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Re: Bob Perry's take on Wolfenzee's dream boat

Originally Posted by Hartley18 View Post
Close.. it's an Uffa Fox design (remember him?), tweaked by the original owner for local conditions.

With Australia having no notable ("big name") naval architects pre-WWII, people looked elsewhere - Fife, one or two Kiwis and then Laurent Giles were favorites. Uffa Fox's books on racing yacht design were also very popular out here and quite a number of people built boats to his lines straight out of the books.. Seriously.
I know Uffa Fox's work very well and in fact I am deeply indebted to him for one of my favorite boat design projects of all time. I apologize that this is a bit of a longish story but hopefully it an interesting one to others besides myself....

When I worked for yacht designer Charlie Wittholz in the early 1980’s, my favorite project that I worked on was a 26-28 foot canoe yawl, which was offered either as a ketch or a fractionally rigged sloop rig, but that contradiction is another story for another day and besides anyone living in a commonwealth would probably understand that apparent contradiction. This particular design had a very interesting history involving Uffa Fox and the British Monarchy.

It began with an American temporarily living in England, who read one of Uffa’s articles. In it, was included a sketch of a small canoe yawl, and a glowing description of the boat. My recollection is that the boat in question was actually an Albert Strange design, but I could be wrong on that. In any event, the American contacted Uffa to see if he could purchase the rights to the design from Uffa so he could build one for himself.

Uffa explained that the sketch was not a design of his, but that Uffa could design a similar but improved version of that boat. There was some back and forth snail mails and Uffa was hired to design the boat. Apparently Uffa was not a man who whipped out designs in a timely manner, and the project languished on for a long while. After a time, the American was back home in the States and Uffa was still designing. There were some lovely preliminary sketches but not much else.

Around that same time, the royals decided that the very young Prince Charles appeared to be a little effeminate and so should have a ‘manly companion’ to help his development. Prince Phillip reached out to Lord Mountbatten for guidance on this. Mountbatten suggested that Uffa Fox would make a good ‘manly companion’ for the young Charles, and Uffa agreed to take on the position. With this new responsibility, Uffa resigned the commission to design the canoe yawl.

The American was living near Washington DC, which was also near where Charlie Wittholz resided and worked, and so approached Charlie with the commission. Charlie began the project but shortly after the American became ill and died.

The drawings languished for a decade and then there was an inquiry from someone who had heard about the project. Charlie once again began the project. That person shopped it around to boat builders in Maine, and my recollection is that it proved too expensive to custom build the boat and again the project stopped, now nearly 2 decades after it started.

Apparently someone at WoodenBoat magazine had seen the design when they worked in one of the yards that priced the boat, and as a side note in a conversation about one of Charlie’s catboats, asked ‘What ever happened to that canoe yawl?’ After a brief chat, the magazine offered to publish a review of that design if Charlie was interested. That conversation happened in the early 1980’s when I worked for Charlie.

Charlie dusted off the old drawings, which by that time were pretty dated. So we started almost from scratch, with me drafting a set of presentation oriented new hull lines (now with a fin and skeg hung rudder), new rig (now with a fractional sloop rig and tapered aluminum spars), and a new interior (only minor tweaks on a very workable but very simple layout).

My drawings for that design were published in issue 56:130 of WoodenBoat Magazine, something that I have always been proud of. I have no idea if any were ever built, but I have always been indebted to to Uffa’s procrastination and sense of duty to the monarchy in allowing the circumstance to work on that project.

The stern on Uffa's version of this canoe yawl was similar to that on the 30 square meter.


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