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OD
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HISTORY OF CLASS

The St. Mawes One Design evolved as a result of a Dr James defeating a young Frank Peters in friendly races held off St. Mawes in the early 1920s. These defeats led to Frank Peters designing and building Aileen in 1923, the highly successful forerunner of the present day fleet.

The St. Mawes One Design is a popular traditional wooden day sailing boat with an active fleet based mainly in St. Mawes, the Falmouth area and Carrick Roads.

Frank Peters, designer of the Class, had been part of a family firm, which had built boats in St. Mawes at Freshwater Boatyard for some two hundred years. Indeed the firm was very well known for having built most of the original pilot gigs used so extensively particularly around the Isles of Scilly.

When the St. Mawes Sailing Club was formed in 1920 racing was always in handicap starts because of the disparities between the boats taking part. Frank Peters then raced a 14ft clinker dinghy White Duck which had been left at his boatyard by three army officers stationed at St. Anthony during the First World War. He was however often beaten by Dr. James, a GP from nearby Restronguet, in his William Ferris built 16 footer Phantom.

In the early 1920s St. Mawes already had a one-design class which had been designed by Frank Green. Only four of the class were built and due to skulduggery within the fleet several owners sold their boats and interest dwindled. This was an opportune moment for Frankie and the defeats by Phantom led to Frank designing a boat with which he could win races and his design took over from the Green design and was formally adopted by the St. Mawes Sailing Club. This boat was named Aileen and became the forerunner of our class.

Aileen won Falmouth Town Regatta Class for 16’ dinghies three years in a row 1923/24/25 proving Frank Peters was a very talented 21-year-old boat builder and sailor. Aileen was so successful in racing that Mooncat (No. 2) and Phoebe (No. 3) were built in a short period of time. Capt. M. Napier, the first owner of Phoebe and an active member of the sailing club encouraged the growth of the class and also class racing. By the start of the Second World War a steady fleet of between four and eight boats were racing regularly on a weekly basis under the aegis of the St. Mawes Sailing Club. During the twenties and thirties Frank Peters built thirteen although no more than two per year were ever built. They took approximately six weeks to construct.

Little Lady (No. 9) cost £55 complete and on the water compared to a new One Design costing approx. £11,000 to build today. But then in those days a rowing dinghy constructed of the very best materials and of robust construction cost about £1 per foot.

Numbers further increased in 1938 when the design was felt by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club to be ideal for a cadet class and seven boats were built by the Ponsharden boatyard at Falmouth. Frank Peters collected a copyright fee for each of these boats built but they were strangely never quite as quick as those built in Frank’s own yard. The main reason for this different performance was the heavier construction that the Ponsharden Yard seemed to adopt.

This weight penalty ensured racing success was rare for the “Falmouth Boats” although this was disproved 49 years later when Nick Muller in Widgeon (a Ponsharden boat) won the Class Championships when it was part of Falmouth Week.

Keen competitive racing started again as soon as the war finished and the fleet was enhanced by the addition of six boats built by Frank Peters between 1949 and 1951.

In 1953 there was a major turning point in the fortune of the class. Whenever there is a one-design class there are always those who seek to win by bending the rules. Mr. Anthony Beasley, the owner of Rainbow (No. 23) made a special fitting on the mast allowing the gaff to lie closer to the mast and thus enabling the boat to point a good deal higher than the others. Indeed the fitting almost made a Bermudan type rig. There was uproar in the Club and Class with irate correspondence flying between the Sailing Club and boat owners; one letter called Beasley “a bounder and a cad”. It was then suggested that the class be converted to Bermudan rig and after considerable dissension this was agreed by a ballot. It increased the height of the rig considerably and also the sail plan with a reduction in the size of the jib but increasing the mainsail and in turn the aspect of the sail area and the overall area by 20 sq. ft.

Further rule changes have today resulted in a mainsail of 133 sq. ft and a jib of 44 sq. ft a total of 177 sq. ft, which is a significant 27 sq. ft of sail area over that which Aileen had when she was first launched.

In a very short space of time all boats were converted to Bermudan rig in order to keep them competitive. However class racing flourished during the fifties which was helped by a local sailor, Les Ferris who set up a sailing school using two one designs (Kelpie & Nymph) as training boats. A further five boats were built by Frank Peters before he retired in 1964 after completing Choochky (No. 33) the last boat to be built by the Peters family. Boat builder Brian Crockford built Kittiwake No. 34 in 1969. Unfortunately the racing fleet became depleted, as other boats became more attractive to the visitors (and local inhabitants of St. Mawes). By 1977 class racing had ceased.

Then some of the boats started to change hands and enthusiasm for the class was re-generated especially through the efforts of Andrew Tyler who purchased Vesper (No. 29) in 1978 and became Class Captain. The Class Association held its first meeting on the 6th September 1980 and was formed soon after. Fleets of eight to ten boats started racing but this became considerably more during holiday periods. Local boat builder Jonathan Leach took this enthusiasm one step further and, with advice from Frank Peters, built another one design, which became Outlaw (No. 35) in 1982. Jon’s first three One Designs Outlaw Buccaneer and Osprey were constructed in a small garage in St. Mawes. Outlaw was the first one design to be built for 13 years and proved a great success, so much so that another twelve have been built by Jonathan to date. Construction of the new boats has followed as far as possible the original specification even though no plans or moulds were in existence.

1995 was a sad year for the class. On the 11th June 1995 William Francis Peters or Frankie as we all knew him, the Class Association Commodore, Designer and builder of 24 boats passed away. He was laid to rest at St. Just Church in sight of his beloved sea on Monday 19th June 1995. The Class is indebted to him for his vision and craftsmanship and he will live on in the boats; he will not, and cannot, be forgotten. A founding member of the Class Association Chris Leach also passed away in 1995 but in his memory Rainbow (No. 23) his beloved boat was presented to the Association by his family. She was loaned to local youngsters on an annual basis so they can sail and race her as if she were their own until she was sold by the Association in 2003. In 1999 Douglas Barton a long-standing supporter and sailor in the Class kindly donated Cheerio to the Association and the Class is indebted to him. 2008 will see the 85th anniversary of the Class.

A total number of 45 boats have been built over the past 80 years of which a surprising 43 boats are still in existence. The Class has lost only two boats “Pheobe” who is definitely lost as she was burnt at Dartmouth in 1981 two weeks before she could be rescued by the Association. A boat that is technically missing is “Tern” she was stolen while on her trailer in 1965.

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AILEEN

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