Clive Curtis

05/04/2012 09:16:45
Robert Harris
Sadly Clive Curtis died earlier this week at the age of 78. Like Colin Stokes,John and me he was an Essex boy from Ilford.

Few of you will have heard of Clive but in the 50s and early 60s he was one a group of young Merlin Rocket sailors from Ranelagh and Minima who dominated racing on the Thames. His first Merlin Rocket was the Jack Holt Riant design 'Tarka' no. 291, when she was smashed in a motoring accident (and put on the roof of his marine shop in Hammersmith!) Clive bought an early Chippendale Proctor IX 'Rozzer' no. 999.

He subsequently became very involved in powerboat racing and by initiating the Putney-Calais race he probably started postwar powerboat racing in the UK. With James Beard he founded Cougar Cats which became the world's leading racing powerboat builder. His son Stephen has won the powerboat world championship eight times.

There are several articles about Clive on Google.

05/04/2012 09:48:22
Tarka was rebuilt following that crash; lorry through the side at a roundabout, I believe. The spruce mast was also in a fire and was planed down and saved. You could see the replacement planks and detect the black charred marks in the grain of the mast. I believe she was resurected by the late Ken Ford who ran Lea-Avon sc at Highams Park lake in Woodford Green, Essex, quite near Ilford so there may be a connection. The club members were all youngsters from 10-18yrs or so, building fly and british moths from raw materials, including the sails, spars and foils; quite an undertaking. During the last year I remember, about 10 flys and 4 moths were built. Tarka, fully restored, was in perfect condition. Ken's craftmanship was amazing. Riants must be among the best looking old merlins.

05/04/2012 14:24:16
Robert Harris
My Dad, Harry Harris, gave our first Merlin Rocket 'Dizzy' no. 490 to Ken Ford's club probably around 1958/59 when he replaced her with another Jack Holt boat 'Dizzytoo' no. 865.

I agree about the Riants being the best looking old Merlins. I particularly recall Adrian Legg's 'Restless' no. 282 that Brian Southcott twice helmed to first six Championship places. Also Robin Judah's 'Chinook' no 292 in which he was 5th in the first combined Merlin Rocket Championship in 1951.

07/04/2012 11:34:58
Mike Liggett
Very sad news I remember Clive and "Tarka" very well sailing at Ranelagh. "Dizzy" was at Hampton in 59/60 - I replaced a number of broken ribs in her for the owner. As owner of "Squirrel" (235) I can only agree that Riants are very pretty boats!


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