Beale Park 2012 – in the rain (it got better after I left!)

There’s no question about it. I went to the Beale Park Thames Boat Show on the wrong day – the Friday during which the show had to be cancelled because of the rain – and it meant I only managed to bag a few photos, and that quite a few people I would have enjoyed meeting weren’t around.

I’ve heard from several sources that the Saturday and Sunday were much better – well attended and with very much kinder weather.

Still, I did manage to take some shots between downpours, and chat with some of the regular stallholders who were on-site and who, thanks to the lack of general public, had more time than usual to talk.

One person I didn’t manage to meet – yet again – was the elusive Andy Wyke, boat collections manager of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

So it was good to chat with Kipperman, author and traditional boat authority Mike Smylie, Peter Greenfield of Watercraft magazine, Dick Wynne of Lodestar Books, Nat and Gill Wilson of the International Boatbuilding Training College, traditional West Country motor launch specialist boat builder Nick Smith, and Moray McPhail of gunmetal and bronze hardware supplier Classic Marine.

If you poke around intheboatshed.net, you’ll find posts from or about all of them.

I also ran into the Home Built Boat Rally, who had just arrived after travelling for three days along the River Thames into headwinds, and were exhausted. Several of them then went on to win prizes in the Watercraft Amateur Boat Building Awards.

HBBR member and weblogger Graham Neil has some photos and a few comments.

What does the attached gallery show? Well, there are a couple of craft built by students of the Boat Building Academy, a fascinating Stirling engine-powered rowing boat,  a ceremonial rowing craft complete with a gilt lion on the bows originally made for a film, the huddled crowd of HBBR boats, and the the Dinghy Cruising Association’s collection of very practical small boats moored on their jetty – including two built to Matt Layden’s famoux Paradox design, of which I only know of a couple in the UK.

I’ve included a couple of shots of two somewhat whacky Watercraft Cordless Canoe Challenge entries, and an entertaining adaptation of a Mirror dinghy that I’m sure its designers never thought of.

Finally, there’s also a shot from the show’s organisers taken in sunshine on the Saturday – it isn’t mine but I’ve included it because it shows a much more typical Beale Park Boat Show scene!

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Water Craft’s whacky Cordless Canoe Challenge races at the Beale Park Boat Show

Water Craft Cordless Canoe Challenge

A potential entry for the Water Craft CCC – very much in the spirit of the event, but the drag of that parasol may not help

Water Craft magazine has fired the starting gun on what promises to be a highly entertaining new competition for the Beale Park Boat Show, which in 2011 takes place from the 10-12th June.

The journal’s annual Amateur Boatbuilding Awards contest is well established and one of the highlights of the Beale Park show each year – but the new competition promises to be completely daft.

Inspired by a suggestion from Beale Park marketing manager Donna Hatchett, Water Craft editor Pete Greenfield has announced the Cordless Canoe Challenge, in which entrants have to use a cordless power tool to power a canoe around a short course on the lake at Beale. He has the support of power tool manufacturers Makita and the Electric Boat Association.

The boats do not have to be home-built, but can be of course, and they may be made of any material and can be modified any way entrants choose.

The only rules are that they mustn’t be longer than 16ft 3in (5m) including steering and stern gear, and have to be propelled solely by one or more cordless electric tools. A drill driving a prop shaft is one possibility, or perhaps a Thai-style long-tail rig sort-of, kind-of arrangement?

Pete suggests a jigsaw could be used to drive waggling flippers, or that an angle grinder might be fitted with a fan.

I’d suggest one of my Cinderella canoes powered by a steerable rack of, say, four cordless drills fitted with shafts attached to model aircraft propellers handing over the stern and controlled via a long tiller. But that might not be in keeping with Water Craft’s rather more sportsmanlike idea, which is that the power tools used should be things entrants already have in their workshops…

The racing will be in the form of a knockout tournament between pairs of boats drawn by lot, and will take place over the course of the Saturday and Sunday of the show. The course will likely be an out-and-back dogleg around two buoys, with some hopefully exciting action around the turning mark right in front of the beer tent (I’ll be watching, at least some of the time).

Entrants will need to slow their boat for this (if they reach any speed at all) and will likely need some kind of proper steering system.

Curiously, editor Pete also suggests the draft of entering craft should be modest, which presumably means judges will disqualify submarines. So, dear readers thinking of entering this malarkey, I’m afraid you can’t go underwater and will be stuck with wave-making resistance.

Boats invited to enter the cordless challenge will be checked for safety (you’ll doubtless need a bouyancy aid) – and crews for sanity – by Electric Boat Association stewards before being allowed to compete.

I should mention the prize to be awarded to the winning boat – a bag of Makita’s cordless power tools including a jigsaw, sander, planer, two drills and a site radio valued at over £1200!

Entrants should take a photo of their entry boat, preferably under way, and send it to Water Craft by the 1st May. More information about the comp will appear in the January/February issue of the magazine, which should appear in shops and fall through letterboxes on the 16th December.

I think it’s all going to be very amusing and, for the winner, rather profitable…

beale park cordless canoe challenge course

The Cordless Canoe Challenge course. If you know Beale Park, you’ll realise how short this is – turning ability will be as important as raw speed