Classic Wooden Small Boats

Classic Wooden Small Boats
In the days before remote controlled model yachts – the yachts were divided into two kinds – Free sailing – were boats were sailed in open water and ‘chased’ by their skippers in dinghies who ’touched’ the yachts during the course of the race to adjust their course.

The other kind was – Pond yachts, sailed on small lakes, basins or special ponds (in parks), the skipper would race around the pond to tack or gybe the model as it got close to shore. Refer b/w photos below for examples of the racing.

The top colour photos were sent to me by an ex work colleague – John Maxwell, we worked together over 30 years ago in the crazy world of advertising in the late 1980’s. Unknown to me, one of John’s passions is the building of old style pond yachts, but with a modern take, refer examples above of Ranger, Innismara, Infidel, Meter class (black hull) and one in the vein of an A class. Not exactly accurate, but instantly recognizable as the original. They are all hand painted, so as to faithful to the old style. John commented that the problem with making the models sail, is that the depth of the keel, mast position/ height etc, have to be altered slightly from the plans of the real boat, otherwise it just sails sideways or rounds up into the wind. John aims to capture the spirit of the original, but still maintaining the ‘Old school’ charm of the yesteryear pond yachts. They are all free sailing models and quite big ie 1.8 m long. Typically they have a lot of lead on the keels approx 15-20 lbs., most are balsa over wooden frames with glass over the top. 
Stunning work – but it doesn’t surprise me, John was / is a very talented man, and rather good with a paint brush and canvas.

Wooden Pond Yachts + Next Woody Event Details

WOODEN MODEL / POND YACHTS


If you are a regular WW reader you may recall that I have a fondness for pond yachts or as we call them in NZ – model yachts. One of my favourites makes a cameo appearance in the photo below. I don’t ’sail’ them, just collect. Last week I uncovered this very cool video of Rich Hilsinger (WoodenBoat School director) chatting with pond yacht guru – Them McLaughlin.

The video is labeled ‘The Elegance & Joy of Wooden Pond Yachts’ – grab your favourite chair and push play, then sit back as these two gents entertain and enlighten you 🙂

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Input from Russell Ward – “I had a Star pond yacht as a kid aged 4 in the UK. Had a lot of fun with it in Littlehampton, the local harbour where the old man kept his boat. The Star was really just a toy and made in the thousands from 1918 -82. The makers guaranteed them to sail. They are quite collectable now. See the photos below of the business.I made one (The Duke – refer below) up for grandson for his 7th birthday with some slight mods to enable it to cope in Wellington! I was amazed how well it sailed when let adrift with no particular fine adjustments of sails once the sails were set slack and rudder set. It tacked, luffed in the gusts and sailed off, you name it. All with no attention. We caught it at the other side of the pond some time later. Great fun and highly recommended as a bonding exercise.By the way, there were no fences round the pond at Avalon in Petone. No kids appeared to have been drowned that day.

Blokes & their boats

Blokes & their boats

Sailing ‘pond’ yachts has been a hotly contested hobby for as long as the models bigger cousins have been around. Des Townson took it to another level with his radio controlled Electron yacht, production of which continues today under the expert hands of CYA deputy chairman Bruce Tantrum. Racing takes place at several venues across Auckland, details on upcoming events & Bruce’s contact details found here http://www.electron.co.nz/#

Some rather nice dinghies on display in the b/w photo, I imagine the dinghy maneuvering was an ‘event’ in its own right.

b/w photo ex classicboatsnz