104 year-old Norfolk Broads racer Maidie gets a carbon mast

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Norfolk Broads racer Maidie gets a new carbon fibre mast

Maidie in action with her new mast

104 year-old Broads cruiser Maidie gets a new mast

Friends walk Maidie’s new mast across the marshes

Classic Norfolk Broads racing boat Maidie has been fitted with a new carbon fibre mast by her owner, Mike Barnes, managing director of the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company.

One of the unforgettable moments of a Broads hire boat holiday is when one of the area’s real racers flies past, and I don’t think any do it with more panache than the 104 year-old spoon-bowed beauty Maidie, which belongs to Mike Barnes, managing director of the Norfolk Broads Yachting Company.

Maidie lost her existing aluminium mast and rigging when she was hit by another vessel recently, and Barnes took the opportunity to replace it with a carbon fibre mast after a chance meeting with Mike Harris of Polar Composites, which is based at nearby Wymondham.

The raw material was shipped from Australia to Barnes’ workshop in Reedham where he constructed the mast himself. Polar Composites was brought in to make the joints for the spreaders and crane, as they needed to be strong enough to withstand the forces of the rigging.

From Polar Composites’ press release it seems, Barnes had no qualms about replacing Maidie’s aluminium rig with the even more modern material:

Maidie was built purely for racing, using the latest techniques and materials available 100 years ago. The original mast was made of wooden veneer rolled around a mandrel, very like the way a carbon fibre mast is made now. It was a new breakthrough at the time, valued for its strength and lightweight property, and was used on the Americas Cup boats of the day.

‘I think it is fitting to choose carbon fibre for the new mast today, as it will give Maidie the cutting edge material she deserves and I’m confident that, had her Edwardian builders had the material available back then, they would have been using it!’ he said.

It took 15 friends to manhandle the mast over the marsh at Reedham, carry it by hand to the water’s edge and manually lift it into place just in time for bank holiday weekend. Maidie’s first outing was at her home club on Wroxham Broad the next day and Mike was delighted with her performance.

‘It has been everything I hoped it would be. The black, shining mast looks fantastic fully rigged and Maidie is sailing well so we look forward to an exciting season,’ he said.

I’m planning to take my kids up to the Broads in a few days, and doubtless the boat we’ve hired will be safe and steady – so as usual I’m looking forward to seeing Maidie and her sisters fly by under their huge rigs adapted for inland sailing. You can be sure I’ll be taking my camera and will try to catch what I can!

For more intheboatshed.net posts about the Norfolk Broads, click here.


2 thoughts on “104 year-old Norfolk Broads racer Maidie gets a carbon mast”

  1. That's a big rig, she looks fantastic. What draft are these broads cruisers and what underwater profile? I presume a dagger plate to allow them to turn on sixpence. And are those 2 sailing barges against the far bank behind her? There is I think an American class of boats I've seen called 'Spoons' that sail in similar environments but I can't find an illustration at present.


  2. I haven't any doubt that she's fantastic.

    I don't know about this particular boat or boats of her vintage, but traditional Broads sailers are typically rather like large canoes in form, with a shallow but heavy keel below. Maidie's must be huge!

    The boats in the background are Broads wherries. They used to be working craft, but some have been built for pleasure and some have now been converted. There aren't many left, but Googling reveals some info. Try these pics:


    And this: http://www.norfolkbroads.com/focus/boating/wherri

    And this mentions wherries and explains the recent history of the Broads:


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