Renowned for producing top quality Laser and hard-as-nails skiff sailors, this little dinghy club has so much more on offer. For sailing conditions, the bay has everything to offer throughout the year. From shifty flat water, to a booming sea breeze on a standard Solent chop, and if you really enjoy a challenge, a wind against tide “Washing Machine” mode. We are lucky, in that we are one of the few clubs that can launch, regardless of how far out the tide is and the water is fairly deep, making it easy to get the foils down and locked in early. Having said that – on occasion, you can spend all day practicing your 100 backwards facing tacks and not make it half way to the lifeboat station(!)
When I moved from another local club at the end of 2018, I was genuinely shocked at how friendly the members are and how welcoming and accommodation the club is. Unless the weather is bordering on biblical, there are always people out sailing, lounging on the beach or bimbling with things in the boatpark. Forgot the right size drill bit? Someone’s bound to have one and willing to lend. Worried about launching and recovery in a blustery onshore? The club has such a beach culture, there will be someone on the beach to get your trolley and/or gambling with critical welly depth to hold the transom while you climb aboard.
In 2019 the club added a “Dinghy Handicap” start to the Sunday Racing line up. The Europes dominate this, being the versatile machine they are. If it’s unanimously agreed that it’s agreeably breezy, we’ll stick up the imaginary Oscar flag and allow the Finn style pumping down wind – as if the regular hiking wasn’t enough of a work-out. Other regular attendees in the handicap fleet are OKs, RS300, 600, Aero 5 and International Canoes and our “Round the Cans” is usually a triangle-sausage or a squiffy trapezoidal shape course with a good beat to windward in there somewhere.
If racing’s not for you, or you’re worried about the family being in tow, Stokes Bay has a Cadet Club for the kids, Cruising Club, nearby tennis court, mini-golf, museums and a really nice promenade for a walk or jog along the seafront. If all else fails, the club has thriving beach community so you’re likely to be sat in the shingle amongst other members, complete with a ’99 from the café next door.
Unlike most, if not all the other 6 clubs I have been a member of since I learnt to sail – Stokes Bay has no party lines drawn between the fleets. There is a bit of a running joke about laser sailors, but they laugh along with this (I suppose they think it’s not them but one of the others). There are regular socials such as pub quizzes, fancy dress dinners, live music, mini-triathlon, BBQs, American supper, dinner-dance prize giving…. The list goes on! During Lock down V1.0, there was something on nearly every day via Zoom – interviews, updates from the committees, quizzes, eSailing and talks/lectures…again to name but a few things. The energy and enthusiasm in the club is crackers.
The club have identified the Europe Class (all by themselves, with no input from me this time)! as a key class for the Bay. Last year we grew from 1 to 4 boats and have a further 3 europe day sailing visitors. The club has a good history with europe sailors – previous nationals winner and now Olympic coach Penny Clark is a local, Steve Cockerill has his name on the champions board a fair bit and the 1995 nationals winner was also from Stokes Bay.
This year, on October 2nd and 3rd, the club is holding the Europe open, alongside the OKs and RS300s. We hope to see you all there but with an annual fee of £288 for membership and a Europe size berth, I hope that like me, you’ll choose to stay with us for good.
As a former Olympic class, the Europe class has long boasted innovative developments, something which has not changed as the class continues to grow in the UK. Throughout lockdown, the active community of Europe sailors in the UK has been busy, sharing their developments and ideas with one another!
One project which has been keenly followed by many in the fleet is the re-fit of GBR 249, a 1989 Winner hull, by Steve Whitby. The cockpit and decks bore the scars of a tough life, with soft patches, gelcoat dings and cracks, whilst the excellent condition hull and carbon mast to match Steve’s weight persuaded him to begin his project! As the hull was considerably over weight, the decision was made to strip out the hull and re-deck using Sapele plywood, complete with all new bulkheads and framing. ‘Sofia’ will be stronger, lighter and prettier than ever when she is complete, and most importantly will be back in perfect racing condition on the water.
George has also been working hard on K-112, a Roland-built 1980 wooden hull that had long been neglected, developing rot in several areas. George removed the foredeck, using fibreglass and foam to rebuild and support the structure, taking the opportunity to create a modern through-deck control line layout, before using veneers to maintain the original appearance of the boat. After re-enforcing and applying new veneers to several other areas, K-112 is now ready to sail again, and with its glossy finish and unique class insignia foredeck will undeniably be one of the most attractive boats in the fleet! George has now begun working on K-182, a Claridge built boat which has suffered extensive damage, and has also written a Europe Repair Guide based on his experience
Olly & Ben Harris brought their newly acquired GBR 331 into the warm and dry during lockdown to begin an extensive refurbishment. This 1995 Winner boat, which was first sailed by Shirley Robertson as a training boat for her successful Sydney 2000 Olympic campaign, was beginning to show some signs of its heavy use over the years, and the repairs included a few structural re-enforcements as well as some cosmetic gelcoat work on the hull and re-varnishing the carbon mast. After a thorough polish and new Kingfisher Ropes from Ben Harris Boatworks, GBR 331 is now ready to return to the water ahead of the 2021 season!
