No one has ever built an ordinary G.R.P. National and it now
seems fairly likely that no one ever will. The recent rationalisation
of the rules (R.Y.As word), to allow, from 1st July, up
to one-inch skin-thickness, in composite materials, lets in end-grain
balsa sandwich con&SHY;struction. This is three times stiffer
than plywood for the same weight - and more buoyant into the
But for the determination of Don Woof to achieve this end, the
rules would probably be the same as before, and no help to us.
Don is a member of Maidstone Sailing Club, where the enthusiasm
of Graham Rabbitts in Escapade N666, and a teach in
last year by half a dozen Ranelagh, Pevensey and Whitstable boats,
has started another - Croydon.
Don wanted a Twelve for his son Richard; Graham and Don designed
and built a wood boat jointly a nice looking all-rounder
which has been likened, probably unfairly, to a China-Hare.
Don then made a glass mould which when shown at the C.C.P.R.
at Crystal Palace, caused quite a stir. At this point poor Graham
was involved in a bad car crash, from which he and Diane are
still recovering, and this set the project back a good deal.
I had a (famous?) Lucky Number, which Anne and I couldnt
control, and I had a very long standing order (the first) for
a Rowsell China Doll. Much to his utter disgustand I dont
think he will ever really forgive me I decided to make
the sacrifice, cancelled the Dolly and gave Don his first order,
because I felt he deserved one from somebody! That would not
be a sufficient reason for many Twelve owners to choose a boat,
but I think my reasons were sound. Boats to so many designs have
done really well at times, when other examples of the same design
have been hopeless, so that I would never pin my hopes on a hull
shape. Many people will only buy a Burton winning design and
will wonder why Don didnt choose one. However I was so
impressed with Dons knowledge of these special construction
techniques with which he has been closely associated since the
war, and the nice workmanship of the wooden decks of his canoes
and other boats which he builds at Charing, Kent, that I was
convinced that there would be a reasonable demand for these new
hard shells, if only one or two appeared. I believe also that
an alternative form of construction can only help the class,
bring in new builders and ideas, and perhaps some competition,
even if it is unlikely to take over entirely from plywood.