Best of British: 60 things that make Britain great

Imagine you're cut off in a far-off land. What longings would be uppermost in your mind? Here we celebrate those aspects of life that make our islands distinct and beguiling.

 27. Wooden sailing dingy

A small sailing boat at a regatta on the River Severn near Thornbury, Gloucestershire UK. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

The naval victory of Trafalgar is a matter of national pride, as are the pioneering achievements of Drake and Cook and the records broken by Blyth, Knox-Johnston and MacArthur, but is there a more evocative sig- nal of our maritime heritage than a wooden sailing dinghy with ox-blood sails close-hauled across a saltwater estuary? The myriad local designs, from Chichester scow to Devon yawl, add a picturesque tableau to coves and harbours. Simply mention the words Optimist, Mirror, Fireball, Topper, Feva and Wayfarer, and gene- rations of families who have enjoyed summer fun at Bembridge, Fowey, Bosham or Holkham will find their eyes moistening.

‘It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better’
(Sir Francis Drake)

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