Some boats are more special than others. There is no rhyme or reason why. Sometimes you click with a boat, other times you find yourself fighting them. Ben Ainslie, always names his boats Rita, after his first but one of those was more special to him than most. You'll have to ask him which.
For us, Black Pig was a special boat. Black Pig was George's first boat. It was a knackered old boat bought for £200. The guy selling it famously said "It's seaworthy, but it'll never win a race".
For the first season we simply pushed George out in it, he was 6 or 7. Then we stowed it upside down in the racking and walked away. If it was lucky, it got a rinse down. For the large part it weathered out in the boat yard. One summer, George joined in Splash week, his Grandpa accompanied him and George and Black Pig gelled. They led the fleet and won the first prize at the end of the week. Never win anything, famous last words.
That Autumn we took the boat home and began to love it. It had it's bottom polished and new hiking straps. We returned back to Splash the following year. George sailed it harder and faster. So we took it home again, made a workshop for it and loved it some more.
The 3rd year it returned, it had been fully pimped, the best foils, new sail, buoyancy bags but it was still the same old boot at heart. Charlie giggled as we rolled it out again in astonishment that it was still holding together. We took it for a test run out on the water, it looked better than it had done for years. We smiled, George sailed off before we heard a great crack as the rivets popped out and the mast came crashing down. We tied it off to a buoy and abandoned it for the day. It was a sad sight.
Back up the A34 and back into the workshop it went. Grandpa worked hard to get the fixing to hold tight knowing the George was going to push it hard on the water. A few weeks later it was back, Charlie smiled once more and we launched. They had a great Splash Week on the water, once again winning races dispelling the myths.
The time had come to move on, George was growing, as was his appetite for sailing. He was ready for bigger things. Black Pig was passed to William in a grand ceremony. "Gosh what a lucky boy you are William". I think William knew otherwise, George and Black Pig were in tune in a way William never would be. William sailed it that Splash but didn't engage with it. He sailed better in his wooden boat. He had no interest in it.
Black Pig wintered in our garden next to the trampoline and we knew that it wasn't going to be for Freddie either. It wasn't a great boat, it was an old boat that George loved. How he sailed it so well against modern boats we may never know, but it was certainly very special.
It it sold last weekend to 2 young boys learning to sail. I shed a tear. I know, ridiculous. I told George who was fresh off the water from racing his 29er. I watched his face, I could tell he felt it too.
Black Pig is now a memory of the most wonderful kind.