The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning) was founded in 1891 and a year later Colin Archer built the first rescue cutter.
A double-ender with a continuous deck, it was 14m long, 4.65m in beam and had a draught of 2.25m. The sails – a main, mizzen, staysail, jib and topsail – added up to 110squaremetres.
The vessel was launched in late July 1893 and named Colin Archer after its builder and designer.
RS1 Colin Archer performed convincingly during her first season and became the prototype for rescue cutters built in Norway over the following 30 years. Over 40 years of loyal service, she clocked up an impressive record: she saved 67 ships and 236 people, as well as assisting 1,522 vessels carrying some 4,500 crew.
At the end of her career in service, in 1961 RS1 Colin Archer was discovered in America. She was now in a bad way, but was brought back to Norway and was used by the Scouts for some years before being acquired in 1972 by the Norwegian Maritime Museum.
1973 the museum concluded a long-term agreement with the Seilskøyteklubben Colin Archer (SSCA) to take over her day-to-day care. Her hull has since been comprehensively overhauled and her interior refurbished and restored to its original colours.
But the there’s more to the well-loved Colin Archer types than seaworthiness and strength alone. In 1983, RS1 Colin Archer was overall winner in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race of 1983 in a field of 75 ships – but even more strikingly another Archer design, the RS10 Christiania came second, and the Stephansen/Archer design RS5 Liv came third.
In the next race in 1987, RS1 Colin Archer again won over all with RS10 Christiania again second. And in 1993 RS1 Colin Archer was overall winner for the third time, and also took home the Cutty Sark Tall ships’ Races biggest prize, the Cutty Sark Trophy.
Read more about Colin Archer’s designs here and here.