Steve Cockerill re-joined the fleet in 2020, drawn back by his love of the Europe, and has been working hard alongside his Rooster brand to extend their range to include many Europe-specific products. These include new Toe Straps, Mast, Boom and Foil bags and a new Mast Step system. Rooster has also begun importing new equipment into the UK too, with new Winner hulls, Ceilidh masts and UK Sails all now avaliable from Rooster!
As one of the world’s top Europe sailors, an expert sailmaker and avid supporter of the UK Europe Class, Alejandro Pareja Gonzalez has been busy in Spain working on a production run of brand new Sailtech Europe sails, many of which will be adorned with GBR sail numbers very soon! Alongside this, Alejandro has been busy working on many other developments, including new Europe dagger boards and fittings, all alongside producing carbon battens for the British Sailing Team 470 sailors!
After a strong resurgence in the class, with national championship attendance trebling in the last 5 years, the Europe has caught the attention of Suffolk-based boat builders Synergy Marine, who are known for their immaculately built OKs, Cadets and Larks. The UK Europe Class Association is extremely excited to announce that Synergy Marine will now be producing new Europes in the UK, and expect to launch their first boats during the summer! This development will allow the class to continue to grow, filling the ever increasing demand for Europes in the UK!
Alongside all of these renovations and developments, others in the fleet have spent time at home producing toe straps, rudders, dagger boards and rudder stocks, working on their fitness or following the America’s Cup racing, all of which has been shared and discussed amongst sailors on our UK Europe Sailors Facebook group community throughout lockdown!
The UK Europe class is extremely lucky to be surrounded by such an enthusiastic community, supported by passionate equipment manufacturers actively supporting the class, as well as knowledgeable and friendly sailors who are always happy to share their experience. We look forward to seeing lots of Europes on the water in 2021, with particular emphasis on our 2021 National Championships at WPNSA in June. For sailors looking to join our exciting and growing class, please feel free to take a look at our website, and to join our active online community here!
Although 2020 has been a challenging year, we have seen our amazing class flourish in unimaginable ways. New boats and second hand boats have been brought into the UK in numbers not seen since the Olympic era. We have seen the return of several sailors to the class and some inspiring rebuilds and renovations have been shared on this forum. Some of the best boats in the UK have been pulled out of retirement or found new homes. Behind the scenes a great deal of work has gone on into developing a certified measurement jig for the UK, which will allow new boats to be built and measured by both professional and amateur builders. We are very grateful for the ongoing help of André Haufe, the International Class Chief Measurer in this matter. I believe it is very likely we will see new Europes, built by British boat builders, in the very near future.
We only managed two events this year, Overy Staithe which was the country’s first sailing event after the first lockdown and the Inlands which Jon Tweedle and Haversham Sailing Club managed to pull together at the last moment. However, here is a full and exciting calendar for 2021. All of it may be subject to change but with COVID vaccination starting we must plan and hope for the best, whilst remaining cautious.
More than anything I am immensely proud to be part of a class which has such enthusiasm and support, much of it through this group. We come from a wide age range, with both male and female helms, less experienced sailors and Olympians. That is something we must continue to champion as it brings so much to the class. We should all be very proud that our class is so inclusive. Without question we support everyone who wants to sail. If you are reading this and thinking these events are not for you, think again, because the events are just as friendly as the online community surrounding the class! I can’t believe I haven’t seen some of my Europe sailing friends for over a year, but I really look forward to seeing almost all of you on the water in 2021.
Very best wishes, and huge thanks to the rest of the class association committee,
Malcolm (UK Europe Class Chair)
With the resurgence of the Europe class in the UK, ex-Europe sailor and sailing legend Steve Cockerill has recently bought two Europes for himself and his wife to sail! We spoke to Steve to discuss his time sailing Europes and why he has decided to return to the class.
Steve: I was a Graduate sailor at Tamworth Sailing Club where the dominant sailors in that class nationally were my brother and John Burgoine. These two had bought Europe’s to race during the winter as their crews were less than fanatical about sailing in the cold. I was team racing at university and darting back to the club for the odd race. A friend of mine, an ex-crew, also had a Europe and offered to lend it to me for one race. The first time I sailed the boat to windward it felt awesome. Responsive. Lively. Wow! – I was hooked. I guess it also helped that in this first race I beat the two legends in the club by a considerable margin…. Perhaps my Graduate was a slow boat. I then borrowed a boat from the then chairman to go to the National Championships in Plymouth in 1987? I was chuffed to come 7th out of 50. I met a nice chap from Belgium who worked at Scaldia Yachting Centre in Dornik (now called Van Laer Yachting Centre) and he said he had some second-hand Roland Europe’s for sale at his work. And so began my love of buying Europes from abroad and bringing them back to the UK.
