The Royal Airforce Sailing Association yesterday took possession of its brand-new J/109 at the London International Boat Show

The Royal Airforce Sailing Association yesterday took possession of its brand-new J/109 at the London International Boat Show at ExCel. The boat on show was ordered by RAFSA last year and was officially handed over yesterday to Air Marshal Dusty Miller (Commodore of RAFSA) and Squadron Leader John Best (Rear Commodore Offshore of RAFSA).

The chic-looking 35ft racer will join RAFSA’s Laser SB3 on the Hamble and will be raced regularly by members of RAFSA throughout the coming season. Air Marshal Dusty Miller who flew from the NATO headquarters in Naples especially for the handing over ceremony chatted about why sailing is such an important military role.

“Sailing is one of many methods we use for individual personal development. Individuals end up having to understand themselves if they’re going to make a success of it. The developed attitudes experienced that come out of sailing are very useful in the broad military sense where you have to depend on other people and other people have to depend on you too. Sailing with a mixed crew from very junior airmen across the ranks is a great human leveler.”

According to Miller the final decision to purchase the J/109 was made at an executive meeting in July last year and part of the purchase deal was to have the boat on display at the show. Miller continued: “It’s worked out perfect for us. We’ve just sold the Beneteau 36.7 it’s replacing and once we’ve got the boat on the Hamble after the show, we’ll have plenty of time to work up a racing crew for the coming season.”

Squadron Leader John Best who acts as Miller’s technical expert added: “We decided to go for the J/109 because we felt it would provide us with the kind of racing we wanted to do. The last couple of years we’ve been watching the J/109 fleet growing and growing. We already own a Laser SB3 and we’ll probably have another one soon. But we wanted a yacht that was a logical progression for offshore sailors. This is it.”

When the boat’s not being used for racing with the RAFSA racing team it will be charted out to other members of RAFSA. There are 1,400 members and according to Miller the idea is to get as many non sailors on the water as possible. Miller concluded: “RAFSA provides the facilities for all levels to compete. It takes quite a long time before somebody is worked up to the level of competence to be a good racer so for races against our colleagues in the other two services – the Navy and the Army – we have a trained race crew. When the boat isn’t racing however, we charter it to all the other members accompanied by a qualified as skipper and mate.”

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