Tag Archives: racing dinghy

A great piece about the evolution of racing dinghy design

Post war dinghy development article

This article by David Henshal about post-War racing dinghy development is well worth reading, and can be seen on the Yachts and Yachting website.

‘One of the most notable changes that have taken place in the sport of dinghy racing in the last 40 or so years has been the impact of the spreadsheet and ‘business model’. Until then, much of the development within the sport had taken place within what could best be described as a ‘cottage industry’. Though this may have looked disorganised and unstructured, the old ways of working did have one key advantage over today’s production lines, as many of the great thinkers and ‘do-ers’ of the day all knew each other well. This friendship allowed for an unprecedented level of interaction and cross fertilisation of ideas that helped drive the ‘big-bang’ of expansion in the sport in the 1950s through to the end of the 1970s. This sharing of ideas can be seen very clearly in the lives of three of our great innovators, people who could almost be described as the ‘Three Wise Men’ of British dinghy sailing… ‘

 My thanks to Australian boat designer Mik Storer of Storer Boat Plans in Wood and Plywood for spotting this one.


The Shannon One Design on Irish television

My thanks to Ginny Jones of Vineyard Sailing for spotting these videos about building and sailing these lovely clinker-built racing dinghies. Read more about them here and here.

As usual with these things, I want to have a go at sailing one – preferably this summer in a perfect breeze among lush green landscape and an sun twinkling on that Irish river water… One day!

A regatta to celebrate 100 years of the International 12 Foot Dinghy Class

World Cup Venice_2

Sylvia - built 1920 hanneke gilissen big

Main photo: the 2011 International 12 Foot World Cup racing at Venice, attracted over 100 entries from 10 (photo: James Robinson Taylor); Sylvia, built in Switzerland in the 1920s; recent Dutch championships (photo: Hanneke Gilissen)

West Kirby Sailing Club and the International 12 Foot Dinghy Class are expecting 30 or so boats to take part in a special regatta this summer to celebrate the centenary of the class’s first regatta in 1913.

There is information about the event here.

The first recorded regatta took place on the Marine Lake at West Kirby, Merseyside, on the 4th October 1913. The club had just taken delivery of a fleet of six 12 Foot Dinghies, and decided to publicise the class by inviting representatives of twelve sailing clubs from the north west of England to take part in an inaugural regatta.

The winner was Thunderer, which represented 12 Foot Dinghy designer George Cockshott’s own sailing club, the Southport Corinthians.

Cockshott himself was present and crewed in the boat representing Rhyl Sailing Club. One of the original 12 Footers, the recently restored Royal Oak, is still at West Kirby.

Elsewhere in the UK, a number of old boats are being restored for the event and several new boats are under construction.

This summer’s regatta takes place on on the 28th-30th June 2013. Most boats will be travelling from the Netherlands, but there will also be competitor boats from Germany, Switzerland, France and Ireland. Racing will take place on the Dee Estuary and on the Marine Lake – the scene of the 1913 event.

Several members of the Cockshott family will be present as guests.

The Merseyside club is also home to another of George Cockshott’s designs, the West Kirby Star class.

Pathé newsreel films – including the ‘red boats’ of Brixham, boat building on the Thames, and making the Firefly dinghy

The British Pathé website has some charming bits and pieces of old film, not least this one of the Brixham sailing trawlers racing in a regatta more than 80 years ago.

From 1950, here’s a great old clip about a boat building family on the Thames. Listen carefully, and you’ll learn the secret of British worldwide boat building supremacy. Yes, ladies and gentleman Britain led the world in just about everything, or so we were always being told. I think we’re a little more realistic today…

Here’s a splendid four-minute piece outlining the three-layer hot-moulding process used by Fairey to manufacture the Firefly racing dinghy and others. I hadn’t realised that it was a vacuum process, but it’s well worth understanding. Who’s that in the boat at the end I wonder? They found some suitably entertaining weather for the filming.

Moving still further from traditional timber-based boat building is this jolly newsreel about making fibreglass boats in 1958 – a time when glass and polyester resin with still being touted as a wonder material.

Ahoy you Landlubbers is a not terribly informative report from the 1959 London Boat Show. The producer was clearly hell-bent on a subject that no doubt interested him rather than the boats.

‘We are now very much in the age of the motor boat. Diesel optional, girls essential,’ says the voiceover as the camera turns to a couple of models toying with a giant ball, and chatting with contemporary racing driver Mike Hawthorn – this was likely to have been just days before his death in a car crash on the 22nd January that year.

‘The Rolls-Royce of the boat show is the 10-berth 36ft Bevinda, the hull of which is the biggest single reinforced resin moulding in the world,’ continues the voice from another age. ‘Top speed more than 30 knots.’

Its top speed may have been comparable to many modern luxury motorboats of a similar length, but I bet it needed significantly smaller engines to reach it.

