With the rig singing under the pressure of a straining spinnaker, Barda shimmies under your feet as she pushes over into another surf. Shaking her head as the feather-touch helm dances her around the waves, the log spins up to heights rarely seen by boats half her age. The First Class 10 is a tweaky, highly strung diva of a yacht that will bite you with a lightening broach, or thrill you with a hissing wake. How fast she’ll go I don’t yet know, we’ve not yet been brave enough to dare her all the way... but soon.
Drawn for Beneteau by Finot as a big sister to the hugely successful First Class 8, Barda has a low freeboard and the hard lines of the 80’s. Like a waterborne early Countach, there’s little pretence that you can cruise her in comfort. She’s wet, noisy and just a little scary - how such a slender mast can fly such a powerful main without folding up never ceases to amaze, but it does. In fact Barda has brought us home through channel storms without complaint. Bounced from crest to trough, Barda seems to revel in the wild water like a dolphin playing, and if you hold that thought you’ll understand why Barda has been affectionately called a semi-submersible.
Barda came to us in late 2006 when myself, Nigel and Jason agreed that it was time to move away from J24’s. One design regattas are the best sailing schools in the world, but being the sole active J24 in Sussex meant the only way we could improve as a team was to be on the road virtually every weekend, and that wasn’t going to make anybody on the boat or at home happy. Looking back it was inevitable that we’d have to leave the fabulous cameraderie of the UK J24 class and do something different.
Making this hard choice coincided with this very pretty Beneteau First Class Ten coming to our attention. Lean lines, a whole lot of string to pull and the ability to make a cup of tea afloat captured our hearts - Hello Barda!
Within a few weeks our J24 Juvenile Delinquent went to a new home at the Castle Cove Yacht Club and we were clambering all over our new ride. Barda is no spring chicken with 24 years of dings and scratches to work on, but she does represent a hell of a lot of racing boat for the money and with some love, attention and a relatively modest budget, we think we can turn her into a pot winner.
This website is about the lessons we learn along the way, the boat and her restoration and perhaps most importantly, the people who climb aboard Barda looking for fun.
(Photo at head of page by Joy Ayton)
(Photo at mid page by Yvette Jordan)