David Douglas: a tribute from Fareham-Vannes Sailing

With sadness, we heard the news of the death of David Douglas on 26th October 2020. David was an avid sailor, and played a key role in the revival of the twinning exchange between sailors of Fareham and Vannes. David had the foresight to leave us an account of the sailing- twinning, from which we now draw.

Early in 2001, David was recovering in hospital after the fitting of a “new knee” when he was visited by the Chairman of the Fareham-Vannes Twinning Association bringing news of a proposal from the sailors of Vannes to renew sailing liaison ties. Such links had begun in the late 1950s when sailors ‘voyaged’ by land to be hosted on local boats, but they had lapsed in recent years. The suggestion from Vannes was that such liaison should take the form of a race on the water from one town to the other, to be held alternately every 2 years.

David called a meeting of the Fareham sailing clubs to respond to this proposal; he confessed he was late for the meeting, with the result that, in his absence, he had been elected Chairman of the organising committee! However, what followed was, in his words, “a most rewarding and enjoyable 8 years with a marvellous group of sailing enthusiasts from both Vannes and Fareham”.

Twenty yachts signed up for the first race to Fareham, with 16 arriving, carrying some 70 Vannetais crew, on “a glorious afternoon, the sun shining, the Warsash Band playing at Warsash Sailing Club, and the quayside ‘en fete’. The welcoming party included the Mayor of Fareham, who gave a fine speech. Any language problem during the visit was quickly solved with a glass of wine and discussion of activities maritime!”.

Subsequent sailing exchanges were organised as cruises with groups of boats sailing in company. David organised and proudly led the return visit in 2003 of Fareham boats, dressed overall, proceeding en masse, accompanied by boats of our hosts, through the Golf de Morbihan to Vannes.

There have now been ten such sailing exchanges, with David leading the first four (2001 – 2007) as the ‘Vannes Driver’; the tenth, from Fareham to Vannes, took place last year.

David revived a proud tradition which has strengthened the twinning of Fareham with Vannes and given many Fareham folk and Vannetais much pleasure in each other’s company. In David’s words: “Vive L’Entente Cordiale!!”

Thank you David.

Richard Aitken & George Pickburn