Good Wood Boat clinker built dinghies at this year’s Beale Park Boat Show

Good Wood Boat Redwing

Good Wood Boat Tideway Good Wood Boat stripping varnish

Good Wood Boat will be showing two clinker built dinghies – a new National Redwing and a restored Tideway – at the 2011 Beale Park Boat Show.

Redwing R249 designed by Uffa Fox in 1938 was built by Good Wood Boat in 2009, and won the 2010 RYA Volvo Dinghy Show London ‘Concours d’Elegance’ trophy. She is being offered for sale at the show.

She was recently prepared for and exhibited at the 2011 RYA Volvo Dinghy Show in London and with her brand new, unused sails, she is in pristine condition and can be considered ‘as new’. She is offered for sale at an ex-demonstrator price of £14995 –  is £3000 less than the price of a new Good Wood Boat Redwing of this specification.

The boat is ready to race, and comes complete with measurement certificate, trapeze and buoyancy bags, and of course is race-measured.

Tideway TW233 recently restored by Good Wood Boat will also be on show to promote the company’s traditional wooden boat repair, restoration and refinishing services, which now include a clinker boat varnish stripping service.

Good Wood Boat Co is also licensed to build new wooden Tideway clinker dinghies.

Stephen Beresford of Good Wood Boat can bbe contacted at tel 07934 622013 and email  info@goodwoodboat.co.uk.

The Redwing sailing dinghy explained

Redwing dinghy scan

Redwing dinghy

Jeff Cole asked about the Redwing dinghy that featured in a post a couple of days ago. The Redwing is an Uffa Fox design created for sailing off the Cornish coast, and seems to have been designed for Looe Sailing Club.

‘Having enjoyed and endured the tumbling seas off the Cornish coast I was in full agreement with the Commodore of the Looe Sailing Club when he outlined the type of 14-footer he would like designed for their turbulent waters, and delighted at the prospect of designing such a boat,’ wrote Fox many years later in his book Sailing Boats.

What the good commodore got was a classic Fox hull with a clean run and a waterline stretched to the maximum, but with good freeboard, half-decked and with a substantial breakwater designed to cope with the rough and tumble of the local sea. In those days it also had a 132lb iron drop keel with a 5ft draught, though I gather that today it’s more likely to be of wood.

Renamed the West of England Redwing, the design became popular and was adopted as a national class by the RYA.

Not surprisingly, given its features and design aims, the boat gained a reputation for seaworthiness and for speed in strong wind conditions.

In the book Sailing Boats, Fox describes the results of the 1958 Cross-Channel Race which included a Redwing.

‘The Redwing Nimbus had sailed remarkably well. She had beaten boat for boat 16ft 6in Hornets, 17ft 6in Ospreys, all the Merlin Rockets except one, 16ft Snipes, 16ft 6in 5.0.5s, 15ft Finns, Albacores and Swordfish. She had sailed so well that world renowned sailor Beecher More was so impressed by the Redwing’s performance that he was certain that a mistake had been made, and when the committee re-checked their figures they found this was so and announced the Redwing Nimbus the winner… ‘

And finally he becomes completely misty-eyed about his handsome baby:

‘She is an outstandingly brave little boat, from which one can learn that the sea is to sail upon, in a boat in which we can enjoy the sea in all its moods and not fear it if there is a hatful of wind.’

For more posts featuring Uffa Fox, click here.

Boat Racing Association A-Class One Design Dinghy specifications and drawings

A-Class one design dinghy specification

A-Class one design dinghy specification

Brian Smith has sent in interesting scans of the specification for the delightful Boat Racing Association A-Class One Design Dinghy, which I gather is a very close relative to the International 12. I’ll let him tell the story:

‘Hi Gav,

‘I attach drawings and specifications of the BRA 12ft dinghy as published in the Yachtsman of 12 June 1913, which could be of interest to your readers as I believe they were little changed for the International 12ft dinghy class.

George Cockshott [the designer of the International 12] was a frequent and sometimes successful entrant in design competitions in the Yachtsman and Yachting Monthly, although it is not certain that any of those designs were ever built. The 12ft dinghy design was the result of a competition run by the BRA. Cockshott may have been inspired by the 12ft restricted class sailed at Hoylake, West Kirby and Rhyl. The design does seem to have been influenced by the class.

‘The largest yacht designed by Cockshott appears to have been the 19 tons TM Nautilus II built by R Lathom at Crossens, near Southport in 1902.

‘Hope this is of interest,


Thanks Brian – it certainly is. I love all that old-fashioned specification stuff: ‘The whole of each boat, inside and out, to be varnished four coats best yacht varnish. (Or, if desired by the owner, the bottom to be painted three coats and finished with anitfouling composition or enamel externally, and to be painted three coats internally). The name or number to be written in gold leaf and shaded, on the transom or as may be required.

For a post on George Cockshott’s International 12 dinghy, click here.