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Broads One-Design – Linton Hope’s “Brown Boats”

Heron (Sail No. 13) with Albatross (Sail No. 50) one of the growing number of ‘Brown Boats’

Heron (Sail No. 13) with Albatross (Sail No. 50) one of the growing number of ‘Brown Boats’

Looking at some of the Fairy Class yachts awaiting restoration in the hanger at Lough Erne Yacht Club one might be convinced that there is little or no interest in classic yachting in the British Isles. But another fleet of Linton Hope one designs survives and goes from strength to strength with new owners and employing the latest methods of construction, a fleet numbering over eight yachts, and all from a design that dates back to before the Fairy Class was commissioned.

The Broads One-design, nicknamed “Brown Boats” because of their varnished mahogany hulls, were commissioned from Linton Hope by the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club to offer comfortable sailing on both local rivers and the inshore waters off Lowestoft. Between 1901 and 1939 thirty-one wooden versions of Hope’s racing yacht design were built, the early hulls constructed by the Burnham Yacht Building Company in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex. The first two yachts in the class were named Dunlin and Teal and owned by two brothers, Frank and E. M. Corbett and registered at Lowestoft. E. M. Corbett was also a part owner in another Linton Hope design, the famous centerboard sloop We’re Here built in 1910. Of the original fleet of ‘Brown Boats’, remarkably twenty-seven survive to this day, supplemented with almost sixty hulls made in glass-reinforced plastic, but still retaining wooden spars and masts (fitted into a tabernacle) and with the same sail area and gaf f sloop rigged as the originals.
The beautiful lines of Linton Hope’s design are as appealing today as they were over a century ago

The beautiful lines of Linton Hope’s design are as appealing today as they were over a century ago

The resurgent fleet in recent years has developed a taste for travelling with their boats to several countries including Denmark, Holland and Germany and the birthplace of their yachts at Burnham-on-Crouch to compete in their annual regatta. In a coincidence of history an invitation from the Nainital Yacht Club resulted in sixteen members of the fleet travelling (without their yachts) to India to sail Linton Hope’s fleet of yachts on Lake Nainital (featured in LECYA Newsletter Two). Now a similar invitation has been extended to the Broads One-design fleet to attend our Classic Regatta and the opportunity for one fleet of Linton Hope designs to race against another for the first time in the history of yachting and the chance of winning a Linton Hope One-design Prize Cup.
Linton C. Hope Broads One-Design – Dimensions
Length overall: 24ft.
Length waterline: 16ft.
Breadth: 5ft.
Draught: 3ft.
Tonnage: 2 tons (Thames Measurement)
Sail area: 252 sq. ft. (original supplier Cranfield)

L.E.Y.C. One-Design (B Class) – Kestrel to be Rebuilt

One hundred years ago the Lough Erne Yacht Club One- Class first raced on Lower Lough Erne, in August 1909. The fleet, consisting of nine yachts were designed by Arthur Edward Payne Jnr., and built by Alexander Macdonald & Co., at their Ferry Yard in Itchen near Southampton. The nine yachts were brought to Lough Erne by rail, ferry and rail and off loaded at Enniskillen.

Built in response to the Enniskillen Yacht Club’s fleet of Fairy Class yachts but also as a replacement for the fleet of Colleens (the A Class), the Upper Lough families, not to be out done by the new sailing club’s one-designs, commissioned A. E. Payne, one of the top yacht designers of the day to produce a new one-design class. Payne was already well known to LEYC members having designed the highly successful 2-Raters Squall in 1894 for Viscount Crichton, Mistral in 1899 for G. Massy-Beresford, and Foam in 1905 for The Hon. Cyril A. Ward. Some confusion exists over the names and owners of the original B Class fleet but the list below gives the correct list for their first season on Lough Erne:

Yacht Name & Owner

  • Duck - Capt. Somerset Saunderson
  • Faldetta - Earl of Lanesborough
  • Grisette - George Massy-Beresford
  • Kestrel - Viscount Crichton
  • Lily Hon. – Cyril A. Ward
  • Mavis - Lady Mary Grosvenor
  • Nan - Armar Saunderson
  • Ocean Spark - Edward A. Saunderson
  • Sonia - Lady Mary Crichton

Arthur E. Payne Jnr. Lough Erne One-Design (B Class)
Arthur E. Payne Jnr. Lough Erne One-Design (B Class)

Arthur E. Payne Jnr. Lough Erne One-Design (B Class)

Length overall: 24ft.
Length waterline: 17ft.
Breadth: 6ft. 9in.
Draught: 2ft. 6in.
Draught (with centerboard deployed): 5ft. 6in.
Tonnage: 3 tons (Thames Measurement)
Sail area: 310 sq. ft. union silk (original supplier Ratsey & Lapthorn)

The first yacht constructed was Kestrel her hull painted in traditional ‘Crom Blue.’ The class were the most upto date and technically advanced on the Lough, each equipped with a suit of top quality Ratsey & Lapthorn sails and the latest Wykeham-Martin furling gears on the jib and with their centreboard design the yachts offered the flexibility of being able to be race on virtually any part of the Upper or Lower Loughs.

