News in January 2017

Devon yachtsman to return to historic sailing vessel for first time in 45 years Posted on

A Devon-based yachtsman who took 88 days to cross the Atlantic in a single-handed race — arriving 68 days behind the winner — is to sail the boat he used in the competition for the first time in 45 years.

 Peter Crowther still holds the record for the slowest-ever crossing in the Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) set in 1972 when he left Plymouth for Rhode Island USA on the historic gaff-cutter ‘Golden Vanity.’

This May the 74-year-old pub landlord will set sail on his 10th and last OSTAR, this time on a more modern Swan 38. Two weeks before the event he will be taking his family out for a nostalgic voyage along the south Devon coast on the boat he used for the original crossing.

At 29 the then yachting magazine journalist decided to take part in the race, despite having no interest in finishing first. Golden Vanity was built as a pleasure boat, rather than a racing vessel, and Peter just wanted to have the experience of taking part. On his journey — which saw him come last out of 55 entrants — he was joined by his cat Gypsy and her 6 kittens, each of which named after JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings characters.

Peter said: “I ran out of cat food quite quickly and then they had all my meat, so I was pretty hungry.”

Golden Vanity, built in 1908, was owned by Peter at the time and as came over the horizon the other competitors had long since gone home. It was a gruelling crossing and during the race the yachtsman had to replace the rigging three times and re-sew one of his sails.  At one point a hurricane warning message, stuffed in to a bottle, was thrown on board by a passing fishing vessel while he was below deck. The race was his first OSTAR, though he had already undertaken two transatlantic crossings in 1970 and 1971.

It was far from the end of interesting and dramatic OSTAR crossings for Peter. In 1996 he did not even finish and made the headlines when his yacht Galway Blazer — which he owned for 23 years after he sold Golden Vanity — sank 500 miles south west of Ireland. He was dramatically rescued by a passing container ship after letting off a flare from a cold and wet emergency life raft.

Golden Vanity was sold by Peter when he decided he wanted to get a bit more competitive with the racing. He also felt he was pushing the historic vessel too hard as she was not designed for competitive sports.

“I think I had abused her a bit too much and had outgrown her, I think around then I had a change in attitude to sailing,” said Peter.

Aesthetically ‘Vanity’ looks a little different today. In Peter’s days she had a fireplace in the bulkhead between the saloon and the fore cabin — as well as an orange and yellow hull.

The upcoming OSTAR will mean Peter has to take time out from running his Stoke Fleming pub, The Green Dragon, where he has been landlord for 24 years. Regulars are used to his disappearances; they know by now that he’ll be back in two or three month’s time. In the meanwhile, wife Alix will take station at the pumps and keep their loyal customers fed. This he will be competing on Suomi Kudu, a Swan 38 owned by Peter’s brother in law.

Golden Vanity, which is now owned and operated by the Trinity Sailing Foundation, also has an interesting history. She was built for the marine artist Arthur Briscoe by J Sanders & Co, at Galmpton, on the River Dart. Her name was taken from a ship in the sea shanty ‘The Golden Vanity’, which dated from the seventeenth century.

As a marine artist Briscoe used her to follow the fishing fleets which he sketched and painted, helping to record the last working days of sail. One of the friends who sailed with him was Erskine Childers – who had already written his famous yachting spy novel ‘Riddle of the Sands’. Before the First World War they sailed Golden Vanity extensively in the southern North Sea, regularly visiting Holland and Belgium.

In 1999 the vessel became part of the Trinity Sailing Foundation, where she remains today, offering cruising holidays, RYA courses, and Duke of Edinburgh Residentials and Expeditions. For more information on sailing Golden Vanity visit


Peter Crowther in 1972

Join Leader for the Small Ships 2017 Posted on

Trinity Sailing is pleased to announce that Leader will be taking part in the 2017 ASTO (Association of Sail Training Organisations) Small Ships Race.

The event, which will be held in Torquay, will coincide with the Easter holidays and the gathering of scores of other traditional vessels taking part in the Tall Ships Race from Tor Bay to Portugal.

