Classic Boat Design Competition 2010

In November 2009 Classic Boat magazine launched a competition to design an inshore fishing boat under 10m using only sail or oars, with a deadline of 28th February 2010. The brief encouraged the incorporation of targeting sustainable fishing methods into the design, and it caught our attention. You can read it here: Classic Boat Design Competition Brief

Unfortunately (or not!), in November 2009 Simon and I were in the middle of France, making our way through the canal system to the Med on our boat Planet. It wasn’t until about two weeks before the deadline, when Simon’s parents came to see us bearing gifts of sailing magazines that we found out about the competition at all. Si debated whether to enter or not, but decided that even with minimal time and resources for research (dial-up speed internet at 5 euros an hour being all that was available where we were by then) it was worth a try.

It might seem a bit of an obvious progression now, but at the time we weren’t thinking of any connection between this and what we’d do when we got home. Si managed by the skin of his teeth to get a design sent off by the deadline, resolved to go back  and make several changes he had not had time to incorporate at a later date and we thought little more about it, knowing that it would be another few months before results were published. We were more concerned with getting from Marseille to Greece in that time, so any design work got shelved for the time being as we spent most of our time sailing. It wasn’t until we got a phone call from a friend while we were anchored in a lovely bay in the Northern Sporades sometime in the June or July of 2010 that we found out that Simon had been given joint third place. You can read the results in Classic Boat‘s July 2010 edition.

The feedback Si got from the competition judges was mixed, but ultimately encouraging, and has been very useful when revising the design more recently. When Simon sat down to design our fishing boat a couple of months ago, his sketches and the brief from Classic Boat were obvious places to start. The judges’ principal criticisms of Si’s design and any subsequent changes or comments he has made are as follows:

1. The amidships sections are too round. Fair comment. Si has since adjusted these to provide better initial stability and flatter mid sections.

2. The sheer is too straight. Traditional Cornish boats have always tended to be relatively flat sheered for reasons of economy and because of building constraints. Lines plans of old designs confirm this. Si has kept this in his latest design for both aesthetic and practical reasons.

3. The bilge keels are too deep. Simon’s design is no longer bilge keeled; despite being a practical keel profile for a beach boat, it is less appropriate for fishing as from what we have gathered bilge keels have a tendency to snag fish when handlining. Furthermore, they are a more costly option to build.

4. A self-draining working deck is unrealistic given the design submitted. Also fair comment. Latest design does not specify a self-draining working area in any case as the overall length has been reduced and this is no longer practical or necessary.

5. The main mast is too far forward. The main mast would be too far forward if it was going to be built out of a solid spar. However, Si is planning to use hollow spars and has filled out the forward waterlines so the weight distribution will work well with this arrangement.

Simon is confident that the majority of issues raised are either no longer relevant or have since been resolved, and in any case the design is taking on more of its own direction the more we find out about the parameters within which we’ll be working.

The eventual winner of the competition, James Wharram, is actually based near us at Devoran and has been a successful yacht designer for over fifty years. We were delighted to find the other day that he has now launched the first example of his winning design, Amatasi 27. She is a 27ft sprit rigged catamaran yawl based on the traditional canoe boats found in the Pacific.  Amatasi is designed to be built either in ply and epoxy, or in timber planking. From the sounds of things there is quite a bit of interest in the design already, and we hope this continues to go well.

The Classic Boat Eco Fishing Boat Design Competition also led to various MPs proposing an early day motion praising the magazine for launching the competition. An early day motion (for those who like me had no idea what this was when they first read about it) is a formal motion that is submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Very few are ever actually debated, but  individual MPs can sign these motions to pledge their support and raise awareness of an issue. Basically, as far as I can tell, they are the ‘like’ button on Facebook or the car windscreen sticker equivalent of the world of Parliament. More about this and fishing under sail and oar in the next post…


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