50th Anniversary Rally 29th - 31st July 2016 report

The weekend of 29th to 31st July saw a fleet of Contessa 26s celebrate their 50th anniversary in their spiritual home of Lymington where Jeremy Rogers designed and built this well known yacht. Over 50 boats were represented by their owners and ex-owners and 45 successfully sailed to the Dan Bran Pontoon where they rafted the full length and raised their flags in various birthday greetings.


Owners brought their Contessas from as far afield as Amble in Northumberland (Me-Mo) and Medemblik in Holland (Kleine Johanna and Bijou), both doing almost 500 sea miles in the preceding weeks. There was a strong contingent from the West Country with Jasper and Sunion both being sailed single handed to Lymington and Nina Kristin flew in from Norway to represent her Contessa Bika, currently moored in Canada. Overall the Contessa 26 Association entertained 130 sailors and enthusiasts over the three days. Most of the yachts arrived during Friday afternoon coming in a flotilla down Lymington River where they were met by members of the Association, David Houlton, Barbara Harrison and Deborah Arnold to be registered and presented with their anniversary flags and plaques. Friday evening saw the first of the hosted events at the Fisherman’s Rest where new owner Karen Slowen put on a BBQ for everyone to get to know each other and chat about their own Contessa Stories. David Owens of Gentianella has being trying to trace all of the owners of his Contessa and actually met up with her first owner Mike Corfield at the BBQ, a very emotional reunion! The weather was kind to us on Saturday with light winds and sunshine, giving an opportunity for some to dry cushions and wet weather gear, some to share experiences and interior layouts (all have their individual touches) and for others to take a gentle sail to Hurst for an informal picnic at anchor. Early Saturday evening Jeremy Rogers Limited kindly hosted a pontoon Party for owners and friends before everyone moved over the Royal Lymington Yacht Club who put on a splendid 3 course dinner for some very hungry sailors. At the end of the meal David Houlton gave a toast to the class and read some comments from Nick Jaffe (Contessa Constellation) who is currently in Australia about the joys of sailing a Contessa 26. David was also presented with a half model of his Contessa Elinor for his 10 years of service as Honourable Secretary to the Association by Mike Harrison the Association’s Race Captain, who said some words of thanks for David’s tremendous efforts on the Owners behalf. The model was very appropriately made by Jeremy Rogers and as one would have expected was a veritable work of art.

Sunday saw some of the Contessas returning to their homes or continuing their holidays on the early tide and some 25 attempted a cruise via a set course to Yarmouth, those starting early missing the opportunity of some wind which seemed to come in late morning. Mooring on the Harold Hayles pontoon rafted 5 out was quite something and all were appreciative of the carvery organised at the King’s Head in the town, a swapping of addresses and a final catch-up followed before the yachts and their crews left for home ports mid-afternoon. The weekend was a tremendous shared success and we look forward to even more boats joining the Association for the 55th Anniversary in 2021! Our next get together will be the Contessa Nationals on 3rd and 4th of September also to be hosted in the Contessas home port of Lymington. Further information about the event and the Nationals can be found on www.Contessa26.net where there is also an opportunity to purchase the book “Contessa 26 - 50 Years”.