Working Sail’s designs are based on the lines of 19th century pilot cutters from the Isles of Scilly, a group of islands in Cornish waters lying at the entrance to the English and Bristol channel. They are said to make excellent yachts due to their excellent seaworthiness and sailing performance. In a way, the fact that pilot boats evolved these qualities should not be surprising: as pilot boats need to be very capable, weatherly and fast in order to make sure their pilot reaches the incoming ship before its rivals.
I’d just like to add that while Lulworth (next post down) makes my jaw drop, the boats of Working Sail below quicken my pulse much more. The boat below is Ezra.
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Prepare to be awed! Lulworth is the largest gaff cutter afloat today, with a length of 46.30m (152ft) and a mast as high as a 17-floor apartment block. She is also widely considered to be breathtakingly beautiful – she was described by the great maritime photographer Franco Pace as ‘the last true gem’.
Perhaps she is above all else a magnificent piece of nautical history, as the sole survivor of the Big Class racing yachts from the 1920s, which included Lulworth, the Prince of Wales’ yacht Britannia, Westward, White Heather II and Shamrock.
The Big Class races were spectacular to watch: the boats had deep keels, long overhanging booms and powerful rigs. Around 45 races were organised in the regatta season from late May to early September, and the highlight came in early August when the fleet headed to the Solent for Cowes Week. Wherever they were held around the British Isles, however, Big Class events attracted huge crowds.
Seventy years after her last Big Class race, she was taken to Italy from a mud berth on the River Hamble and brought back to life during five years of restoration aimed at returning the yacht as far as possible to her original condition, based on a set of drawings dating from 1926.
For more on Lulworth and her restoration:
Large posters, framed photos and calendars of Lulworth and other classics from the early 20th century:
The painting of Lulworth battling it out with Britannia below is by marine artist Roger Davies. Roger sells prints of his splendid paintings from his site:
Our friend the noted Kiwi boat designer John Welsford suggested that we should include this one at an early date, and he’s right – she’s a corker.
Rainbow is one of the ‘big Logans’ – one of a small group of large racing yachts built in Auckland by Logan Brothers. Built in 1898 with a hull made from three diagonal skins of kauri wood, she’s 50ft long and 38ft on the waterline.
The restoration currently underway will restore her original form, with a flush deck and gaff rig – a real racing machine from a classic period.
For more on this fabulous boat go to:
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