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History of the Wivenhoe One Design

From the designer, Dr Walter Radcliffe

In the early 1930's I joined Wivenhoe sailing club. At that time all the boats were different. and there was a great deal of discussion and argument about handicaps, so It was suggested that the club should adopt a One-design class. This proposal had my support, as my previous sailing had in the Broads One Design class boats on Oulton Broad.

Two local one design classes were considered, The Brightlingsea One Designs, which were thought to be too big for our narrow river, and the recently designed Mersea Sprites.

I suggested something more like a 15ft dinghy. but more strongly built to lie at moorings and to take to the hard.

My plans were finally adopted, especially when Lewis Worsp found that the boats could be built cheaply at Leigh on Sea near Southend, and Hector Barr offered to make the sails for us at little cost. In addition I had an offer from Messrs Fitch of Manningtree to supply us with manganese bronze centreboards and other fittings at less cost than galvanised steel. We decided to do all the fitting out ourselves with the help of Hector Barr. To everyone's satisfaction we were able to keep the cost down to about £45 complete. 

The first 6 boats were 'Unus' for Lewis Worsp, 'Duet' for Peter Pawsey and myself, 'Ranger' for Hector Barr, 'Vivian' for the Berry brothers, 'Mecca' for Arthur Turner and 'Pegasus' for William Cracknel. Mecca was the first boat to be completed and fitted out, and I was delighted when Arthur Turner was pleased with her performance, as he had been mate on a Eight-meter yacht on the Clyde, and had a great deal of experience. He kindly fitted Duet out for us.

We took some of the boats over to manningtree for their regatta, and they were so successful that the next three boats to be built were to be members of The Stour Sailing Club. 'Peewit' for Col Attfield Brooks, 'Puffin' for Dr Sidney Bree, and 'Dorothy' for Dr Erskine. By 1950 the total had risen to about 20 boats in all. In addition there was a class copied from our plans in Northern Ireland on Strangford Lough, although they made some changes to the sail plan to suit local conditions.

We took our Wivenhoe One Designs to the clacton regatta, to Bradwell and Ramsey on the River Blackwater, and we sailed them in Wivenhoe and Rowhedge Regattas.

During the war we had to take all the boats out of the water and store them ashore, which meant that after the war some of them needed urgent repairs to make them seaworthy again. The original Manningtree boats have now joined the Wivenhoe fleet. I do not know whether the Irish boats are still in use, but it is satisfactory to know that a class as old as ours is still giving pleasure and satisfaction to many.

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