As the champagne flowed at the 30th Boat Building Academy celebrated 38-week ‘long course’ student launch, this 16ft 8in Iain Oughtred-designed Fulmar was the first boat to hit the water.
Here’s what the academy’s Emma Brice has to say:
The owner of the boat is student Scott Russell, who was helped closely by Jade Randell. Students on the long course build a range of boats, which are then owned by students who pay for the materials at cost.
The Fulmar was named Florence after Jade’s new-born daughter, who was expected on launch day but arrived a week early.
The floating Florence is plan 43 in the Iain Oughtred catalogue, hence the sail number. Built from glued clinker ply construction with a sapele fit-out, the boat has been modified slightly with a small tumblehome to the after sections of the boat, and a deck. Scott and Jade also made a carbon-fibre centreboard and rudder.
Scott chose the Fulmar for its elegant lines and wanted a boat he could take his family (wife, three children and little dog) out on boat trips, picnicking and night-camping expeditions.
The boat will be kept at Portsmouth Harbour, and he hopes sailing it will provide opportunities to meet old and new academy friends.
Elvstrom Sails managing director Jeremy White, who is also the academy’s sailmaking instructor, said he initially thought the usual tan or cream Dacron sails would been the obvious choice for the boat. However, when he saw the light-weight centreboard and rudder he realised the boat would be quite tender, and so recommended black Technora Film sails, which are be a third the weight of Dacron and produce less heeling moment.
Another modern feature is the sail shape. ‘Because Scott will be sailing mainly with his young family, in order to maximise performance, I built the mainsail with a square top,’ said Jeremy.
‘To my knowledge this is the first ever square-topped gunter rig’.
Jeremy was on board Florence during her maiden voyage: ‘We were hit by a huge gust, but the boat behaved impeccably and we bore off onto the plane – she’s a modern classic’.
Scott had served 23 years as a chief artificer in the Royal Navy stationed at Gosport before joining the course at the BBA. He is one of many who have used the forces’ enhanced learning credits (ELC) system to fund part of the course. The aim of the ELC is to help leaving service men to return to civilian life.
Scott’s determination and often infectious craziness promises great things. He is currently looking into designing and building innovative wooden festival sleeping ‘pods’ with fellow course student Will Hide.
Jade joined the academy looking for a new challenge after 20 years working in the construction industry. Jade loves the sea and wanted to learn a skill that would allow him to live and work by the coast, and spend time surfing.
With his new daughter, Jade is taking time to rest before the New Year, and hopes to become a self-employed boat builder, perhaps finding work in traditional boat yards in the southwest to start. He will also help his wife with home interiors work, combining his joinery skills with her leather works business.
There were mixed feelings when we spoke to students days before the launch. For Jade the course had provided a refreshing break from the routine and monotony of daily life and was sad that the student group were not to be working together any longer.
Scott was elated to have built such a complex project but saddened to be leaving what he called ‘the wonderful environment’ of the BBA.