The story of the International Fourteen is never ending because so much continues to come to light from its past whilst, being a development class, there is always something new in hull or rig to record. Change in fact, is what Fourteening is, and always will be, about. As a concept it is not stuck in time. The class is fortunate in having a history that goes back to the very origins of racing small open boats and a future, that, within its chosen constraints, is as limitless as human endeavour and ingenuity can devise.
It has been my pleasure to try and record the highlights of the International Fourteen. This is the fourth edition , first on the internet.. It is hard to believe that it is over forty years since I was first volunteered for the job. This has been the hardest version to pull together. For the simple reason that for the past few years my role has been of an interested , but distant, supporter rather than that of an enthusiastic, if indifferent, performer. So I have had to rely more than ever on others to fill in the details of what has gone on.
So my thanks go out to so many people. The late Leslie Lewis, the man who more than anyone else got the one big Fourteen class idea accepted in the UK It was he who wrote the first amusing version of the class history. To that great small boat enthusiast the late Dr. Robin Steavenson who brought that story up to date in the 1960’s. To our late President Stewart Morris who provided so much background detail of the pre and post war period, in which he played such a successful and central part. More recently; to the late Larry Bates for sending a book giving details of early American days; to the late John Winter who filled in so much detail of the 1930’s; to lan Cox who provided me with a succinct guide to trends, and significant rule changes, in the class and to Bruce Grant for lending me his meticulously kept scrap book on his Fourteen experiences. to Jeremy Pudney for keeping me in the know for so many years till he retired and to all those people who phoned or wrote with snippets of information about Fourteens and Fourteen Sailing.
Thanks are also due to the Rickmansworth Sailing Club. Who? you may well ask, for they do not feature widely in this story. Their prime role, more often than not, appearing to be to make up the numbers at P.O.W. But for sixty years they have been stalwart supporters of the class. Boasting at one time one of the largest, if little known Fleets in the world. It is to them that I owe my introduction to the Fourteen, to many many happy sometimes hectic hours sailing them and to so many friends not least my long suffering crew lan Moore – who also produced and printed the first two editions of this history.
Finally my thanks to my wife for correcting my spelling, and worse grammar — when she can read my writing (no problem now thanks to a word processor— and last but not least to all those owners, designers, builders and crews without whose efforts there would be nothing to record.
The Hut, 19 King Street Emsworth, Hampshire
To tell the story of the International Fourteen is to recall the early history of small boat racing in this country, for the International Fourteen was originally the National Fourteen and it was but an amalgam of this country’s principal 14ft dinghy classes of the early part of the century. Today there is a wide choice of International and National dinghy classes and examples of each can be found in most sailing centres.
In the early1900’s the situation was very different, as parochial forces jealously guarded their local class — specially devised to meet local conditions. Argument raged over the merits of various designs and the case for one design or restricted classes. From all the discussion the Fourteens were to gain one of their greatest assets, a liberal set of rules that allowed progressive development and encouraged experiment.
The philosophy that led to the formation of the first National dinghy class holds good today, but on an International plane.
For the International Fourteen is one of the few classes that allows nations to design and build craft to their own ideas, and yet still compete on equal terms with dinghies of other nations; the modem Fourteen, as will be seen, draws its inspiration from many parts of the world.
As improving communications paved the way for a National dinghy class, so lack of communications was probably the main reason for the original wide variation in 14ft dinghy design. Each area, following its own thoughts and traditions, built with materials most readily available at a price locally acceptable, and once so committed was loath to admit any merit in other ‘foreign’ ideas.
The exact beginnings of racing in open centreboard craft are not clear, but it is certain that racing in 14ft. dinghies was taking place in many parts of the country, indeed world, by the beginning of the twentieth century. Prior to this, in the U.K. small boat racing on the sea was largely confined to yacht tenders, open boats with a large lug sail of up to 330 sq.ft.; they varied in size around 18 ft. o. a. and carried large lumps of lead as inside ballast as well as heavy centre plates — with no buoyancy.
This probably explains the open boat theme of the International Fourteen – for in those days the ability to sail such an open boat well was a true measure of seamanship ~ the penalty for the skipper who failed was dramatic – he sank.
An alternative idea was an open formula craft, the Decimal Three Dinghy, was typical, a simple clinker built boat with a standing lug and sometimes a jib. They were called Decimal Three because their overall length multiplied by their sail area divided by 6,000 had to equal .3, thus you could have a 13ft. boat with 138.4sq.ft. of sail or a 14ft. boat with 123.5sq.ft. of sail. The disadvantage of the system was that in heavy weather the larger boat with smaller sails won and in light conditions the reverse was true.
To get over the disadvantages of the rating system, small boat sailors turned to restricted classes and then one designs — and have been disputing the merits of each ever since.
The earliest known ‘one design’ unballasted, centreboard dinghy was the Dublin Bay Water Wag established by an Irishman, T.B. Middleton, in 1887 — originally 13ft. 6in. long, the class took ‘one design’ somewhat lightly and in the early 1900’s changed the length to 14ft. 3 in. The boats were sloop rigged with spinnakers and have some resemblence to early National Fourteen’s’.
Of the restricted classes, two types were to play a big part in this story, the West of England Conference Dinghy and the Norfolk Dinghy — both 14ft. long, both undecked.
The Conference Dinghy was started at Teignmouth in 1889. She was carvel built, sloop rigged with a tiny jib and a Solent lug mainsail 129sq.ft. in all on a 15ft. mast. Among the builders were Flemich, Kassal of Plymouth, and most famous of all, Pengelly of Shaldon, who was followed by Morgan Giles.
Morgan Giles, who was destined to play a vital part in the class history, later opened a yard at Hammersmith on the Thames. These W.E.C. dinghies were sea and estuary boats — and proved extremely popular in the Navy, being referred to as ‘Pengelly Skiffs’. The principal W.E.C. Challenge Trophy was a match race ~ preliminary races being sailed East and West of Start Point. The Finals were held at a suitable venue on alternate sides of Start Point.
In Norfolk, at this time, a very different type of craft had been evolved mainly for use inland, to the rules of the Yare and Bure Sailing Club, clench (clinker) built with a single lug sail (140sq.ft.), and with 80lb. plate. The principal builders were William Mollet of Norwich and Alfred Burgoine of Kingston-on-Thames.
Interesting points about Norfolk dinghies were that they believed in development, a few even sported very long rudders, the idea being to increase the waterline length of the boat — the idea was not a success. Others had solid masts without shrouds, the crews being expected to lie full length along the narrow gunwale when on the wind to reduce windage.
The early days of small boat racing on the Thames was confined to a menagerie class of open centreboard boats collectively known as ‘Gigs’, all raced on handicap on the old Yacht Racing Association formula of length and sail area. Construction was either carvel or clinker and they had to be open as opposed to decked craft. They were designed more for use in smoother waters rather than rougher conditions of the Conference craft.
In the early days control of racing also tended to be local. On the Thames the Sailing Boat Association, founded in 1888, held sway with the Y.R.A. rules modified for inland use. The Y.R.A. was only interested in larger craft, so in the early 1900’s the rival Boat Racing Association came into being. The B.R.A. later made an attempt to get a National class going when it adopted a 14ft. half-decked class based on the West of England Conference dinghy.
In 1911 Morgan Giles wagered £50 on a race between a Conference dinghy and a Norfolk dinghy. The races took place on the Broads and in spite of Norfolk winning the first race as the other boat was late at the start, the sloop-rigged Firefly (later International 233) designed and sailed by Morgan Giles, decisively beat Irene with her balance lug by 4 races out of 5. Twenty or so years later the sloop versus cat rig was to be re-fought on an International plane during the first team races between Britain, Canada and the U.S.A. and again the sloop was to prove the better.
Another interesting Norfolk boat of the period was Kismet, designed by Morgan Giles for Harold Morris, father of Stewart Morris; she was designed to take every advantage of the rules and proved highly successful. However, her very narrow bows, coupled with her rig being set well forward made her extremely difficult to control off the wind in a blow. Some years later she passed into the hands of Colin Newman who swept the Broads with her.
One night, unknown to the owner, the boat was removed from her mooring, brought ashore and measured. She could not be faulted, she was returned to the water, in those days a boat had to stand so much weight on her gunwale when afloat — a stiffness test, again she could not be faulted. However, further weights were added until she passed the limit. Then knowing how much weight was required, the rule was later amended and KismetSafety First, (48) and the following year, again carried all before him on the Broads. Outclassed. Colin Newman ordered a new boat.
An incident that had far reaching results was brought about when an owner discovered a loophole in the Yare and Bure rules and started to experiment with a sloop rig on a Norfolk dinghy. The pundits noted this and ‘in one sail’ was added to the rule limiting sail area to 140sq.ft. and progress was halted in that direction. Throughout the history of yachting this battle between the rulemakers and those of an inventive frame of mind has gone on, and the importance of a development class is that it accepts this as a fact and allows continuous controlled experiment. However, to return to the sail incident — it had a most important sequel for it so incensed Leslie Lewis, a noted half-rater sailor from the Trent, that he determined to do something about it, and it was he who provided much of the driving force for the idea of a National Fourteen development class.
In 1914, just before the First World War, Gann of Teignmouth designed a Conference Dinghy Chip (198) which played its small part in this history, for she had the fine entry and long run which is often believed to have been originated in the middle 1920’s. After the First World War, Chip was thought to have been the first Fourteen to have Marconi or Bermuda rig with a 25ft. mast, 23ft. hoist (weighing 15 lb). She also had a track for her gooseneck, with a square pin for reefing.
Following the First World War, the B.R.A. merged with the Y.R.A. when most of its members were elected to the Council of the Y.R.A. Within a few months of the end of the First World War the Y.R.A. published rules for a National 14ft. — rules that had been written by Morgan Giles for them (see page 110). The Y.R.A. believed there was a need to bring the many local classes together. But this rule at first attracted little interest.
Strangely, at that time, the International 12ft. dinghy, a one design, not to be confused with the present National Twelve, did prove popular, both Nationally and Internationally, and was built in some hundreds, and yet by 1963 had all but vanished, except in Holland and Japan, for being one design it was outclassed in this country by newer sloop rigged 12 ft. dinghies, the National Twelve and the National Firefly.
In November 1922 a Marine and Small Craft Exhibition was held at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, at which Leslie Lewis read a paper supporting the idea of a National Fourteen Dinghy Class. The meeting called on the Y.R.A. to convene a meeting of interested parties, which they did on the 14th February at the Piccadilly Hotel with Major Philip Hunloke in the chair. Again Leslie Lewis presented his case, the basis of which was that experience had shown that a well designed 14ft. dinghy was equally at home on sea or inland – in other words a good boat was good in any circumstances – and that it would be to everyone’s advantage to have all 14ft. dinghies adhering to one set of rules. This gathering discussed at some length the development of dinghy or open boat racing and as a key issue, resolved to form a body with representatives from various parts of the country to control and develop the sport. This was known as the Small Boat Committee, which later became the Y.R.A. Dinghy Committee. Its first Chairman was Sir John Beale, who was to guide the development of dinghy sailing so skilfully over the next twelve years and to whom the International Fourteens owe so much. From this point the idea of a National Class was at last to get under way. It is interesting to note that in these early days there were many who were worried about cost — indeed a strong move was made to get a price limit built into the rules, but the move was defeated it being claimed that it was impractical and in any case batch production could bring down costs. It was suggested that an excellent dinghy could be built for £4 a foot.
Overseas, Fourteen racing had been taking place since the late 1800’s. In Canada, the originator was believed to be a Mr. I. Wilton Morse. Around 1897 he built a 12 ‘ dinghy, and then a 14 ‘ version which proved very popular. The Lake Sailing Skiff Association (L. S. S. A.) soon adopted it as an official class and they drew up the class rules. A number of people then designed and built boats to these rules including George Aykroyd, T.B.F. ‘Bing’ Benson and George Corneil. Over the years these designs were gradually refined but without making radical changes. They were clinker with a max beam of 5 ‘ 7 1/2 “, mm beam 5’. All were plumb stemmed and sterned with very fine bows, quite fine sterns and slack bilges. They were decked although Decks in fact were optional, and carried a gaff cat rig with 140′ sq foot of sail. Construction was of Canadian white cedar and they were light compared with International Fourteens of the 1930’s. The L.S.S.A. Fourteens were raced most enthusiastically in Toronto and Hamilton areas and proved very seaworthy little boats.
Most important Canadian dinghy Trophies date from around the 1900’s and the first recorded International competition between 14 foot dinghies took place on Lake Ontario in 1914. This was for the Douglas Cup, which Canada wan and held until 1921 when the Americans built, challenged and won with ‘Gloriette’. She was built on the ‘waveform’ theory with a hollow bow and hard bilge. She was also cat rigged but with a Bermudian (Marconi) rather than Gaff main which proved markedly superior and started a gradual swing, as in the UK, away from Gaff rig. Although the latter were retained for heavy weather where the ability to reef, spars and sails was an advantage.
By 1928 over 170 L. S.S.A. Fourteens were recorded in the Toronto/Hamilton area and they fitted in to the International Fourteen rule except for decks and lightness, and so it was relatively easy to introduce the International Fourteen. But it was not until 1959 under the C.D.A. that Canadian Fourteens fully matched the International rule. The L.S.S.A. continued with its own rules and in 1963 boats were still being built and raced under them.
In America, in the early days, greater interest seemed to be in racing sailing canoes, and it was through them and to a lesser extent the Canadian Fourteens that America came into the International Fourteen fold.
In Australian waters Fourteen racing was also taking place in the late 1800’s. But their craft evolved in a very different way. The origins, as in the UK and Canada were rowing craft of various sizes. Sail was used when the wind was in the right direction as an additional means of propulsion. It was not long before they were being raced for fun by working sailors. To bring some uniformity, various restrictions in length etc were introduced. The common feature of all Australian open boats was the tendency to pile on more and more sail (up to 400 sq foot on the Fourteen’s class) with long booms and vast bowsprits featured, in the search for greater speed. To balance the rig so number of crew was increased. A typical Fourteen foot craft could have a crew of 6 to 8. It was not until 1956/57 that the Australian open boat class finally evolved into their present farm when they discovered with ‘Darkie’ that by reducing both sail area and crew, and using lighter boats, a faster all round craft could be produced. So that today it is possible to race Australian Fourteens and International Fourteens together without either being hopelessly outclassed.
Under the drive of the Y.R.A. Dinghy Committee the concept of a National Fourteen at last meant something and for the next few years, although keen racing was to be found in many places, the centre of interest was Cowes, where in 1923 the Island Sailing Club – formed many years before to encourage open boat racing -asked Charles Nicholson to design an open 14ft. dinghy. A fleet of dinghies was soon established, tough, deep hulled, clinker built craft, costing about £35, with sloop rig and often a short bowsprit. Among the builders of these craft was one Uffa Fox, of whom more later.
Generally speaking all these craft still showed their link with the yacht tenders from which they originated. They were more in the tradition of the general purpose dinghies. Being sit in rather than sit out craft. Reefing being a key factor in rig control and indeed some of the craft had deep hulls, so the crew would sit inside and not offer the same windage as would sitting on the gunwales. The Admiralty or R.N.S.A. 14ft. dinghies that went out of service around the 1960’s were similar in character being developed from them by a committee of the R.N.S.A. in 1935 and some idea of the difference in performance can be gained by comparing the Portsmouth Handicap of the 1960’s, of 115 for the Admiralty 14ft. with the 88 of the then International. But Cowes was now to witness a battle that was to change the concept of the Fourteen from that of a yacht tender to the out and out racing craft that we know today. First Morgan Giles challenged the Cowes clinker craft with one of his carvel, U bowed dinghies and proved it the better boat. This prompted Uffa Fox to reply by designing his first dinghy, Ariel, which in its turn beat the Morgan Giles boats.
Uffa Fox had served in the R.N.A.S. and R.A.F. during the First World War and he applied the knowledge he had gained in working with flying boats to small boat design and construction. With Ariel (62) built in 1925 Uffa cut down the ‘Towering topsides’ of the native Cowes boats. She was carvel built to a design halfway between the planing shape of today and the U bowed Morgan Giles hulls. She had a sliding gunter rig with a roller reefing jib; fittings and gear were reduced to minimum weight but not at the expense of strength, for Ariel was still sailing in 1963. In 1926 Uffa designed Radiant, a deep, V-d boat designed to knife her way windward and run fast with little hope of planing. With her Uffa conducted many experiments on the position of mast, centre plate and proportions of head sail to main, and arrived at a formula which was to be the guide for the class for the next thirty years; in this 20% of the sail plan was in the jib, 80% in the main, which brought the mast about 4ft. from the stem. Under the I.Y.R.U. rules only 85% of the fore triangle is measured and the overlap of the jib is free. Uffa also devised a formula for the hull -3 beams to a length — giving a 4ft. 8in. beam for a 14ft. hull.
It was during 1926 that the Trent Sailing Club challenged the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Y.C. to a three boat team race in Fourteens — thus was started the famous ‘Trent Inland Waters Challenge Cup’.
Meanwhile in Canada an event took place which had an important part in the Fourteen story. During a Royal Tour, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales was taken sailing in a Canadian 14ft. dinghy. He seemed to enjoy the experience and on his return, through the good offices of Commander Lawford, presented a Trophy for the National Fourteen Class. Little did he realize how important this trophy was to be, that it would become the most coveted trophy in the dinghy world — the Prince of Wales Cup — the P.O.W. – which became the proving ground for new designs and new helmsmen.
The P.O.W. Cup was first sailed for in 1927 at Cowes, 41 boats entered and the course was a reaching one with no proper beat. The winner was Irex (78), designed and built by Bruce Atkey of Cowes and sailed by his son Cecil, 2nd was Radiant (63) Uffa Fox, 3rd Vamoosa (98) Morgan Giles.
In these early days the number of a boat gave no real clue to its age, as blocks of numbers were allocated to fleets as they became established and it took some years for owners of older boats to register in the National class.
At this time the joystick or tiller extension had not been invented and to make it easier for the skipper to sit in the middle of the boat many of Ernest Woods boats had tiller and yoke steering connected by wires while one — Marcel Wave (41) went still further and had a complicated wire and pulley ‘reverse effect’ steering.
At the Y.R.A. meeting in November 1927 it was proposed to apply to the I.Y.R.U. for International Status for the British National Fourteen. To this end the rules were again modified, the principal alterations being: –
Thus modified the rules were submitted by Sir William Burton to the I.Y.R.U on October 15/16, 1928. Not without some opposition the class got International Status for then, as now, different countries had their own ideas as to what class was best to encourage and at that time many felt the 14ft. was far too small.
