At 114 is she the oldest vessel sailing for Summer Sailstice?

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June 16, 2010 by John A

Perhaps 'Rosenn' is the oldest vessel signed up and sailing for Summer Sailstice?

Barry Dunning sent in some magnificent sailing shots, a history of this English classic and a short note on their sailing plans for Summer Sailstice. It all sounds like a great day on an ideal vessel that’s seen the solstice more than most!

Barry writes: Please find attached some images of Rosenn which we will be sailing on June the 19th in the Round the Island race in the UK.

She is the last remaining Solent One Design of which 22 were built in 1896/7 for the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Island Sailing Club. She has been fully restored over the last two years and will be the oldest participant in this years race against over 1700 competitors.

Barry Dunning and Bob Fisher of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club are her proud owners and will be celebrating the summers solstice in the traditional way by drinking rum at 'totty time' (12am) during the race. Have a great day!!

The Story of ‘ROSENN’

As one of 22 Solent One-Designs, Eilun was built by White Brothers of Itchen Ferry.  The class raced at Cowes under the Royal Yacht Squadron and the Island Sailing Club for more than a decade, but the owners began to be seduced by the newly formulated Metre-boat rule and the boats were sold.

The Solent One-Design is 25ft 3in on the waterline, 32ft 2in between the ends, and 41ft 6in overall. Her beam is 7ft 10in and she draws 5ft 9in with a displacement of 7.38 tons. Cutter rigged with a gaff mainsail and jackyard topsail, she now sports a light genoa for use in winds under ten knots, and, in line with her original sail plan, an asymmetric spinnaker. The Solent One-Design was the first ever one-design class.

Eilun went to France in 1908, where Lloyds Register records she was re-named Rosenn and remained on the Atlantic coast in various harbours until after the Great War. She returned to England in the Twenties and spent many years on or around the River Crouch. At times she was chartered – one notable charterer was John Profumo – but used as a cruising boat.

During her time on the Crouch, she underwent a major restoration – her owner was a shipwright – and was based up river at Fambridge until she went on the market to allow her owner to purchase a boat more suited to long-distance cruising. In May 2007, Rosenn was purchased by Barry Dunning and Bob Fisher, who, as part of the purchasing deal, arranged for her to be brought from the Crouch to Lymington.

It was at this point that Rosenn reverted from cruising boat to racing boat – her new owners were more interested in that aspect of the sport – and a gradual metamorphosis began. In the first season this amounted to replacement of worn items of rigging together with minor changes of gear. The owners agreed that costs should be strictly limited and proposed that if it wasn’t in one of their ditty-boxes, or from one that was freely available to them, it couldn’t be had! The generosity of friends who sailed with them produced all sorts of sails and equipment.

Sails were evaluated and Bob, at least, was delighted that the working sails came from a loft in his old hometown of Brightlingsea, but realised that their life was limited and would need replacement in a few years, which is why the owners approached Pete Sanders when they decided, early in their second year of ownership, that the light weather performance might be improved with a Code Zero headsail. Despite the generous mid-season discount, they are still whingeing about the money they had to spend, but each time the sail is used they smile.

Thursday evening racing is a must, together with local regattas on both sides of the Solent and Rosenn is a competitor in the Spring and Autumn series at Lymington, where she enjoys racing particularly with the other Old Shitters, as the gaffers are lovingly known.

At the beginning of the third year of her life in Lymington, Rosenn was invited to the UK Register of Historic Ships, where she joins such worthies as HMS Victory, Britannia, the Mary Rose, and Rona. Barry and Bob sometimes feel that this is like owning a Grade 1 listed building, but thankfully without the limiting restrictions when renovation is mentioned.

However, it did drive them to the first stage of cosmetic restoration, because they were invited to take Rosenn to the Southampton Boat Show to represent the Historic Ships Association. By pure chance, she was berthed next to the catamaran that Geoff Holt proposes to sail across the Atlantic and which was visited by HRH Princess Anne. The Royal Lymington YC’s patron stopped to talk with the owners after she had inspected Holt’s boat.

Stage one of the restoration was limited by time to the topsides and brightwork. The hull was stripped to bare word, steam-cleaned, sanded and given a coat of clear epoxy resin. The seams, which had been raked out, were filled with epoxy putty and the whole given another coat of epoxy before the high-build filler was applied. The topsides were finished with two-pot white epoxy paint. The brightwork was cut back hard and re-varnished. Stage two will take place under cover during the winter.
In the meantime, Rosenn is back racing and while unsuccessful in the Potter Ship, crossed the Solent the next day and lifted the Turkey Cup.

Congratulations to Barry and Bob on a beatiful boat and restoration.  You get to enjoy her while we get to admire her!

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