Early Marbleheads, Vectis and Lycia.

In the early days it was referred to as the 50-800 class, 50 inches long and 800 sq inch sail area.
In 1936, the model yacht club in Hamburg promoted a series of model yacht races in conjunction with the Olympic Games held in Berlin that summer. The aim was, I think, to promote model yachting as a potential Olympic sport. Luckily we have been spared that development.

Races were offered for the A class and for Marbleheads. The M had been recognised in the USA and was growing in popularity there, but had hardly started to make headway in Europe. In the UK, Ryde Model Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight were amongst the first to see the potential and adopt the class (for the "Town Cup" regatta held on the 13th August 1936 they had an entry of seventeen boats to the 50-800 class). They also held the first, unofficial, national championship for the class in 1937.

. A collection of Ms at Ryde in the late 1930s. Vectis, No 7 is visible
Reproduced with kind permission of Ryde Club

Bill Daniels, the leading British skipper of his generation, was going to take an A boat to Hamburg and win that competition, which he did sailing Fusilier, owned by Lt. Colonel Ian Dennistoun. So that he would have something to sail in the M races, he borrowed an M named Vectis from Mr Pragnell of the Ryde club but made no impression with it. The report of the race by Lt. Colonel Holden states she "was lifeless in the prevailing conditions". As she was a conversion from another class, her displacement appeared far too great for the sail area permitted by the rules. She would probably have been dangerous if there had been a blow. This is a rather poor quality image of Bill with the boat in Hamburg.

This is a rather poor quality image of Bill with the boat in Hamburg

Recently a boat came up at auction, called Vectis. She comes from the Isle of Wight, and her number, 7, shows that she was one of the early Ryde boats, which were given numbers 1 to 20 when the MYA recognised the class in 1938. She too was first registered in the name of H.L.Pragnell, designed by Daniels and was built by a Mr T. King. Her design shows that she is to the Pocohontas design having a beam of 9.25inches and design displacement of 14.5 lbs. She is clearly not the boat which Bill Daniels took to Hamburg but is an interesting example of early Marblehead design ideas in Britain.

Here are images of the boat we now have as Vectis.

We also have images of another early Marblehead design now called Lycia , again known to have come from the Ryde club and with the definite stamp of a Daniels design. She is beautifully built and is reminiscent of Daniels' craftsmanship. Remarkably this model has a beam of 11.25 inches and a displacement of 16.5lbs. She measures exactly 50 inches with no indication whatsoever of any surgical conversion. Could this have been the Marblehead which Daniels borrowed from Pragnall and took to Hamburg?

Though we can't be certain, one possibility is that the boat that went to Hamburg was an M reduced from a design for another class, possibly even an A boat; this might account for the very wide beam and, for the period, heavy displacement.


Compare the photos of Lycia with the picture of Daniels with the M in Hamburg. Bill Bithell from the USA, now aged 93, took the Hamburg photo; he has seen the pictures of Lycia and says he is 95% certain she is one and the same boat.

Russell Potts
Martin Bandey