September 2019 saw the 70th anniversary of the Waldringfield Dragonfly one design dinghy celebrated with a weekend of light-hearted racing and serious partying. Waldringfield is a small village situated on the east coast’s River Deben and has had a sailing club since 1921. Like many sailing clubs racing at Waldringfield before the Second World War it was based around a variety of dinghies. In September 1948 the club decided to adopt a 14 foot one design by the Irish designer O’Brien Kennedy and christened it the Dragonfly.
Costing £152.100 (one and a half times a working man’s wage!) no less than 20 boats were ordered and delivered by Nunn Bros. and Robertsons in the spring of 1949. The first race took place on 11 June, 1949 with no. 11 winning. By 1963 a total of 43 boats had been built; it was another 51 years until the latest boat, no. 46 ‘Phoenix’ joined the fleet having been traditionally built by James Palmer at Larkman’s boatyard and launched in 2014.
The 70th anniversary race at Waldringfield saw eleven Dragonfly one designs joined by three of their Irish cousins the IDRA 14’s. The IDRA is the same design sailed in Dublin Bay but updated somewhat with the addition of trapezes and lots of thin coloured string which baffles Waldringfield sailors. Nonetheless over the years the Clontarf and Waldringfield clubs have become great friends. The longevity of of the class is of course due to the great characters past and present who have sailed the boats but also because they can be used as cruising day boats. The Deben offers a range of places to visit, from the town of Woodbridge and beyond upriver to the shingle bar at the Felixstowe entrance. With most of the older boats afloat having been restored and more projects in the pipeline the future of this small, entirely local fleet looks secure.
contributed by James Palmer, Waldringfield Sailing Club