The rules of the class remained basically unchanged until the 1970’s and the soundness of them demonstrated by the wonderful boats produced which were pleasant on the eye and able to perform well, both in sheltered inland conditions and in fresh weather on the sea.
Overseas, in North America, during this time, events were following a similar pattern. They were quicker to adopt the Berumda sail than we were, but the sloop rig did not find favour, and the boats remained catrigged until 1932. However, one undesirable characteristic was becoming apparent; in the search for greater speed the entry of the dinghies became progressively finer. The masts were solid and heavy and set well forward. The result — the boats became more and more unstable, so much so that they had to be held upright when in the water until the crew got aboard. The masts which weighed 30lb., varied from stiff to highly flexible. Normally they were about 2ft. from the stem at which point the hull was 3ft. wide. The hoist of the sail was 23ft. 6in. To add to the weight problem the smallest sail track available was of heavy 5/8in. metal. In those days people still believed that weight meant strength and few had any idea as to the strength of material required by dinghies. Many owners improvised track with brass and alloy strip on wooden battens.
1928 was one of the vintage years for the Class, one in which the pattern for the future was laid. Sloop rig was in, the single sail rig was out, having proved less efficient and resulting in boats that were hard to control. The design of the boats showed rapid improvement under the fierce competition of Morgan Giles and Uffa Fox. By
By the end of 1927 thirty new boats had been built, and in 1928 thirty-one more boats were completed. Among them was Avenger (135), most famous of all dinghies.Avenger was far ahead of her time. Out of 57 starts she made in 1928, she finished first 52 times, including in the P.O.W. Cup, second twice and third three times; and in case it should be thought she was not seaworthy, Uffa sailed her, three up, a hundred miles in stormy conditions across the Channel in 27 hours to Le Havre to race and win against the French, and then sailed home in 37 hours. Avenger set the pattern for dinghies for many years to come. She had a fine bow (although not as fine as today), with prominent V sections seadily developing into a very flat floor. Her greatest depth was a third of her length from her bow. She was narrow, 4ft 8in. beam and her transom 3ft. across. She was carvel built. Her mast was of interest; up until that time spars had been limited to 15ft.6in., for the reason that most boats travelled by rail in those days. The 14 hull was the largest that could be sent by train for 6/- (30p) anywhere in England and the mast the longest size that could be carried by standard goods wagon for 1/6 (about 7p). This restriction had up to now prevented a Bermuda rig. However, Uffa produced a jointed mast similar in principle to a fishing rod, with the top mast fitting into a metal sleeve revived years later by Bruce Kirby with his highly successful Laser. Although this made Bermuda rig possible, it was not very strong, being liable to fail on compression and being extremely difficult to keep straight, and so
on the rule was amended to allow all-in-one masts. This advance had its disadvantages in that it made the boats harder to sail in a blow, as with gunter rig the spars are reefed with the sail. At a later date at least one Fourteen, Tim Too (295), was to be produced with a reefing mast, the mast being mounted in a tabernacle mast thwart and so arranged that the heel could be lowered to the keelson. Avenger’s real advantage was her ability to plane. She was the first true planing dinghy with a good windward performance. Other Fourteens planed on occasions. Avenger would pick up her skirts and go at the slightest provocation — it became the rule rather than the exception. On the wind Avenger was just as efficient. In 1929 sailed by Alan Colman she came 4th in the P.O.W. Cup, she raced in the 1939 P.O.W. and then dropped out of the news. After the war she spent some time in the Midlands and then on the South Coast — where sadly she was abandoned but was found and is now being restored so she can end her days in a museum.
Sixth in the 1928 P.O.W. Cup was Snark (27) sailed by Mrs. Richardson. This boat was a Conference dinghy built in 1911 and the winner in 1912 of the B.R.A. Championship at Burnham-on-Crouch — the Cup she won then, is now the Morgan Giles Trophy for the first lady home in the P.OW. Race.
An interesting story of the period concerns Sir Edward Stracey; he commissioned both Morgan Giles and Uffa Fox to build a dinghy to beat the best the other could design. Uffa’s boat, the more successful, was Scoulton Pie (177) and Morgan Giles’ Scheherazade (182).
By now a characteristic dinghy was beginning to appear, superbly built, originally single skinned 5/16 in. later reduced to 1/4 in. This proved rather prone to leak and a double skin was substituted with oiled silk between the layers. Apart from a few built without ribs — ‘boneless wonders’ – which proved not stiff enough. Sea Serpent(250) built in 1931 being the first. Most Fourteens had Canadian Rock Elm ribs of about 3/32 X 1/4 on 2 in. centres. These added materially to the torsional strength of the hulls as well as showing off their shape and workmanship. The majority of British Fourteens were built in this manner until 1949 when the moulded-ply boats appeared. It is certain that these Fourteens of the late 1920’s and 30’s were some of the finest examples of boat building craftsmanship ever produced in the world.
The dilemma of the class was that in producing these beautiful, efficient and exciting craft, they had also substantially raised their basic price. In 1928 Morgan Giles designed, and H. Cole of Leigh built, four low-price dinghies for the Leigh Sailing Club; they cost £35 each. One of the owners recalls his chagrin when they arrived at Lowestoft, having sailed up in a 200 ton ketch with the dinghies on deck, and found that they were up against dinghies that had cost up to £100. One of these Leigh boats Argo (136) got fifteenth place, to her owner’s delight.
Over the years repeated attempts have been made to build a successful low cost, high performance Fourteen, and at least two classes, the National Twelve and the National Merlin Rocket, owe their existance to those who felt the International was too expensive. The Fourteen owner has always demanded perfection and up until 1963 none of the low priced boats had ever seemed to match the performance of their more expensive sisters, that is not to say they were not good, just that no-one seemed able to prove they were.
In 1929, 35 more boats joined the class and among them Uffa produced Daring (201), a refinement of Avenger, flatter aft with a wider transom designed to improve further her planing ability; she won the P.O.W. Cup in 1929. Among her innovations were an inboard rudder at the end of the plate case, this proved too fierce and was discarded, she also had a hollow mast with the halliards inside, and her mainsail set in grooves on the mast and boom. Neither of the last two ideas was entirely new, but Daring was to mark their general application to racing dinghies.
The 1930 P.O.W., postponed for two days due to light winds, was won by Golden Eye (225) built by Uffa Fox, but designed and sailed by Tom Thornycroft. She was very different from the Uffa boats, being more rounded and having the U bow shape characteristic of the Morgan Giles boat. In 1931, at Ryde, Morgan Giles won the P.O.W. in heavy weather by 5 seconds in Catherine (258), capsizing as he crossed the line. He took the lead in the final run by using his spinnaker when others, on account of the weather, had left theirs ashore. It was at the start of this race that an owner was said to have cut 3 ft. off the top of his mast while awaiting the postponed start. This race was to be the swan song for Morgan Giles as a designer in the class, although he went on building and sailing Fourteens for another five years. From now on until the coming of Austin Farrar in 1950, Uffa Fox was to dominate the class. By the end of 1930 the pattern of the International Fourteen was firmly established and the pace of development and building slowed up. Generally speaking each year’s boats – an average of 20 a year – were to prove marginally superior to their predecessors. Owners could now be reasonably certain that their boats would not be quickly outclassed. It is often held against development classes that they date too quickly, but a study of results show that only in the late 1920’s and again in the 80’s could this be said to be true of the Fourteens and this was due to the whole concept of the class having changed.
Also at this time an attempt was made to get the class established on the Continent, but although boats were raced in Denmark – Paul Elvstrom sailed one as a boy – in Germany, Spain and France they failed to make any lasting impression. Many reasons have been given for this, amongst them the comparative high cost of a Fourteen, the Continental preference for one-design boats, the different type of boat, long, heavy and slim which was popular, and the fact that they did not fit very neatly into the metric system. Also, as in the early days of open boat racing in this country, lack of effective communication – Yachting journals had not the international circulation they have today – tended to make each country inward looking.
During 1930 the first lightweight plates were fitted, one being the Tim Too, another in Dazzle (181), the latter’s plate weighed 17 lb. and being made of untreated alloy, came out in pimples as soon as it was put in salt water; a coat of varnish however cured that problem. Dazzle was later fitted with a 32 Ib. plate. She also had a roller jib which reached 15 ft. 6 in. up the mast. As there was a tendency for the jib to go even higher up the mast resulting in breakages, the Dinghy Committee brought in a limit of 14 ft. This fixing of the height of the jib was later introduced by many other classes of dinghies and yachts.
In 1932 and 1933 the P.O.W. was won by R.I.P. (267) with Stewart Morris at the helm. In the thirty-eight Prince of Wales Cup races up to 1970, Stewart started in 34, finished in the first six in 24 and won the trophy 12 times. A record that no-one has yet approached.
Uffa writes in one of his books (Sailing Seamanship and Yacht Construction by Uffa Fox. Published by Peter Davies Limited) of how R.I. P. came to be built and receive her unusual name. ‘When I met H.A. Morris (Stewart’s father) at the Easter All-in Meet at the Tamesis Club in 1930, he told me of his aches and pains, and agreed to my suggestion that he was only walking about to save funeral expenses. I said, “Why not have a new dinghy built, she’ll finish you off and you can be buried in her”. The idea tickled him so much that he ordered and named R.I.P. right away, and throughout her designing and building we wrote letters describing her successful race against Charon across the Styx and his astonishment at being beaten for the first time upon his own waters’.
R.I. P. was a development of Avenger and in fact she had been leading the fleet in the 1931 P.O.W. when in the fourth lap she partially filled and in seeking calmer water inshore had hit her rudder on the bottom and lost a pintle. R.I. P. was later sold to George Ford in the U.S.A., renumbered U.S.1., and became the pattern for several of the first American ‘Internationals’. At that time an interesting comment on the North American type 14ft. dinghy was made by George Ford — “The old boats we used to sail were unseaworthy and required an acrobat to keep them from capsizing. Due to this trouble we could not interest many people in sailing them, but we feel sure your type of boat (the International 14ft.) will alter this.
In 1932 the kicking strap or boom vang made its appearance aboard Wilfred Godfrey’s Swift (246). In fact it later transpired the first craft with it was Scott Freeman’sKestral (160) of Upper Thames. The idea having been developed by him and a friend Mr Daniels on Model Yachts in the 20’s, whilst Douglas Heard’s Huff (247) sported the first halyard winches – the most sinful of all devices, if critics of the class are to be believed. Huffs winches were attached to the mast. The first boat with winches inside the mast was Tim Too.
Masts were also going through a change at this point. In the early days before hollow spars many boats had bamboo spars. Today bamboo has a strangely old fashioned ring about it, but in the 1920’s bamboo proved a highly efficient medium, being light in weight, strong, flexible yet able to retain its shape – a typical bamboo mast weighed 16 1/2 lb., a boom 4 lb. As the dinghies developed, so the rig became more complex; the original Bermuda rig had one set of spreaders and often a topmast forestay, with one, two or three shrouds on each side. As the jib overlap increased so it became necessary to devise a different rig to allow the jib to set more efficiently, and the ‘bird cage’ rig of three sets of spreaders, jumpers, etc., was devised by Uffa and became standard for many years.
With design stabilising, a new technique of sailing had to be learned as, unlike the older boats, the modern planing hull had to be kept upright at all costs. No longer could one sit in as the boat ploughed along on her ear. From now on it was a question of getting right out, if the boat was to be kept going.
Across the Atlantic events had been taking place that were to bring the Fourteens on both sides of the Atlantic under the same rule. In 1930 the Canada Cup Races for 8 metres were held at Port Charlotte, Lake Ontario. One day when the racing had finished early, C.D. Mallory, later founder of the North American Yacht Racing Union, proposed a race in ‘Gloriette’ type dinghies. Because of the strong wind, the race was run between two piers jutting out into the lake, an area of about half a mile by 150 yards. The boats were cat rigged with Bermuda sails and, true to Canadian dinghies of the period, had very fine bows. Four contestants took part, Clifford Mallory, Chris Ratsey from Cowes, Herbert Stone, Editor of Yachting, and Peck Farley, who was to win the race. Because of the high reputation of the contestants the event attracted a large crowd. The race was keen tough and terrifying. The word terrifying is used deliberately as there was a beat to the mouth of the piers and a run back in the most confused of seas, caused by the waves from the lake ricocheting between the two piers; with single-sailed unstable boats, the result was spectacular. After the race C.D. Mallory ordered a similar dinghy from Charles Bourke of Toronto for his son. It arrived some time later just as he was leaving his home for Newport to be a guest on board Enterprise during her trials to defend the America’s Cup against Shamrock V; He took the dinghy with him, One day fog prevented the ‘J’s’ from racing, but the harbour was clear so he sailed the dinghy round the harbour and over to the English camp. The boat attracted much interest and inevitably a rousing debate was started between him, Charles Nicholsan, Chris Ratsey, Major Heckstall-Smith and others on the merits of the British and American Fourteens. Following this, correspondence began with Sir John Beale in England with the object of arranging a match between Canadian and British dinghies. The Americans got to hear of it and an article appeared in Yachting an the speed of Canadian dinghies. This was replied to from England by G. Prout and before long the match had become a three cornered affair — the date, September 1933, the place Oyster Bay (Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club). The British team: Argosy (259) Mrs Richardson, Daring (201) David Beale, son of Sir John Beale, and Telemark (268) Alan Colman. Three other boats were taken for the Americans to sail, includingArrow (241). The Canadians sailed cat rigged boats. One American team sailed Canadian type hulls (one boat being cat rigged, the other sloop rigged), while the other American team used the borrowed International Fourteens. The races were sailed in fresh 20 knot winds. The British team won by a narrow margin from the Canadians but, of the fifteen races sailed, the International Fourteens won nine. Two points about the British boats impressed their hosts, their ability to lie to moorings and the way the British boats could plane. The basic difference between the two types were:
|Sloop Rig 125sq.ft. s.a.||Cat Rig 140 sq. ft. s.a.|
|100 Ib. metal drop keel deep and narrow||From 50 Ib. wood or alloy, wide boards, held down by shock cord|
|Hollow Mast and boom||Solid Mast and boom|
|Hull: sharp entry, beam carried well forward||Hull: sharp entry, fine bow, little beam forward.|
The event had been a great success, and as a result Sir John Beale arranged for a British team to accept the invitation of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club to send out a team to Toronto in 1934.
Again it was an American, Canadian and British affair, and again our team came from the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club.
Stewart Morris was Captain, sailing R.I.P. With him were Peter Scott, Eastlight (318), John Winter, Lightning (290), and David Beale with Canute (322). Uffa Fox was team manager. Britain won impressively against teams of mixed cat and sloop rig, beating the Canadians by 3 to 1, and the Americans in all three races sailed. The Americans and Canadians were at last convinced and the International Fourteen was accepted – although it was not until 1959 that the Canadians fully came into line with the I.Y.R.U. rules.
The 1934 P.O.W. Cup in light weather was won by Lightning sailed by John Winter, close behind him was Mrs Richardson in Magheralin (323) — the second occasion that Mrs Richardson had finished 2nd in the P.O.W., the highest place to date to be achieved by a helmswoman of the class. This was to be Ladies’ year, as another boatJoanna (213) finished 5th with Mrs Tracey at the helm. 1934 was the first year when boats had to have 200 Ib. of buoyancy instead of 112 Ib., 80 Ib. of which had to be within five feet of the bow.
In the winter of 1934/5, Uffa designed and built a boat for Leslie Lewis in which the beam was increased to meet the needs of the owner’s long legs. This was Daddy Long Legs (334). Uffa used to pick the best of his previous year’s designs and make it the theme for his new dinghies — he would then adjust the basic design as withDaddy Long Legs to meet the needs of its crew — thus each boat was custom built for its first owner.
Alarm (347) built for Stewart Morris, had her buoyancy tanks built into the hull in the form of two side tanks carried well forward of amidships while the bow tank came aft 4ft., and had a breakwater at the mast thwart designed as a tray to catch spray and drain it into the centreboard box; she also had two American foot pumps. In AlarmStewart won his third P.O.W. in fresh winds at Osborne Bay. There were those who thought the automatic bailing devices had helped him in his task, so the rules were altered at his request to bar similar devices. Neither Stewart nor Alarm were deterred as, with the offending items removed, they won again in 1936 in much worse conditions. Alarm also had the first thwart stepped mast, but this was not a success as it tended to bend too much. Her centreboard was also of interest, being a deep streamlined shape as opposed to the then popular hatchet shape. Like R.I.P., Alarm’s design achieved fame across the Atlantic, her lines being used for the large fleet of U.S. 14ft. One-Designs.
Overseas development through the 30’s and early 40’s continued apace both in Canada and America. Charles Bourke was the leading helmsman designer in Canada while in America the pace was set by Gordon (Sandy) Douglass. Gordon has achieved fame as a designer, builder and sailor of canoes. Through the 1930 International canoe matches in America and England, he became a great friend and admirer of Uffa Fox. The Rochester Gang of International Fourteen sailors; George Ford, Chuck Angle, Norm Cole and Lew Howard, unhappy with the quality of existing American built Fourteens observed the standard of Douglass Canoes, and asked him to build Fourteens for them to Alarms’ lines. This he did with great success — some of his craft ending up on America’s West Coast. In the early 40’s he was the first Fourteen builder to appreciate the advantages of the recently introduced ‘Vidal’ method of moulding hulls. The cost of traditional ribbed Fourteens, with some 7000 copper rivets having to be hammered home for each hull, was already a problem. So he ordered from the US Plywood Corporation, what is believed to be the first moulded Fourteen. Again Alarm’s lines were used and 25 US One Design Fourteen were taken from it before the mould was accidently destroyed. After the war another Alarm mould was constructed and 150 more One Designs’ were taken from it. But under International competitive pressure, the One Design concept of America Fourteens started to break down as owners modified their craft to keep pace with the Canadian and British International Fourteens. ‘Sandy’ Douglass considered that toe straps were also wrong for general sailing as they limited the effectiveness of husband and wife teams. Allowing male crews to sit out and use their weight more effectively than their female counterparts! In any event in American the ‘One Design’ idea, while an outstanding success at the time, demonstrated another problem that is still with us, namely the need of a development class to restrict the speed of change to encourage professional builders. Builders need reasonable runs to allow them to recover their setting up costs. The problem is that this sometimes tends to turn the class temporarily into a ‘One Design’. But to return to Sandy Douglass, the Alarm story was not over. The mould was sold to another builder and 800 more Alarm hulls were produced, but rigged with the popular America ‘Snipe’ sail plan and sold as the Jet 14 — thus the Alarm lines of the 1930’s must be by far the most common hull of any Fourteen.
