Intrepid dinghy sailors will be honouring a significant event in the SigneT class history with a cross-Channel expedition.


Four SigneTs, designed by Ian Proctor – one of the most illustrious dinghy designers of all time – crossed the Channel in July 1963, departing from Deal in Kent to raise public interest in the 12ft 4in vessel and to prove its seaworthiness.

Six decades later, SigneT class members will celebrate the pearl anniversary of this crossing by sailing from Dover to Calais on 10 July – exact date subject to weather conditions.

They are fundraising to cover costs, and any proceeds will go to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

SigneT dinghies original cross-Channel voyage in 1963

SigneT dinghies original cross-Channel voyage in 1963

Tom Field, SigneT Class Owners Association (SCOA) secretary, said: “In early June the SigneT Class Owners Association are planning to recreate an event that took place 60 years ago, by sailing a small convoy of SigneT vessels across the English Channel from Dover to Calais.

“In 1963 the crossing was undertaken to prove the seaworthiness of these sturdy, little, home-built vessels.

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“This year we are taking on the challenge not only to pay tribute to the original voyage, but also to promote the class and demonstrate that time has not detracted from this boat’s place in the maritime leisure landscape.

We are fundraising to help pay for the logistics of organising this event, including chartering safety support from channel pilots, covering the costs of the necessary insurances and the transport costs of bringing the boats and crew back from the continent following the successful completion of the challenge.

“Any money we raise above these costs will be split between two very worthwhile maritime charities, the RNLI and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.”

He added: “Each SigneT can take a two-person crew and we will also have spare crew in a safety boat for changing halfway if we need to.

“The whole message is about inclusiveness and everyone having a go, which is what the SigneT class is all about.”

The event had initially hoped to include some young crew members, as young as 12 – Tom’s nephews – however it has since been deemed safer for the under 18s to undertake a side event, of comparable distance, still at sea but inshore of the commercial traffic lanes in July.