Invariably each summer the boats return to Cornwall to sail on the Fowey, Fal and Helford Rivers and attend Fowey Classics. The small fleet of dinghies invariably attract attention, the sight of varnished dinghies cannot help but draw inquiring and admiring comments.
By coincidence, rather than any specific ruling each of the boats has adopted the same colour scheme – varnished topsides with cream coloured paint below the waterline. This now makes telling them apart somewhat difficult when drawn up on the beach together! Although Swallow was the odd one out, having had a painted interior. She has now joined the rest of the fleet following her 2019/20 winter refit, all traces of paint removed.
The original sails were white cotton, however the class has now adopted cream coloured (champagne) sails throughout, with the panels cut in half width, reflecting the narrower panels of the old original sails.
In todays world of modern performance dinghies we are fortunate to retain our indigenous one design class. So many others have disappeared, had Whimbrel not survived then a similar fate would have faced the AODs. The resurgence of the class came with the building of Shearwater in 2000; some 35 years after the last AOD to be built in the 1960s. Her building inspired other local sailors to take that step and with the restoration of two more original boats the class re-established itself. The AODCA is only aware of the three original boats – No.s 1,6 & 8, should there be any other survivors unknown to us then we would dearly like to hear of them.
Since 2005 the A.Y.C. has organised a separate class series for the A.O.D.s within the summer River Races. Appropriately the Axe Ones now race for the Jack Drew Cup donated by Jack in 1960. We are indebted to him for his enthusiasm and attention to detail in designing and establishing such an incredibly pretty and pleasurable classic dinghy to sail.
Following the programme of gradual relaxation in line with government’s road map (passage plan), the 2021 river race programme is due to start in May. The programme will be advertised nearer the time.
Axe One Design Class Association.