At the end of 1935 Sir John Beale was taken ill, and on the 3rd of December died. Thus dinghy sailing lost one of its greatest supporters and the Fourteen Foot class a wise and valued friend. He had been chairman of the Dinghy Committee since its inception, and had given much of his time and no little money in the interest of the sport he loved above all else – dinghy racing. At the time he was taken ill the Dinghy Committee had on its Agenda a plan to bring together the various local 12 ft. classes in the same way as the Fourteens thirteen years before, and in 1936, the National Twelve class was started as a trainer class for younger people who could not afford an International Fourteen. It quickly became a National Class in its own right. From now on the Fourteen was to meet competition from an increasing number of new National classes — although the problem was not to become acute until the 1950’s
In 1936 it also became apparent that a rule change of the year before had had undesirable results. Originally the boats had to weigh 225 Ib. stripped, the metal buoyancy tanks not being weighed with the boat. With the introduction of built in tanks an allowance had to be made for the weight of them. The stripped weight was therefore raised to 245 Ib. As the allowance was too great, the boats became heavier, and being heavier were less inclined to plane, so a new design with much more V’d sections was produced. The object was to produce a hull that would knife its way to windward and only plane in fresh winds. It proved very unstable and at the end of the year the rule was changed back to a minimum all up weight of 225 Ib. with a restriction on the maximum rise of floor aimed at preventing the class splitting into two types, sea and inland. Daybreak (365) was one of these V’d boats built by Uffa for Peter Scott. Another, in fact the first, was Tiercel (363) specially designed for H. Scott Freeman for use on the Thames, with lower freeboard forward to save windage. Tiercel proved extremely fast in light airs and to windward, and has had a long and successful career. She also was fitted with the shortlived semi-wishbone rig as was Adler (362) owned by James MacDonald. The wishbone rig was ruled out on the grounds that it could not pass the 4″ circle rule which the boom had to pass through and the half wishbone was out as a permanently bent spar.
In this year a very different hull shape made its appearance; Henry Curtis Hall of New Rochelle, U.S.A., argued that a wide flat boat would be more stable and so more powerful, thus the helmsman would not have to spill wind and throw away driving force. Nicknamed ‘Flat Irons’ they had very fine bows — shades of today — and with less rocker than usual they proved to be very fast although inclined to broach. Uffa built one for Chris Ratsey, Hawk (364), which won the P.O.W. in 1939. However she had her first success on the Clyde in 1936, when after the P.O.W. a match race was arranged between Alarm sailed by Stewart and Hawk, sailed by the Ratseys. The trophy, given by Clifford Mallory, the then President of the North American Yacht Racing Union, was for a match race between a dinghy of American design and a British design. In brisk conditions Hawk went into the lead; Alarm then went ahead on the close reach, but on the run had trouble with her spinnaker. Hawk having set a large spinnaker, tore down wind and back into the lead with both her crew sitting on the transom, and finally crossed the line the winner.
The Clyde meeting, which was sailed in very heavy conditions, was the first occasion on which an all wood centreboard was fitted to a British boat. Painted the colour of brass – it was fitted in Daybreak by Peter Scott. Also of interest was the three boat-aside team racing between ourselves and the Americans who had recently returned from Denmark, and their victory over the Danish Fourteens. The British team consisted of Stewart Morris with Alarm, John Winter with Lightning, and Peter Scott withDaybreak. The Americans brought over R.I. P., sailed by George Ford, also Tartar, W. Tarr and Ha Ha, Ed. Pillsbury. Britain won all three races. Two months later, the Canadians came over to Lowestoft. Their boats still did not conform entirely to our rules, being somewhat lighter; in fact one was 190 lb. another 215 Ib. They had canvas foredecks with a zipper down the middle, also seen in National 12’s of the era and side decks. Their plates were streamlined wood, ballasted with lead at the bottom, weighing 45 Ib. All boats carried a small compass. The British team was the same as for the American races, with the addition of Afterthought (371) James Beale. The Canadian team consisted of Chinook, Charles Bourke, Cavalier, Atwell Fleming, Maple Leaf, Harvey Bongard and Lisbeth, Walter Windeyer, Jnr. (who won the Dragon Gold Cup in 1960). The Canadians won the series by three races to two.
Afterwards a meeting took place to try and bring the two types of boats closer together. The Canadians brought an interesting device with them, which was subsequently banned. This was a harness worn by the crew with a cleat in the middle of the wearer’s chest; to this he attached the jib sheet, allowing him to sit much further out without so much strain — the beginning of the trapeze.
1936 also saw the introduction of the Itchenor Gallon — a trophy that rates high in the class, the first winner being Stewart Morris in Alarm.
The following year, Uffa built Thunder (388) for Peter Scott. Her shape was similar to Alarm, but with a finer bow and a long clean run, a theme which year by year was to be followed with an occasional diversion right up to the present day. Thunder had a 60 lb. ballasted centre board.
With Thunder Peter Scott won the 1937 P.O.W.; 32 seconds separated the first three boats.
The following year Peter Scott and John Winter, each having won the P.O.W. commissioned Uffa to design and construct them a boat, Thunder and Lightning (409).
During the P.O.W. Race of that year at Falmouth the ‘Establishment’ of the class were somewhat surprised to find Peter Scott lying outside the boat with his feet on the gunwale, supported by a harness attached by a wire to the hounds. The first trapeze had arrived.
The origins of the trapeze came from a device ‘The Bell Rope’ which Beecher Moore had rigged on his ‘Thames Rater’. This was a rope attached to ‘the hounds’ on which the crew was expected to hang by his hands – in a similar way to native craft in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. Peter Scott and John Winter had crewed Beecher and they, together with Charles Currey and Uffa Fox, refined the idea by adding the hook and harness, allowing the user to hook rather than hang on. The equipment was developed in great secrecy with Uffa building a special stronger mast. Thunder and Lightning won, using the trapeze with Peter Scott and John Winter alternating as crew and skipper while Charles Currey also used a trapeze on his Fourteen. But the trapeze did not find favour, as it was felt that it was hardly in sympathy with the traditions of the class, and in any case could not be used by many boats on confined inland waters. Taking their lead from ‘The Mikado’, the dinghy Committee asked Peter Scott to draft the rule banning the device, so the trapeze joined the sliding seat which had been rejected some years earlier. Thunder and Lightning was also designed with an outsize genoa lift. on the foot, but this was unsuccessful on such a narrow boat. In the Autumn she was shipped to Toronto with Mirage (410), Colin Chichester Smith, and Thunder, Charles Currey, to race against the Canadians who were represented by Wigeon, Charles Bourke, Lisbeth II, Hank Hill, and Lady Kate,Jack Wright.
Canada won in light conditions by three races to one. During the winter months of 1938, the Dinghy Committee decided to tidy up the rules of both the International Fourteens and the National Twelves – one innovation being the compulsory annual buoyancy test.
In 1939, the Island Sailing Club celebrated its Jubilee and it was appropriate that the class which had had such constant support from the club should come to Cowes for the P.O.W. This was won by Hawk, the first time since 1931 that the race had gone to a boat not designed by Uffa. On the Monday of P.O.W. week in somewhat hectic conditions, 33 boats had started but only eight finished, which had prompted the question by Captain Boyd of Yachting Monthly, as to whether the boats were as seaworthy as they should be, and whether life-belts should be carried in all boats, as they were in Canada, where the Race Committee could order all competitors to wear life jackets by means of a flag signal.
One boat competing during P. O.W. week was Preface (426), another attempt to produce a low cost Fourteen. Clinker built, she was designed by Jack Holt and sailed by Beecher Moore, who finished 4th with her in one of the races.
By now, sail numbers had reached 430, the class was in excellent heart, competition was keen, the standard of sailing very high and the boats in an advanced state of development. Indeed there were those who said that they could not be further improved. But it was to be some years before anyone could prove the opposite, for the war soon put an end to all such pleasurable occupations in the U.K. although 14 sailing continued for a time in North America.
The war over, in January 1946 the Y.R.A. announced a date for the P.O.W., to be held in Torbay. During the year 39 boats were built, the majority by Uffa, but of these 16 were for export to Bermuda. Shorty Trimingham tells an amusing story. The boat he ordered was much delayed. Supplies for builders were hard to come by except for export orders, and Uffa, it was said, used to produce ‘Shorty’s’ boat whenever the Inspector called! Among the new boats were three more of the Jack Holt clinker design.
It was in 1946 that a second new Fourteen Foot Class was introduced. Just prior to the war, Uffa had designed the 14ft. decked Looe Redwing, with a heavy plate for use in the rough waters of the West Country. Uffa has never approved the introduction of lightweight plates believing they made the Fourteens less seaworthy. Now a syndicate of the Ranelaigh Sailing Club got together and for them Jack Holt produced a lighter, cheaper 14ft. restricted dinghy with decks, greatly increased buoyancy and a small high sail plan — the Merlin. The International Fourteen faced increasing competition from these and other new classes as they came along.
The P. O.W. Cup itself was won by Thunder and Lightning sailed by John Winter and Peter Scott. Using the same mainsail by Ratseys that had won the cup for Stewart Morris in 1932, John Winter in 1934 and John and Peter Scott in 1938 and now 1946.
T.R.H. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, sailing with Sir Philip Hunloke, Commodore Royal Yacht Squadron, attended informally to watch the racing. Also in the fleet were two boats imported from Canada, Coyote (424) and Negaunee (429), both were fast off the wind but not so good to windward.
The following year Uffa designed and built Martlet (507) for Stewart; a development of Alarm and Develin, being slightly more beamy and flat aft than the 1946 boats she was considered to be a good year ahead of her time. With her, Stewart, crewed by Martin Beale, won the next three P.O.W.’s. Another new boat of 1947 was Thor(501), belonging to Mike Ellison and Graeme Hayward, with one of the first effective angling plates. Also produced that year was the first known metal Fourteen,Salvation (509) — in fact she never got a certificate. Designed by Lord Avebury she was a mixture of round bilge and hard chine, had windows in her bottom and transom while a bicycle chain meandered along the centreboard case to control the position of the plate. Although full of ideas, she didn’t go very well. In 1970 another all metal Fourteen was built at Tynemouth but it failed to make a lot of impression on the fleet other than its ability to fill with water on the plane!
By now, nylon spinnakers were becoming popular. One reason was that, unlike the cotton ones, it did not matter if they got wet. Nylon also allowed larger spinnakers to be produced and from this point they were to grow steadily larger until the limiting factor would seem to be the strength and courage of the crew; 200sq.ft. being typical with the largest known being 300sq.ft. almost as much material in them as Dragon spinnakers. As designers become more knowledgeable, so spinnakers progressed from triangular to parachute and crosscut to spherical, all the time being carried on closer and closer reaches.
The 1948 P. O.W. at Cowes was interesting for a notable duel between Martlet and Tip Toes (521). Tip Toes, sailed by Colin Ratsey, was a development of the ‘Flat Iron’Hawk; she was fitted with a bridge thwart, on which were the fairleads and a snubbing winch. It was this device which was probably the cause of her downfall. The race was sailed in strong winds and Tip Toes led until the penultimate leg when Martlet, who had gradually closed the gap, caught up with her. Just then a heavy squall struck the fleet. Both boats had spinnakers flying and roared away in a cloud of spray. Tip Toes started to roll and it is thought her bridge prevented her crew from moving aft; she broached and that was that. Into 2nd place then moved Joyful (395) sailed by Paul McLaughlin, a member of that year’s Canadian Olympic Team. Finding Joyful — a boat he had been lent — rather wet, he had fitted strips of plywood below her gunwales, the start of wide outwales or ‘mudguards’ in the class. Also built during that year was Destiny (526), a boat with a prophetic name as it was designed and built by W.A. Souter.
At the end of 1948 Wyche and Coppock built a new clinker hull – Robin Hood (531) — costing £160, some £80 less than a carvel hull of the period. She was tested against a representative collection of designs at Rickmansworth and seemed as efficient as the others. In the following Spring at Itchenor, she sailed well, skippered by Bruce Banks, but although comparable in most respects to her carvel sisters, only a few Robin Hoods were built. With a reduced rig, the design was later to achieve fame as the Rocket, which was in turn to be amalgamated with the Merlin to form a second restricted National class. At least one Robin Hood Fourteen (594) was converted into a Merlin Rocket. Probably one of the main reasons for the failure of the Robin Hood was the introduction of the famous ‘Mouldies’ by Colin Chichester Smith of Fairey Marine. This was the end of an era, for the advent of synthetic resin glues marked the finish of the traditional ribbed construction in the U.K.— the last boat to be built by Uffa in this way being Windrush (597).
The Fairey boats, designed by Uffa, cost £220, a figure not far removed from the pre-1939 level. Moulded dinghies had already been built in America since 1942 and Canada since 1945 — Paul McLaughlin summed up the great advantage when he said ‘You don’t take a sponge aboard, just a duster’; in the U.K. the Fairey Firefly, built in a similar way for the past two years, had already achieved considerable success. The Mouldies’ clean interiors made them a joy to maintain. In shape they were not very different from Martlet, and in subsequent years a succession of twelve Marks were to be introduced by modifying the original mould; they were all excellent boats but of them the Mark I was probably the most popular (over 26 were produced to this design) while the Mark III was considered by many to be the most successful. In general, bows became finer and hulls beamier and more powerful, whilst buoyancy was steadily made more efficient. The main disadvantage of the Faireys was their heavy shoulders which tended to slow them in a seaway. There were many who feared that these mass production methods would turn the class into a one-design, and to a certain extent their fears were justified, but the Fairey Fourteens played a vital part in keeping the class going at one of the most testing times of its career. Apart from the moulded hull, the Fairey boats also marked the introduction of metal masts to the class, rigged in the same ‘bird cage’ manner as their wooden counterparts; they had a spruce topmast, as at that time it was too expensive to taper metal masts in the modern manner. Of much slimmer section than contemporary wooden masts, they weighed 24 lb. complete, which with their low centre of gravity contributed in no small way to the Mark I’s noticeable stability. Some of the first Mouldies were taken across the Atlantic where they raced with considerable success. In Canada, Charles Currey, crewed by Tony Warrilow, and Peter Scott, crewed by Keith Shackleton, won some two boat team races, in which Canada, U.S.A., and Bermuda took part. Charles Currey later won the Governor-Generals’ Trophy, crossed into America, where he won the Warner Trophy and then went on to Bermuda to win the Princess Elizabeth Trophy.
1949 was one of the biggest years for building in the history of the class with no less than 43 new boats being registered – this may seem very small beer by comparison with some one-design classes, but as lan Proctor remarked ‘rabbits breed faster than racehorses, and no doubt boast about it’! The Fourteens have never gone out of their way to get numbers for numbers’ sake; all they have asked is a high standard of competition and the only times when the committee has had cause for concern have been when it seemed likely that insufficient talent was coming into the class to maintain the standards demanded.
1950 was to be a landmark for the Fourteens, firstly because a Class Association was formed — first Chairman being Stewart Morris; up until then the class had been controlled by the R.Y.A. Dinghy Committee. Secondly a new boat marked the end of the Uffa era.
The boat Windsprite (583), was designed by Austin Farrar, who in the next twelve years designed and built some of the most successful, but all too few, boats the class has ever seen. She was built by a cold-moulded process — the Faireys were all hot moulded, being cooked in an immense pressure cooker. Windsprite was laid strip by strip over the mould, each being glued and stapled into place. She was the second boat to be cold-moulded in this country, for Sorcerer (551) was built at home by Dr. Steavenson in a similar manner during 1948 and 1949 — but was completed with ribs. Windsprite was a very stable boat. She was rather more beamy and had a straighter run than the Mouldies of this era. Her inner planking was diagonal and outer longitudinal. Her forward buoyancy tank was much larger than usual, similar to that popular in the 70’s and early 80’s, but her side tanks still did not run the full length of the hull. She was most cleverly thought out by her designer and her owner Bruce Banks, being full of original ideas, among them a fully enclosed centre board case. The plate was controlled by two ropes that stuck up through the cover — pull one for up, the other for down. She also had the first successful automatic reefing gear. This was built into the mast. By turning a handle, the boom rotated, reefing the sail and the mechanism was so geared that at the same time the halyard was eased while maintaining constant tension, so allowing reefs to be taken in and shaken out whilst racing. The rigging of the wooden mast also was a departure from tradition, having a simple single swept spreader rig, (used by Uffa on R.I. P. in 1931), but with a set of jumper struts at the hounds. Windsprite was one of the most advanced and perfect Fourteens ever produced. She won the P.O.W. in 1950 in heavy conditions, in 1951 in light conditions, in 1953 and again in 1955, the most times that any one boat has won the race. She had many famous sisters, including Atua Hau (KZ 610) who won the P.O.W. in 1958, Warrigal (596) which won five replicas in five successive P.O.W.’s Dream (KB 28) which has had many successes in her home Bermuda, and also came 5th in the 1955 P.O.W., the year there were three boats of Farrar design in the first six. Farrar designs, up until 1963, been first home in half of the Post War P.O.W.’s.
In 1952 there were to be no notable developments. Some of the top helmsmen were away for much of the season in preparation for the Olympics. Mick Martin inMordicus (613), a Mark IV Fairey, won the P.O.W. at Seaview.
The next year Austin Farrar designed the well named Thunderbolt (635). Below the water she had similar lines to Windsprite. Above she was all new. For years the minimum width seemed to have a strong attraction for designers and rule makers, who feared hulls getting too narrow like canoes, but Thunderbolt’s topsides flared out, giving almost another 12 in. of sitting out power, without any increase in waterline beam. They also curved down – the bowler-hat shape — with the object of deflecting spray and splash downwards, later seen in Coronet and the 505. Among other changes were air-bags for buoyancy and a sloping transom set in 2 in. from the edge of the hull at the bottom. She was undoubtedly a very powerful boat, but her very stiffness caused her to break a lot of gear. Her excessive flare seemed greatly to increase windage, to upset the air flow in the jib and, when she heeled, tended to scoop up a lot of water. Also, when she did heel, the wind caught the flare adding to the heeling moment, and Thunderbolt capsized as readily as her less portly sisters. However, in a wild P.O.W. at Lowestoft, sailed by Jack Knights, she was more than holding third place when her mast vanished over the side. So Thunderbolt’s hour of glory passed. She is now in America, the home of her much more successful sister Windsprite.
Thunderbolt was considered by many to have undesirable features, with the result that the ‘string rule’ was introduced. This limited flare to 2 1/2 in. from the planking at any point. A maximum beam of 5 ft. 6 in. was also introduced as it was believed that excessively wide hulls would be both difficult to trail and handle on shore, and would also tend to be structurally weak. It was significant that none of the class experts thought it worth their while taking Thunderbolt over. But the fact that such an unconventional boat could be built within the rules pointed to the undoubted advantage that a development class offered the sailing world.
