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Getting old, but young at heart!

‘DG’ (Dirty Girty) as she is fondly known was designed and built by East Coast OGA member, Robert Berk, to beat the Gaffers at the Shotley Classics event which she did for eight years. In 2012 she was loaned to the East Coast ‘young gaffers’ to race and cruise with the OGA. She is similar in design to a Manningtree punt but is 24′ long, schooner-rigged with twin asymmetric internal through hull lee-boards and she’s fast!! In this post, we read how the crew of young gaffers, Evie, Ed and Will handle her for a week cruising and racing in the EC OGA August Classics, 2016. The original title was ‘Dirty Girty is 30!’ but after some research, we find she’s actually only 24 . . . 

‘Dirty Girty’ sails with the East Coast gaffers, 2016

I was finally getting my chance to see what all the excitement was about, sailing and staying on ‘Dirty Girty’ for the EC August Cruise 2016. I had heard so many stories, and had the boat described to me many times, though I was very intrigued as to how such an ‘odd’ looking boat would be to sail. Now I can sum it up in three words; SO MUCH FUN. I did not really know what to expect as we set off from Wrabness in the early hours
of Saturday, to outrun the wind round to Ipswich Marina. Three up, we stuck in a few practice tacks and gybes so that I could work out exactly what needed doing at the front of the boat. In short, there is a lot. Off up the Stour, I had to keep reminding myself it was a gaffer I was sailing, not a fibreglass dinghy. As the wind picked up, so did our boat speed. Soon we were flying through Harwich Harbour on a tight reach, spinnaker up and all hiking like crazy – that feeling is second to none. Beating the worst of the weather into Ipswich, to me it felt as though ‘Girty’ had out raced mother nature. 

When everyone was in the Marina, exchanging stories about the journey over, someone told me that ‘Girty’ was nearly 30! I could not believe it. I know this may be considered young in the gaffer world, but as a relatively new (young) gaffer I felt the boat should look or feel a bit older than she does. The paintwork is almost flawless, and she takes to the waves like a duck to water. We experienced all weather during the week, but it is safe to say that ‘Girty’ feels as though she is most at home in a breeze. My favourite race by far was the President’s Race. And yes, it helped that we won! The breeze was on and so were our game faces. It was tough going heading out to Pie End Buoy fighting against the waves but, as though an engine was turned on, ‘Girty’ took off as we rounded the mark and flew downwind. The ease with which she transitions from windy, wavy weather to the calmer almost flat sailing in the rivers is incredible. Yes, you have to put in some of the work to have her sailing well, but I feel as though ‘Girty’ has fine-tuned my sailing knowledge without me even realising. The rumours are true, ‘Girty’ is a speedy boat and probably a tad more tippy than other boats in the fleet, but boy does she make you smile as you are sailing! 

Young gaffer, Evie Clemence, crewed ‘Dirty Girty’ with Ed Roberts and Will Thomas, East Coast Area OGA