Celebrations mark the arrival of new training boat at Wells
The sun was out, the sky was blue – and the champagne flowed to celebrate the arrival of a brand new vessel to help continue Wells' rich sailing heritage.
The 16ft Wayfarer has been bought by the Wells Sailing Club thanks to a £10,000 grant from Sport England and took to the water for the first time during an unveiling ceremony on Saturday.
Commodore Chris Hardy – who poured the bubbly over the boat to christen her – and committee member David Blakesley took the Wayfarer up and down The Quay in front of a healthy crowd which turned out to mark the maiden launch.
Mr Blakesley put together the bid to Sport England along with Campbell MacCullum and with help from Robbie Bell and David Lennard-Jones from the Royal Yachting Association.
'It handled beautifully,' said Mr Blakesley, after his first trip out.
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The vessel – which can carry up to six people – is a valuable addition to the club's fleet and Mr Blakesley explained the benefits of the boat.
'It is a huge asset for the club and will help us to encourage beginners or those who are not very confident to take to the water along with more experienced sailors.
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'The Wayfarer is very stable and not likely to tip over.'
Mr Hardy said: 'It is a family orientated and safe boat and is rewarding to sail. It is the type of boat which ticks all the boxes. You can cruise, race or leisure sail in it. I hope it can be out every weekend when the weather prevails and also on evening tides and when the children are off school.
'She is very responsive and light and easy to sail.'
The club heard it had got the grant last November but the committee decided to wait for the unveiling until the start of the new season.
The Wayfarer – which has still to be given a name – is the same class of boat which Wells legend Frank Dye sailed in on some of his amazing adventures.
In one of his most daring trips, Mr Dye – who died aged 82 in 2010 – sailed in The Wanderer for 11 days and 650 miles from Scotland to Iceland and survived all manner of ordeals. Mr Dye also endured a succession of capsizes and a broken mast on a voyage from Scotland to Norway.
Mr Hardy said Mr Dye would have had a very early design of the Wayfarer, whereas the new arrival to Wells has 'all the bells and whistles.'
The grant from Sport England also covered the cost of an outboard motor, radio and safety equipment.
Mr Hardy said: 'We are so grateful to Sport England and indebted to everyone for all their hard work.'
WSC is based at East Quay and was founded in 1929 by local enthusiasts using the saloon bar of the Shipwrights pub.
The club also attracted funding a few years ago to buy three fevas, which are also used to train sailors.