1954 saw the P.O.W. won for the first time by an overseas competitor. Held at Weymouth in a strong wind, the race was led by Brian Rowsell in Silver Cloud (608) from the start, but Shorty Trimingham of Bermuda, sailing another Fairey boat Barilea (KB 27) passed him in the third lap and went on to win. The finish of the race, for the boats immediately astern of him, provided an excellent example of tactics. Up to this point, no-one had used a spinnaker. On the penultimate reaching leg both Charles Currey and Stewart Morris overtook Silver Cloud and half way along the leg, Stewart suddenly broke out his spinnaker, too late for Charles, who was just ahead, to get his. Stewart roared up and obtained an overlap at the gybe mark. Charles gybed, but Stewart in Wildfire (607) could not, in the strong wind, immediately gybe. Charles inSunbreeze (653) luffed desperately under Stewart’s stern, rolled and took Wildfire’s wash over the side and half filled. Stewart tore away to take second place leaving Charles bailing furiously to get his boat going and finish 4th behind Silver Cloud.
It was at the Owner’s Meeting that year, that a strong case for transom bailers was made by Lt.-Col. Farrant with the object of allowing ‘draining while planing’. Whilst few wanted to change the open boat characteristic of the class, or to reduce the penalty for a capsize by making self-rescue too rapid, the majority felt that it was hardly good seamanship or even good sense for the boats to be quite so hard to right after a capsize. In the following year transom scuppers and suction bailers were allowed, each type being restricted to an area of one square inch, and the horizontal surface area of buoyancy apparatus increased to 15 to 23sq.ft. Self-rescue was now possible, although a capsize still carried a penalty of several lost minutes. These changes were to lead to a gradual change in the characteristics of the boats, in which they undoubtably become more seaworthy and some of their recent increased popularity can be attributed to this change. During the Trials to determine the best combination of buoyancy and automatic bailing, Golden Spray (658) was fitted with two experimental transom scuppers of about 7sq.in. With full permitted buoyancy and two suction bailers, the boat could be capsized, pulled upright, and planing again in a little over a minute — the Committee of that time thought this was a little bit too swift, but today 14’s are completely self draining, draining while planing has reached its logical conclusion.
Late in 1954 lan Proctor entered the class, designing Vitesse (650) and Soo-Perb (656). Soo-Perb, built by Chippendale for Mike Pruett, was designed to take advantage of the introduction of self bailers. She had a hollow flare amidships to the maximum beam allowed by the rules, but this faded out forward of the shrouds and aft of the helmsman’s position. Thus extra power was gained without excessive windage. She also dispensed with the heavy shoulders that up to now had been a characteristic of the class: her slim shoulders were designed to slice easily through the water and not to cause the bow wave to break away so abruptly. This proved beneficial to windward and also helped to get the boat on to the plane more quickly. Her aft sections were as flat as could be. Soo-Perb, now in Canada, was not sailed a great deal in this country, but she did achieve a 4th on points in the 1957 P.O.W. Her construction was unusual being triple-skinned, but with the outer skin covering all fastenings, leaving a completely clean and very attractive hull. Vitesse was very different, being the only Proctor Mark I in this country. She was designed as a light weather river boat with maximum rise of floor and low wetted area. In fact, she proved efficient both inland and on the sea but was not a fast planer. She was the first Fourteen to be cold-moulded by W.A. Souter of Cowes, and was completed in 1956 from a shell by her first owner, Alan Meikle. Her construction was unusual, the two inner skins of 3mm. plywood being laid diagonally, and her outer skin of Honduras Mahogany fore and aft.
The end of the period found the class somewhat on the defensive. Racing, it was true, was as well supported and as keenly contested as ever. But new construction had slowed right up. This was, in all probability, due to uncertainty as to which direction development could next best take. The rules were being re-written at the time and that, together with financial considerations, put a damper on new building.
The big change however was not in the class, but in the sailing world in which it found itself. In 1939 the class was significant both in terms of quantity and quality, and automatically attracted the keen dinghy sailor. In 1955, while the quality was still unsurpassed, so far as quantity was concerned the class had long since been outstripped by newer National classes, particularly hard-chine one-designs, only then just starting their massive build up. The hundreds of new clubs started in response to this boom in dinghy sailing generally ignored the International Fourteen. In the main they sought an inexpensive, easy to sail, trainer for their usually inexperienced members. But it is also true to say that the Fourteens as a class made no real attempt to sell themselves, being quite content to remain as they had always been. So nothing was done to challenge the misleading mystique that was allowed to grow up that the Fourteen was only for supermen in sailing skill and pocket.
The Olympic classes were also tending to attract some of the talent that once would have gravitated to the Fourteen. In years gone by the class provided an essential reserve from which were to come many of the successful U.K. helmsmen in Olympic and other International events. The tendency now was for the Olympic hopeful to concentrate on the Olympic class of his choice.
In the long history of the class, there had been similar moments when the future had seemed uncertain. But then as now coming events were to confound such pessimism
The coming of terylene was probably the best thing that could have happened to the Fourteen, for it upset the established pattern of the class. Old rules were challenged, designers and owners took heart and the class began once more to expand. A development class must develop if it is to prosper, and develop and prosper the Fourteen did.
The first terylene sails made their appearance in this country in 1955. To those accustomed to the perfection of cotton the first suits looked quite terrible but they did seem to make the boats using them go better, the reason being that the sails were smoother and more impervious than cotton. The big advantage of terylene was not immediately apparent; this was that it allowed bigger roaches and hence bigger mainsails. In 1956 an armament race began, as owners vied with each other to set the biggest possible sail, adding to the roach and the fullness. In the end the sails were such that they would only just hold their shape, by which time the unmeasured area of mainsails had increased by 10 per cent. In 1957, the R.Y.A. Dinghy Committee decided the experiment had gone far enough and that further expansion was not in the interest of the class, so the half and three-quarter height formula was introduced, which limited the free area of the sail, preventing freak shapes whilst leaving room for experiment. Shortly after the I.Y.R.U. laid down that sails had to be of woven material and capable of being stowed in sail bags, as it seemed possible that development might lead to sheet plastic sails — indeed a plastic jib had been tried at the P.O.W. of that year by Bruce Banks. The objection to plastic at that time was based on its short life.
The Americans were for a time unhappy about the precise details of the sail area formula, as they already had sails in excess of its limits. The matter was settled amicably by increasing the limits. When the formula was introduced, roaches were exceeding 33 in. outside a line drawn from the head to the clew. These larger mains were to set off a chain reaction. To restore balance the masts and then centre boards were moved back, thus reducing the main and exposing more jib and allowing longer spinnaker poles, which in turn meant larger and more efficient spinnakers. With masts further back, the shrouds had to be moved back, which made it increasingly difficult for the crew to sit far enough forward to keep the boats balanced fore and aft. So hulls were made less buoyant forward and more buoyant aft.
To return to 1956, Austin Farrar designed a new boat for Stewart Morris, Bolero (667), with which he won the P.O.W. Cup in 1957 and 1960. Her sister ship, Polyester(728) sailed by Michael Peacock won the P.O.W. Cup in 1963. Bolero was a development of Windsprite with a transom six in. wider. Forward she was completely different, the keel line being lowered from the stem to the mast by 1/2 in. producing a hollow section near the keel — the chicken breast. The purpose was twofold, to give the bow more bite to windward especially in a seaway and to maintain a hollow waterline entry when the bow was lifted on a close reach plane. She was a wonderful boat to windward, but in her early years a little disappointing in light airs off the wind.
Bolero had a big bow tank, a mast support in place of the mast thwart, making it easier for the crew to cope with the spinnaker and the side tanks adjacent to the crew’s position hollowed out to allow efficient use of floor toestraps. She was also fitted with a Fairey Marine mast with its traditional ‘bird cage’ rigging.
The P.O.W. in 1956 was sailed in very light conditions at Torbay — the race took five and a half hours — and was won by David Thorpe in Wildfire (607), who took the lead in the last lap from Sorcerer (551), Dr. Robin Steavenson, crossing the line a length ahead of him.
Another interesting Farrar boat to the Bolero shape was Calypso (676) which had been finished from a shell by the three Scott brothers. This was their second Fourteen, the other being Catalina (668), which they had completed the year before. Calypso proved to be one of the most successful amateur-finished boats to date, coming third in the 1957 P.O.W. when sailed by Bill Scott. Fourth was Witchway (675) Dr. Robin Steavenson, another home finished boat. The growth of do-it-yourself in the class has been one of the notable features of these years. While few have built complete boats, many have purchased a shell and finished it themselves — and some of these amateur constructed boats were every bit as well finished and proved just as efficient as their professionally built counterparts which has been of equal importance oversea’s where professional builders are not as readily available as are in the U.K.
In 1958 there was a return to International racing, with team races at Cowes between Canada, New Zealand and Great Britain. The Canadian team brought over three of their boats, Moonbeam (KC 133), Bruce Kirby, Ite (KC 93), Paul McLaughlin, Wee Wit (KC 199), George (Bud) Whittaker. The New Zealanders brought two and borrowed a third, their own boats being Atua Hau, Geoff Smale, a home finished Windsprite shell, and Calypso (NZ 7), now Calypso II(710) – which had been built by its owner, lan Pryde. Britain was represented by Bolero, Stewart Morris, Surprise (639), Mike Peacock, and Wmdsong (687), Bruce Banks. Each team had to race against the others three times, and at the end of the series, New Zealand and Canada had each won four races and the United Kingdom one. The sail-off took place in extreme conditions, the wind gusting up to 33 knots on the last leg. Canada won the race and the series with a 1st, 2nd and retirement — one of their boats losing its mast during the race — but New Zealand put up a gallant fight. At the last buoy they lay 1st, 2nd and 4th; then one boat split her mast, but managed to finish under jib alone, while another lost her rudder, capsized, was got up and finished with her crew hanging on to the stern acting as a rudder.
However New Zealand was to have her revenge in the P.O.W. that followed, Atua Hau coming in first, five minutes ahead of Ite, one of the biggest leads ever seen in a strong wind. She also won the Old Boats prize!
All the overseas boats were of interest, generally they were much more simply finished off, the Canadians had expanded plastic buoyancy rather than tanks. Calypso had a bulbous forefoot and high freeboard, and like Atua Hau had her mast 8 in. further aft than usual and her plate further back to compensate, thus, for a small reduction in main, the boat had a longer spinnaker boom, a more effective jib and better balance. By the year’s end, the class were busily moving masts and centreplates aft. Both boats also had centre main sheets, but this was not to achieve much interest for a few more years. Another factor in Atua Hau’s success was her perfectly cut sails which were made by Geoff Smale and frequently adjusted by him during the week. But it was the NZ designer of Calypso Des Townson who held the view that the 14’s of the day were “unbalanced” who initially decided to move Calypso’s mast aft from the accepted position of the day. When Calypso first appeared she proved much superior to Atau Hau which was then the dominant 14 in Auckland. Geoff Smale then decided to follow suit and moved the mast aft on Atua Hau ( a Windsprite Design ) and found a noticeable improvement in her performance.
The mast position on Atua Hau and its effect on the fore triangle and spinnaker performance were the subject of much comment in the reports of the regatta in the NZ and UK yachting magazines and it was assumed that Atua Hau and her crew was responsible for the concept of moving the mast aft, whereas it was Des Townson who had the idea for a development that had a significant effect on a class, which had designs from all the leading centreboard designers of the day.
At the Owners’ Meeting at Cowes the New Zealanders suggested that full-length battens be introduced, as they had proved popular in their own country. Although it was acknowledged that they increased sail efficiency they failed to get much support at that time.
Another new Proctor design Mk IV made its debut during the year, Mazurka (697) built by Bossom’s of Oxford. She later became a great success in North America.
In 1959 the first Proctor all-metal masts appeared on the scene. In this era two basic types of masts had been popular, the Fairey mast of small section with the traditional rig of three sets of spreaders, etc., and a wooden topmast for those who wanted the minimum weight aloft, and the Farrar idea of a wooden mast with single swinging spreaders for those who wanted a clean air flow.
Now Proctor introduced tapered metal masts of somewhat thicker section than the Fairey mast, but with the single spreader rig.
Later he introduced thinner section masts, but they were not initially successful, although interest in them revived in 1964 when with a modified ‘bird cage’ double instead of triple diamonds they were fitted in several boats. Shdi (796) took simplicity to the ultimate having no rigging on her mast other than forestay and shrouds. She also had no winches. The trend in the 1960/70’s had been to dispense with the jib halyard winch as being too slow in operation and substitute a Highfield lever and this in turn led to the removal of the halyard altogether the sail being fixed to the mast, tension being adjustable from the foot of the sail.
During 1959 Fairey’s produced their version of a low-priced Fourteen. It was a standard hull of the period with bags instead of tanks, slatted side seats which drew their inspiration from the Canadian visitors of the year before, and no chrome, winches or other luxuries, but Fairly Easy (704) as she was then called failed to attract much interest. The year was also of note because it saw the P.O.W. won by Charles Currey — a helmsman who had been at the top of the class for some years, but who, up until then, had seen the P.O.W. elude him. A study of the Replica winners — the first six in the P.O.W. — up until 1988, shows a select body of other skippers whose names appear frequently as runners-up, among them Mrs. Richardson, Mike Ellison, Sam Waters, John Prentice, Phil Morrison, Keith Goulborn, Richard Ewart Smith, Jon Perry, Colin Davidson, Robbie Storrar and James Hartley.
In the Spring of 1960 the first of the famous Proctor Mark V’s made their debut. The story behind them is worth recording. John Prentice having commissioned lan Proctor to design him a boat, looked around to find a builder. He approached Souters, who agreed to build it, but to bring the job down to an economic price, suggested an order for a batch should be placed, to cover the cost of the mould. John Prentice placed the order and then set about getting rid of his surplus boats. The Mark V’s had a stormy introduction but proved their undoubted potential at the 1960 P.O.W. week at Falmouth. With a much finer entry than the Fairey boats, they went extremely well, but seemed dogged by bad luck. This was to be a week when experience and skill counted far more than the latest hull shape, and the running was made each day by Stewart Morris in Bolero, Bruce Wolfe in Mayfly (663) and George Moffat of America in the borrowed Truculent (654). Ordinary mortals in whatever boats they had, simply fell in. Nevertheless, the Proctor V’s were well to the fore.
By the end of the year, many of the experts were placing orders for the beautifully built Proctor Va’s. This was the same shape as the V’s, but with more freeboard forward, the original design having proved rather wet.
In 1961 the much maligned Proctor VI was introduced. When it was learned that both Stewart Morris and Bruce Wolfe had given up their VI’s, loud was the sucking of teeth. But it was discovered that their angling centre-plates were angling the wrong way: with this adjusted, Barrie Perry sailing Scandalus (747) — Stewart’s old boat — finished third in the 1961 P.O.W. and 2nd in 1962, and achieved many other successes. The Mark VI was flatter aft than the V and had more wetted surface; she was at her best off the wind in a fresh blow.
The development of drop keels, centreboards or plates has seen almost as much change as the boats themselves. The early ones, which were operated by winches, were of phosphor bronze and weighed from 100 to 150 Ib. They often had a square or hatchet end giving increased area without increased draft. Gradually plates became lighter and more streamlined, being made of wood with lead ballast – about 60 lb. — on the end. Then came the all wood streamlined shape we know today, operated with the minimum of tackle, and held down by shock cord. Angling plates were introduced into the class in 1946/47, although the principal had been known at the turn of the century. The modern Fourteen angling plate sets at about 3-5 degrees to the centre line of the hull, and the lift so engendered cuts the tendency for the hull to fall off to leeward. The 1976 re-write of the rules allowed dagger plates but no one in the U.K. took advantage of it until 1983 when Phil Morrison designed William (1141) — and since then practically all new boats have had dagger plates for unlike the National Merlin Rocket and National 12’s no attempt was made to ban them in the interest of inland (shallow water) sailing.
Another new design of 1960 was Audacity (732). David Miles and Gerald Durbin developed her from their successful one-design decked 14ft. Mercury class. She was constructed in a novel manner, being made in sheet ply but with moulded sections where the sheets joined at the turn of the bilge, giving the appearance of a moulded hull. She was somewhat lower priced than the Proctor boats and boasted one of the first successful Wykeham-Martin roller furler jibs. Her deep hull was to prove of great benefit at Whitstable in 1961. In some of the wildest conditions in which an attempt has ever been made to sail the P.O.W. she was leading the survivors of the fleet, 7 out of 50, by a leg and a half, when in the fourth lap, the race was stopped. During the race, the seas were reported as being 6ft. and 7ft. from crest to hollow. At least one boat broke its plate on the bottom between waves. The wind was recorded at 35 knots, stronger in the gusts. After the race, the seven who were left were awarded special prizes, including Mrs. M. Birkett who was helming Bolero. The re-sail of the P.O.W. which was held on the Saturday was won by Stewart Morris in Gossip (767).
By now the fleet was re-equipping with new boats. Between 1960 when the first Proctor V’s appeared and 1963 — 86 new boats were constructed, and for the first time the size of the P.O.W. fleet showed a significant increase. Since the beginning it had hovered around the forty-to-fifty mark. Now it climbed steadily by about ten boats a year, until it topped 96 in 1963. This led to the suggestion that the time might have come to limit the entry. In the early days of the Trophy, there had been a similar move to have elimination races to keep the fleet down to eight or ten. but it was decided then that everyone should have a shot at the P.O.W. and that therefore the race should be of sufficient length to allow the fleet to sort itself out. However this was reversed at the Association A.G.M. in January 1964 when, by a majority of four it was decided in principal to limit the entry to the P.O.W. Race. The meeting, by a much larger majority, subsequently set the figure at between 50 and 65 boats.
Two new designs were introduced in 1961, Yeti and Mystere. Yeti(741) designed, built and owned by Guthrie Penman, was constructed of marine ply, with a small chine forward, aimed at assisting the bow to rise and to stop water running up and into the hull. She also had a small reverse chine aft. Her hull was deeply V’d and had buoyancy bags in fabric covers instead of the usual side tanks. Yeti’s proved excellent light weather boats yet with a good turn of speed in a breeze.
Mystere (770) designed by Farrar for Roger White, was a most powerful boat, with a slightly concave section in her buttocks, and a very fine bow that flared out abruptly to a knuckle 7 in. below her gunwale. This ran from her stem aft for about 5ft. From Mystere’s mould, Farrar produced the first British glass fibre hull, but although it caused a stir at the 1962 Boat Show, it failed to satisfy the Measurer, being, it was suggested, double hulled in places, a problem that was to cause International problems a few years on.
