"Flamingo", Stella Lying Essex
The story of the Stellas began in early 1959 with a yarn between "Sonny" Cole of Tucker Brown's yard at Burnham and A E (Dicky) Bird, owner of a series of successful offshore races that have included La Vie en Rose and Clair de Lune. They agreed on the need in this country of a cruiser racer of the same general size and type as the Scandinavian Folkboat but with more room inside and greater initial stability. They wanted good quality, but no unnecessary frills or complications in the structure. the next step was to approach C R (Kim) Holman, then a comparative newcomer to yacht designing, aged 32. The resultant design was of 25' 10" LOA, 20' LWL, with a beam of 7' 6" and draught of 3' 10". Total sail area is 338 sq ft.The first Stella built in 1959 (La Vie en Rose) cost £1,260! 102 Stella's were built overall.
"Flamingo" has been owned by the family for 22 years, and enthusiastically sailed by 3 generations, i.e. My father, myself and my daughter. We regularly did the fitting out together.
WHY WE BOUGHT THE BOAT
My father, a former wartime naval officer, had crewed on Stellas in the late 1960's and was impressed with their sailing and handling characteristics. He found his open cockpit Dayboat (a Yachting World Diamond) rather limiting and with grandchildren appearing decided to look for something else. He and I initially looked at Folkboats and inspected and had surveys done on several on the South Coast before returning to the East Coast settling on the familiar and slightly larger Stella. "Flamingo" when found was in a rather neglected state having been laid up in the open for 4 years. The points raised in the 1982 survey were worked through and the boat was sailed every season since then.
THE SAILING WE HAVE DONE
The River Crouch and its tributary the Roach make pleasant day sailing with young children or if time is tight. We made every summer a series of "mini" cruises with as many as 4 on board visiting the East coast rivers so well described by Jack Coote. Distance was usually limited by work and other commitments. Burnham Week was entered for many years either in the Stella class when there was one, or as a Classic boat on handicap. Very enjoyable sailing was had.
A MEMORABLE RACE - HOW THE BOAT HANDLES
We took part in a Burnham Week race in strong winds where gusts of force 9 were recorded at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, most classes were cancelled. However having cleared the moorings and set the storm jib plus 2 reefs in the main we made the start line in company with 2 other Stellas and got the start gun. One immediately turned back (having got the points for starting perhaps) the remaining 2 of us did the course. "Flamingo" handled beautifully, perfectly balanced with little or no weather helm. The old Outer Crouch buoy was lying on its side in the force of the wind. It was barely possible to make ones self heard over the noise of the wind; fortunately my crew were practised sailors and anticipated tacks etc. (One has since circumnavigated the world and crossed the Atlantic twice, he still remembers that race!). We came second!
Short steep seas at the entrance to the River Crouch can soon get up with a freshening of the wind. "Flamingo" has enough weight and a powerful rig to shoulder her way through, rising smoothly over the breaking tops. I have left more modern boats standing in these conditions. Given the solid construction and balance of the rig, the boat rarely heels beyond the leeward gunnel. I understand they were designed to sail "on their ear". In recent years I have sailed with my daughter who almost grew up on the boat and her husband. One of the original shipwrights who built "Flamingo", Ted Terry, occasionally stops by to see (check up on) the boat.
Flamingo is afloat and in service, however she is now in need of some tidying as her maintenance has been allowed to slip over the last couple of years.