The Way We Were

Welcome to this New Year’s edition of Southern Cross Yachting Enews.
The interwebs, Facebook (or FB as us in crowd call it), in particular, never ceases to astound me. Like searching for diamonds on the beach, if you sift through the funny dog/cat videos, the shots of someone’s drink, the self congratulating selfies because someone went for a bike ride and the pointless quotes about living your life until you die, the gold nuggets of nostalgia are there to be found. Stuff that without FB we would never see and they would remain forever buried in someone’s basement. Old ads are my favourite from a less PC time. ‘Fosters keeps you fit’ and ‘stay slim, smoke Woodbines’ are two examples. I recently saw a manual for a Singer sewing machine from the ’60’s that suggested a lady should ‘dress nicely’ before sewing. But today I found the mother lode. This is a promotional film from 1956 for the Newton Ferris Sailing School in southern England. Please watch and enjoy then read my take on this piece of gold…

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=957655984323931&id=621275151295351

Lt. Commander Radd Moore was a genius! A marketing genius! Way ahead of his time.
No one’s fool, your man Radd saw the future of sail training lay in marketing! This is 1956 – there was no TV in the UK back then (not much now really) so this would have been made to be played in the local ‘cinema’ or the ‘moving picture theatre’. A local business advertising at the movies! Way ahead of his time.
1956; the austerity of the post war years is over and the future of the UK looked bright and people were prospering. Radd saw his opportunity to take sailing to the masses. With this short ‘filum’ he made sailing look young, hip, outdoors and above all, sexy. Lots of happy, well dressed punters, rosy cheeked and bursting with vitality and bad hair. Did you note what was missing? This is 1956. In any group of people over the age of 16, 8 out of 10 would have been smoking! But not one of them swinging off a lung buster! Even the Commander himself is sans pipe. I mean surely a pipe was de rigueur for a sailing instructor back then. A pipe gave a wise man time to think, and a fool something to put in his mouth. But not our Radd! He saw the future was about sailing being sold as a healthy pursuit! And just look at the latest technology and educational techniques he used! No stuffy class room for Radd! No no, Commander Moore gets them outside in the garden whilst he points out the parts of a model 19th century gaff schooner with his ‘teaching stick’. Sort of a 1950’s power point presentation. Then it is off (for 2-3 days apparently) to his state of the art ‘land trainer’ to learn how to sail a boat. Just look how happy the two stripy girls are about this! Next it’s into a ‘real sailing boat’ on the river, with the OH&S rescue Labrador close at hand as you drift around dressed like you are going for a vigorous walk to a pub in the country side. Presumably after a few days of drifting practice, one then graduates to the mighty 30 foot ‘Raven’s Wing’ where you learn tying knots with what appears to be mild steel cable, whilst Chief Instructor Dennis Montgomery strikes nautical poses next to the rigging. After what seems to be hours, you finally get to go sailing and you are taught how to pull the gaff up with the runner caught behind the leach of the sail.
I guess this would have been shot with an 8 mm camera, lights and a director so only one take was possible. The ad closes with Commander Moore staring out to  sea as the sleek cutter sails off with, if I am not mistaken, Chief Instructor Dennis at the helm staring fondly back at him… Like I said these guys were way ahead of their time! Land trainers, model yachts, young good looking models dressed by Marks and Spencer’s (a little product placement deal perhaps?) and some sexual tension (note the subliminal image of the tent flapping in the opening scene) make this a truly ground breaking infomercial. Before the viewer knew it they would have been seduced by the romance of sailing and would have been writing off for more details. Hell I reckon Commander Moore may have even had a ‘telephone’ he was that ahead of the game!  He even points out Newton Ferris’s schools ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ that they are the only school that teaches ‘rigging the yachts’ with a subtle dig at his opposition schools. I am not sure if he means they have to build a new mast for Raven’s Wing each course or if he simply lets them pull on the halyards.

Now this has got me thinking the entire way we teach is wrong. I am following Commander Radd’s lead and am removing the keel from one of the yachts and putting it on wheels. The first weekend of Comp Crew will be spent living aboard as we tack and gybe around the car park.
You will still sleep and eat all meals on board and after dinner we will tie up to the deck of the yacht club for a few beers before wheeling you out to the point. We are paying someone to slap the back of the boat all night to simulate being at anchor. It’s going to be great, but we are not quite ready to start yet and we still have places on our ‘old school’ course where we actually go out sailing on a real boat on the Bay. Get on the phone now because once word gets out that you can learn without going near water we may have to take the keels off all the boats. We have spots for one day, weekend and 5 day trips and the 5 day intensive Day Skipper navigation course runs 8 – 12 February 2016.
I have even bought a new teaching stick!
Cheers
Mike Job.

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