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YW Catamarans at Kirkwall Pier
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YW Catamarans at Kirkwall Pier

I would guess a Kirkwall Regatta Day.
Anyone help with boat and owner/crew names? K6 is Samoa - Ian Eunson and Jack Rendall.
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Picture added on 04 February 2008
K1 is the Gemini built by my grandad Donald Thomson. Not sure of its original name. it was renamed the Gemini by the Taits. The Yellow cat could be Spindrift also built by my grandad. K3 could be Riptide owned by Russel Croy? Not too sure of the Cat in the background. In a screeking gale these things were about the best fun you could ever have (with your clothes on)! Do you have any more photos of these Raymond?
Added by Lee Thomson on 05 February 2008
I think Charles Tait has the Samoa. Robbie Thomson fae Longhope owns the Venture (Tern) and the Allycat, He also had the the Riptide (Vega) It sadly broke up at a Longhope regatta as did the Breakaway owned by Peter Thomson, at present Peter ownes the Spindrift. These are the names I have known them by, but could have changed over the years. I hope this is a bit of a help to you.
Added by Keith Dempsey on 06 February 2008
Erlend Tait also had one that broke up off Flotta, I don't know the name of the cat
Added by Keith Dempsey on 06 February 2008
Thanks for your comments, my brother sailed Rip Tide with Russell Croy and then Spindrift for at least one season when Russell sold Rip Tide. From what I'm putting together it appears the sail numbers don't really relate to age. I've been told the first 3 cats built were - Spindrift, Never Can Tell and Samoa. Rip Tide and Gemini appeared for the 2nd season. All these boats appeared with white hulls, gradually colours appeared as the Timekeepers complained that all boats looked alike when painted the same colour. Samoa was painted Red, Gemini Yellow and Spindrift Green. I think the black/yellow K3 in picture is Alley Cat sailed by Tony Linklater. Tony had the only cat with yellow sails and I can recall him using other boats sails in certain conditions as he thought the yellow were not such a good cut! Alley Cat had an outline drawing off Top Cat's face on the side of the hull. Do you know that Samoa was clocked going across Kirkwall Bay by the Norna's raider at something like 26 knots during a points race? Jack Rendall the crew used to wrap the jib sheet around his shoulders so he could "trapeze" when off the wind. Lee - Yes do have more picture so watch this space. Some of the originals have not stored too well, so when I scan them I have to do some work to make image clear enough for display.
Added by Raymond Grieve on 10 February 2008
The yellow Cat owned by Tony was the Nomad. I crewed with him for a number of years, and can vouch that sailing in them was an experience.
Added by Gordie Peterson on 14 February 2008
Thanks Gordie, you'll remember that for a while the Cats were kept in the compound at the bottom of Hatston where Alton Copland has the Bathroom Showroom now. Only time in Kirkwall would have been before/after Westray regatta some were kept for a few days on the West Pier. That's when I got a good look at them, I would nip down from my grandparents house in Albert Square to look at the boats on the West Pier. I was 8 when this picture was taken so the memory on some boat details is hazy to say the least. Can you recall the Top Cat image at all? As a peedie boy I was fascinated by this image on the side of a sailing boat! Father was great friends with Tony so a Sunday morning after Westray the previous day's racing was discussed and tactics analysed whilst I looked over the boats. Tony would encourage me to sit on his Cat, but never did, one look from the old man said "no"!
Added by Raymond Grieve on 14 February 2008
The first Cat was built by Donald Thomson in 1960. I remember this as I was staying with Archie & Bella Findlay in Wellington Street, next door to Donald at the time due to my Mother being in hospital giving birth to my sister Yvonne, August 1960. He worked in his shed at the back and I asked him what he was making. His reply was "the fastest sailing boat in the world."
Little did I know that I would own this particular boat one day and have great fun with her. I bought the boat from my uncle John for £100 in the mid 70's and sailed it for many years. Money well spent as I had many enjoyable days on the boat. Originally called Spindrift by Donald and renamed Gemini by John. Some of the fittings were hand made by Donald Thomson. I sailed the boat for many years and eventually sold it in the early 90's. I sold it to a person from Flotta and I believe it was blown to pieces in a gale.
The red boat is the Samoa, built, sailed and owned by Russell Croy with great success. Then owned by Ian Macfadyen and now owned by Charles Tait.
I thought the Black boat was the Nomad but could be mistaken.
The yellow boat could be the first Spindrift when she became Gemini as John did have her spray painted yellow with cellulose paint. It was yellow when I bought it and I changed it to white.
The Never Can Tell was built later than Spindrift around 1965/66. The Venture was built by Jim Taylor and was one of the early ones. I remember being at a Hope regatta where there were 13 Cats in all.
Other names were Alley Cat, Teal, Doondie, Lady C, Breakaway. I will recall the others and return to this site.
Added by Erlend Tait on 10 November 2008
I remember Johnny Groat fae Longhope building a cat- was it the same class as the ones mentioned here? Canna mind the name o her.
Added by Jimmy Hamilton on 11 November 2008
Erlend - Samoa may have been built by Russell Croy but she was sailed for a number of years by Ian Eunson and Jack "Screwy" Rendall. Ian probably sold her to Ian MacFadyen about the time Dan bought the Mizpah. Ian crewed with Dan after his Cat days before he went on to buy the Merlin Rocket "Snoopy" and then ?? the Albacore.
Rip Tide was Russell's cat as my brother sailed with Russell before he went to crew with Donald in Spindrift. When Donald Thomson stopped racing Fred went on to skipper Sprindrift with Peter Thomson as his crew.