Meanwhile an the other side of the Atlantic, Fourteen fleets were flourishing in Canada, U.S.A. and Bermuda. Moulded and glass fibre boats were adopted by them much more quickly than they were over here, indeed, as has been mentioned, in 1963 we still had no glass fibre boats.
In 1961 a British team crossed the Atlantic for an International Team Race at Toronto; Britain was represented by Gossip, Stewart Morris, Gadfly (762) Bruce Wolfe, andYeti, Guthrie Penman: Canada, was represented by Nimbus (KC 127) Paul McLaughlin, Torch (KC 205) Bruce Kirby, and Caveat (KC 222) Ward McKimm; U.S.A. withCrescendo (U.S. 701) Glen Foster, Salute (U.S. 666) Stuart Walker and Bacalao VIII (U.S. 689) George O’Day; Bermuda with Dream (KB 28) J. Hartley Watlington,Guinea Pig (KB 25) Dick Harris and Pibroch (KC 212) ‘Shorty’ Trimingham. Conditions for the racing were difficult, the wind as was expected being very light, only once up to planing speed, and there was a slight slop;
in the end Canada won with 7 races, Britain 6, U.S. A 4 and Bermuda 1, but the racing was extremely close the result often depending on who was last. At the end of it no one type of boat had proved superior but the American sails had attracted favourable comment as had both the Canadian and American spinnaker drill —4-5 seconds for spinnaker down and foresail drawing, although the tendency was for them to roll the jib rather than lower it. In 1963 a return match was arranged in Bermuda, but with four- boat teams. Conditions were somewhat more breezy which suited the British team who won with 7 victories, the U.S. A. having 5, Canada 4 and Bermuda 2. Of the fleet racing, seven were Proctor V’s, two Proctor VI’s, four Kirby II’s (glass fibre) and three Farrars. The British team consisted of Gossip, Stewart Morris, Scandalus,Barrie Perry, Polyester, Michael Peacock and Ariadne, John Prentice.
In North America by 1963 the tendency was for more and more boats to be made of glass fibre, the two most popular Canadian designers being Kirby and Fuller. The boats themselves were becoming simpler and simpler in layout. Proctor masts and centre mainsheets were widely used. Centreboards were becoming wider with blunt leading edges. Flat jibs with afoot measurement of from 8ft. 6in. to 11 ft. and full mains were the order of the day. C. Smith of Toronto developed a sail in which both the foot and the hoist of the main were passed round the roping but only bound at the corners. This allowed, great variation in draft by tensioning which resulted in most of the boats carrying a two or three part outhaul adjustable from the crew’s position.
In 1962 the P.O.W. was held at Weymouth, and the week was dominated by an American, Glen Foster, sailing his Proctor V Crescendo (U.S.701). He won three races, one by nearly nine minutes, another by five and a half minutes. But, on the big day, after a hard fought battle between Crescendo, Scandalus and Gossip, Stewart won, and the best that Crescendo could manage was 3rd. Glen Foster had filled his boat with most interesting gadgets, all of which worked. The one that attracted most interest was his centre mainsheet, a most complicated arrangement of blocks and slides, which the crew, Charles Forsberg, confided, could have only been designed by a yachting psychiatrist. The device allowed the helmsman either to play the mainsheet in the normal way, or to jam the mainsheet and play the mainsheet traveller, which allows the mainsheet to be eased without letting the boom rise. Crescendo also had plastic fairleads in her gunwale, into which the jib sheets could be slotted when reaching. Two new designs were introduced during the year. Both were low-priced, both were hard chine, and as neither did very well, both were soon dismissed. One was Conquistador (797) designed by Michael Jackson for David Thorpe. She was made from sheet ply and had a flat bottom, and her transom sides were steeply V’d. Her total cost was under £100 but, unfortunately for the low priced boat brigade, she could only manage the middle of the fleet. The other boat was Shdi(796). John Shelley, a New Zealander, designed her with experience gained in designing and sailing the New Zealand Cherub class, itself a development of the National Twelve. She was made of ply with a rounded forefoot, her mast 5ft. 5 in. from the stem and she sported a huge jib, which reached to within 2ft. 6 in. of her transom, and was set on a roller reefing pole. Unfortunately her sails were poor, much of her gear too weak and she spent most of the week in one form of trouble or another.
At Torquay the next year it was to be a very different story, for Shdi came into her own. With new sails, a smaller centreboard and rudder, without her jib luff spar and with stronger fittings, she spent the week in the front half of the fleet, coming 2nd on points. Out of the week’s races she was in the first six in four of them, winning one.Shdi was the first hard chine Fourteen to win a major trophy. Here at least was a low-priced Fourteen that seemed to have the performance of her more expensive sisters. Another interesting point was that, as she was designed from the outset to be sailed by a lightweight crew, she was given an easily driven hull, with a main smaller than usual. In common with Yeti, who was also at her best with a lightweight crew, marked a return to Uffa’s idea of matching the characteristics of the boat with the vital statistics of the crew.
Other new boats in the fleet were Proctor Mark VII’s with a fine entry, less rocker and less wetted surface than either the V or the VI’s. They proved fast, but seemed a little unstable down wind. John Prentice had one, Artemis (802), which had plastic fairleads for the jib let into her gunwale. There was also a new Farrar boat built by John Fisk for Simeon Bull, Le Mirage (828); she had a knuckle forward, but her bow and stern sections were less extreme than her predecessor Mystere. She also had less ‘chicken breast’ and reduced beam. Her hollow water line was carried well aft from her radiused stem. She had four suction bailers, as it was found that by measuring the smallest bore in the bailer these could be fitted within the rule. She also had a large stern tank or quarter-deck and a winch for her centre board, the latter being made of foam-filled glass fibre. She had the stability that one expected from a Farrar hull, and was at her best on the heavier days.
Another new boat was a Kirby II, Full and By (805) George Bennion. This was the Canadian glass fibre design, translated into moulded ply by Souter but with the chines of the original design omitted; she had powerful shoulders and her rocker was well forward.
The main fashion to be seen in the class in 1963 was a variety of types of centre main sheets, which had proved popular in other classes and to which had been attributed much of the technical advantage of Crescendo.
The P.O.W.Cup of 1963 was marked by one of the most close fought battles ever seen in the class, between Crescendo, Polyester and Gossip, with Willowfly (812) Bruce Wolfe occasionally joining in the fray. At the last mark Crescendo was in the lead and it looked as if, on American Independence Day, the Cup would go to America for the first time, but it was not to be. On the final close reach, the more powerful and heavier crewed Polyester worked up to windward and ultimately through Crescendo’sweather. Meanwhile Gossip taking her only chance went for the leeward end of the line — all three boats finished within a few seconds of one another; Polyester being in the lead.
It has been said that Americans tend to confuse change with progress, while the British confuse it with treason. If for Americans, one reads Americans and Canadians, one has denned in the simplest way the major issue facing the ‘Fourteens’ in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. For communications, or lack of them, led to much transatlantic bickering. Fortunately, this was confined to the upper echelons — the grass roots in each country remaining in blissful ignorance of tensions in high places.
To isolate the cause of the trouble — which, in retrospect was probably no more than natural growing pains of an International class — one has to go back to the early days. Each country built to the same International rule, but control and interpretation was, by general agreement, in British hands. With Britain being the sponsor of the rule, and the I.Y.R.U. being London based, it was convenient for the British Dinghy Committee to act as spokesman for the class.
This worked well enough in the formative years. For the Yacht Racing Association (today’s R.Y.A.) Dinghy Committee was almost completely composed of ‘Fourteen’ owners. But as new classes were established, they were given a seat at the table of power, and the ‘Fourteen’ element was progressively reduced. This naturally enough led in 1950 (see page 30) to the formation of a British International Dinghy Owners Fourteen Committee. As it found its feet, so it assumed control of the class — although still reporting through the R.Y.A Dinghy Committee to the I.Y.R.U. In Canada and America, similar national committees evolved to represent their own Fourteens’ interests and promote their ideas. However, these bodies still acted through the British Committee in dealing with the I.Y.R.U. It became a matter of concern in some quarters that the British still worked through the R.Y.A. who were not unknown to refer proposals back. This, it was felt, gave the U.K. a second and unfair power of censorship over matters they did not favour.
By the mid sixties it was obvious that an attempt would have to be made to establish a better way of reaching an International point of view. The Canadians had submitted a detailed simplification of the rules. The West Coast Americans were experimenting outside the rules — including the general use of the banned trapeze. The New Zealanders, frustrated in their desire to promote their ideas — including fully battened sails – had gone their own way and successfully established the 14ft. development Javelin; while the British — enjoying a fourteen boom — were puzzled, to say the least, as to why anyone wished to change when things seemed to be going well.
But the mood was for more effective International control. Two things aided the formation of the World Association. The first was the re-establishment, in 1958, of team races on a regular basis. This resulted in a growing number of International Fourteen sailors in each centre who knew each other well. This naturally led to an interchange of ideas and a better knowledge of each other’s problems. Even if they couldn’t always agree on solutions, the class was beginning to think Internationally.
The second point was the declining influence of the British ‘Old Guard’. To them must go much credit. They had successfully built the class — guarded its interests zealously and given much time to promote the International Fourteen concept. They had done their task well — some would say too well, for in seeking to protect all that was best, they had slowed development to a point where reaction was inevitable. As Stu Walker said, ‘A development class must develop. All that is in question is the speed at which it should take place’. The art of management of a development class is to hold a balance between those who believe perfection has been achieved and those who think it never is.
This increasing clamour for change found the British in a peculiarly unsure situation. For years the philosophy of the Fourteens had, with popular approval, been largely in the hands of Stewart Morris. In the U.K.- and for many overseas — he was the unchallenged arbiter of what was right. Now he started slowly withdrawing from active leadership — leaving a vacuum that the U.K. Committee had collectively to fill. Their problem was that they had no specific objectives at which to aim — other than the survival of the class.
The device that symbolised the era of change was the trapeze. But, in fact — with or without it – the International Fourteens had reached a watershed in its career.
The era started quietly enough. In 1964 the U.K. fleet was at the height of a boom, 69 boats turned up for the Itchenor Gallon, and it took five general recalls to get them away for a race that was won by Stewart Morris. 85, then moved on to Lowestoft — a place renowned for tough sailing — for a surprisingly gentle Prince of Wales week, only the first day being rough. The rapid build-up of the fleet had worried many and the entry for the Prince of Wales Cup was limited to 50 — a move that proved unpopular and by general agreement was not repeated. Also tried was the one minute round the end of the line rule, which worked well and had been used ever since. The race was dominated by the one overseas competitor – Stu Walker — the man who, it is fair to say, rebuilt and re-inspired the American Fourteen foot fleet during the ’50’s and ’60’s. As Stewart Morris was the dynamo of the British fleet. Stu Walker was of the American. His boat Salute, was a Bolero hull with, for those days, an unusual extensive range of sophisticated sail and rig controls. With wind and tide conditions, most of the race was on the wind which was light N.E. Walker, crewed by Stovey Brown, went inshore on the first beat; led at the windward mark and was never seriously challenged. Stu Walker dived over the side as he crossed the line – the first American to win the Prince of Wales Cup. Second, after a close battle with Stewart Morris, was Mike Souter — sailing Sombrero, a new design by Bob Casson. She had a very fine entry — sweeping up to a pronounced knuckle, combined with a wide transom. Souter Cassons proved a highly successful design, being particularly effective on a reach. Other new designs were the Proctor 8, a development of the 5 — with greater stability and improved marginal planing capability; and a hard chine design by Greg Gregory – Shagbolt – the only boat built of this type proving particularly potent in heavy weather.
Among gear, jib rollers caught on rapidly, with a spacer on the forestay. Cunningham holes were being used more and more, while centre mains were still being flirted with.
Bruce Wolfe had the best record of the week with two wins. He also won the Crescendo Trophy, presented by American Glen Foster for the best performer in any two inland and three sea trophies.
In ’65 the Fourteens made their first visit to Scarborough for a generally rugged Prince of Wales Week. The Trophy was won by Stewart Morris for the 12th time after an exciting battle with Mike Peacock. Wind over tide made conditions unpleasant, but it was only blowing about 15 knots — although many believed it stronger. At the first mark, Peacock in his new Souter Casson, Buccaneer, and Morris in Encore (Kirby II) were a little behind the leaders, but both promptly hoisted spinnakers – which helped keep the boats on course over the large breaking waves — and rapidly left everyone else astern, with Encore gaining off the wind and Buccaneer on it. In the second lap Peacock had spinnaker trouble and Morris got through and went on to win by a minute — in spite of overstanding twice. Third was lan Cox in a home finished Souter Casson, Dismay. John Prentice had the best overall performance during the week. Among the innovations was the Gate Start which had been pioneered by the Fireflys and was now finding increasing favour as a practical solution to large fleet starts.
This was a team race year and with interest in the class growing rapidly in Canada and America, there was keen competition to go to the States. Britain was represented by John Prentice (Proctor 8), Mike Peacock (Souter Casson), David Hare (Proctor 5) and Andrew Green (Proctor 5). America: Glen Foster (Proctor 5), Don Doyle (Proctor 6), Stu Walker (Souter Casson), Sandy van Zandt (Fairey). Canada: lan Bruce (Kirby III), Jack Barber (Proctor V), John Nicholson (Buller), Fred Anfossie (Kirby II). The race was extremely close, but the British excelled at team tactics and had a more uniform level of performance. Britain won, with America second, Bermuda — whose fleet was on the decline — were unable to raise a team. Canadian Bruce Kirby’s designs were becoming increasingly popular and over the next few years the design mantle passed, for the first time, from the U.K. to Canada — only the Souter Casson offering any real competition. In North America Glass Fibre was being used more and more, for the only way to cope with the class expansion was to have on-the-spot builders and glass fibre was the most practical medium without going hard chine.
Canada — inspired by Graeme Hayward — put in a lot of work on the rules, trying to simplify them and make them more precise. The Canadian case was based on the need for uniform interpretation. The British were worried lest in the re-writing as many problems might be created as had been solved. Agreement was reached over most points — among the more obvious, larger transom holes and suction bailers. Over the next few years most of the proposals in the Canadian draft were incorporated in the rules. But the discussions over these rules pointed out the need for some better method of administration and from several directions came the suggestion that a world association might help.
At the end of the year Souters introduced a Mk II Casson — combining a moulded bottom with chine sides — but it did not catch on.
In ’66 the rate of building in the U.K. eased to 17 after averaging 26 a year over the previous five years — the class having seemingly another plateau of development — rumours of rule changes did not encourage new building. From Australia came signs of interest, but a three way correspondence — between America, Britain and some Australian Fourteen owners – failed to find a formula that could bring the classes together. The principal stumbling block was the ultra light weight of the Australian boat, 160 lbs. With glass fibre, catching on in Canada and America — no one wanted to “rock the boat’ by cutting the International’s 225 Ib. limit, as this was about the lowest weight to which a glass Fourteen could apparently then be built.
Meanwhile on America’s West Coast, the growing fleets there had brought back the trapeze — finding it just right for their conditions — these events demonstrating the problems of running an International development class.
In comparison with other classes, the International Fourteen continued to show up well — winning outright the American ‘One of a Kind event’ and the British one.
Prince of Wales Week was at Falmouth and 90 boats were racing for the Prince of Wales Cup in a wind of 15 knots plus. Stu Walker led at the first mark, but had spinnaker trouble, and the race turned into another Morris /Peacock confrontation — a repeat of the year before. Morris led right up to the last mark, but in the final reach Peacock worked up on his weather quarter and beam. Morris sailed higher. Peacock responded and they almost sailed to the centre of the triangle before bearing away for the line. Hoisting spinnakers, Peacock just held his overlap and won on the turn by half a length — Morris having to be content with the points Trophy for the week.
lan Cox introduced hooks on his shrouds, over which the jib sheets were led, providing a makeshift sitting out aid — but voluntarily did not use them; while Jeremy Pudney joined his rear tank tops together and was accused of having a deck. The committee and the R.Y.A said it wasn’t — by which time it certainly wasn’t, for he had removed it. Unfortunately the rule was not clarified and this was to lead to more serious problems in 1971. Meanwhile, at home, the design and build-it-yourself brigade’ were in full cry — including the first amateur British glass boat built by G. Singleton.
As Guthrie Penman handed over the chairmanship of the British Association to John Prentice, he warned members to look to the future — suggesting they should consider afresh the trapeze, and lighter shallower hulls. A British sub-committee — John Prentice, Stewart Morris, lan Cox and Tom Vaughan — reported in favour of bigger corrector allowances, allowing room for a future reduction in weight, a longer bottom batten and simplified construction rules. They were divided on the longer spinnaker pole, and against — on the grounds of cost — a higher fore triangle. They added a rider that the simplest way to step up performance was the trapeze. The I.Y.R.U. agreed to a 25 lb. corrector allowance, longer bottom batten, and twin skin glass fibre construction. The longer spinnaker pole was held over at Britain’s request.
Although they knew it to be unpopular with many of their leading owners, the British Committee decided on trapeze trials in the interests of International solidarity — only to be somewhat nonplussed when, at the Cowes owners’ meeting, both the Canadian and the American delegates spoke against it. This was later seen in North America; who thought these delegates would vote for it, as the U.K. seeking once again to dominate the class by nobbling their men, whereas, in fact, the U.K. had been prepared to go along with the majority (the meeting did, in fact, agree to trials), although they believed, wrongly as it proved, that its introduction must inevitably mean the end of the ‘big crews that had been such a feature of the class. But Ward McKimm’s draft rules for a World Association was agreed, with two delegates for each country. John Prentice was elected President and Richard Burley Secretary.
The Team races this year were held off Hayling Island, Canada — represented by lan Bruce (Kirby III), Ward McKimm (Kirby III), John Robenson (Buller II) and David Johnson (Kirby II) — looked like trampling over everyone, until the Americans — Stu Walker (Souter Casson), Bud Easter (Proctor V, clinker), Baird Bardarson (Kirby III) and Bob Reeves (Kirby II, glass) — made a fighting finish, giving the Canadians 4 wins, the Americans 3. The British — with one win — never got in the game; their team — Bruce Wolfe (Souter Casson), Mike Peacock (Souter Casson), Barrie Perry (Proctor 8) and Jeremy Pudney (Kirby III). Prince of Wales week was in Osborne Bay, 89 boats raced — including six Canadian crews, four American, two Bermudian and one Australian. It was noticeable — since the last visit to Cowes in “58 — how uniformity had spread through the fleet. No longer was it possible to spot the overseas boats as being obviously different from the U.K. ones. The Prince of Wales race was sailed in a typical Solent breeze. lan Bruce went into the lead from the start — and was never challenged — finally finishing 5 minutes and 56 seconds ahead of the next boat. The race will also be remembered for a titanic game of ‘last across’, when the Queen Mary sailed through the course on the first round, giving all but Bruce the choice of cutting close across her bow or waiting and going round her stern, giving up any hope of a good position. Five boats went ahead including Pudney and Peacock, who fought a close race, with Pudney second by 3 seconds. Pudney took the points trophy for the week.
