Redmond’s Elver – is it related to Southwind?

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Elver sail plan

Steve Redmond’s Elver

Any resemblance seems to be accidental!

In response to my request for information about whether Chappelle’s intriguing Southwind had ever been built, today I received an email suggesting I have another look at Steve Redmond’s Elver. The email’s author suggested that the two boats might be very closely related, and that one might have been redrawn from the other.

The comparison is interesting. The Elver has something in common with the earlier Southwind design, including a flat bottom, fairly similar proportions, and sides shaped by a master curve. And both boats are better suited to day sailing than to extended cruising.

However, they are far from being the same boat:

– the Elver has relatively more no rocker where the Chappelle boat has a significant amount

– the Elver is lightly built and unballasted, while the Southwind is designed to be heavily built with many frames, and is certainly intended to carry ballast

– relatively speaking, the Elver has rather more freeboard than Southwind

– the Southwind’s widest beam is relatively forward of Elver’s

– and the two boats have different rig and cuddy arrangements

All in all, while the Elver is like a big dinghy with a lid (in the British English sense), the Southwind is a workboat-derived yacht, and it could be argued that each boat reflects the interests and background of its designer.

As if to eliminate any lingering doubts, not so very long ago at the Woodenboat forum Redmond himself made clear that his boat was not redrawn from Chappelle’s, and seems not to have known of its existence before it was pointed out to him quite recently.

Having settled that question, it’s clear we can’t assume the Elver’s performance is any sort of guide to that of the Southwind’s. Although various people have raised concerns about the stability of the Chappelle boat, even without making any calculations, I’d suggest that even with internal ballast a boat that lived in an area of reasonably light winds, measured 22ft in length with modest overhangs and was 8ft in beam might be expected to stand up to sails just over 200sqft much of the time. I’m quite sure, however, that it wouldn’t have the self-righting characteristics we expect from modern boats, however.

I have come across a tantalising link suggesting that Southwind has been built at least once.

In the meantime, readers may be interested in the following links featuring the Elver:

– Short video clip of sailing a home-built Elver.

– A tour of the same Elver.

– Another video clip showing an Elver boat building project.

Photos and commentary about another home-built Elver, together with some reflections on the boat’s merits and some alternatives that potential builders might consider.

– Another Elver boat building project.

– The Elver builders Yahoogroup

Elver plans from designer Steve Redmond’s site.

I should declare an interest – I’ve been harbouring an urge to find time build Redmond’s skiff Whisp for years, and have mentioned it once or twice on this weblog.

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3 thoughts on “Redmond’s Elver – is it related to Southwind?”

  1. Rich, who built the Elver Bivalve shown in the link above titled 'Photos and commentary', sent me these remarks:

    Gavin: I agree with you, there is no comparison between the two

    boats, and for the reasons you suggest. They are entirely different in every key sense.

    Another boat which is very different, but I nonetheless suspect was

    a great influence on the Elver rig, is the "Hampden boat", shown in

    plate 8 of Chappelle's "Boatbuilding". The rig, including sails and

    spars, is very similar, including many of the dmensions.

    But of course the main influence on the Elver is Albert Strange's

    Eel, the 18" canoe yawl, as Redmond has stated. And he continued to honor that influence in the name (Elver is a baby eel), and in the

    fact he called it a "yawl", when it is in fact a ketch (rudder is

    behind the mizzen, as opposed to in front, as in a yawl).

    And if you are interested, Gavin, here is my youtube video:

    I no longer have the boat. Rich SantaColoma

  2. Hello, Gavin,

    I agree that Elver's design owes something to that of the Eel but the latter was designed by George Holmes, not Albert Strange.

    Eel's lines were published in Yachting Monthly before 1914, I think.

    Regards, Brian Smith

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