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East Coast Gaffers featured boat: ‘Bonita’ joins the Dutch OGA Rally, 1974

Our featured boat for April has been an active member of the OGA fleet since the very early days in the 1960s. The Dutch and East Coast OGA areas have always had close ties and in this post Tim Beckett recollects the OGA’s first formal event held in Holland.

It was the Heineken Rally of 1974, a year that is probably better remembered for Abba winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. I’m not sure whose idea the Heineken Rally was but Ian Hunter-Edmond, a founding member of the OGA and East Coast Area Secretary at the time, did a magnificent job of organising it. The rally was memorably and most generously sponsored by Heineken who provided participating boats with almost constant supplies of beer and a lot of flags – amazing! Watch Allan’s movie of the North Sea crossing, filmed from ‘Bonita’, landfall at Ijmuiden and canal trip to Amsterdam. Original 8mm cine film by Allan Beckett, 1974.

‘Bonita’ attended the rally in company with our good friend Jan Bart Pot’s boat ‘Dreva’, unfortunately Bart could not make the event due to work commitments so he most trustingly allowed Mike to skipper ‘Dreva’ for the whole trip. 50 years ago we took far fewer photos than today and those photos we did take don’t seem to have been very good, probably because one tended not to take a good camera on a trip aboard an old boat.

The fleet departed for Holland from the Blackwater the day after the East Coast Race, we left around mid-day with a pleasant westerly Force 3-4 which gradually strengthened through the night so that by the time we were approaching Ijmuiden the next morning we had a Force 6-7 behind us. In those days before satellite navigation making the landfall in those conditions could be a challenge and I remember that one boat did miss the entrance to the harbour ending up on the beach. In the film the little Dutch boat running in great style was called ‘Saskia van Ryn’, built of steel she was only a couple of years old at the time.

‘Bonita’ yawl’s blog