Among points of interest — the increasing speed of recovery from a capsize, leading boats losing about 3 1/2 minutes and some 10 places. The Canadians and Americans had some interesting and very effective do-it-yourself masts: lan Bruce’s as simple as Stu Walker’s was complicated — Bruce’s starting life as a drainpipe costing him £15 and Walker’s ultra thin one starting out as an erstwhile TV aerial was thick with rigging to control its bend. Leading British boats were using glass fibre plates, while several Canadian and American boats were all glass. They also had shroud levers to allow the rig to go forward off the wind.
The Northern British Fourteen fleets were now building up in a most satisfactory manner – with a new fleet at Derwent Reservoir. Meanwhile — as proof of the effectiveness of the construction rules, a succession of veteran craft were discovered and restored — Tom Thornycroft’s pre-war Uffa was presented to the National Maritime Museum by Austin Farrar. During the year the British made ineffective attempts to try the trapeze.
The Canadians led by lan Bruce, turned out some beautiful glass fibre Kirby Ill’s — using his ’67 P.O.W. winner as a mould. His Kirby Ill’s, and later his V’s were highly successful and undoubtedly were responsible for the rapid build-up in Canada and America. The American Clarke Boats made a similar contribution in the States. In Britain, Jeremy Pudney ordered the first Kirby IV from McCutcheon. Designed to make the most of a chop, Windwhisper had a narrow bow above water, with more buoyancy below and well rounded sections that made her rather unstable in a blow off the wind, but she proved a very effective design.
Other new boats were a new round bilge craft for Jack Shiells — designed by John Shelley — with a long, narrow bow and pronounced chine amidships. She had a short slot for her centreboard — based on New Zealand practice — with a slot at the bottom of the mast to allow the plate to go forward into the front tank. There were several other attempts at do-it-yourself design – one of the most interesting, Owen Cracknell’s boat, formed from two layers of ply separated by foam. Unfortunately water got into the foam, making her uncompetitive.
Prince of Wales week was at Weymouth. 79 boats raced. lan Bruce returned with T’ief up – the boat used as a mould for his glass project — and retained the Prince of Wales Cup with another convincing win. The race was sailed in brilliant sunshine and a force 4 breeze. Jeremy Pudney led at first mark, but was recalled, having been over the line. Graham Pike, a young Merlin Rocket helmsman, sailed the borrowed hard chine Shagbolt into 2nd place, with Mike Peacock 3rd.
The class also turned out for a new open event on Grafham Water. Sixty-three boats raced for the Ranelagh Trophy, which was turned from a dying event on the Thames to the second largest meeting in the Fourteen calendar.
Finally, the I.Y.R.U. approved J+25% for spinnaker poles, furling as an alternative to lowering sails and an extra 3 inch arc for spinnaker halyard blocks.
The Trapeze issue was finally resolved in 1969 -31 years after it first appeared. The Canadians had already decided on their general use in national events, an event that caused concern because it demonstrated the difficulty of policing an International development class, the advantage too obviously being with any fleet prepared to take the law into its own hands (especially as the I.Y.R.U. were hardly likely to be interested in solving a class’s internal problems).
With America also committed, the U.K. fleet had little or no room for manoeuvre. But, in fact, they too had a clear majority in favour — the P.O.W. Week trials being agreed to 4 to 1 at the A.G.M. and the postal vote after the trials being an overwhelming 100-25 in favour. It was perhaps appropriate that the I.Y.R.U. meeting that approved the change was chaired by Peter Scott, the man who had started the whole affair.
Sixteen boats were built in the U.K., but the big problem was finding builders,. Souters had turned to bigger things. McCutcheon was fully committed for wooden craft mainly for overseas’ and some British owners imported Canadian glass boats. Harry Burthem provided one solution. His very basic hard chine do-it-yourself Manta — with its unique construction – attracted a great deal of interest, especially as it could be built for around £310 with sails and gear, compared with some £500 for a traditional one. A syndicate at Itchenor bought one for evaluation and found it competitive. It certainly offered young sailors a relatively inexpensive introduction to the class — and it was tragic that its designer should die so soon after its inception.
Prince of Wales week was at Llandudno, the first time it had been sailed in Wales. The Town was visited by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales after his Investiture. Seventy boats raced. The first two races, in a brisk wind, provided ideal conditions for trapeze trials. The general feeling was of approval, which was borne out by the subsequent vote. The Prince of Wales Cup was won, for the first time, by Bruce Wolfe, crewed by his brother Randolph. Bruce had been trying for the trophy since 1936 and had got in the first six no less than fourteen times. His boat — a Souter Casson offered few concessions to modern thinking — having a Fairey ‘Bird cage mast’, transom mainsheet, no shroud levers or jib roller. The race was started in a strong tide and near flat calm and it took over an hour for all to cross, many having been swept down tide and being unable to sail or paddle back in time. They were not aided by the Committee boat moving uptide 300 yards. Bruce Wolfe was one of the few who had foreseen what was happening and kept well above the line. He was chased home in a freshening breeze by Jeremy Geoffrey only seconds astern in a Kirby IV, with lan Bruce 3rd, sailing a borrowed Kirby III – having brought his own mast and sails.
The British team that went to Canada — Mike Peacock (Souter Casson), Jeremy Pudney (Kirby IV), Ken Merron (Kirby III) andJohnson Wooderson (Kirby II) — won all nine races against strong teams from Canada, America’s West Coast and America’s East Coast; while Jeremy Pudney, using a trapeze, then went on to win the Canadian Championships against 55 other boats.
At the meeting of the World Association, John Prentice handed over the Presidency of the class to Graeme Hayward, and Richard Burley relinquished the Secretaryship to Denis Young. Thus International control was clearly demonstrated, with the executive of the class being based outside the U.K. for the first time – a particularly appropriate happening as North America was enjoying a boom with over a hundred Fourteens being built to Bruce Kirby designs. It looked as if America might beat Britain in registering their 1,000 ‘International 14’. With Canada contributing another 400 or so boats, there were now nearly 2,500 Fourteens registered.
In passing, the work of John Prentice should be remembered — his sponsorship of the Proctor V — led to a rapid build-up of the class in the U.K. — and indirectly to the beginning of the boom in America and Canada. More important, his calm and impartial chairmanship of the World Association in its early days ensured him the confidence of the Canadians, Americans and British, giving everyone a chance to adjust to the new situation.
1970 really marked the end of what had proved to be a hectic, exciting and extremely successful era. At Falmouth 80 Fourteens — using trapezes — contested the Prince of Wales Cup, over the same water that the trapeze had been Pioneered by Peter Scott, John Winter and Charles Currey. Clem Noel in a Souter Casson led at first, then Arthur Raine, then Mike Peacock. But it was Jeremy Pudney, after a disasterous start — he was 16th at the first mark – who won the day in his new Kirby V (a more stable version of the IV). Jeremy had had only a few days to tune her — being on vacation from South Africa — but he and his crew, Peter Brazier, moved up rapidly, taking the lead in the 4th lap and going on to win by 21/2 minutes. There was an exciting finish for 2nd spot. Peacock close behind Pudney — filled at the end of the final beat. lan Cox closed and passed him to take second gun. Pudney almost equalled Stewart Morris’s record of winning five races in P.O.W. week, but lan Cox denied him the pleasure, by finishing first in the final race.
From a gear point of view — the longer poles were in general use, forestays were optional, while trapezes had encouraged the use of handy controls for the skipper, covering kicker, outhaul, cunningham, spinnaker pole, down haul and mainsheet slide on each side of the boat.
Whereas the Fourteens had once been famous for being the only class to use the more expensive go-fast gadgets – such as winches, mast jacks, etc. – now all high performance dinghy classes carried a similar array of costly hardware and the whole small boat racing scene tended to follow fashion in the newest devices. There were exceptions, although the spinnaker chute, used by several other classes, was seen at Falmouth, in general the class was unconvinced and waited to see if it would be fitted with real advantage.
New building remained at around 15 to 20 the average it had been since the class started (overseas it was extremely buoyant). Overall, more boats were being built than at any time in the Fourteen’s long career. More young people were to be seen in the boat parks — more than making up for older Fourteen sailors who were moving on to less demanding craft.
At the end of 1970, to everyone’s regret, Stewart Morris sold Encore — having apparently settled for twelve P.O.W. wins and twenty-four replicas for being in the first six — but the class was delighted when he accepted the newly created office of President of the U.K. Association. For forty years he had epitomized the Fourteen class — seldom being far from the front of the fleet or from any gathering that could further its progress — the class would miss their single minded champion.
If anyone thought, that the formation of the World Association would ensure a period of tranquillity, they were to be rapidly disillusioned. It is almost unbelievable, re-reading the bitter correspondence that flowed to and fro across the Atlantic, that people could get quite so upset over what, from nearly twenty years on, now seems pretty trivial stuff. But rules have a strange effect as Baird Bardarson commented at the time, ‘Rule arguing is a disease occupying a unique compartment. It is pursued with relish apparently uninfluenced by the usual constraints of reason, logic, ridicule or marital discord.’
The seeds of the 1971 problem lay in two areas. The Canadians had for some years been keen to simplify and tidy up the class rules to make more efficient glass fibre production possible — they saw glass as the answer to the shortage of skilled small boat craftsmen in North America. The British, tending to resist change, were always concerned with possible loopholes in any new rules. The other problem was that the Americans, at least some of them, were keen to move the spinnaker halyard hoist up a couple of inches to clear the jib halyard. There was some support for changing the rig rules but most people either wanted to move it a significant foot or more, or not at all.
There seemed to be no real problem when the British Team set sail for America having enjoyed a splendid P.O.W. at Lowestoft. Richard Ewart Smith won the points and lan Cox a dramatic breezy P.O.W. lan Cox gybed inside Jeremy Pudney at the last mark to wipe out his lead and snatch victory. It was these three, with John Prentice as Captain, who arrived in Annapolis for Team racing which was won for the first time by the American West Coast, Dick Rose, Baird Bardarson, Tom Rosmond and Dennis dark.
At the W.A. meeting, a number of points were discussed and agreed by the delegates. The Chairman, Graeme Hayward, issued a report saying that the decisions reached were now to be adopted by all National Associations. Result, uproar from Britain and the U.S., both of whom said that the World Authority had no right to order anyone to act outside the I.Y.R.U. rules, especially as some items that had been ruled on, had not been discussed by National Associations prior to the meeting. Their delegates therefore, had not been briefed, so had no right to vote. Graeme argued fiercely that he was only following existing practice, that it was the only way that the World Association could work and, that named delegates should have authority to commit their nations at these meetings.
The row spilled into 1972, with no real solution to the issue which had now become central, that the Canadian P.S.I. Fourteens had too much buoyancy and the British McCutcheon boats decks! The British set up a committee — Barry Perry, Larry Bates, lan Cox and Jeremy Pudney — to find a solution. The end result, so far as the World Association was concerned, was no progress as everyone ruled everyone else out of order! P.O.W. was at Parkstone, and due to lack of wind on the Thursday, was sailed on the Friday in equally tranquil conditions with the Hoad twins winning in a Kirby V, the Heath twins were second in a Kirby IV followed by Jon Perry (Souter Casson). Robbie Storrar won the points. Many of the fleet then moved on for a rare visit to Europe at La Rochelle. 1972 also marked the end of another era with the death of Uffa Fox.
There now seemed to be universal agreement that some re-write of the rules was in order. What was at issue was the degree of penalty for a capsize, how long before the boat was clear of water and racing again. In the past, the class had put a premium on seamanship, so that in difficult conditions the prudent reefed to minimise the chance of capsize. But as automatic bailing devices and buoyancy increased in efficiency, so the tendency was to put up full sail regardless of conditions. A rewrite of the World Association rules was also put in hand to try and overcome the various problems that had arisen. Not least, that of silence when asked in writing for a response.
In 1973, tempers cooled a little. Dave Johnson took over the C.D.A. from Graeme Hayward. P.O.W. was at Torbay and it was a Jeremy Pudney Benefit. He won both the points and the P.O.W., which once again had to be postponed because of lack of wind on the Thursday too, as it turned out, a more moderate Friday. Pudney led throughout but Phil Morrison in Snoggledog was closing for much of the race. Snoggledog was Phil Morrison’s first International Fourteen design, and it showed how long a good Fourteen design was competitive, winning replicas for the first six in P.O.W. in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1981. Team racing was at Seattle, the British team Keith Goulborn, Robin Webb, Jon Perry, and Dan Owen. The American West Coast, Dick Rose, Ned Backas, Baird Bardarson and Tom Rosemond won again. Jeremy Pudney was elected chairman of the World Association with Robin Webb as Secretary. Among the many famous names in the class, that of Jeremy Pudney is one that deserves comment for the special efforts he has devoted to the Fourteens. To many around the world he is ‘Mr Fourteen’. The class was fortunate to have someone whose job took him to most corners of the globe, so that he acted as a roving ambassador and diplomat for the class. Certainly the Fourteen we sail today is, in no small way, the result of his single minded enthusiasm, not least his encouragement of designers and builders, having commissioned no less than 17 Fourteens between 1961 and 1988. His several devoted secretaries have worked long hours on the Fourteen’s behalf, often knowing more of what was going on than he did! It was at the 1973 World Association meeting that Dick Rose proposed that there should be a biennial World Fourteen championship — a development that was enthusiastically accepted at the time but which has led, over the years, to some diminution of the importance of Team Racing. During the year the ‘Higher I’ issue became a major discussion point, with several formulas being put forward to free up the rig restrictions. The UK view was in favour of change providing it did not make the boats radically more expensive or difficult to sail.
Throughout 1974, a Committee on behalf of the World Association led by Richard Ewart-Smith, set too to take the various proposals and re-write the class rules. Having done this, Richard explained his proposal at meetings round the country so that at least the UK was fully in accord with what was happening. P.O.W. was at Falmouth and, in light to moderate conditions, Dan Owen won, with Jeremy Pudney winning the points. The 1975 P.O.W. at Torquay was in complete contrast, sailed in winds gusting 30/40 mph with many famous names coming to grief. Seventy-six out of 84 entries started, only 31 completed the course, few without capsizing. In the end it turned out to be a North American Benefit, Steve Toschi (US) winning, followed by Dan Owen (Can), Chris Benedict (US), Alan Laflin (US), Dick Rose (US), Baird Bardarson (US). Dan Owen won the points. However, the UK fared rather better in the team races at Hayling Island which preceded P.O.W. week. Our team Jeremy Pudney, Dan Owen (a Canadian resident in the UK), Keith Goulbourn and Ray Rouse won. The World Association meeting agreed the rules package to go to the I.Y.R.U., which has been submitted to the W.A. meeting by, Tim Walsh (Canada), St John Martin (USA), and Ray Rouse (UK). They also approved a revised draft constitution for the World Association that had been written by Dick Rose (US), John Lazier (Canada), and Tom Vaughan (UK). This was sent back across the Atlantic with the delegates for final legal polishing and was never heard of again!
Meanwhile, the revised class rule proposal hit a snag with the I.Y.R.U. technical team, who did not like the roach part of the proposed sail measurement. This needed last minute re-drafting which significantly increased the class sail area to 190 square feet, from the original submission of 175 square feet and, the 160 square foot of the original January 1975 proposal. On return to Canada, the Canadian delegates were told that their agreement was subject to a vote of approval by C.D.A. members, (shades of 1971 again), and in America the American East Coast fleet, or part of it, led by St. John Martin, and John Carcich, claimed the American vote was invalid and members had not been consulted correctly. John Carcich appealed direct to the I.Y.R.U., who referred the matter to the American Yachting authorities, who in turn supported the vote so the new rules went through with little further real trouble and, in fact, solved many problems that had plagued measurers over the years.
However, there were significant difficulties. In the revised hull rules, was the ability to use dagger plates previously banned although this did not immediately cause problems. While on America’s East Coast, St. John Martin and John Carcich tried for a time to promote an alternative sail rule. Their case was for a more effective sail plan to the original limits not the larger one that the I.Y.R.U. had approved. Using the Tasar rotating mast fully battoned rig as their guide, two prototype masts broke before they solved the problem but in the end, without additional support the idea faded out, although some of their other ideas were later successfully adopted by the class. The sad outcome was that some of the most enthusiastic supporters of Fourteens in America’s East Coast lost interest, and support for Fourteen sailing in that part of America suffered. As it transpired, the Tasar was not the dramatic success that had been expected at the time.
However, the real problem round the world, was that support for dinghy sailing in general was falling rapidly. Having provided a buoyant market through the 1950’s and 1960’s, the 1970’s were of general decline. The Fourteens, never having attracted mass fleets as the more popular One Design’s, held on to its supporters rather better than many. So in the UK at least, while its numbers were dropping, its share of championship racing was increasing.
In 1976 with new rules in place, Cowes was the venue for the 50th Anniversary of the 1st P. O.W. Eighty-three Fourteens entered, ranging from K92 which had taken part in the original race, right up to a boat completed only two days before. The week was a great success, a hopeful sign for the future was to be found among the overseas entries were representatives of the new fleet in Japan, replacing the defunct Bermudian 14’s. The week offered a full range of conditions as only the Solent can. P.O.W. was sailed on the mainland shore, off Lee-on-the-Solent. It started in light airs, with the Harvery brothers from Canada soon establishing a big lead in a hybrid craft, their own Canadian masts and sails on a borrowed UK Hull. But the wind died and then came in from a completely different direction putting the Harveys down tide and wind of the mark, wiping out their near leg lead. Ray Rouse took full advantage of their problems and went on to win. The first time this has happened to an owner in a boat of his own design since Morgan Giles in 1931. The following day the fleet re-sailed the original P.O.W. course, starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron line amid the expensive roar of real cannon fire at a £1 a time. The Island Sailing Club presented a splendid anniversary trophy which was won by Ray Rouse, Jeremy Pudney taking the points prize for the week.