For the Small Ships Race, the fleet will arrive in Torquay on Monday, April 17, ahead of the Round-the-Cans Race which will take part on the following Tuesday. People aged 16-25 will be able to join Leader — built in 1892 —for three nights of sailing adventure, alongside port-based activities.

The Leader voyage takes place between Tuesday, April 18 and Friday, April 21. Berths are available for £345, which includes all food, drink, bedding, wet weather gear and safety equipment. For more information call 01803 88 33 55 or email

Small Ships 2017

Leader sails to Cornwall for winter maintenance Posted on

Trinity’s sailing’s oldest and largest vessel has left her home port for some essential winter maintenance work.

Leader, built in 1892 at Galmpton on the river Dart, has just completed a passage from Brixham to Polruan — by Fowey —to be hauled out of the water on the slipway of the C Toms and Son shipyard.

Leader is there for approximately two weeks whilst the hull undergoes its annual cleaning and antifouling, the stern gland packing and hull anodes are renewed. While she is out of the water some caulking of hull seams will also be done by way of preventative maintenance.

Ben Wheatley, Trinity Sailing’s Operations Manager said “This is a great opportunity to access the parts of the vessel we cannot easily reach while she is operational during the sailing season. We are taking the opportunity to carry out some scheduled maintenance at the same time as we do some work on the sterngland and replace the sacrificial anodes. The maintenance work is never ending when you are dealing with a traditional vessel like this, and we are very grateful to those who have been down to help us out in Brixham in preparation for the slipping at Toms’ Yard.”

This gives her hardworking crew of Trinity staff and volunteers a change of scene from Brixham harbour, where Leader has been berthed since October last year following the end of her successful 2016 sailing season.

All three of Trinity Sailing’s vessels; Leader (1892), Provident (1924) and Golden Vanity (1908), sail from April to October and are refitted during the winter months by a core team of Trinity seastaff. These professional skippers and mates are supported by a band of dedicated volunteers who give up their free time to travel to Brixham and help maintain these important historic vessels. If you are interested in getting involved, please call us on 01803 88 33 55 or by emailing

You can view Leader’s full sailing programme for 2017 here.


Leader January 2017

Leader’s First 2017 Cruise… Posted on

What are you doing with your Easter weekend?

You can come on board Leader for her first cruise of the 2017 season. Join us for lunch on Good Friday and spend four days and three nights sailing along the Devon coastline, stopping at some of the prettiest ports and anchorages in the south west. We will have you back home to port in good time on bank holiday Monday.

The full programme — for all three vessels — is available to view via our online brochure, or by heading to the website.

We look forward to seeing some familiar faces return to Leader, Provident, and Golden Vanity throughout the 2017 season.

You can book online, call the office on 01803 88 33 55, or email


Trinity visit RYA Cruising Conference Posted on

Amidst the bustle of the early part of the 2017 refit, Trinity’s office team attended the RYA Cruising Conference in Devon this weekend.

Operations Manager Ben Wheatley and Marketing & Sales Manager Harry Gottschalk were invited to the second annual RYA Cruising Conference, held at South Devon College, in Paignton. This provided the opportunity to meet the 100, or so, delegates attending the event on January 14 and explain what the charity do.

Ben said: “The event led to a number of enquiries from cruising customers, as well as giving us the opportunity to raise Trinity’s profile and build stronger relationships with local businesses who were also in attendance.”



Ben Wheatley

Spring & Summer in Scotland… Posted on

Blow away those January blues…

The winter solstice has been and gone so that means one thing: Your next sailing adventure is now only a few months away.

The 125-year-old vessel has a strong bond with this part of the world. Leader will be based out of both Mallaig and Oban, visiting the Hebrides and finest sea lochs in the region. You will be exposed to stunning scenery and wildlife no matter which cruise you choose.

Here is our Scotland page which contains all the latest voyage information.

To find out more about any of the above cruises, or to book, call 01803 88 33 55, email, or visit the holiday section of our website:

You can download our full 2017 brochure here.

Leader in Scotland