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
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
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.