Tag Archives: Victorian racing yacht

Victorian racing yacht Germaine relaunched after many years at the IBTC

Germaine relaunched 1


Germaine relaunched 2 Germaine relaunched 3 Germaine relaunched 4

The 1882 Nicholson racing yacht Germaine has been relaunched following a long restoration at the International Boatbuilding Training Centre at Lowestoft.

Once she is fully rigged and has her new suit of sails she will sail to her new home in Brittany.

Germaine was designed by Ben Nicholson for a prominent racer, Mr FW Leybourne Popham.

After being photographed by Beken, she sailed to the Med in December 1882 and returned in the spring of 1883, passed to Mr Harvey A Dixon, who rigged her as a cutter. She was later made into a yawl again, and passed through further changes of ownership – later owners were Major Middleton Robinson and Mr HW Whittingham of Goodmayes, Essex. In the early 60s she was found on the banks of the Blackwater by Ann and Peter Christgau, who refloated and cleaned her, and sold her in the mid-1960s.

Eventually she returned to the Camper and Nicholson yard, where she was to be repaired ready for the yard’s bicentenary celebrations. Sadly the yard got into financial difficulties and the project had to be abandoned.

Germaine’s cause was then taken up by Patrick Bigand, who acquired her and transported her to the IBTC in 1997 for restoration.

The restoration took quite some time, and I gather that she leaves quite a space in the College’s premises, having been there for two decades, but it must be wonderful for the staff and students to see her back on the water.

PS – Donan Raven points out that there’s some good material about Germaine here – and that it includes a set of lines, two Beken photos and some shots of the IBTC restoration. Thanks Donan!

Win a berth on board Leila in the Tall Ships Race this summer

Leila 2 Leila 1

A free berth for a youngster aged 15-25 years aboard the Victorian racing cutter Leila is up for grabs in this year’s Tall Ships Race, which takes place in the Baltic this summer.

The Leila Sailing Trust has been helped in getting Leila through her last stages of MCA coding by the National Lottery, which has provided nearly £15k in support.

Built in Greenwich in 1892, Leila is the fifth oldest yacht in the UK, and the last time she raced, she won the Round Britain in 1904.

The draw for a free berth on the July race from Denmark to Finland will close on May 1st.

The Suffolk-based trust is just completing a £176,000 five-year restoration. In March, Awards for All, part of the Big Lottery, granted almost £10k for the safety gear needed for her Category 2 MCA safety coding.

The Heritage Lottery fund who contributed nearly £50k four years ago, have also given another £5k to help with fit out and sails.

Leila will move from Southwold to Lowestoft after Easter, and will then get ready for her first weekend charter on May bank holiday. She plans to visit London, Ipswich and The Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classics before going to the Baltic for the Tall Ships in July.

Pierhead painter Dominique Perotin’s portrait of newly built Victorian racing yacht Integrity

Integrity Painting

French pierhead painter Dominique Perotin has produced this portrait of the newly-built Victorian gentleman’s racing yacht Integrity – and it seems to me that she has joined the wonderful yacht’s growing legion of admirers. (Click on the link to see her website.)

Integrity was designed and built by traditional yacht builders and wooden boat repairers Stirling and Son of Tavistock, Devon and is listed for sale via the company website. There are also quite a few posts about her here at intheboatshed.netclick on this link and follow the trail of ‘older posts’ links to find them.

Integrity sailing 6

Integrity in flight

On the subject of Stirlings, boat builders sometimes get some funny commissions. Will Stirling and his colleagues have recently been building a pair of dinghy seats for a pub. I guess if a drinker feels wobbly some time, they can put it down to sitting in a boat, rather than blame the beer and wine…

Stirling & Son dinghy seat

Jeff Stobbe’s striking and beautiful Victorian-style plank-on-edge yacht

Twinkle 3 plank on edge yacht

  plank on edge racing yacht

Jeff Stobbe has written to report on a plank-on-edge Victorian-style racing yacht he launched last year.

Narrow and deep, plank-on-edge yachts enjoyed a period of popularity among the English in yacht racing during the Victorian era, during a time when the argument was whether the heavily ballasted and deep plank-on-edge model was faster than lighter, shallower and more beamy American types. The eventual conclusion seems to have been that exaggerated forms did not hold the secret of speed, and more moderate designs cam to hold sway in yacht racing.

Readers with an interest in these things may remember that Jeff first told intheboatshed.net about his project in California back in 2007.

Here’s Jeff’s message bringing us up to date:

‘I launched Twinkle last summer using the ramp in the Santa Cruz Harbor, where she now resides in the upper harbor. Twinkle is a modified Dodge designed by John Harvey in 1882 and illustrated in CP Kunhardt’s book Small Yachts their Design and Construction.

