XOD racing keelboat centenary celebrations, Royal Lymington Yacht Club, 3rd June

XOD-Fleet-at-Cowes-R-Tomlinson-lr Skandia Cowes Week 2007 day 1, Saturday August 4 X166 Swallow, X86 Aora
The XOD fleet racing at Cowes; photo taken by Rick Tomlinson

The XOD keelboat class will kick off its its centenary celebrations by holding a day race in Edwardian costume at Royal Lymington Yacht Club on Friday 3rd June.

I trust there will be plenty of tweed, eminently twiddleable moustachios, and of course bonnets and demure but practical long skirts!

Some 100 or so boats are expected to compete in a three day centenary regatta including the Lymington and Yarmouth XOD fleets.

In 1911 Yachting Monthly reported that seven 21ft keelboats of a newly established one design class came to the start line for their first race, off Hythe in Southampton Water. The boats were gaff-rigged, and the Bermudan rig came in during 1928.

By 1939, 81 X One Design boats had been built. In 1961, there were 52 starters at Cowes Week, and now a hundred years after the first race the class hasn’t just survived but grown to become the largest fleet on the start line at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.

The original racewas won by Portsmouth brewer Harry Brickwood. One of the boats in the original race X5 Madcap, is still racing today, while the first XOD, X1 Mistletoe, which was built by Alfred Westmacott on the Isle of Wight, is now at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Cowes Week 2010 was won by X26, which was built in 1923.

The XOD is a pretty wooden yacht of just under 21ft in length; it has two or three crew, and crews of all sizes compete on equal terms. The spinnaker can be flown from within the safety of the cockpit, which avoids any need for foredeck work.

A trip to Seaview to see the Sea View One Design racing dinghies

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Sea View One Design racing dinghies

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Sea View One Design racing dinghies

Julie took these shots of Sea View One-Design dinghies at the village of Seaview on the Isle of Wight during a week’s holiday last week.

The boats are built by the local family firm of V A Warren & Son, and apparently there are about 200 now in existence, and as many as 198 sailed past the local Sea View Yacht Club for the class’s 75th aniversary. The class was founded in 1931.

I knew of their existence but hadn’t realised there were so very many of them – this is a seriously impressive local racing class.

The class has a website that’s currently in development and I look forward to reading more about these boats some time.

I should add that Seaview is famous for a few other things too, including the Mermaid keelboat class, and also as a launching pad for Operation Overlord – the invasion of France and the beginning of the big fightback to rid Europe of the blight of Nazism. Now that’s something well worth knowing about too.

sea view operation overlord memorial

Round the Island Race, 19th June 2010

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Round the Island yachts racing off the Needles (thanks to Onedition), the 43ft Fred Shepherd designed Maybird, and Ocean Pearl (Vanessa Bird)

This year’s Round the Island Race is coming up on the 19th June, so this seems like a good time to draw attention to this amazing annual spectacle of getting on for 2000 boats all sailing in the same direction for most of a day – if you don’t count the spectators and sight-seers.

Among that huge number there are bound to be quite a number of older and traditional craft, and the photos above are of two that took part last year. My thanks go to Peta Stuart-Hunt for her help in providing intheboatshed.net with its special needs!

Maybird is a Fred Shepherd 43ft (52ft LOA) gaff-rigged ketch that will be competing in her first race since being restored at Saxon Wharf when she comes to the start line on 19th June. She was designed for Lt Col WCW Hawkes DSO, Indian Army (retired) and built by Jack Tyrell at Arklow, Co Wicklow in 1937. She’s had quite a history – in her time, she has been a gentleman’s auxillary yacht, an ocean passage maker and a Greenpeace protest vessel, and now she’s available for charter.

Also a contender last year in the traditional gaffer class, Ocean Pearl was built in 1933 by Nobles of Fraserburgh and registered at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. At 37ft 6in LWL, she was just under the 40ft length restrictions, which meant that she could fish within the three-mile limit of shore, and between 1933 and 1939 she was worked with nets and lines out of Peterhead. Between 1939 and 1945 she was requisitioned by the Navy and served as a supply vessel in Scapa Flow, before returning to the fishing industry after the end of the war.

She then fished until 1967 before selling her to Joseph Anthony Moore Phillips, father of Captain Mark Phillips, the first husband of HRH Princess Anne, who based her at Whitby, North Yorkshire. In 1981, three owners later, she was taken to Staines in Middlesex to be restored, but was eventually abandoned in a disused tarmac works, where she lay for 15 years before being taken to Combes Boatyard in West Sussex.

Nick Gates took over ownership in 1999 and over the past 10 years has rebuilt her, converting her from motor to sail. She is rigged as a Manx nobby, with standing lug main and mizzen, and sets 1600 sq ft of canvas. Ocean Pearl has been mentioned several times at intheboatshed.net – for earlier intheboatshed.net posts relating to her, click here.