Atalantas at a Boatshow?
First there was one – the twenty four feet long Atalanta prototype, in 1955. Then, over the next decade, Fairey Marine built one hundred and eighty six Atalanta 26s. In the following five plus decades this small number of yachts have made a disproportionate impact on yachtsman; recognised and admired, owned, sailed in and sometime dismissed as too strange looking. The AOA must have welcomed and supported at least two thousand admirers as members over the years.
Now, as the number of the boats still around falls partly through lack of people willing to take them on, the AOA were offered an opportunity to celebrate and promote the AOA and the boats at the Southampton boatshow. The offer was for a complimentary berth in the ‘Owners Association’ section of the boat show marina. With the availability of a willing owner (Mike, with the newly restored A1 Atalanta) and a small band of volunteers it seemed an opportunity not to be missed. So plans were made with the following objectives:
- To raise awareness, sowing seeds for possible future owners and members, directly and through press coverage
- To promote the boats currently for sale
- To connect with friends old and new – members, owners, their children and crew
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
There were many debates before the show about whether AOA attendance would be worthwhile. It certainly was. It was great to see the pleasure on the faces of show visitors as they walked out of the white plastic glare and saw the acres of varnish that are Atalanta and Attagirl. And also on the faces of the AOA volunteers attending. Above all many more people are now aware that the Fairey yachts (and the AOA) are still alive and kicking. This awareness may not lead to owners or members right now but the seeds have been sown …. And we have two new and one returning members from the show – welcome Graham, Robert and Rowan.
Many people stopped to talk. Some of these were general chats. Some were more specific, about particular boats, experiences of interests. These conversations led to new information for our Registers, to ‘new-to-us’ photographs of Atalantas, and to new contacts and friends for the AOA. (The Uffa Fox 2022 were people specifically asking about the Uffa celebrations next year.)
Boats we talked about
Atalanta: A3, A5, A11, A20, A30, A37, A46, A52, A80, A86, A102, A109, A117, A120, A122, A123, A140, A152, A160, A163, A173, A177, A179, A181.
Atalanta 31: A31-6, A31-10.
Read more about our Boatshow below….
Mike trailed A1 to Chichester Harbour a few days before the show, taking with him materials we had prepared.
These comprised a brochure, display boards, and membership forms with links to the website. Click on of the thumbnails to the right to see these items.
We also created a new ‘Introduction to the Atalanta’ video to which we could direct people to see more about the boats in the ‘a la mode’ Youtube format.
All of this was made more simple by work done by previous AOA officers in preparation for show at Greenwich and Beale Park.
More Collateral - The Boat!
Mike rigged and launched Atalanta at Paynes Boatyard, Prinsted, with the help of Bernard Marshall (A86), local member Joe Lloyd (A15) and Richard James (A89). The launch (and later recovery) were a showcase of well engineered, calm and competent boat handling. Lifting and lowering were completed manually using chain hoists. A1 was towed hanging from the carrier to the bottom of the slipway by boatyard manager Mark and Michael, his 82 year old tractor driver, to wait for the tide. Once afloat the Sussex Coastal Path footbridge over the creek was slid open and Atalanta passed through.
Just after noon, Mike and Richard departed Prinsted via the very narrow channel past Thorney Island, East Head and the new Chichester Bar beacon into the Solent. As we passed Gosport Mike’s new Simrad tiller pilot/autohelm was deployed - a revelation to Richard. The passage up the River Test to Southampton was made in the rain. Passing the Hamble Atalanta crossed her path from the Fairey factory some 66 years and 6 months previously and the crew discussed how many times she might have done this in her life. Previous owners lived in Dorset, Kent, London and Essex.
Arriving at the temporary marina off Mayflower Park Atalanta passed through a gap in the wall of white plastic boats to her berth. Bernard and Mike then played musical vehicles, recovering Mike’s motorhome to a campsite near Southampton whilst Richard stayed onboard A1 overnight. Richard and Mike spent Thursday morning tidying Atalanta. The berth was next to the exhibition boat of the OGA (Association for Gaff Rig Sailing). This was a remarkable home built Golant Gaffer and together the two boats made a haven of varnish amongst the gleaming gelcoat and stainless.
The Show - Nine Days of Socialising
For the first three Show-days Mike and Bernard were aboard to welcome guests. Ex-owners Dominic Dobson and Nick Phillips, Richard and Carol Hall supported during the rest of the week. And the AOA Patron Alistair Currey, son of Fairey Marine’s Charles Currey, came on board for a few hours.
On Sunday evening, at the end of the show, Bernard once again stepped in to help relocate vehicles back at Prinsted ready for recovery. Bernard, Mike and Nick enjoyed a Fish and Chip supper on the Emsworth seawall. On a Sunday - how things change! The next morning Mike and Nick had a glorious sail from Southampton back to Chichester Harbour under blue skies and with a F3-4 northerly wind. They picked up a buoy off the Currey’s family home at Bosham Hoe and enjoyed a local pub meal with Alistair. The next morning Atalanta returned up the narrow Thorney Channel to Paynes Boatyard to await the tide and recovery to her trailer. View a brief video of the magnificent haul-out process on the Fairey Atalanta facebook page.
.. A1 Launching at Prinsted
.. At the Show
(Click on any image to enlarge and open a slideshow)