Wee Boats

We really dig R/C boats here at Caledonia Sailing, and whilst the International One Metre World Championships last month at West Kirby didn’t feature any Scottish IOM skippers, it’s worth mentioning here for the quality of the boats and skippers, not to mention the excellent video coverage (although sometimes the bird doing the commentary seems to drift off into a bit of a dream…). Multiple champion Peter Stollery, son of R/C pioneer and top designer Roger Stollery, went into a final heat showdown with ex-pat Aussie Brad Gibson, finally triumphing when Gibson failed to cover after leading in the first part of the race. Another old face, Graham Elliott rounded out the top 3, making it a clean sweep for Brad Gibson’s new BritPop! design and Brad Gibson sails, possibly a first in an IOM World Championships. 2 more British skippers, veteran Martin Roberts and the up and coming young Rob Walsh were next in Dave Creed designed Lintels, followed by 3 Bantock designed Pikantos (with Graham Bantock himself in 8th place). In 9th place was Aussie skipper Jeff Byerley in his new Cheinz design, followeed by the first ‘skiff’ design of NZ skipper Ian Vickers in 10th.

Design-wise, the wide Aussie ‘skiff’ type boats seem to have had their day, with the first 9 boats being more moderate in beam. Brad Gibson’s BritPop! must be the design of the moment, featuring a narrow beamed, high-prismatic shape clearly derived from Gibson’s experience with the Mark Dicks Widget design. The back end of the BritPop! is a narrower clone of the Dave Creed Lintel design, with a moderately low chine helping stability and the surfaces above angled in to reduce wetted surface and volume aft when heeled. The arched foredeck sheds water and minimises the gap between jib and deck, and deck/hull interface is very smooth to keep drag down in waves (you can see in the videos how easily the boat ‘pops out’ even when hard-pressed downwind, traditionally a weak point of the tall rigged IOMs). The aft deck is flat, with a ‘well’ set into the deck to take the mast and lower the centre of effort, a feature first pioneered by Bantock with his Ikon design. This deck construction is lighter than the skiff-style decks, and Gibson’s own boat has 350g of corrector weights in it. It seems like in an effort to squeeze out the last percentage of performance, more and more sophisticated (and expensive) build methods are being tried in order to minimise hull weight and maximise correctors down in the bilges. Whereas a decade ago the norm seemed to be around 100-150 grams of correctors, nowadays this figure is up around 400 grams. For a class that first prided itself in reasonable cost racing, this looks like a developing problem, and it will be interesting to see how this issue develops…







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