Christchurch Sailing Club has a large and active fleet of Scows numbering well over fifty boats, most of which can be seen on the Club hard in the summer. The 11 foot long Scow originated in the 1920s as a sailing tender for larger cruising yachts, but over the years, has become popular as a single-handed sheltered water racing dinghy. The rig is a single balanced lug, with the mast and spars designed to fit within the length of the boat. There are many slight variations of the basic design in the Solent area and beyond, the Club’s variant being the Avon Scow. All the dinghies are essentially one-design, but the GRP hulls in the Club clearly come from more than one mould. The Club owns one such mould, from which construction lines have been taken.
The Scow Fleet has the full benefit of the Club’s main Sailing programme, ranging from Easter, Spring and Summer and Evening Series races. As the class is a “One-Design Class, the first Scow across the line wins. Racing takes place in the harbour although there is the opportunity to take part in a Sea Race, subject to suitable conditions. Sailors are also encouraged to take part in inter-club events, if they so wish. For the more rugged competitors, from November to December there is a Winter Series which takes place in the river within sight of the Clubhouse. Trophies are awarded for these races.
For those looking for less formal racing and prefer the convenience of sailing mid-week, a most popular Scow activity is the Wednesday Pursuit Series, affectionately known as “Capers”. During the high season, fleets of twenty to thirty boats are common and have become a distinctive weekly sight in the shallow waters of Christchurch Harbour. Racing is competitive but the Capers constitution states that it should be conducted in the gentlemanly “Corinthian” spirit. The racing is self-handicapping, there are no prizes for winning and formal protests are discouraged, the aim being that any minor grumps are left out on the water! The Wednesday series is well suited to newcomers to the class, as well as to those more experienced sailors looking for a quieter end to their seagoing activities. There is a steady supply of new Scowers from former cruiser owners or the larger dinghy classes. The Capers programme includes on-the-water tuition and Clubhouse lectures on racing rules and tactics.
The Scow programme includes a number of social events; a Scow Fleet Prizegiving Dinner, a Capers Lunch, a Trophy dinner, a Fisherman’s Challenge Dinner, preceded by a Harbour race where helms compete with the local professional fishermen.
The Scow Fleet has an elected Captain and is managed by a Committee of seven, which looks after the Class Constitution, the Scow Handbook and Rules, the Capers Wednesday Pursuit Series with its Escort Duty Rota and health and safety. There is a Measurement and Rules Sub-Committee and an active (if informal) research and educational element to the Committee.
Scow Class Captain:
To download the current Dinghy Programme, Scow Capers Programme, Race Duty / Escort Boat Instructions and Harbour Race Mark Positions go to the downloads page.