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Try a 505 - Read About Penny and Russ Clark's Fremantle Adventure

by Roger Deane 25 Feb 2019 06:54 PST
Penny and Russ Clark in the class-owned boat at the 505 World Championship in Fremantle © Russ Clark

Last year the UK 5O5 Class Association acquired a boat which was made available, on application, to teams wanting to try out the boat with a view to joining the class. The boat is available again this year. To apply please email your written proposal to the class president at and tell us about your sailing achievements to date and why you want to sail our boat and what your objectives will be sailing wise in the 5O5. Come and talk to us at the RYA Dinghy Show.

The recent 5O5 Worlds were in Fremantle, Western Australia and Penny and Russ Clark took the class-owned boat, and here's what they said about their experiences...

As I write this, Penny and I have just completed our first weekend as owners of a 505, all as a result of the UK 505 Class Association generously loaning us the class association boat 8970 to compete at the 2019 World Championships in Fremantle, Australia. The class boat is a 2008 Rondar hull with P&B sails and was overhauled by P&B in 2018, overseen by former 505 World Champion Ian Pinnell the boat came to us a ready to race package. Internationally the 505 class is really vibrant, 130+ boats sailed in the 2018 Worlds in Poland and 89 boats made the effort to travel to Fremantle for the Worlds in January this year. In the UK the class is extremely welcoming as we found when we dropped into Hayling Island SC during the Eurocup in September, this continued in Australia with help and support offered from legends in the fleet.

Our experience with the 505 fleet was awesome. Having never sailed a 505 before we only managed 4hrs on the water in the UK before we packed the boat off in the container to Australia. Arriving before Christmas our aim was to sail as much a possible in the warm waters off Fremantle. As bucket list venues go the conditions are perfect for a 505, 15-25kts of wind every afternoon, sunny, warm and easy launching and recovery, what more could we need - a training partner to get us up to speed. This came in the form of Wolfgang Hunger and Holger Jess, the multiple champions who adopted us as training buddies and pushed us to improve quickly. The UK/German two boat training was exactly what we needed, not wanting to embarrass ourselves we worked hard to ensure our new steed was sailed as well as possible, tweaking the settings and finding out what worked for us. Christmas Day afternoon was spent chasing each other around the bay (we did wear Santa hats to remind us it really was Christmas!). With the work up complete, the boat ready we threw ourselves into the racing.

The pre-worlds was a two-day event and a great rehearsal for the Worlds the following week. Our loaned boat was not slow, we regularly appeared in the top ten on the race course before a boat handling error or wrong setting change would see us drop back a bit, we were even the pathfinder. A big capsize in race 5 with the kite around the spreaders meant we retired early to check all was intact and preserve our single set of sails for the Worlds.

The Worlds themselves were everything we had hoped for. The racing was high quality; Olympians, Americas Cup sailors and former champions were all present and correct and the 89 boats were properly tested in the week-long event. For us it was an amazing experience. Penny and I have sailed together in a variety of boats from F18 catamarans, RS400s and 800s to 49ers yet the 505 gave us a real test, physically and mentally. The class boat has a relatively straight-forward layout compared to some of the newer boats, but it is still an enjoyable technical challenge. The rake of the rig can be adjusted under way along with genoa car positions and there is even a flattening reef in the main for when the rig is raked a long way back (and we needed it!).

By the end of the regatta we were really pleased with our 20th overall and first mixed team. We had been in the top ten at some point in six of the ten races before we dropped back and we led Race 3 for most of the race before finishing third. The races were generally 75 minutes long, windward-leeward (occasionally triangle-sausage) with beats up to 1.3nm long. The class are a friendly and social fleet with several mixed teams and a couple of all-female teams. The boats are manageable in a lot of wind and the performance downwind with the 27sqm kites has parallels with asymmetric sailing.

We enjoyed ourselves so much we have bitten the bullet and bought our own boat. After our first weekend of light wind sailing in the UK we are not disappointed after a potentially rose-tinted view of 505 sailing in Australia, there is loads of power in the rig and the hull glides through the Solent slop. If ever you thought about owning a 505, give the class association a call and ask away. The UK circuit is well established and this year's UK nationals are in Lymington in May, plus there is an excellent Eurocup series in Cannes, Lake Garda, Kiel and the UK.

Huge thanks must go to the UK 505 Class Association, Ian Pinnell and P&B plus the many other who helped us get this far. See you on the water soon.

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