Seabird Half Rater

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Seabird Half Raters in Abersoch

The Seabird Half Rater is the oldest one design class still sailing in Britain. It is a 20 ft carvel planked sailing boat, with a design dating back to 1898. To date there have been 100 built [up to No.107]. The class has a Portsmouth Yardstick of 1100.[1]

History[edit]

In the autumn of 1898 West Lancashire Yacht Club passed a resolution favouring the founding of a new One Design Class boat, not to cost more than £35 complete.

Seabird Association Burgee

The class owes its inception and inspiration from the design by Mr. Herbert Baggs in collaboration with Mr. W. Scott Hayward who drew up the original plans on the back of a cigarette packet under a street lamp in Southport. The first eight boats were built by Latham of Crossens at a cost of £34 17s 6d each. The boats were named after Seabirds and their ratings were assessed at 0.5 hence the term Half Rater. The design is similar to that of a 0.75 rater but on a smaller scale and with one or two improvements, the most notable difference was the Seabird didn't have the overhanging 'counter' of the 0.75 rater.

The original 8 boats were balloted for once they were all complete, which was a good method of ensuring a strict compliance to the one design rules. Mr. Herbert Baggs and Mr. W. Scott Hayward dedication to the class was demonstrated by them being amongst the first owners of the new boats owning Seamew No. 7 and Fulmar No. 1 respectively.

The first race was sailed off the Southport Pierhead on 13 June 1899 when eight boats participated over a ten-mile course and Goshawk No.2, helmed by owner Mr Dudley Coddington took the winning gun, ahead of Fulmar No.1. Goshawk went on to have the best record in both the 1899 and 1900 seasons.

Within a year or two the Class was adopted by the Donaghadee Sailing Club under the name of 'The Seashells' and by Gourock YC under the title of 'The Gaels'. Inter club racing was first held on the waters of Belfast Lough during the summer of 1902 when a fleet of 17 Seabirds competed over a weeks worth of racing which gained considerable praise from the yachting press. Further inter club racing was held in the Menai Strait in August 1903 and returned to Belfast Lough during the summer of 1904.

There was great enthusiasm at this time and the 1902 August edition of The Yachtsman reporting on the Menai Strait Regattas states "none of the Threequarter Raters which generally give good sport at the Regattas were able to sail down but the Seabirds managed to arrive by rail in time for the first day at Caernarvon".

In 1902 Caernarvon SC adopted the Class and the boats were known as 'Cariads'.

Some years later the Class was adopted by West Kirby Sailing Club, Liverpool Yacht Club and Wallasey Yacht Club. By the time the Seabirds, Seashells and Cariads O.D. Association was formed in the autumn of 1905 to keep the One Design concept intact 31 boats had been built. In 1908 R. Perry & Son, Birkenhead were appointed sail makers, their price being £3 19s 6d for a full suit.

In 1910 it was agreed that the Association Burgee be a "White Seagull" on a red background. Prior to the First World War, 41 boats had been built and were racing regularly and the cost of a new boat had risen to £60.

Seabird Half Raters at the start of WYC regatta 2007

The association was strict in its principles and at a meeting at the West Kirby clubhouse in October 1912 decided not to admit one Seabird built by Roberts of Chester. The entry was refused on the grounds that he had been given authority to build five boats, not six. The rules were so strictly adhered to that this Seabird, Seasnipe number 33, was not recognised by the association until 1963.

The first Half Rater appeared in Trearddur Bay in 1921, and she presented a problem because, although she conformed to the design, she had broken the Seabird Association rules by being built singly and for one specific owner. However, when they found that she was no better than the others the Association accepted her as legitimate. A year later in 1922 Trearddur Bay Sailing Club [2] officially adopted the Class.

In 1924 the newly formed South Caernarvonshire YC offered races in June for Seabirds. The first race at SCYC was held on the 9th of June between 5 boats of the seabird class (four of them new). By the onset of world war 2 in 1938, 81 seabirds had been constructed with 17 sailing at Abersoch, 12 on the Mersey, 8 at Trearddur Bay, 7 at West Kirby, 5 had returned to Southport where racing on the bog hole had resumed, 4 in the Menai Straits, 2 at Lytham and single boats at Holyhead, Windermere, Torquay and Potter Heigham. Osprey, number 41, was in the Isle of Man but she had been modified out of class by having a metal keel added, although there were plans to purchase her and restore her to seabird association specifications.

The 60's saw a revival in the building programme of ten new boats, by this time the price of a seabird had risen to around £800. A news article at the time claimed there was a buyers market for "at least one new seabird per year". In 1965 there were 56 seabirds sailing regularly, mainly at Trearddur Bay (24 boats), Abersoch (21 boats), 6 boats at West Cheshire Sailing Club on the Mersey and single boats at Holyhead, Rhyl and Conway, although Cormorant, number 9, was being used as a fishing boat out of Liverpool docks. The Association became affiliated to the RYA.

