Boat Building Academy students launch 22ft slipper launch

'Graciela' in the water - Photo by Derek Thompson LRPS

'Graciela' - Photo Jon Palmer Will Hide with 'Graciela'  - Emma SONY DSC

Slipper launch ‘Graciela’ photographed by Derek Thompson, Emma Brice, Jon Palmer and Charlie Couture

This modified version of a slipper launch designed by Paul Fisher of Selway-Fisher was launched in early December by students at the end of their 38-week course at the Boat Building Academy.

The elegant ‘Kennet‘ design slipper launch, Graciela – the name is a nod to owner Will Hide’s girlfriend Grace – is made from stitch and glue construction with a 9mm ply hull and subdeck, and a sapele deck and fitting out.

It has a quiet electric motor, and it is to be used on the River Dart, near Will’s home.

The bows underwent some changes to produce a more flared shape, and a curved  transom, and to complete the slipper launch look there are two traditional, moveable Lloyd-loom chairs.

To add a touch of Lyme Regis to the boat, a fossil has been placed sits proudly at the centre of the hand-made steering wheel, which was made by fellow student Rob Hounslow.

Yachtmaster-qualified Will is from Totnes, and grew up navigating the River Dart and sailing out of Dartmouth, and since he was 15 he has been restoring and selling boats in his spare time, starting with a Hurley Felicity 20.

Will chose the slipper launch for its tradition and heritage, and liked the shape of it. ‘I could never see myself owning one so it was nice to be able to build one.’

Will’s main build partner was Louis Rhoades. Louis recently gained ‘A’ Levels in business, biology, media and photography. He stumbled across the Academy while visiting his grandparents in 2008 and was fascinated by what was being created in the workshops.

Louis left the course with a job lined up at Elephant Boatyard at Southampton, and Will is hoping to put his entrepreneurial skills to new business ideas with fellow student Scott Russell (see the earlier post on Scott’s boat Florence).

Will and Louis were the youngest students on the course, and the BBA staff say that Graciela respresents a terrific achievement for two under-21s. Justifiably proud of his achievements, Will remarked that at 22ft his boat is the longest built by this year’s class. ‘I never do things small,’ he said.

For myself, I’m just savouring that photo of a slipper launch heading out to sea. It’s an image I’ve never seen before!

A set of photos covering Graciela’s build from start to finish, is on the BBA website.

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