Exactly fifty years ago Hartlepool visitor Ron Davidson, from Gosport, sailed in the Tall Ships Race from Oslo to Ostend as First Mate on board the Fleet Air Arm yacht Merlin. Merlin finished second in class and second overall from a fleet of 27. In 1960, the third Tall Ships Race, the event was much smaller than these days, however there was still a festival atmosphere around the ports.
Sailing conditions were tough in the race, with heavy seas and a Force 9 gale. The race took the crew 4 days 14 hrs 20 mins to complete, finishing at North Hinder lightship off Ostend.
Of the eight Class A ships in that 1960 fleet, two of them are in this year’s fleet – Norwegian ships Christian Radich and Sorlandet.
Being around the ships again after many years brings back lovely memories for Ron. “As a former Royal Navy man and shipwright, its wonderful to be here around the fleet”.
Pic: Shipwright First Class Ron Davidson (aged 29) receiving the award on behalf of the crew of Merlin, 1960