Hurricane Charlie in 1986 resulted in 10 of the fleet at Abersoch being sunk and badly damaged but thankfully they were all salvaged and the repairs were carried out by AMP Marine of Birkenhead.

The present day fleet is based in North Wales at Trearddur Bay and Abersoch and on the Mersey at Wallasey. 1979 saw recognition by the Guinness Book of Yachting that the Seabird Half Rater is the oldest OD Class still racing in Britain, and the Liverpool Maritime Museum hold the Association documents on loan.

The highlight of 1999 class centenary year was when the three Stations raced together in the Menai Strait Regattas when 47 Seabirds out of a total fleet of 65 met. Many of the older boats have been lovingly restored and the regattas saw Goshawk No 2, the winner of that very first race in 1899, racing against Oystercatcher No 100 which was built in 1998.

The price of a new boat is in the region of £36,000, a far cry from £34 7s 6d in 1899.[3][4][5]

Dimensions[edit]

Seabird Half Rater Sail Plan
  • Length over all: 20 ft.
  • Length on load water line: 16 ft. 4in.
  • Beam at deck: 6 ft.
  • Beam at load water line: 5 ft. 6in.
  • Draft: 1 ft. 3in.
  • Sail area: 182.2sq. ft.

[6]

Racing regulations[edit]

  • The safety of every seabird is the responsibility of the owner and/or helm.
  • Each Seabird must hold a valid racing certificate issued by the association.
  • Each Seabird must have valid insurance covering the boat and crew against liability in respect of third party claims for at least half a million pounds whilst racing.
  • Every Seabird must carry at least 2 crew and personal buoyancy must be worn at all times.
  • Each Seabird must carry:
    • An anchor weighing no less than 9.1 kg.
    • 17 to 20 fathoms of quarter inch small link chain.
    • One pair of oars and rowlocks or a sculling oar and rowlock.
    • Distress flares.
  • No Seabird may take part in a race for boats of the Seabird class unless it has been weighed and the weight is not less than the minimum regulation weight, 650 kg for the hull (centre plate, rudder, floorboards (and deck seats/buoyancy where fitted)) and 245 kg of ballast after the boat has been in commission for 28 days. If a Seabird is under this weight then additional ballast shall be added in positions designated by the committee.

Sails[edit]

Racing under strict one design rules Seabird Half Rater sails are only supplied by only 2 sailmakers, Sanders Sails and Mouse Sails. Sails must be measured by the official class measurer and stamped before use in races. No more than 3 sails, a mainsail, jib and spinnaker may be flown at any one time while racing. Sails may be coloured, but the most common colour is white, and they must display the number designated to the boat by the seabird association.

In 1889 a full suit [ mainsail, jib and spinnaker] of sails cost £3 19s 6d, this had risen to £52 by 1965 and currently costs in the region of £1,250.

Sail battens and Headboards are not allowed. However the class is trialing the use of windows in existing sails.

The spinnaker boom may not be passed to leeward of the forestay and its length must not exceed 8 ft overall.

Equipment not sanctioned[edit]

  • Bottle screws.
  • Kicking straps.
  • Winches.
  • Joined tillers.
  • Sliding fairleads.
  • barber haulers.
  • Topping lifts, downhauls and sliding mast tracks for spinnaker boom attachments.
  • The covering of the keel centre board slot with strips of any material.
  • Toe straps

Modifications sanctioned[edit]

  • Jamming cleats and blocks.
  • All wire main halyards or Spectra rope.
  • Buoyancy (as long as no structural alterations are made to the hull.)
  • The main sheet may not have more than a three part purchase and no block on the boom may be positioned beyond 7 ft 0" forwards of the lacing hole.
  • Replaceable plastic gudgeon bearings.
  • The use of epoxy glue and fillers on all repair work.

Current fleet[edit]

