Category Archives: Racing yacht

Torbay J class yachts

These photographs of the Torbay J Class 2 yachts Dolphin (ex Sonnet) and Suzette were sent in by owner Ingo Werner, who lives on the island of Usedom in the North-East of Germany, and has got in touch after meeting Fowey boatbuilder Marcus Lewis. Thanks Marcus!

Two years ago he bought Torbay J Suzette, which was built by Louis Gale of Paignton in 1920. I think they look like very pleasant and wholesome cruising and racing boats – and I must say I’m curious about how they sail.

Here’s what he says about them:

‘About 20 Torbay Js were built, the most of them by Louis Gale.

Suzette was converted to a yawl in the 1950s.

‘Last year I had the chance to acquire another Torbay J. Her name when I bought her was Dolphin, but her original name was Sonnet, and she was built in 1936.

When I saw her in January she was in a shed, and had not been in the water for two or more years.

In February I trailered her to my workshop in Germany. Unfortunately her condition was worse then expected, but happily the rot mainly in the deck, which is easier to repair. The planking and the bent frames are in good shape, and I plan to put her back in the water the next season.

‘Next week I will replace some frames on Suzette with the help of a professional boat builder, who might also help replacing the deck on Dolphin.

‘To cut a long story short: next year Suzette and Dolphin will race against each other.

‘I have already had two really nice sailing seasons with Suzette, taking part in the Classic Week 2014 at Flensburg, Sonderborgh, Kiel, Eckernförde, and Kappeln this year.

‘I feel a bit guilty about kidnapping two of these fine small boats from UK to Germany, but both were standing two or more years in a shed or in a container, so I also felt that I had take care of them because there seemed no one else!

‘But I have an idea. It might be unrealistic but why not give it a try…

‘I’d like to revive the Torbay J Class 2. There is another boat in UK that I know of called Nautilus that was restored by Joh Iley a few years ago. Maybe it would be possible to get in contact with John Iley with the help of your weblog?

‘I also was told that there is another Torbay J around that was converted to a launch.

‘How brilliant would it be to build up a small fleet of new Js in Germany and another one in Devon and Cornwall and race against each other! One year in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, the next year in Germany and so on. Maybe it would be possible to organise a big revival regatta starting of Paignton in a few years.

Dolphin came with some historical material about the class, together with some old photos.

‘The silver model of Dolphin (photographed) was cast in 1960, and may be around somewhere – if it could be found it could be the challenge cup of the regatta!

‘It would be so great to get in contact with people who like the idea or maybe know something more about other boats.’

‘Ingo

‘PS: I have read the book Catalan Castaway a few weeks ago. Brilliant book!’

Contact me at gmatkin@gmail.com, and I will forward your messages and emails to Ingo.

PPS – Bill Serjeant has written to tell me about his time of owning a J4. His boat was Phillida, pictured below, and he has put up several posts about the boat and his adventures with her, including a trip to Alderney at his popular weblog, Bill’s Log. Oh – and he answer’s my question about the boat’s performance…

Bill Serjeant's Torbay j4 Phillida

Sighted: an East Coast One Design

I’ve just seen my first East Coast One Design at Tollesbury.

She needs a little care, but there’s no question that these are outstandingly beautiful boats that must offer some truly glamorous racing and daysailing anywhere – so long as you don’t mind the British weather…

Read about them here and here, and click here to see photos of more ECODs.

 

The astonishing tale of Troy number 12

Down at Fowey, boatbuilder Marcus Lewis has started work bringing Barbara, Troy 12, back to life. As he says, hers is an epic story…

Troy 12, the first to be built after the war in 1946, raced very succesfully in Fowey for a few years, and was then sold to someone who took her to Padstow, fitted a Stuart Turner engine, and had her sitting on the mud with legs when the tide was out.

‘Perhaps inevitably she eventually fell over and stoved-in her side.

‘While she was in the boatyard being repaired, her owner died and his nephew took her on. He was in the army and intended to set up an adventure school in the Hebrides once he was out of uniform, so over a couple years he hopped along the coast with Barbara when he could: from Padstow he sailed round Lands End, along south coast up the East Coast, shipped overland across Scotland, and then sailed out to the Outer Hebrides.

‘He had the boat there for a few years until a bad gale sank her. A mate with a fishing boat pulled her onto the beach, but in doing so pulled her stem out, and she sat on the beach for 15 years or so until till we tracked her down late eighties.

‘A friend and I already had a Troy to look after (number 3, which we tracked down to Gateshead, and subsequently bought – and that’s another epic tale!) so left the owner to try and retrieve number 12.

‘After a few years he gave up so we tried.

‘After an incredible amount of help from the Army and RAF, and from Benbecula Airport, we got the the boat back to Fowey,
on an army supply ship – though sadly on three pallets rather than as a boat-shaped collection of manky wood!

‘The plan was always to rebuild her, but it has taken longer to get round to it than I ever imagined.

‘Realistically, the only useable bit is the lead keel, so that’s where I started a couple months ago, just doing a bit when I can, but she is now set up, with the moulds framed up and work is getting in the way! She probably wont be ready for next season, but I will work away steadily when time permits.’

Thanks Marcus! Check out Marcus’s recent weblog posts (bottom left of his home page) for boats for sale. They include a Heard 28, and various dinghies and a sweet double-ended 18ft daysailer.