Meeting Report: Clapham, 28 March 2004

The weather was overcast and distinctly chilly, but there was a very good turnout for our first sailing day of the year, with a number of interesting boats being seen for the first time.

There were two Marbleheads built (beautifully as usual) by John Gale.


The one shown above was a recent construction to a design by John Lewis that dates from 1956. It was drawn as a private commission for Mrs Pearson and published many years later in John's book A Manual of Yacht Designs. The displacement of this boat is 21.75 pounds, not untypical for her date, but about twice that of current designs.

The sails are made, as is appropriate for her design date, from varnished terylene. This material, long superseded for sail making, is still used in the electrical industry and is available in our sort of quantities from UK Insulations, Shadsworth Industrial Estate, Sett End Road, Blackburn, BB1 2PT. Tel: 01254 264 499. The stock reference is SP1713.

The second (above) is now in the proud ownership of Anthony Warren.

e-mail from Anthony:-

The boat held aloft by myself and built by John Gale (distinguished VMYG member and constructeur extraordinaire) is non other than K 3819 Mystic II. She was designed by Chris (Peter) Dunkling and first registered 6-10-86. Her first owner was John Gale who soon sold her on to the one time secretary of YM6mOA (now Hampton Court Model Yacht Club) Bill Every. For many years she languished unused until I was fortunate enough to acquire her from Bill and she now vane sails regularly on the Rick Pond once more; (come join us!).

Her design is a good example, if somewhat conservative for 1986, of a boat that would plane more easily and her long fine entry and flat floors are indicative. She is both elegant and lacking in extreme features and is characterised by moving through the water with virtually no fuss. Her displacement of 14.96lbs was achieved in part by reducing ballast and extending the fin, a design approach that has continued to the extremes of today.

And now a lesson....
During heavy winds in April we were sailing 2 Marbleheads. John had brought Peter's subsequent design, slightly narrower and faster (and God forbid in plastic). We prepared for a run; John in his second suit, Mystic in all I had, the top suit and to get her moving the balloon spinnaker as well...and why not. Everything was straining and jumping to go...John looked across an eybrow raised, but said nothing and on the nod they both leapt out of our hands simultaneously, planing instantly.

Frankly it was awesome and incredibly exciting (tyro talk). Mystic pulled ahead but only on the brink of control....and then half way down the lake we saw the squall coming in....and hit. Didn't see John's boat ....only Mystic, lift for one marvellously, terrifying moment and in an all engulfing scream of spray take off. It was then that the vane was an instant broaching to, she was knocked down, the hatch cover carrying away on the spume. She sank almost simultaneously. Silence….grief….and then she bobbed back, only her prow visible, up vertically, Titanically and majestically moving slowly downwind, saved by the air pocket in her bow.

"Reckon I won that board then" filtered through the wind in a gritty Mancunian sort of a way.

And the moral ?….
1 don't overpress a free sailing boat
2 tape the hatch cover down especially in rough weather.

Anthony Warren

Anthony also had with him the hull of a 19th century model that had originally belonged to one of the Thorneycroft family of shipbuilders (photo 4). It was just back from an antique restorer who had been commissioned by Anthony to make good some defects and to make the hull waterproof while retaining the attractively aged and worn look of the finish. We hope to have an account of how this was done in due course.

The biggest boat on the pond was an A class to Dick Priest's classic Highlander design. Claymore (photo 5, 6) was having her first outing after being completed by Mick Chelmick. The hull is one of Bob Underwood's superb glass mouldings and the sails are by PJ Sails. Three channel radio is fitted. This boat is for sale and more details are on the for sale page.


Also just in the edge of one of the photos is a glass version of one of the Alexander superior toys. This is the 32 inch version; the shell is also available from Bob Underwood. Mick has called her Chilli Pepper II. Members with long memories will recall Mick's Alexander 6-m, Chilli Pepper. The name is very appropriate as all the Alexander toys were boiled down from one of their 6-m designs.

Russell Potts