Number Name Year Built Boat Builder Current Status
1 Seasnipe 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Lost off Southport
2 Goshawk 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens SCYC
4 Kittiwake 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Lost off Southport 1936
5 Seagull 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Lost at Abersoch
6 Scoter 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens TBSC
7 Seamew 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Buenos Aires prior 1914
8 Dovekie 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens WYC
9 Cormorant 1898/99 R. Latham & Co., Crossens WYC
10 Sandpiper 1899 R. Lathom & Co., Crossens WYC
11 Teal 1899 R. Latham & Co., Crossens WYC
12 Merlin 1899 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Lost at Trearddur Bay 1989
14 Petrel 1899 R. Latham & Co., Crossens Lost in Mersey 1967
15 Fansy 1900 P Wright, Crossens South Africa prior 1914
16 Dodo 1900 P Wright, Crossens Lost in Mersey
17 Mallard 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor TBSC
18 Chila 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor TBSC
19 Fansy 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor Lost at Conway 1945
20 Puffin 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor S/Bird Assoc
21 Dotterel 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor Lost at Abersoch 1970
22 Seahawk 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor Lost in Mersey before 1925
24 Skua 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor WYC
25 Valmai 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor WYC
26 Fulmar 1902/03 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor WYC
27 Gannet 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester Lost in Mersey 1910
28 Albatross 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester Lost at West Kirby 1953
29 Tern 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester WYC
30 Curlew 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester Lost off Hoylake 1926
31 Goeland 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester Lost in Merseyside 1926
32 Whimbrel 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus WYC
33 Seasnipe 1905/06 W. Roberts & Son, Chester SCYC
34 Gannet 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus Lost off Hoylake
35 Royal Tern 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus SCYC
36 Grebe 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus U.S. prior to 1955
37 Sealark 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus Lost in Mersey 1923
38 Gael 1906 Hilditch, Carrickfergus WYC
39 Whaup 1910/11 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor Lost off Southport 1963
40 Penguin 1910/11 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor SCYC
41 Osprey 1910/11 W.H Rowland & Co., Bangor WYC
42 Bobolink 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway WYC
44 Fleetwing 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway Lost in Mersey 1957
45 Stormy Petrel 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway Burnt at Lytham 1956
46 Dodo 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway WYC
47 Mollyhawk 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway Lost in Mersey
48 Dunlin 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway Lost in Trearddur Bay 1950
49 Sealark 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway TBSC
50 Seamew 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway TBSC
51 Dot 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor TBSC
52 Pintail 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor SCYC
53 Auk 1920 John Crossfield & Co., Conway TBSC
54 Gannet 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor Lost in Trearddur Bay 1923
55 Shearwater 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor TBSC
56 Kittiwake 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor WYC
57 Tern 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor TBSC
58 Sea Swallow 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry TBSC
59 Gull 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry TBSC
60 Guillemot 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry WYC
61 Pipit 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry SCYC
62 Merganser 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry SCYC
64 Heron 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry Lost in Trearddur Bay 1944
65 Golden Eye 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry WYC
66 Smew 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry Lost on the River Dart 1956
67 Scaup 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry TBSC
68 Gannet 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry WYC
69 Eider 1924 Enterprise Small Craft Co., Rock Ferry Lost in Mersey
70 Dipper 1926 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
71 Ruddy Duck 1926 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor SCYC
72 Sula 1926 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
74 Avocet 1922 Rowlands Dockyards Ltd., Bangor TBSC
75 Curlew 1931 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
76 Tringa 1935/36 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
77 Eider 1935/36 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor WYC
78 Cygnet 1935/36 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
79 Dunlin 1935/36 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
80 Gwylan 1939 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
81 Egret 1939 A.M. Dickie & Son, Bangor TBSC
82 Widgeon 1953 S. Bond, Rock Ferry WYC
84 Sanderling 1953 S. Bond, Rock Ferry Lost in Trearddur Bay 1983
85 Halcyon 1953 S. Bond, Rock Ferry TBSC
86 Solan Goose 1953 Western Marine, Pwllheli SCYC
87 Calloo 1953 Western Marine, Pwllheli WYC
88 Goosander 1961 Kenneth M. Gibbs Ltd., Pwllheli WYC
89 Kayoshk 1961 Kenneth M. Gibbs Ltd., Pwllheli WYC
90 Pochard 1967 WYC, New Brighton WYC
91 Marila 1967 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool SCYC
92 Snowgoose 1968 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool TBSC
93 Redshank 1968 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool TBSC
94 Terek 1968 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool WYC
95 Turnstone 1968 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool TBSC
96 Shellduck 1968 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool TBSC
97 Herring Gull 1969 Philip Winram & Sons, Liverpool TBSC
98 Merlin 1994 J. Jones, Trearddur Bay TBSC
99 Razorbill 1998 A.C.F. Morris, West Mersea TBSC
100 Oystercatcher 1998 Classic Sailboats,[7] Caernarfon TBSC
101 Sanderling 2005 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
102 Chough 2005 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
103 Arctic Tern 2006 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
104 Petrel 2006 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
105 Rockhopper 2007 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
106 Harlequin 2010 Classic Sailboats, Caernarfon TBSC
107 Surfbird 2014/15 Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis TBSC
108 Booby 2014/15 D Price, WYC WYC - Under Construction

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yachting & Boating Weekly April 1965
  2. ^ Trearddur Bay Sailing Club
  3. ^ Seabird Association Handbook 2004
  4. ^ Wallasey Yacht Club
  5. ^ http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/subscriber____section/____articles/366.pdf
  6. ^ Sailing Boats from Around the World: The Classic 1906 Treatise
  7. ^ Classic Sailboats