Message from the Junk Rig Association (of which AYRS is a member)
Dear Amateur Yacht Research Society,
It is with great and personal regret that I have to tell you that I've just heard that the founder of the Junk Rig Association, Robin Blain, has died.
The JRA was conceived at the 1979 Southampton Boat Show, where Robin had a stand for his Sunbird 32. He found that there were many more people interested in junk rig, than could afford to buy his boats and, typically, he discussed with them the idea of forming an association, where ideas could be aired and swopped. I say typically, because Robin also ran a business to provide junk rigs for people wanting to convert their existing boats and the fact that people would be exchanging ideas for their own, DIY version, was not going to bring him more customers. However, Robin was always more interested in promoting the rig than in promoting himself.
I was one of those who visited his stand. Robin had a wonderful little working model, and after two minutes of playing with it, I was converted. It was the start of a long friendship, renewed at rallies and AGMs and through correspondence.
For many years, Robin, in essence, was the Junk Rig Association. Ably assisted by his wife Mandy, amongst other things, he kept track of the membership, wrote and photocopied letters and fact sheets, helped with the Newsletter (as it then was), accepted subscriptions, dealt with enquiries from all over the world (few of which brought him any income), organised rallies, sold JRA regalia and collected and ran our wonderful library. This was all in the days before computers (with which Robin never had the happiest of relationships) and involved much more time and energy than would be the case today. Particularly he had to cope with foreign cheques, and occasionally cash, and trying to post magazines to far flung corners of the globe.
I think it's fair to say that everyone who had anything to do with Robin became a friend. Generous, convivial, unassuming and always ready to go well out of his way to help people, he was a gift to people struggling with understanding their new rigs, or wanting to 'have a go.' His presence at numerous rallies, often towing his little Gigi, enabled people to see a junk rigged boat and to get the opportunity to sail one. Patiently he answered the same questions he had been asked times without number, booked marina places, arranged for somewhere to eat, to stay and to sail. Surrounded by like-minded people, and wearing his blue denim cap, his JRA sweatshirt, with a pint in his hand, he was in his element, offering suggestions, giving advice, making introductions and chatting about all things junk.
The Junk Rig Association recently presented Robin with the Hasler/McLeod Award; it was the best we could do to thank him for all he has contributed. In the words of our Constitution, he did an astonishing amount “to promote and encourage discussion of junk rig (JR), including its traditional use, its design, and developments of it, and of the building and use of vessels with such rigs and their derivatives, and to facilitate contact and communication between members of the Association.”
The Junk Rig Association will not be the same, without Robin. He will be missed by all who knew him. Mandy has asked for privacy and I’m sure doesn’t want to have to answer 738 emails from members. There is a thread on the General Forum on the website, where you could leave your condolences, or memories; equally they would be appreciated by the editor of the magazine, whose address can be found in each issue.
And, of course, on behalf of the Junk Rig Association, I extend our condolences to Mandy and the family.
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