A history of the class as at the year 2000
Although the Europe Class itself was born internationally in 1963, it was not until 1976, that the first boat was seen in the UK.
It was John Harrison and family that saw a demonstration of a Europe at the 1975 Optimist Worlds in Denmark, and together with Peter Taylor, a Finn builder who was looking to extend his range of boats, started the interest of bringing Europes to the UK.
The Harrison's bought two old boats which arrived in the UK in 1976, and met the IECU President in November of that year to agree the formation of a UK Class Association. Peter Taylor was also granted a licence to build new boats in the UK.
The first class AGM was held on the 5th March 1977 at Frensham Pond SC, at which stage John Harrison became the first Class Secretary and Treasurer. The inaugural Nationals took place that year with a total of 6 boats - 3 of them sailed by the Harrison family.
In 1979 Rondar's obtained a builders licence, and this led to an increased production of UK boats, so by 1980 there were over 100 boats already registered.
Unfortunately other than the measurement certificates we do not have any further records of what happened to the Class until 1986. By then further UK builders had expanded to include, Beasley, Dorado, Claridge, Falat, Reg White, Gerry Ledger & Don O'Donnell.
The UK Class at this time was dominated by the men, and a team including Steve Cockerill and Clive Everest, sailing Roland composites with aluminium masts and Batt sails, were dispatched to the 1986 Worlds in Helsinki.
In 1987 a Junior Travellers Trophy was introduced to encourage younger members to join the open meeting circuit - what ever did happen to this? Also that year the first combined Mens and Ladies Worlds were held on the same week at the same venue - how times have changed since!
1988 was the 25th anniversary of the International Class, and also heralded some major changes. The Class was selected for the Youth Worlds, and became a Youth Class supported by the RYA in the UK. The Worlds were limited to a total entry of 300, and the first Veterans' Cup was held in Czechoslovakia. After some major campaigning by IECU the class was selected as the Olympic Womens Singlehander, for the 1992 Games.
The RYA created the first squad of potential Olympians in 1989, and the use of carbon masts became the norm abroad. That year's Worlds in Sweden was the first for someone called Shirley Robertson who finished 57th! In the UK subscriptions remained at £5, and the conduct of some sailors at the Nationals bought a rebuff from the Chairman. The first Youth Europeans were held in West Germany.
As part of the drive to support the UK Class, the Committee decided to purchase a Searider Rib, and money was raised by raffles, a sponsored bike ride, and provision of a loan from the Sports Council. This facility proved very well although eventually being sold in 1995.
The Barcelona Olympics of 1992 saw the first outing of the Europe, and a rapidly improving Robertson finished 9th.
John Harrison finally decided to step down after 17 years as the Class Secretary and stalwart in 1994. Sue Moss took over the reigns.
The 1995 Olympic Trials at Weymouth, saw a major incident with the introduction of a 'swing test' and the failure of all but one boat to pass. Those that failed had lead taped to their bows!
The '96 Atlanta Olympics bought heartache for Shirley by finishing 4th, and the RYA announced its first Olympic Development Squad, coached by Jayne Singleton.
A bid by the UK to host the 1999 Europeans was made in 1997, and that year also saw Sue Moss standing down and Robert Laurie becoming Class Secretary.
In 1998 a full UK Men's team competed at the Worlds for the first time in many years, and the introduction of a new rule to halt the development of wing masts came about. At home the 'nightmare' Salcombe Nationals occurred, but an increase in the membership reverses the slow decline of previous years.
The '99 Europeans held at Hayling Island dominated the UK Class Association, 218 competitors was the largest gathering of Europes ever seen in the UK. Shirley Roberston tops this with a sliver medal.
The first Worlds of the new Millenium were held in January with the boys in Brazil. The UK Class Association puts in a bid for a Lottery Grant to purchase a Rib to assist with training. The year is then rounded off with an Olympic Gold for Shirley at the Sydney Games.