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.

8 thoughts on “The Redwing sailing dinghy explained”

  1. Thank you very much Gavin, I'll look to see if I can find plans, do you think a Redwing would be suitable for an amateur build?

    I'll be up all night, North Queensland is experencing the biggest cyclone in Australia's history since settltment tonight. Bigger than Katrina. Many areas evacuated because of tidal surges of up too 9 meters. There'll be a few boats wrecked tonight but hopefully no lives lost.


  2. I thought I had something clever to say, but Jeff took the wind out of my sails. Mt heart goes out to those people!

    Sandy Gordon, who followed in the footsteps of Uffa Fox by developing the Thistle Class in the US, always claimed that the Thistle was uniquely his. But looking at the lines drawing for the Redwing, it is obvious how the high performance Thistle evolved.

    Uffa Fox was a genius!


  3. It is a long time ago but we gathered in Hong Kong, at RAF Kai Tak, from all over the Far East Air Force, to take part in the 1956 championships. We sailed the West of England Redwings of the local club. A typhoon prior to the event prevented most of us having practice with the type. So it was straight into the Kowloon Bay deep end ! A very pleasant dinghy to sail. Most of the FEAF clubs had the Snipe, I think the Redwing was only used in Hong Kong and I quess early days for the class.
    Happy memories.

    1. I am only adding a comment here because my parents bought me a Redwing in 1961 in Hong Kong which we kept at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s base at Middle Island (we lived in Repulse bay) I learnt to sail on that boat (and went on to own many more yachts and a lot of national and international racing). I thought she was the only Redwing in Hong Kong at the time. She was blue hulled with the inevitable red sails.

  4. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Frank Gale, who built the first redwing for Uffa Fox & did all the sea trials up here in the Moray Firth. Frank, at the ripe old age of 76, also taught me to sail in a GP14, which he built himself.

  5. My great grandfather, Wilfred Neale, was one of the founders of Looe Sailing Club in 1934 and was the Commodore who was a friend of Uffa Fox and who commissioned this design. A small number of boats are still raced regularly at Looe.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.