Posts Tagged ‘academy’
January 12th, 2011 | Richard Almond
It is of course important when designing a sailing academy to consider what exactly will be sailing. Modern regattas take place in a plethora of different classes, from dinghys to yachts, keelboats to multihulls, yet the more popular classes all have long-established bases throughout the world. I feel that to simply choose a a popular olympic sailing class and cater my academy to provide for it is somewhat counter-intuitive for this project. Iceland has a habit of defying the outside world, prefering to do things their own way, and I don’t see why it’s sailing academy should be any different. A Reykjavik academy should sail, if possible, a class with some sort of connection to Iceland. Cue the Knarr…
Originally a Norse merchant ship used by the Vikings, the Knarr (thought to mean ‘ocean-going craft’) was built for Atlantic voyages. Sixteen metres in length it could carry up to 24 tones in cargo and was mainly used to transport trading goods like walrus ivory, wool, timber, wheat, furs and pelts, armour, slaves, honey, and weapons. Thought to have been used by the Norwegians whilst colonizing Iceland, the Knarr was used for supplying food, drink, weapons and armour to warriors and traders.
In 1943 two sailors in German-occupied Norway were seeking a fast but inexpensive boat, a request met by Erling Kristofersen with his 30-foot, Bermuda rigged, long keeled sailing yacht, soon to be named after the original Knarr. During the next 25 years 150 of the Knarr yachts were built, leading to it becoming the most popular class in Norway. Famed for its strong yet graceful lines, and its ability in both racing and family sailing, over 290 Knarrs are now thought to exist between its three largest enthusiasts – Denmark, Norway and the USA.
Built in Denmark and originally of wooden construction, the boats are now built in glass-reinforced plastic and enjoy a relatively small but highly devoted following. Kimball Livingston describes the Knarr as “not about buying a boat, it’s about buying into a way of life. Not because the boats are fast. They’re not. Much less comfortable. Or even because they’re pretty, which they are. No, they are loved.”
Currently the International Knarr Championship (IKC) rotates annually between San Francisco, Copenhagen, Oslo and Bergen, attracting many professional-level sailors. But the Knarr class isn’t sailed to further one’s career, it’s sailed to be part of the Knarr family. As the IKC rotates amongst its three homes, the host city houses and fetes visitors from the other clubs during the regatta, providing boats from the local fleet for the competition via a draw. The locals are also assigned their Knarr this way, meaning nobody races their own boat. “It is quite the way to make friends in faraway harbors and really experience a place.”
Kimball struggles to comprehend just why the class is so magically successful, but settles on it being simply due to the people involved. She quotes longtime competitor Knud Wibroe “The Knarr is a lifestyle that involves the whole family. There’s a support group who don’t own boats, but they participate ashore. We have a wealth of volunteers. On that measure, we are the envy of all the classes on San Francisco Bay.”
Apparently a sailor never leaves the Knarr fleet, they may sell their boat and race in other classes, yet they always return as crew, and for the parties.