Monday, 21 May 2012

Sailing round the Isle of Wight - with accordions!

Beautiful classic boat Black Diamond celebrates her Golden Jubilee in this, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.

We wanted to mark her 50th birthday by doing something that would challenge both the boat and her crew to the full, while at the same time raising funds for the RNLI  - a cause very close to the hearts of all who sail the coastal waters of the UK.

So we decided to enter Black Diamond in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2012 on 30th June.

Skipper Greg is a veteran of the event, having completed the RTIR 2011 on the trimaran Strontium Dog. The rest of the crew are first-timers in the Solent. As is Black Diamond herself.

To make things even more fun, and because just getting round the gruelling RTIR in a 30-foot, 50-year-old plywood boat isn’t quite enough of a challenge, we’re adding another dimension . . .

A musical one!

So, to celebrate the fact that Black Diamond Accordions are ‘The Only Range of Musical Instruments Named After a Boat’, Greg and fellow crew-member James Delarre of the fabulous folk-rock band Mawkin will be playing Black Diamond Accordions and Melodeons at every possible opportunity, both ashore and afloat. 

Bearing in mind that squeezeboxes are not waterproof, conditions may prevent a lot of bellows action during the race itself. But, come what may, the boys will be playing their accordions on the boat and ashore, before and after the race, so if you are going to be in Cowes, do listen out for us and come and join the fun.

As residents of Mersea Island, we are constantly in awe of the amazing dedication and professionalism of our own West Mersea Lifeboat Crew  – all of them volunteers who give up huge amounts of their time to train and practise, and respond to emergency calls, day and night.

Sailors like us depend on the RNLI.

The RNLI depends entirely on donations.

And that is why we have dedicated our Round the Island Race sailing and musical adventure to the RNLI, whose volunteer lifeboat crews rescue an average of 22 people every day in the UK.


All donations to the life-saving work of the RNLI will be very gratefully received.

Here are some pics of Black Diamond, along with some amazing photos of previous Round the Island races, and a few additional snippets of info relating to this madcap musical/sailing adventure:

Black Diamond is a Yachting World Diamond (formerly known as YW Keelboat), designed by Jack Holt (of Mirror Dinghy fame) in response to a brief from Yachting World to draw a 30ft keelboat, capable of being home-built. It was a deliberate attempt to open up the ‘elitist’ world of yacht racing to the working man, and Holt delivered the mother of all sports boats, the first keelboat capable of planing. Like the Mirror, it was a stitch-and-glue, hard chine plywood design, and was a contender for the Olympic keelboat class. Black Diamond has survived until 2012 owing to a restoration that encapsulated the hull in epoxy resin, which will hopefully remain viable for the next 50 years.

Skipper Greg Dunn, co-founder of Black Diamond Accordions, is Chairman of Mersea Week 2012 – the biggest sailing regatta on the East Coast.

Mate James Delarre plays fiddle in one of Brit-folk’s most exciting bands, Mawkin . Currently touring to promote their new album, ‘Crow’, Mawkin will be appearing in the second series of Adrian Edmonson’s ‘Ade in Britain’, as well as a forthcoming Jools Holland documentary with Eliza Carthy.

You can hear world-music legend Sam Pirt playing a Black Diamond Accordion on  YouTube.

The Black Diamond Accordions trade stand is appearing at folk and other music festivals throughout the UK in 2012. Forthcoming dates include: Mersea Island Food, Drink and Leisure Festival, 2–3 June; Leigh Folk Festival, 24 June; Warwick Folk Festival, 26–29 July; Sidmouth Folk Week, 3–10 August and Whitby Folk Week, 18–24 August.

Mersea Island is Britain’s most easterly inhabited island, famed for its oysters since Roman times.

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