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Europe sailors make the most of lockdown

by Ben Harris 27 Feb 2021 02:04 PST

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.

Having restored several older Europe's previously, George Cormack has been busy bringing more Europes back to life throughout lockdown. One of George's projects has been K-137, a Taylor-built Nomex composite boat which had been exposed to the elements and unattended outdoors. Several parts had rotted, including the centreboard case and main bulkhead. George replaced these using fibreglass foam sandwich to increase longevity, re-enforcing the control line sheaves with Tufnol plates. With a unique colour scheme and excellent finish, we look forward to seeing K-137 back out 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 [PDF] based on his experience!

Olly and 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 Sailing 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 available 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 five 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 and to join the active Facebook community!

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