Thames A-class rater
The Thames A Class Rater is both a historic and modern specialist sailing craft designed for the particular conditions at Thames Sailing Club, on the River Thames at Surbiton in England. The rules refer to the craft as a yacht.
All boats built before 1922 are made from wood whilst those built since are of a different construction.
The rater is extremely fast, planes easily, and is a technically highly challenging boat to sail in anything above moderate wind conditions. It is usually sailed with a crew of three.
Over the years raters have developed extraordinarily tall masts and high aspect mainsails to meet the local conditions, and catch the wind above the trees and other obstructions along the banks. Their sails were always large, but originally they had long booms and shorter masts, but over time the booms got shorter and the masts taller. At first they used the so-called balance lug rig, then the Gunter rig, before moving on to the current Bermuda rig. Over the years bamboo spars were replaced first by wood, then aluminium, and now mostly carbon fibre.
Where raters sail
- Thames Sailing Club
- Upper Thames Sailing Club
Mixed in with large fleets of other boats, the raters are usually seen at the following regattas with very tight, close quarters racing.
- Tamesis Easter Regatta - Tamesis Club at grid reference , racing between Teddington Lock and Kingston Railway Bridge.
- The Bourne End Week regatta at Upper Thames Sailing Club (seen as the Raters 'national' championships)
Boats past and present
|This section requires expansion. (May 2008)|
|Name||Sail Number||Dates||Description||Currently Racing|
|Original Build||Last Rebuild|
|My Lady Dainty||2||1911
|1970 ~||When refurbished in the 1970s by Roger Harrall, boatswain at Raven's Ait, she was clad with a plastic sheath with embossed diamond pattern, similar to non slip floor surfacing, both on her hull and on her decks. She is currently in need of restoration.||No|
|Originally named Sea Miaou||
|One of the first to have the 45' mast, in 1938||
|Originally called Latona Vanessa, she was built to conform to both the "A" and the smaller, slower, "B" rating rules. This results in her being relatively uncompetitive.||Yes|
d: Linton Hope
b: Alfred Burgoine
|In 1919, when the rest of the fleet was gunter rigged, she was the first to move to bermuda rig. She was built to conform to both the "A" and the smaller, slower, "B" rating rules. This results in her being relatively uncompetitive.||No|
|She is the oldest rater in existence. Ulva's hull has been used to create the moulds for the current GRP raters||
|The most successful rater||Yes|
d: FH Jackson
|Similar in design to My Lady Dainty. Now lost.||No|
d: JM Soper
|The last wooden rater built. Bluff bows.||Yes|
d: Linton Hope
b: Hart, Harden and Co
|1999||Similar in design to Vagabond, less beamy, and with a longer waterline length||Yes|
d: Linton Hope
|1980s||Distinctly narrow beam, came to prominence in Beecher Moore's ownership.
Beecher Moore also experimented with a sliding seat, similar to that of the International Canoe. With many "firsts" to her name, Vagabond was the first rater to be commercially sponsored, with the sponsor's logo appearing on her sails.
|Spindrift||14||1998||The first of the "Plastic" raters||Yes|
|Champagne||21||Current home is at Trent Valley Sailing Club in Long Eaton||Yes|
|Tara||23||Renamed from Caprice V, and built with carbon fibre where technically possible.||Yes|
The source data for this section is, in part Rater Descriptions from The Rater Association
In the table, "d:" refers to the designer, "b:" to the builder. Where simply a name is present that is the builder
Unusually, for a class designed about a rule allowing wide variation in most design parameters, individual boats are handicapped.
- Handicaps will be determined by a handicap committee consisting of the Rater Captain, plus the fastest and slowest helms in the FRP and wooden fleets respectively, based on the results of the most recent Thames Championship. In the event that the Rater Captain is one of the latter four, the closest helm to the Rater Captain in their category shall also be co-opted to the committee.
- This committee will meet two or three times a year to decide the handicap of all boats.
- The overriding principle that the committee will work to is to encourage the older and slower boats to compete.
The Queens Cup
Presented by Queen Victoria in 1893 the race is set to be nine miles with a four hour time limit. The race takes place on the final day of Bourne End week and is considered the most prestigious race that the raters compete in.
Thames "A" Rater Association
Thames Sailing Club
- Rules of The Thames "A" Rater Association
- A runner is one of a pair of running backstays. It is rigged between a point towards the boat's quarter and one usually fairly high on the mast. That on the windward side is tensioned to support the mast against the drive of the wind on the sail, while the leeward one is slackened to permit the mainsail to take an efficient shape. So that the tensioning and relaxation can be done rapidly as the boat goes about, a highfield lever is normally used.
- Alfred Burgoine was a boatbuilder in Hampton Wick, prominent in Thames yachting, and one of the early developers of the International 14. The yard was immediately below Kingston railway bridge on the Middlesex side.
- Linton Hope was an Olympic Yachting Gold Medallist
- Turk's Boathouse was in Thames Side, Kingston-upon-Thames; halfway between the road and railway bridges on the north corner of Water Street, just across from the Outrigger public house. In the 1950s, to the north of Turk's boathouse was the firm of Boats and Engines and north of that was T.S.Steadfast. The present building in this position stands on piles in the river where it is on the site of Turk's moorings.
- Townsends of Bourne End
- Beecher Moore (16 September 1908 – 10 November 1996) is credited to have designed the first Merlin Rocket in partnership with Jack Holt
- Vagabond's trapeze was known as a "Bell Rope"
- "FRP" is used instead of "GRP" because at least one boat, Tara, is carbon fibre reinforced. Hence "Fibre Reinforced Plastic"