Replicas of the P.O.W. for the first 6 in the P.O.W. race, were causing concern, and it was decided that the larger one for the winner could no longer be justified, henceforth they would all be of the same diminutive size. But a later move to have them plated rather than solid silver was not approved, and it is of note that, recently, in the late 1980’s a move to scrap them on the grounds of cost was defeated by the membership at large. So the unique P.O.W. retains its unique honour of a solid silver replica of the P.O.W. cup, for the first six in the big race.
The following year, 1977, P.O.W. returned to Lowestoft. This was the lowest entry since the 1950’s although Lowestoft tending to have below average turnouts. Only 54 boats raced. The P.O.W. turned out to be another light wind affair, boats being on the water for over 9 hours. Mike Peacock in a new boat. Buccaneer II (1060), worked up from fifth to take the lead at the gybe mark of the second lap, by hanging on to his spinnaker longer than the rest, and went on to win his 3rd P.O.W. Third time proved lucky for him, for he won both the 1978 and 1979 P.O.W.’s, making 5 in all, (a record only bettered by Stewart Morris with 12). In 1978, at Falmouth, to the consternation of the design pundits, he was sailing his 14 year old Buccaneer (881), with the old style rig, except using the higher spinnaker hoist. Mike, being a relative lightweight, had always believed in matching his weight to sail area, not always going to the maximum allowed sail limits. His old Buccaneer had served him well giving him replicas in P.O.W.’s between 1965 and 1969 including a win in 1966. However, he achieved equal success in a large fleet of 83 at Beadnell using a brand new glass Kirby 7, made by his crew Mike Bond. Mike Peacock also led the 1977 team to Canada, with Jon Perry, Rollo Pyper and Tom Trevelyan, but it was Canada’s year and they won all nine of their matches. The British team in 1979 fared no better. Tom Trevelyan, John Evans, Dave Chandler and John Roberson did their best, but Canada won again. This was the first time a Japanese team had entered, demonstrating the growing support for the ‘Fourteens’ in Japan. Rig development on both sides of the Atlantic was interesting. The British were using large mains and small jibs, which proved less effective in the light to medium winds and short chop, everyone else opted for small mains and large jibs.
So closed a difficult ten years for both the class and dinghy sailing in general. But the Fourteen with a new set of rules, which were now working well, was more than holding its own in what, world wide, was a declining market.
Just as in the 1970’s, Fourteeners had hoped in vain for a period of tranquillity following the formation of the World Association. So anyone who hoped for a period of rule stability in the 1980’s was to be equally disappointed. The Fourteen would be a very different boat at the end of the period than it was at the start. The 70’s had seen a generally declining entry at P.O.W., and of new building. The 80’s, after a difficult start, (new building dropped to the lowest it had been since the early 1950’s), ended on a high note, with new building and P.O.W. entries rising in a most hopeful way. New designers entered the fray. New faces replaced old supporters and the class moved back into the front of media interest.
Just as in the 1970’s, Fourteeners had hoped in vain for a period of tranquillity following the formation of the World Association. So anyone who hoped for a period of rule stability in the 1980’s was to be equally disappointed. The Fourteen would be a very different boat at the end of the period than it was at the start. The 70’s had seen a generally declining entry at P.O.W., and of new building. The 80’s, after a difficult start, (new building dropped to the lowest it had been since the early 1950’s), ended on a high note, with new building and P.O.W. entries rising in a most hopeful way. New designers entered the fray. New faces replaced old supporters and the class moved back into the front of media interest.
1980 started off with the UK rejecting a reduction in weight and twin trapezes. Twin Trapezes had been a feature of the abortive 1971 plans of the I.Y.R.U. for a new Development class, which at the time caused the Fourteens no little concern. Weight was no longer the dramatic problem it had been prior to the advent of unlimited correctors, so builders could build as light as they dare. However, the trend now was toward selling complete fully equipped, ready to race, off-the-shelf boats. Builders needed reasonable runs to justify mould costs, so glass was the obvious solution. But weight could be a problem with glass, unless exotic materials were used. This in turn gave a cost problem, so weight reductions had to be handled with care. Twin trapezes on the other hand caused far more vocal discussion, with all the old single trapeze issues being dusted off and paraded again. With a World wide class there is always the problem that each area tends to push for development most suitable for its local conditions. That is why with a development class, frequent meetings of all fleets is essential if a satisfactory all round craft is to result.
The twin trapeze was the obvious response to the extra sail area the 1975 rules had allowed. The usually strong winds of the West Coast of America were ideal for the twin trapeze. In any case, they were already exposed to the multi trapeze culture of New Zealand and Australia and, in fact, had been experimenting with them since the 1960’s. But not wishing to rock the boat, they decided to use them locally and wait for other fleets to follow rather than force the pace and make an issue of it. In the UK there has always been a strong conservative, in the conservation, streak. The Fourteen rule originated in the United Kingdom, and dinghies developed to it provided perfect advanced sailing for a wide range of UK venues and conditions. The Fourteen attracted enthusiastic support from a pleasant competitive and inventive group, so why change it? would best summarise the UK attitude. In fact, most of the major changes, with exception of increased sail area and dagger plates of 1975, were resisted by the UK, change being stimulated by overseas pressure.
So when the twin trapeze issue came up for serious discussion in the early 1980’s, there was little enthusiasm. Although in 1980 the UK Committee voted for a trial of it, and lower weight, little progress was made. Moves for trials were frustrated by the ‘anti’s’ getting clubs to reject experimental 14’s racing for trophies, and so it was not until 1983 that the class narrowly, (a 2/3 majority was required), voted by 67-32 to support trials, but this was confirmed a year later with a more authorative 100/20. The I.Y.R.U. approved 2 trapeze in 1984, and class rules were modified – but not before there had been a spirited rear guard action, led by Jon Perry. He favoured allowing a 7′ wide boat with one trapeze as an alternative. The members were circulated and Phil Morrison designed a boat to the rule which Jon offered to build as a trial horse. The UK Committee set up a sub-committee to look into the affair. They were not in favour of wide hulls, but suggested a three year trial of wings for a limited numbeer, (4-6 boats), to prove or disprove the idea. The committee decided, by 5 — 2 with 4 abstentions, that it was not a good idea. Their feeling was that it would confuse the issue of the twin trapezes. It is of interest that the original Post ‘Thunderbolt’ restriction of 5’6″ was introduced, it is said, because that was the widest hull that could be got down the lane and on to the Itchenor stage!
The 1980 Prince of Wales at Torquay was the fourth lightish P.O.W. in a row. It was led from the start by Dave Chandler who, at 21, was the youngest person to date to win the trophy. 54 boats competed and Phil Morrison won the points for the second year running. The 1981 was altogether a more boisterous affair at Mounts Bay, with Martin Jones taking over the lead from Ray Rouse and Keith Goulborn by positive use of his spinnaker, snapping it up while the leaders hesitated, and going on to win followed by Phil Morrison. Martin also won the weeks points Trophy. Then it was off to Annapolis for the team racing sailed in light conditions. The British Team, John Evans, Jeremy Pudney, Martin Jones, lan Bilsland, did not fare well in the generally light conditions and the victory went to the America East Coast team, Eric Arens, John Gallagher, Tom Price, and Rod Mincher, who scored the first win for America East. The World Championship that followed was won by Frank McLaughlin (KV), with Doug Harvey (Cross II) second, Mark Adams (Benedict) third, and John Gallagher (the 1979 champion) fourth (KV). John Evans was fifth (Benedict I) and Martin Jones (K7) sixth.
The Fourteens had been scheduled to sail P.O.W. at Llandudno in 1982, but to the disgust of Llandudno, switched back to an unprecedented return visit to Mounts Bay, which had proved very popular the year before. The class was concerned to achieve maximum support as new building levels were causing much concern. 60 boats turned up, the same as the year before. Martin Jones won again, but not quite so easily. Alan Bax in Grey Matter led at the first mark and built up a useful lead, until he capsized at the second gybe mark, handing the lead and, as it turned out the Prince of Wales Cup, to a grateful Martin Jones. Twelve year old Donna Rouse won the Nora Chichester Smith Trophy for the First Helmswoman home in the P.O.W. Her crew, her father (the 1976 P.O.W. winner). By winning three of the weeks other races, Mike Peacock in Tornado won the points trophy with Martin Jones as runner up.
1983 was to be a watershed year for the class. Pressure for further rule changes had been building up. In 1981 restrictions in the width of centreboard had been removed. The following year weight was reduced to 215 lbs. The position of correctors was made unlimited and different combinations of main/jib areas were permitted. In 1983 weight was further reduced to 200 lbs. Builders and designers started to take real advantage of the 1975 rules. At Tynemouth, Dave Ovington, who completed his first Fourteen in 1980, teamed up with American designer Chris Benedict. Chris had started his Fourteen sailing in an elderly American One Design. Between them they soon became the major supplier of race winning Fourteens in the UK.
Over the years the class in the UK has been fortunate in always having at least one major supplier, plus a varying number of more individual builders, both professional and amateur. Counting only UK registered Fourteen’s and ignoring their many overseas orders, Morgan Giles, between 1911 and 1935, (when his last hull was registered), built a hundred. Uffa Fox produced 193 between 1923 and 1951. Fairey Marine, run by Charles Currey, started moulding Fourteen hulls of Uffa design, turning out 103 in the 50’s. In 1960 Souters of Cowes started up and between 1960 and 1968 delivered 112, an average of 14 a year, the highest output of the lot. McCutcheon, also in the Isle of Wight, started with the hard Chine Shdi for New Zealander John Shelley in 1962. Over the next 20 years he registered 108, including some of the first competitive ‘glass hulls’, although they had a buoyancy problem, being liable to sink when flooded. Mike Bond was the next to try glass, and after initial problems over weight, produced 24 boats between 1977 and 1983. Then it was the turn of Dave Ovington starting in the 1980’s and soon to pass 50 UK registered Craft. Many other builders and designers, over 200 to date, both professional and amateur have, and are adding variety to, the mix, preventing any tendency to one designness! A major problem overseas has been the need for a regular local supply of competitive craft. The Americans have twice tried the One Design solution, in the 1930-40’s, which failed when the owners started to modify their craft in the search for greater performance. Now in 1989 it is being tried again by Johnson Boats using the proven Cross III hull moulded in Canada.
Dave Ovington’s first Benedict was to Chris Benedict’s 7 plank design, but Dave modified it from a dagger plate to conventional centreboard, which he believed, correctly, to be far easier to handle for launching and recovery. This left it to Phil Morrison to show the way ahead with William (1144). Phil modified his Morrison IV design and with the help of Rowsell brothers of Exmouth, long famed for their Merlins, built a state of the art trend setting dinghy. This had a dagger plate, needing bumps to keep within the rise of floor rules, was double bottomed, and had a massive metal space frame to take rig and hull stresses. Four days after she was completed she proved to be the best British boat at the Pevensey P.O.W. finishing second in the P.O.W and third on points. Williams space frame set the pattern for most recent boats – but it was not in fact the first such device in the UK. This was seen on Robbie Storrars Ammal Farm (1059) in 1976. Winner of both were the Kidd brothers of Canada, who took the World title, Prince of Wales Cup, and the points in the World Championship. With American Chris Benedict as a runner up in a boat of his own design.
Pevensey P.O.W. Week proved to be of some note. Launching and recovery through surf had much in common with early aircraft carriers, when it was up to the strength and stamina of the deck party to catch and hold the returning craft. Pevensey was not for the faint hearted. However, it was notable for other events. The Chichester Smith Trophy for the first helmswoman in P.O.W., went to Canadian Karen Bleasby crewed by her husband, in a Cross III with a sixth in the P.O.W. and fourth on points. She was the first woman to win a replica since Mrs Helen Lloyd Prichard way back in 1949. But 1983 proved a good year for ladies with Beritt Bardarson crewing for her father, finishing sixteenth on points. Others will remember Pevensey for the abortive first race when the leeward mark started to drag to windward almost as fast as a boat could sail! And the heavy weather P.O.W., force five gusting six.
Prior to Pevensey the bi-annual team racing had been run by Itchenor Sailing Club Hayling. Team races have played a vital role in keeping the class together. But in the UK, the selection of the Team has over the years generated much controversy. Minutes of Committee meetings show that more time had been spent on the subject than probably any other matter! As the Secretary Norman Marks once gloomily recorded, ‘The traditional exchange of views on how best to select the team were once again exchanged.’ The British Fourteens have always had difficulty in adapting to team tactics. One skipper was heard to say during selection trials at Itchenor, ‘I was not having him go through my wind even if he was in my team.’ American Stu Walker said of team racing, ‘The English have always sailed as if they believed the favour of being English extended their sailing prowess.’ In this case it did — they won! Their team, Rodger Yeoman, Jon Perry, Will Henderson, Andy Fitzgerald representing the UK South. Running them close, UK North, Geoff Blackbird, Howard Steavenson, Dave Ovington and Rollo Pyper joint second, equal with Canada,. Karen Bleasby again made history by being the first woman to take part in a team since Mrs Richardson was in the first team races in 1933.
On a technical note, the Americans East had some glass fibre masts believed to be a first in the class. In the Autumn the I.Y.R.U. approved a one a year twin trapeze trial. The class was about to jump into a new chapter of its long history. Twin Trapezes, combined with the advent of dagger plates, (made possible by the 1975 rule change), effectively ruled out state of the art Fourteens for many of its traditional Fourteen strongholds on restricted inland waters. Nor had these clubs been helped by the undoubted discomfort of the modern 14, when the crew were confined on board in light airs, on the now, near universal, double bottomed hulls. From now on the Fourteen would develop as the ultimate open water craft, rather than the all-round craft it had been, and the problems of speed of self-rescue issue was settled. Fourteens were now completely self draining.
It was one of those ironies that the first twin trapeze P.O.W.’s in 1984 at Tynemouth turned out to be a cat and mouse affair with light winds, strong tides and lumpy sea. Two father/daughter teams led at the first mark, Baird and Bevit Bardarson followed by Ray and Donna Rouse. They lost out to Rodger Yeoman in William who slipped through to leeward, as others ungallantly attacked their weather. Rodger went on to win having fought off challenges from Will Henderson, Mark Struckett and the Kidd brothers. It was a race where no one could afford to relax for a second. Will Henderson won the close fought points series.
At the end of the year the I.Y.R.U. approved twin trapeze being made permanent. The UK fleet voted in favour. Some senior supporters decided the time had come for them to leave and P.O.W. turnouts, suffered both from that and the decline of the inland clubs. Dropping below 50 for the first time since 1959, they stayed down in 1984,1985, 1986 when the class rebuilt itself with a new younger, but just as talented group of enthusiasts. The 1985 P.O.W. was at Torbay and started as a boisterous force five affair. Pat Blake led at first but was overtaken by Andy Fitzgerald, who rounded the final mark still in the lead but was faced on the last leg by the classic dilemma of whether to go high or low. He chose low and carried his spinnaker. Will Henderson lowered his, went high, hoisted it again and in a dying breeze finished first. James Hartley took the points.
Henderson and Bruce Grant (1146), Rodger Yeoman/Mike Moss (1144), Hartley and lan Tillett (1161), Dave McLean/Chris Golding (1162), were the British team which went to Canada and finished as runner up to Canada, who made a clean sweep. The Kidd brothers won the World Championship. The World Association meeting discussed jib battens, which at the time the Canadians were keen on. Exotic materials (which was a feature of much of the UK production), Spinnaker Pole length. Rise of Floor and J Measurements, (the last was to be a continuing debate), as were Keel Bands and Bumps, no one being able to agree an effective rule to limit or remove then. In the case of the J Measurement limit which had only been introduced in the 1975 rule rewrite, the problem of removing it was concern over builder’s costs in adjusting moulds and too rapid obsolesence of existing craft. A move at the UK AGM to limit the number of sails competitors could use, did not find favour with the committee or, it seems, the membership.
The 1986 P.O.W. was at Lowestoft and for the first time a handicap system was introduced to encourage older boats. The fleet launched off the beach and it was significant that out of the 48 boats that started, two thirds were less than two years old. Sailed in a moderate breeze, the result was a repeat of the previous year. But with Will Henderson working out a seven minute lead at the Gun, James Hartley won the points. Dash (873) A Thomas taking the handicap prize. For some years, measurements at P.O.W. had caused discussions and the Committee decided that for 1987, at Falmouth, all boats entered would be measured. It proved such a success it was made a permanent feature. P.O.W. that year turned out to be a real drifter, the wind seldom getting over five knots. The Penman brothers, sons of ‘Yeti’ designer, Guthrie Penman, in one of the oldest boats, and the youngest crews in the race (1128), led at the windward mark followed by Andy Fitzgerald then Will Henderson. But by the second round, Dave Ovington (1211), (builder of many of the boats racing), was in the lead crewed by Ann Ainsworth (Davidson). For three more tense laps, way ahead of the rest of the fleet the two boats drifted around the course. On the final beat, the Penmans crossed the leader but Ovington’s nerve held. Seeing signs of a breeze he went way out on the Starboard side of the course and was back in the lead, which he held for the next two legs winning the cup. His equally elated crew won the Morgan Giles Trophy, the first time ever a lady had led the P.O.W. fleet home. James Hartley won the points for the third consecutive year with four wins (which would have been five had he not left his token ashore and been disqualified from one of them after finishing in the lead).
Then it was off to Japan for team racing and the World Championship, a unique event with representatives of Australia and New Zealand present. Sponsorship was a feature with £14,000 being provided by Kleinwort Benson for the British Team. A far cry from the modest funding of previous team events. Japan’s first major International Fourteen event was a triumphant success, both for the host and the British Team, a handy typhoon unexpectedly providing the sort of conditions the UK enjoy. Jeremy Sibthorpe and Bruce Grant, James Hartley and lan Tillett, Neal and Duncan McDonald, Charles Stanley and John Hodgart represented Britain. With fourteen wins they beat everyone, Canada proving the main opposition with twelve wins. The UK team also took the first four places in the World Championships that preceded the team racing, sailed on Lake Inawashiro. Hartley/Tillett took the championship. Stanley Hodgart was runner up. The McDonalds third and Jeremy Sibthorpe/Grant fourth. Fifth was Hele and Welsh (Canada) with Steve and Anne Toschi (USA) sixth. The reigning champion Jamie Kidd, was a non-starter having cut his face badly after a mega capsize in practice.