I can remember Never Can Tell being sailed by Billy and John Tait, then Rip Tide joining Never Can Tell into "Tait" ownership.
As a peedie boy my father took me to a shed in Hatston where Donald was building another cat.
Time plays tricks but I think the shed was at the far end of Hatston - maybe where Kenny Foulis works from now. Mind leaving the shed and getting to steer the car down past the hangers by sitting on Dad's lap as he worked gears etc.
Added by Raymond Grieve on 11 November 2008
Sorry, Rip Tide was Russell's boat and Samoa was Ian Eunson's. I knew that but got it wrong somehow. Rip Tide was not in Tait ownership at any time I can think off.
Added by Erlend Tait on 13 November 2008
When YW Catamarans first appeared in Orkney, they were not made welcome by some of the "traditional" sailors who thought they would just be a seven day wonder. How wrong they were. The public loved them because they were different from any other boat they'd seen, they went fast and looked impressive when "flyin' a hull"
Hope Regatta 1962 - "Two catamarans from Kirkwall caused a good deal of speculation amongst the large number of spectators, by the speed they went through the water". The boats were "Osprey" (D.Thomson) and "Venture" (J.Taylor). Donald Thomson was my dad.
Cats made their first appearence at Holm regatta in 1963 - "Gemini", formerly Orprey, (J.Tait) and "Venture" (J.Taylor)
The same year there were five Cats at Kirkwall regatta - "Spindrift" (D.Thomson), "Vega" (J.Groat), "Teal" (J.Goar), "Gemini" and "Venture".
By 1964 "Rip Tide" (R.Croy) and "Nomad" (T.Linklater) came on the scene.
1965 saw ten Cats compete at the Hope regatta - "Never Can Tell" (W.Tait), "Samoa" (I.Eunson), "Lady C" (R.Foubister), together with the seven mentioned above.
I can't find the regatta with 13 Cats, Erlend.
In 1966 - "Alley Cat" (W.Mainland) gets a mention at regattas. In 1967 "Shearwater" (I.Thomson) and 1968 "Doonie" (E.Brown) appear in the records but I'm not sure if these are new Cats or old boats with new names.
Raymond, like you, I remember the shed at the end of the Harston runway (up past all the smoldering straw and bird s..t).
If you, or anyone else out there has other photographs of the Cats, I would love copies of them.
Added by Ann Sutherland on 24 November 2008
I could easily be wrong with the 13 boats at the Hope but I do remember the Lady C being there for the first time and the numbers being a topic of conversation on the day. So far we have listed Osprey which became Gemini, Sprindrift, Nomad, Venture, Samoa, Vega, Teal, Rip Tide, Never can Tell, Alley Cat, Doondie, Lady C and Breakaway which came later. There was also the Tern which is probably the Venture which was bought by a Dr Taylor? in Westray who later sold it to Geordie Costie.
Erlend Tait
Added by Erlend Tait on 26 November 2008
I'm going to do some move investigating yet and hope to get my head round who owned what boat, when and check name changes. I'm fairly sure that "Breakaway" was a change of name to an existing boat. Changed because she did actually break away and was repaired.
Added by Ann Sutherland on 26 November 2008
Breakaway was built in the shed at Cedar Lea where I lived by Tommy Drever, but not completed by him. It was then finished at a later date by Andy Dunnet for Eddie who later sold it to Billy Tait. It came apart during an Errol Bruce race on a coorse day in Kirkwall Bay and was thereafter known as Breakaway. It had been nailed together, not screwed and glued and the two hulls just sailed apart. I do not remember what Eddie called her but Ian Macfadyen would know the history.
Added by Erlend Tait on 27 November 2008
Ann - fantastic information, you have just transported me on a trip down memory lane. Funny how I recall some names more than others, all I needed was that spark. Venture certainly became Tern, Jim's brother-in-law crewed with me in Leviathan - thats how I became aware than Jim had sailed Cats.
All the best in your research regarding names. My brother Fred, who sailed with your father and brother in Spindrift, recalls our father going out with Tony Linklater when he had Nomad. Father certainly grew up with yoles etc, but certainly welcomed the Cats when they arrived. Deep down probably wished he was younger.
Don't think those involved at the time realised that the Cat's turned sailing into a spectator sport - especially when "flying a hull".
Many a Tuesday and Thursday teatime father would ask if I wanted to go and watch the point's racing as it was windy, "the Cat's will be flying the night" he would say. So into the car and out along the Hatston or Greenfield shore to watch the action.
The spectator interest lasted for many years, I recall winning the Kirkwall Regatta Allcomers race in the late 1970's and the pierhead and was lined with cars and folk at the start and at the end of the race. Some would follow us along the shore as we raced getting good vantage points to watch from. Many would arrive at Hatston slip as we came ashore to watch us taking the boats out of the water. Truth be told many were in the way as on Regatta Day the slip was too small.
Erlend - could Breakaway have been Rip Tide?
Added by Raymond Grieve on 27 November 2008
I have recently restored one of these catamarans. All I was told is that it was a yachting World!! I'm now unsure? I think my cat may be late 70s, maybe early 80. I have been told be worth £1000 I surely thought more as they are such a nice boat. I would be grateful if anyone could tell me about this design, thanks
Added by Stuart Maxwell on 06 January 2012
I have a photo of me at around an year old sitting on the Vega while beached at the Wyng, Longhope. It was indeed built by my father (John Groat) and Ian Waters.
Added by Robert Groat on 01 February 2016
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