Yankee III

Build and Sail a Model of a Famous J Class Yacht

By Earl Boebert
Illustrated by M. de Lesseps
With a foreword by Russell Potts

The phrase on the title page 'Being a short history of an America's Cup Contender of the 1930s, the 1935 free sailing model based on her and instructions for a modern radio version, easy to build and sail' sets the scene for this delightful book. The author has been involved with many and various 'vintage model yacht' projects and his experience shows through in the content. Earl Boebert is not afraid to use thoroughly modern materials and techniques and the reader can be content that the methods he describes have been well and truly tried and that the pitfalls are logged for his benefit. Not only is the overall build described from start to finish but the asides relating to the details of the project make for interesting reading too.

Earl has thoughtfully included a brief history of the original J Class 'Yankee' on which the entire project is based. She was designed by a team of three designers for a Boston syndicate and was passed over in favour of Rainbow for the defence of the 1934 America's Cup match with Sopwith's Endeavour. A wealthy Anglophile named Lambert, feeling Sopwith had been somewhat ill treated, bought Yankee and then raced her for a season in Britain where she was generally outranked by Endeavour.

At the time Yankee was racing in Britain, John Black, known for the Marblehead 'Cheerio' among others, wrote a series of articles carried by a Boston paper describing the construction of a 36" model of her. Halcyon days for model yachting indeed! This model 'Yankee Jnr' and the changes to the basic design that Black made are also described in some detail by Earl adding considerably to one's enjoyment of the whole.

Earl then describes the adjustments to Black's version that he felt were necessary for an rc version and thus justifies naming her 'Yankee III'. I note with some amusement that the choice of model size is sound on the grounds that it is convenient for transport; by air this time rather than in the back of a car. The main part of the book covers the construction methods. The method described in detail for the hull is bread and butter using medium density foam, carved and covered with glass and epoxy and then hollowed out. Several alternatives are outlined. None involve planking with timber! After all this is a book aimed at an easy to build and sail yacht. However I am sure anyone who wants to tackle it in a more traditional manner would be able to adapt the information given.

Earl proposes the, rather interesting, idea that each of the ten J Class yachts could be built to a similar scale and raced. The lines of 'Weetamoe' are provided enabling a quick start down this route.

Most non-USA readers will need to think laterally when they come across the many trade names used when describing materials. We should forgive our American cousins this fault as UK authors are equally guilty. Perhaps the UK suppliers of the book could make amends by commissioning someone to write a glossary/translation to be supplied with each copy.

The whole is illustrated appropriately by Mike de Lesseps. How wonderful in this age to see real pen and ink drawing for illustrations.

Graham Bantock
Kelvedon 8th August 2004

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