The World Association meeting in Japan could not find anyone prepared to take over as Chairman, so it was left vacant. There was a great deal of discussion about advertising and sponsorship. The Americans were keen to preserve the Corinthian spirit of individual effort. Delegates were against individual as opposed to team sponsorship. Major concern was expressed over the official status of the class rules and the I.Y.R.U. sail reinforcement rules. This had caused acrimonious discussion between the Canadian team and the World Association in the shape of its longsuffering and serving Secretary, John Evans, at the start of the Japanese championships. To help, the World Association agreed to; define the classes relationship with the I.Y.R.U., with a Standard World Wide Measurement form, standard International Certificate, a revised measures manual and standard sailing instruction for team and Championship events. The Canadians also requested that 1988 be an official world wide trial of the asymmetric spinnaker. This was rejected in favour of each country conducting such experiments as it thought best into new spinnakers — the UK wanting to see what type of spinnaker would prove most effective.
The advent of the asymmetric, long popular in Australia and New Zealand and not unknown in the early days of the class in the UK, took place with unusual speed. Little, if any mention, had been made of it until 1986. What seems to have happened is that an Australian Fourteen visit to America’s West Coast in 1979 raised interest in it and the twin trapeze. But nothing much happened until the 1985 decision for trials of unlimited spinnaker poles. The Canadians decided that a sensible way of progressing was by dropping the ban in asymmetrics in the rules. Jay Cross fitted up a trial rig using a Laser boom lashed to his bow, and an Australian style sail cut to existing class dimensions. Reporting greatly increased performance and ease of handling over conventional chutes. Then, as a result of an invitation from Australian Fourteeners, Canada then built a special Fourteen ‘Fleetfoot’ to take part in the Perth (Australia) 1987 open Fourteen Championship sailed by the Kidd brothers. ‘Fleetfoot’ was very high tech, the hull was a pre-preg expoxy Kevlar composite baked in a pressurised auto clave. A standard Cross III in design, her exotic production was not cheap, $Can 20,000, six times as expensive as typical Australian dinghies. Weighing 140 lbs., she had a standard Fourteen rig except for a 300 sqft asymmetric. She performed well, finishing 6th overall out of 56 starters, and the Canadians were hooked on the asymmetric.
Throughout 1988 a rule package was put together to allow asymmetric, or any spinnaker varient, to be tried, and with it a proposal to allow fully battened mainsails. These had long been popular with America’s East Coast, indeed part of their 1975 experiment. The British Committee recommended that the class did not, at the moment, go for full length battens, fearing too much change too soon. But the membership at large voted narrowly for them. So the package that went through the I.Y.R.U. in 1988 made the biggest change the class had seen for years. At the class AGM, John Evans, who had been World Secretary since 1981, was elected Chairman of the UK class, and another past World President, Jeremy Pudney, took over his role of World Secretary.
Prince of Wales week was at Poole, with 61 boats racing. Parkstone Y.C. ran a splendid week not helped by the wind, which blew strongly (force 5-6) all week, so much so there was no racing on the first two days. But to catch up, two races a day were sailed which made for an exhausting week. P.O.W. was postponed due to the extreme wind and sea conditions but only after the class had fought their way to the start line, as the wind gusted to 30/40 knots. The following day was not much better, but seemed so as the sun was shining. The McDonald brothers made a good start and had a huge lead at the first mark, only to lose it to James Hartley at the Gybe mark, but were soon back in the lead. James capsized soon afterwards, got going again without loosing a place. Then, as an observer put it, went in “Bows first’, spinnaker flying, to score 5.9 for style, letting Charles Stanley through to second spot. Only 18 out of the 61 entries completed the P.O.W. and there were no takers for the afternoon race! The McDonald brothers also won the points trophy with three firsts and a second.
In the autumn the I.Y.R.U. approved the new rules on which both Canada and the UK, led by Tom Trevelyan, had done so much of the work. These provided for an unlimited time trial of asymmetric and fully battened mains. Only the J Measurement, bumps and keel bands, still defied acceptable solution and there was a general desire vocally expressed at the 1989 UK AGM, for the rules to be left alone for a while. James Hartley and lan Tillett won a special short course event at San Diego Super Cup 88, with Will Henderson and Bruce Grant in second spot. Throughout the winter, experiment in colourful fully battened mains with asymmetrics, was intensive, with sailmakers seeking the ideal solution in preparation for the World Championship in San Francisco in 1989. The New Zealand Fourteens had already built over a dozen, so called New Zealand Fourteens. International hull rules, Australian rig, it looked like being a unique event, not least because over 40 British boats had signed up for the trip half way round the world. This made a turnout of well over 100 likely, the largest 14 fleet ever, providing an opportunity, as in America and the UK in the 1930’s, for Fourteens round the world to compare notes! The 1989 P.O.W. is scheduled for Mounts Bay, and to try and encourage owners of older boats, outstripped by the rapid rule development, special prizes will be offered for ‘Classic’ Fourteens. These are defined as boats conforming to 1983 rules, or earlier, ie single trapeze. Thus the Fourteen Committee hoped to encourage all its supporters. The Vintage Fourteens movement, (no trapezes), at Upper Thames started by Tony Lunch, Joe Griffiths and Gavin Pollock, were already providing the venue for old fashioned Fourteen river racing, complete with Tea and Strawberries. Vintage racing had seen a dying fleet turned to an active one, with many once famous Fourteens enjoying a new lease of life, as well as providing living proof of the Fourteens origins.
Itchenor remained the spiritual home of the Fourteens, while the Northern Fourteens, based at Tynmouth and Derwent, provided an alternative centre of excellence. Some old Fourteen Clubs, sadly, had dropped out, Hayling and Tamesis no longer having fleets but new clubs, King George, and others had replaced them. Several others had difficulty in attracting sufficient Fourteen sailors, or any sailors for that matter. Clubs on restricted waters, particularly river ones, not only suffered from the modern Fourteens need for space, but also from the competition of the new reservoir clubs that provided it. Fourteen sailors, like enthusiastic crews in many racing classes, now tended to congregate each weekend at the venue where the best class racing was to be had. This in preference to racing with a couple of local boats or, in a handicap fleet at their home club. But in a market which showed little growth in the 1980’s, the Fourteens were in far better shape than at the start of the decade. They had a new, younger band of supporters, many leading sailors from other classes, and a boat that looked what it was, a high performance, up-to-the-minute, no holds barred racing machine. The ghost of Fourteeners’ past could be well satisfied that they had built the class foundations well.
The key objective during this era was to see if an merger between the Australian and New Zealand 14 foot skiff classes and the International Fourteen’s was possible. Here were two proud organisation both with well established fleets, famous histories established over many years, each quite sure they had the better boats, better rigs, better rules and better traditions and were certainly more innovative than the other and each deeply suspicious of any move that might compromise that position.
In Australia small open boat racing , at the turn of the century, took place in very different conditions and developed with very different traditions than elsewhere. The Australian Craft started, as did the British, as open rowing dinghies with sail . But they tended over the years, to pile on more and more sail in their search for speed. Up to 400 square foot, as there were no sail restriction in their rules, and, hold it up with a large crew of 6/8. Unlike theInternational class they had no restriction on crew numbers. the only limits they set were hull length (although they did allow bowsprits) , width and depth,( which in practice must have limited the crew numbers,) and the weight of the centre board .
In Australia in 1960 one of their most revolutionary 14’ was produced. Darkie, designer L.A.Randell Applecross W.A. To quote an Australian commentator of the time by Paul Hopkins Editor Seacraft of Australia:
“The sensation of the season was the introduction of a 14 ft boat in Perth Western Australia. This all-Australian craft is so fast that it has beaten Shearwater and local catamarans. In Perth alone, since Darkie crashed on the boating scene, more than twenty identical boats have been built. The hull is revolutionary-but not unlike a 5-0-5 in chine construction. wetted surface is very small but the sharply sloped sides and wide ‘sponsons’ which overhang 7 in., give her a dish appearance. Small by Australian standards, the sail area of 108 sq.ft(10.03 m2) in the main and 36 sq.ft(3.3m2). in jib keeps the all-important cost down but gives the easily driven hull remarkable speed, especially down wind. Two spinnakers-one a parachute of 116 sq. ft(10.776 m2) and the other a normal flat-cut type of 56 sq. ft(5.2 m2)-are carried. Syd Corser, Darkie’s skipper, reefs in any breeze over 15 knots-but still wins by huge margins. In the Australian 14 foot Championship, which he won, Corser cleared out from his over-canvassed rivals to win by 5,8,and 10 minutes-depending on the weather. Darkie could well become a national class as her sheet plywood, chine construction is within the scope of any handy amateur. All up weight less than 200 lbs(90.72 kg)., the hull weighing 140 lbs(63.504 kg). Total cost,with best Terylene sails,is less than £200. It is claimed that this boat is the fastest dinghy ever built. This could be as it can defeat any craft afloat in Australian waters given the right conditions. Of course it takes more than a perfect hull and rig to win. Darkie’s crew-Syd Corser, his brother Tony and Paul Holland-have a string of victories in other classes which would make any champion envious. Darkie design’s won the Australian championships in 1960, 61,63.”
Thus finally passed the Australian big sail and crew concept in favour of fewer crew which had been reducing for some years , less sail , less hull weight, more speed although the Australians, at least some of them, retain their interest in more than two crew and it also marked the switch to lightweight hulls, twin trapezes. and asymmetric spinnakers. They were ahead of the International in their search for more speed using light wood construction. The weight of the early glass Fourteen’s in North America and the UK prevented much progress in discussions with the Australians as by 1963 the Australians were already down to 160 lbs.(72.58kg) But there was now a growing convergence between the two classes.
14’s also had a proud history in New Zealand, where the rules had evolved to acombination of the Australian and International approaches.
In 1990’s, Australia led by their then National Secretary Stephen Edmunds was trying to get the various State fleets to find a consensus on what terms they could agree to a merger, in the UK Charles Stanley held his Fourteeners together as discussions continued. While World Chairman Tom Trevelyan and World secretary Jeremy Pudney who put in ten dramatic years in office, a world record, to keep the Fourteen’s World organisation going as world events challenged them. However the ‘wind of change’ that had swept through the Fourteen’s in the 1970’s made the Fourteen’s, after so many years of being seen by many as yesterdays class, in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, very much the class of the moment.
New building boomed, 44 boats from Britain went to the Worlds in San Francisco. They performed well, but it was two of the 25 Australian boats present that won the event. Prompting calls for further changes taller rigs etc. but the class in general was not, at the time, keen suffering from rule change fatigue.
It is of interest that the ‘Classic’ , single trapeze, section set-up in Britain in 1989 to keep interest in the class alive inland.was still going in 2003 and in 1996 it was joined by the ‘Penultimate’ to provide a home for the low rig twin trapeze craft
The Fourteen’s were caught up by Yachting politics in the 90’s in a big way The Olympic management had threatened to drop Sailing as an Olympic Sport unless it could prove a less elitist, more TV friendly, and a less costly sport i.e. more cash producing for the Olympics. So the IYRU, in response, proposed to reduce the number of International Classes so TV and world interest could be concentrated on fewer, World supported Classes. this proposal did not get very far after stiff objection from all the existing International Classes of the time , including their senior class the Int. 14.
The World Council officers suggested to the ISAF in 1992 that their International Fourteen could be used as an Olympic vehicle that was always up to date. If one Fourteen design could be selected for each Olympics year the boat would always be State of the Art and one design rather than yesteryears model. Using Super Cup style racing which was popular in the class at the time, encouraged by then UK Chairman Charles Stanley . Super Cup was short course knock out competition with crews swapping boats. This was a defensive move by the World Council Officers as there were many of their members had no desire to be an Olympic class with their high profile tensions, politics, costs, and inevitable smaller National fleet. so alien to the friendly Fourteen image which so many comment on over the years. A simple 14 to the proposed Olympic specification was produced and proved very competitive.
At least by the end of this time thanks to valiant efforts by World Chairman Tom Trevelyan and his Secretary Jeremy Pudney, the latter being now active in the ISAF, as Chairman of the ISAF International Classes Committee , The ISAF being by now fully aware of their veteran but ever youthful class helped by the fact that the chairman of the ISAF was Canadian Paul Henderson himself an ex-Fourteener. In any case the UK fleet at that time was also attempting with some success to get renewed interest growing in Europe. Lake Garda in Italy became a prime site for the UK Fleet and remains so to this day. A healthy fleet was established in Germany smaller ones in Switzerland and Denmark
However the success of the Fourteen and the call from the ISAF for a new class for the 2000 Olympics promoted a whole plethora of new asymmetric classes of varying sizes with which the class has now to compete, including the Johnson one design 14 based on a modified Cross 3 design and the Olympic (later Laser) 5000 both of whom tried to get chosen without even being an International class and were offering the ISAF free boats for the Olympics as an inducement. When the ISAF held trials in the Autumn 1996 at Tombole, Lake Garda to find a new High Performance one design Dinghy for the Olympic Games the 49er were selected. The International Fourteen was second choice of the sailors, who had tried all the new classes, and several older ones for comparison!
It is strange how this ISAF drive for an up to date class has ignored the development class it had in its midst since 1928 which had developed over the years , into an almost identical but more stylish, smaller but rather more state of the art example of the IYRU 1971 development project as shown in Yachts and Yachting. The politics of the ISAF certainly helped in the merger talks taking part at that time.
When the two largest Fourteen fleets met up for the first time in San Francisco in 1989 the Open event was won by two Australian Boats but the International were not that far off the pace even though there were still big differences; weight and mast height being the chief of them, and the attempt to bring the Australian fleet to the UK for the next Worlds failed over attempts by the UK hosts to bring them closer together, the Australian being asked to add some weight and change their jib tack position, which they rejected,. The British (and the Canadians in 1993) wanted to keep the event for International 14s and not to mix it with an open 14 event as had been done at San Francisco but the merger move would not go away as changes were discussed over the next few years.
Paul Bieker had by then devised a merger programme and time scale. The timing missed by a couple of years but in essence he had devised the changes which were put up by the World Council to the World Association meeting in Copenhagen in August 1995, allowing more sail, higher masts, simpler construction, wider hulls, racks and decks. This was ratified later in the year by the IYRU (Now the ISAF). So the stage was set for another attempt to bring Australia and New Zealand into the World Class with the inevitable result that new building all but ceased until the position was clarified. Both the POW and the weeks points being won by new designs although boats converted to the new rule were able to hold their own.
At the end of 1996, the long time goal of a single World Wide 14 rule was achieved. Thanks to some stalwart work by the Australian National Secretary of the time Stephen Edmunds, the Australians voted to accept the modified International Rules at their Championship. and a very successful World Championship was held again in San Francisco in 1997 with some 82 boats racing. Despite the many claims of superiority of their own designs all the modern Fourteen seemed competitive. With the event being won by an English crew Charles Stanley sailing an American Bieker design fitted with a New Zealand built mast,.
The introduction of the World Trophy by America in 1979 and growth of air travel marked a dramatic change in the World’s fleet size. In the past visitors in the teams that came over to compete in the far older Team event helped to make up the Worlds fleet, but now everyone who wanted to compete came along by 1989 there were 107 competitors at San Francisco with 40 from England. There was a downside, the status of Team Racing suffered as did the POW which since 1927 had served as the World Championship. When the Worlds event came back to England in 1991 it was combined with the POW Week the fleet reached an all time record of 137, 11 of whom were Classics
In January 1999 the link between the Northern and Southern hemispheres was consolidated when the world championship was held in Melbourne Australia, with 130 entries,being narrowly won (it all depended on the last race) by an Australian Grant Geddes from an Englishman Charles Stanley,but both sailing an American Bieker design and in 2000 the Worlds were held at Beer England 116 entries being won by an American Kris Bundy using the new controversial foil system developed by Paul Bieker, with the team racing being held at Itchenor being retained by the Australians in a stormy final,
The 2001 World Championships was held in Bermuda , despite a near by Hurricane which caused problems, several days being blown off. With America winning the Team Trophy and another American Zach Berkowitz dominating the worlds again using the still controversial foiled rudder. The Australians wanted to ban foils but the World Association voted to accept them with limitations to prevent a fully foiled flying hull, which had already been trialed in Perth Australia. One of those involved with this Flying Fourteen was Alan Smith who had tried , with others, to get the Australians involved in with the International 14’s in 1970’s, having recorded in his letters the Australian problems as through moved to two trapezes: broken plates, broken rudders as they developed their craft only to be repeated in the UK when they went down the same development path Alan sailed over here for some years and in the 1976 POW, had used an asymmetric wire luffed Australian spinnaker in the Friday race. No one seemed to notice and as Alan said it did not work very well.
In 2001 both Tom Trevelyan and Jeremy Pudney stepped down after a record and very successful tenure of office, secure in the knowledge that the class to which they had given so much was surviving well in the very competitive world it now found itself. Jeremy Pudney very much the Stewart Morris of his day, now the father of the class having being the infant terrible in his youth
In 2003 it was back to Japan again where the UK won the Team Racing and then the World Championship when Rob Greenhalgh, this years POW Winner, crewed by Dan Johnson winning the event with a race to spare in Phil Morrison’s 11th design, from the 2001 World Champion Zach Berkowitz who uniquely, sailing the same boat finished in the last four of the world championships, winning one, with a second, third and eighth since 1999. Who says you need a new boat every year!
So this 79 year old International class is still up with the leaders, run as always by its members for its members
Where once the Fourteen was once tailor made for its first owner, the main demand today is for a complete ready to race craft straight from the factory. So once again it is the classes need of a builder that determines the size of the fleet But a Development class can and must change all that is in question as Dr Stu Walker once said is at what speed it takes place. A one design is obsolescent from the moment it is first conceived. A Development class can always take advantage of the latest technology and materials, as is proved by the long term success of the International Fourteen. As it has moved from the open boat concept with seamanship at a premium to the high tech, decked , speedy beauty of today were sailing skill is the name of the game.
So the story of the International Fourteen is once again brought up-to-date. In spite of intense competition from other classes, the International Fourteen continues to fill a need for those of an inventive frame of mind. Those who ask for top flight competition, free from the high powered dramatics of the Olympic circus and the strict controls of one design classes. No other restricted class in the world has withstood so well the test of time and the onslaught of criticism, as have the ‘Fourteens’. The soundness of their rules is proved. Scope for design and development is forever present and this room for experiment makes possible the acquisition of knowledge, useful to all who sail and build boats, whether it’s development or one design.
It is with this background that the class thrives, for it attracts those who see more in their sailing than just being afloat. And yet when afloat, they have the sheer joy of handling a perfect thing. For that, surely, is what an International Fourteen is, always providing the most thrilling sailing, while for those gifted with touch of genius there is not another class which can offer greater scope for, or indeed attract, finer yachtsmen and yachtswomen.
This seems a good point to bow out having first started sailing Fourteen’s back in 1948, being a proven mid fleeter at POW, having chronicled some of the history and had so much pleasure in being a small part of this splendid and very friendly class. Now the story can be updated at any time by anyone on the web, so my job is done.