This was written for Canford Global Connect on the 100th anniversary of the school

OC Richard Smith B64 has recently been in touch to share his memories of sailing at Canford during the Sixties

The first 100 years – Sailing at Canford in the Sixties.

I started at Canford in September 1959 in Beaufort House. In those days we had to cycle from Canford to Poole Harbour to sail. It was 7.5 miles each way. It was not too bad on the way there because it was down Gravel Hill, but coming back, after a challenging day racing, was hard.

Lt Pantlin, who ran the Naval Section of the CCF, was in charge of sailing, and when we were more senior, we qualified for a ride there and back in his van.

We sailed against other schools. In those days it was always in Firefly dinghies. Three boats in each team – the racing was tactical – not charging away on a mission of your own, but making sure that you and your team mates were covering and ahead of the three opposition boats.

We also had an Annual match against the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. The Dartmouth team were great hosts and evenings were spent in local pubs. A much better alternative than a Saturday night locked up at Canford. In the 5 years that I was at Canford we won every match against Dartmouth including the year when their team included Rodney Pattisson (Olympic Sailing Gold medalist in Mexico in 1968 and Munich in 1972).

Every year Canford competed in the National Schools Sailing Championships which take place in Chichester Harbour. The Itchenor Sailing Club has always hosted the event, which has now been running for almost 70 years. Ninety different schools have competed over the years and in the Sixties, 55/60 schools took part each year.

Each school was allowed one boat in the event. In my day we would bring one of the school’s Fireflies back from Poole to Canford towards the end of the summer term and we would work on the hull to make sure it was smooth and sleek. Lt Pantlin would tow it behind his van to Itchenor in readiness for the event.

In 1963 I sailed with Nick Bailhache and we came 13th.

In 1963, sadly Lt Pantlin passed away. He had organised sailing at Canford for many years and it transpired that he was to miss Canford’s greatest sailing success which happened in the summer of 1964.

John Elliott joined me for the 1964 Championships. It was anticipated that David Scott, the Vice Captain would sail with me, but at the last minute he could not come. John had sailed and raced in Poole before coming to Canford and was an experienced sailor.

The three days of racing took place in beautiful weather, with strong winds and sunshine. There were 60 schools taking part. The racing was highly competitive and close. We knew that we were in the frame and thought we had done enough to win.

Eventually it was announced that Canford School were the winners of the 1964 National Schools Sailing Championship. It was a very exciting time as it was the first win for Canford in this event and the big bonus was that the prize for the winning school was a brand new Firefly dinghy.

The 1964 Sailing team


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