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.