My first Europe was K145 a yellow Roland. The mast foot was fixed with wing nuts and only had 4 positions. Dick Batt made me a sail. I went to the Nationals with no expectations and came 2nd to Ian Walters. Although I had a job at Performance Sails and a boss who wanted me to windsurf, I was smitten with the Europe and so left for a ‘real’ job in industry, at British Aerospace in Bristol, allowing me to take a decent bank loan to buy a nicer Europe. I used to travel back to Draycote Water Sailing Club at weekends so I could race Ian Walters and Nigel Snedker who were 1st and 3rd at my first nationals. It was tough sailing those two – I rarely beat them.
We had to qualify for the Worlds – my first was in Norway. I was not prepared for a start line with the bias end that was full from 5 mins to go to the start. You either had to have boat control or you would start on the third row! It was not until I had joined my local sailing club in Bristol, racing the large Enterprise fleet as a guest that my fortunes changed. I started a serious training regime, running home from work each day . I spent the breaks between races practicing holding my boat on the line. Every holiday, I would be on a ferry to Belgium, or the Netherlands to take part in the serious racing. It was obvious that I was weak at downwind sailing so I needed to learn from the Europeans. I would join a bank holiday and some time off to take part in the Belgian and Dutch championships and then take a ferry home, tired ready for another week at work. On my third attempt I won my first of 7 National titles. I became the class sail measurer and newsletter editor. Re-naming the newsletter title ‘Europinions’ was perhaps my first stab at marketing!
I realised that I was not going to be able to compete at the front of the international fleet unless I competed with them full time so I sold my house, making me enough profit to take 6 months off, living in my £50 Bedford campervan and racing at all the European regattas. I was not alone on the circuit, with the same sailors from Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden turning up to pretty much every major regatta, however I was the only British sailor. They had coaches and ribs, whilst I had to leave the beach very early just to make the start. I had my guitar, my boat and just enough money to eat, sleep, sail, strum, repeat. I was certainly the poor relation. Everyone else had new smart camper vans, gleaming ribs and well-paid coaches.
I did however make a surprising number of Europe friends and training partners along the way, including Thomas Johansen (Laser World Champion and Olympic gold medallist in 49er), Jyurki Taimenen (Europe World Champion) Sebastian Godefroid (Laser World and European Champion and Finn Olympic silver medallist) and Serge Kats, (Europe World Champion). Obviously there were more but I do like to name drop!
After taking up a job with the Royal Navy, I sailed the 470 as I was nearly the size to be a helm. I did not have the experience of the ex-420 sailors– so I would hike rather too much! When I made the move to the Laser – I spent the first couple of years trying to make the boat do transitions like the Europe. Despite going slower at first, I continued to work at it. I would say now that my downwind in the Laser is where I am most dominant. After leaving the Royal Navy, I took another role back in the aerospace industry, but I was itching to get back to the sport I love. I took up the role as the Europe Development Coach which paid enough for me to start to develop Rooster in the market. I also coached Min Dezille, the Belgian Europe class Olympic representative for the 2000 Olympics.
Despite winning the Aero 7 worlds in 2017, I was really not big enough for the Aero 7 rig and my wife, Sarah, did not like the Aero 5 rig. I knew she would like the Europe and took a gamble and got hold of two boats so we could train together - call it my midlife crisis! I think I heard the boat calling me back, so many great memories and such a wonderful boat. I think I would like to be thought of as a Europe Sailor first rather than a Laser sailor.
We are hugely grateful to Steve for taking the time to share his Europe stories, and are happy to have him back in the class! Sarah Cockerill will sail GBR 399, and Steve has proven he has not forgotten how to sail a Europe, dominating at the 2020 Inland Championships sailing GBR 399! Meanwhile Steve is looking forwards to importing a brand new Europe into the UK in early 2021!
Looking towards an exciting year for the Europe class in 2021, we are pleased to announce our Open Meeting calendar, with events around the country!
Our current Open Meeting schedule for 2021 is:
To see our full events calendar for 2021 click here
The UK Europe Class Association is pleased to announce that the 2021 UK Europe National Championships will be held at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy from the 18th to 20th June 2021!
Racing will be held over three days at the London 2012 Olympic venue, where the class raced the hugely successful National Championships in 2019. The intention is also to run a day of training on the 17th June for those looking to gain some tips and tricks ahead of the event.
At our 2019 Nationals at WPNSA, we saw 31 boats racing, and our expectation is that with the British fleet having continued to grow, alongside some international guests, we could see up to 50 boats on the water! The Europe fleet in the UK is a friendly and supportive community, and regardless of age, experience or training, everyone will be more than welcome at the event! In 2019's event, we saw a full range of boats and sailors, ranging from Olympian Laura Baldwin sailing her Athens 2004 Europe, to some sailors competing their first National Championships; and environment which we are certain will be replicated in 2021!
For more information about the event, take a look at our 'Nationals 2021' page, which is where all event updates and information will be posted!