Twinkle is a true plank-on-edge English racer and very narrow, deep and heavy. I enlarged her to 18ft LOA, 4ft beam and 42in draft. I had planned on adding about 200 lbs of trim lead after launching to an already cast keel of 1200 lbs. This proved to be a miscalculation on my part by about 600 lbs. Now with a ton of lead she sits on her lines.

‘It is hard to imagine 2000lbs of lead on 15ft LWL and 4ft beam. This is the size of a rowboat I built. Plus she is carrying a small Vetus diesel engine of 200 lbs.

‘I added a bowsprit and rigged her as a gaff sloop with 176 square feet of sail. I was somewhat apprehensive on the first sail because even at the dock she is very tender to 10 degrees due to her extremely narrow beam.

‘She is an open boat on a big ocean and if capsized would go down, well, like a lead fishing sinker. She did stiffen up around 15 degrees but was still too tender. I took 18in off the foot of the mainsail and ended up with about 156 square feet of sail. This is much better and lowered the center of effort a bit also.

‘She is quite quick for her short water line and soon reaches hull speed. Despite her narrow hull and lack of flare she rises to a sea fairly well, and free of green water on the deck. She points well, but not up to modern standards, and has real speed off the wind. I am never going to get used to the alarming angle of heel she assumes in a breeze and perhaps she is just a bit small for the open ocean. I just plan on motoring in if it gets over 15 to 20 knots of wind.

‘This is not inexperience speaking. I have sailed from Mexico to Canada on boats I have built and spent years racing sailboats. This is one very beautiful but scary boat.

‘She demands some prudence but in her comfort zone is amazingly pleasant to sail. Her extreme dimensions means she never misses stays even when slapped by a wave in light air. She motors very well but a little wet at hull speed.

‘It’s very difficult to admit but I consider her a failure. She is crowded with three people, pleasant with two and really can’t be handled well alone when raising sail or, in my special case, of having to lower the mast to clear a bridge in the harbor every outing.

‘I am going to abandon her as a sailboat. It was a pleasant build and she is just a gorgeous hull form that had to be brought to life. I have already started a new project again, an enlarged version of a Joel White Haven 12 1/2 enlarged to again 18ft. The hull is almost done on the new boat and it also is cold molded.

‘I will sail Twinkle this summer and dismantle her in October putting the Vetus and some of the ballast in the new boat. I don’t quite know what to do with Twinkle but right now I am thinking of an electric launch. Cutting almost two feet off the bottom will reduce the volume a bit and still leave plenty of displacement for batteries.


Thanks hugely for this Jeff! I’m sure it’s been an interesting journey and the boat’s beautiful – it’s a shame the boat has the usual disadvantages of the plank-on-edge type, even if it is wonderfully elegant. Good luck with the extended 12 1/2 – I’m sure that will be a winner on every front!

PS – Boat designer Mike Storer has written a piece on plank-on-edge sailing craft here.

Stirling & Son makes progress with beautiful Victorian gentleman’s sailing yacht Integrity

Stirling and Son Victorian racing yacht Integrity Bow

Stirling and Son Victorian racing yacht Integrity  Stirling and Son Victorian racing yacht Integrity Port Quarter

These delicious shots of the Victorian-style racing yacht under construction by Stirling and Son have been sent over by Will Stirling, a man who really should be called a photographer, as well as a boat builder, designer and historian.

Here’s what he says:

‘We are fitting her out at the moment in oak panelling. The detail has been taken from photographs of Victorian yacht interiors, with lots of morticing and tenoning to make up the frames, then the different fielded and flat panels, and then the beading.

‘This gives the bulkheads an interesting 3D effect.

‘We have made up patterns for all of the deck fittings and are having them cast in bronze by Ian Major of Major Castings (tel 07897 924 005).

Russian hats came out in force last week during the cold snap, which particularly affected John in the yard, as he was fitting the metal work to the spars in a long and drafty shed.

‘Integrity will be launched in mid-May by the Mayflower Marina in Plymouth.

‘Best wishes, Will’

I’m looking forward to seeing photos of her afloat. Stirling and Son is at Tavistock and can be reached via its website, or by phone on 01822 614259. Will doesn’t mention whether Integrity has a buyer, but if you’re in the market for a boat of this kind I guess it wouldn’t do any harm to enquire.

For earlier posts about Stirlings’ projects and plans, click here and follow the ‘Older posts’ links – there have been quite a few over recent years.

PS – I wonder how the Victorian racing yacht Leila’s getting on over by Southwold Harbour? Does anyone know?

PPSDonan Raven (see comment below) has been in touch to point out that there are some good clips of Will’s workshop included in a YouTube video about the America’s Cup. It seems the directors thought it would be fun to film a traditional boat builder sailing one of the AC speed machines, and Will agreed…