provided lively music and enabled directions to be given to the various boats. This was under the control of Mr J.D Corbett, who made a very efficient commentator. Spectators crowded on the pier, and took full advantage of seats placed all along the front of the village from where a full view of the races in al stages could be got. Everything was now right .well not quite, as there was scarcely a breath of wind.
The first race started at 2:15 in almost a dead calm, and it was thought by those in charge that, with no wind, the race might prove hopeless. The starting signal was fired and the loudspeaker unit, in use at an Orkney regatta for the first time, was used to recall three dinghies which had been over the line too soon. All three made re-starts. After ten minutes, however, a good breeze sprang up, and a most exciting rave over two rounds of the course ensued. It was exhilarating for crews and spectators alike to see so many boats competing against one another.
Very little progress was made but it was seen that Imp, Shangani and DX were lying well together in the weatherleist position. Shortly before 2:45 when the next class was due to start, these boats were scudding around behind the line with a good breeze. But still the dinghies lay becalmed. Then Bonito, which had been about last, having been carried well to the lee of the dinghy fleet by tide, was seen flying along like a steamer. She had got a wind of her own and from almost the opposite direction. She was now in the weather position and almost first, still the remainder lay practically motionless. The Ira started up her engine and steamed away.
The rest, one by one very soon followed her, as the wind came up with them. Can you imagine the feeling of those in Imp, Shangani and DX lying motionless in what was now the lee-most position, waiting for the wind and with the remainder of the class away on their horses. These three eventually got away and it was now seen that Sunshine, Saga and Orcadian were in the lead, to be followed by Ira, DX (which sailed through the fleet), Zephyr (Snipe) and Hazel. Sally and Shangani were working their way up but were still well behind. A luffing match took place between Elisabeth and Sally. While this was in progress, Shangani passed Elisabeth on her lee side and then Sally managed to slide past on the other.
This race had started off as a one-lap affair but as the first boats were nearing the mark buoy the loud hailer was used to announce that another lap would be sailed, and everyone continued without any hitch. The National was soon in the lead, but the Orcadian, the Lyness Merlin, was first over the line to finish, closely followed by the National. On time limit, DX sailed brilliantly by John Laird, beat her handicap to win by 16 seconds on corrected time from the Sunshine (skipper Eoin Mackay). Only one minute nine seconds separated the first five boats, on corrected time. This is a fine tribute to the work of the handicappers, as the five boats were of widely different types, including a 12 ft National, a Merlin, a Snipe, a Stromness centreboard dinghy and a Kirkwall non-centreboard dinghy.
Holm Sailing Club Committee history
The original committee consisted mainly of the men from Rockworks, but since it closed down in 1954, all members have been local and all Commodores have been sailors.
Alfred Flett was Commodore of the club for a remarkable 15 years, and like most of the Commodores he served as Vice-Commodore before. Jack Foubister, Sinclair Muir and Fred Johnston have all served the role of Commodore on two occasions.
No club can function successfully without an efficient Secretary and the success of the Holm club has in no small measure been thanks to John Tait, Lower Breckquoy who held the post for just over thirty years. Another long server of the committee was the treasurer Eric McLennan who looked after the clubs finances for some 30 years.
In 1988 the club welcomed its first lady office bearer with Jack Foubisters wife, Ruby, taking over as secretary from John Tait. From 1988, Ruby ran the weekly points racing very efficiently, latterly helped by Jack since he retired from sailing, a task which quite frequently means spending some three hours on the pier head. In more recent years Jim MacDonald has done a great job as the Race Officer for the weekly points evenings.
The club has a safety boat (Lena) which for a number of years has been operated by the combination of Brendan Fletcher and Bruce Johnston. Lena provides safety cover for sailing events. It is quite unusual for Lena to have to assist snipes in trouble but it is a great benefit to the club to have the safety boat attending race evenings.
|John L. King
The Snipe is an International One Design Class which offers competitive racing due to the well controlled class rules. The term 'International' is applied by the ISAF, the sailing governing body, to classes which are deemed to be sufficiently popular at an international level. The snipe is well established throughout the world with large fleets in many countries and many continents.
The snipe can be regarded as the grandfather of the modern sailing dinghy. The original design was penned by Bill Crosby in 1931 and although there have been significant changes the basic design has stayed the same. Originally the hull and spars were wooden, now modern boats have a fibreglass hull with aluminum spars. The Snipe has a relatively narrow hard chine hull. Spinnakers are not allowed on the sailplan. A fairly hefty aluminum dagger board is used. As far as speed goes the Snipe is similar to the Wayfarer.
Two people sail the snipe. Unlike many lightweight modern designs crew weight is not critical to racing success. In windy weather heavy crews will tend to fare better than light crews, and the reverse is true when the wind is light, but the differences in speed are small.
The Snipe Class is well established throughout the world, with large fleets in many countries. In the UK there are snipe fleets in Budworth (near Manchester), Maldon (Essex) and Blue Circle Sailing Club (somewhere way down South) as well as Orkney. In Orkney Stromness Sailing Club and Holm Sailing Club are both snipe clubs.
When considering what type of boat to buy there are many factors to take into account. If you choose to buy a snipe you can be confident that the class will still be around in ten years time, and if your boat is well looked after it should still be competitive. In Orkney many of the boats are over twenty years old, boats of that age can be bought relatively cheaply and raced competitively.
If you are considering buying a sailing dinghy to race in Orkney there are many different types to choose from. If you go for a snipe you will be able to compete with some of Orkney's top sailors. The boat will be easy to handle both in light wind as well as a strong blow with big waves. The boom has plenty of clearance for safe tacking ad gybing, an important safety factor, particularly when teaching children to sail.