The first trial race of the B Class yachts was at Rossclare on 20 August 1909 against the EYC’s Fairy Class. The Fermanagh Times reported:

‘The racing under the auspices of the Enniskillen Yacht Club was continued at Rossclare…The weather was fairly good, and an excellent day’s sport was enjoyed. The principal event of the day was a “trial yacht race” between boats of the Fairy class belonging to the Enniskillen Yacht Club and a new class of yachts recently procured by the Upper Lough Erne Club. The wind was blowing half a gale from the north-west, and the owners of a number of the upper lake boats did not venture out, as they have not yet had much experience of their sailing qualities.

Bvt. Lt. Col. Viscount Henry William Crichton (1872-1914) owner of Kestrel, his wife, Lady Mary owned Sonia

Bvt. Lt. Col. Viscount Henry William Crichton (1872-1914) owner of Kestrel, his wife, Lady Mary owned Sonia

Captain the Hon. George Crichton [younger brother of Viscount Crichton], however, faced the gale, and a very brilliant performance he made, and judging by the result of the race, and the very fine sailing qualities of Kestrel, the Upper Lake Club have got a really fine sporting class of small yachts. They are larger in measurement than the “Fairy” class, with a shade more sail area, and they are certainly faster, but probably not so stiff in a blow…The boats to start were: – Kestrel (Captain the Hon. George Crichton), Spook (Mr. E. M. Archdale), Psyche (Mr. C. F. Falls), Snipe (Major C. D’Arcy Irvine and Colonel Challoner Knox), Tuftie (Mr. J. Porter-Porter), Pastime (Major Irvine and Mrs Irvine), Paxie (Messrs R.W. Wilson and C. M’Donagh), Iris (Colonel Richardson), Storm (Mr. G. V. Irvine and Misses Irvine, Goblusk).”

The course of the first race extended to about twelve miles. Shortly after the start of the race at Rossclare Point, Spook and Psyche fouled each other and had to retire, the latter with a broken bowsprit. The results of the first race were:

H. M. S.


Kestrel (1st)

4 32 0

B Class

Storm (2nd)

4 36 3

Fairy Class

Iris (3rd)

4 38 40

Fairy Class

Paxie (4th)

4 41 17

Fairy Class

Pastime (5th)

4 42 55

Fairy Class

Tuftie (6th)

4 43 40

Fairy Class

The racing continued on the 21st August:

‘There was again a large gathering and excellent sport’ reported the Fermanagh Times. ‘The handicap allowed by the Upper Lake class of boats to the Fairy class was 8 mins. 6 secs. Calculated after trial races on the 20th inst., in much the same weather. The course, which extended to about 12 miles, was from a point off Rossclare, twice round buoys off Inishdever Island, Innishmacsaint, and Straheny, and back to starting line. There was a strong stiff breeze blowing from the North-west to the north-north-west, accompanied by showers. It was also a bit squally, and the boats were all tightly reefed, except Psyche, which was in full dress, and some had storm jibs set. At the start Tuftie, Doreen, and Snipe were late, and of these only the last named boat crossed the line. The start was at 11.30 a.m.”

The finishing times for the second race, with the handicap allowance were:

H. M. S. Class
Storm 2 38 10 Fairy Class
Ocean Spark 2 38 28 B Class
Pastime 2 42 06 Fairy Class
Kestrel 2 42 37 B Class
Grisette 2 43 07 B Class
Iris 2 43 55 Fairy Class
Lily 2 43 58 B Class
Spook 2 44 04 Fairy Class
Mavis 2 46 53 B Class
The Fairy Class yachts Paxie, Snipe and Psyche gave up.

A memory of this import meeting of the two classes survives to this day in the collection of the LEYC in the form of a magnificent Sterling silver two handled trophy cup presented by The Hon. George Crichton, on behalf of his brother Viscount Crichton, to the Enniskillen Yacht Club, and engraved:

Ulster based Sonia gives new hope for Kestrel rebuild

Sonia in the care of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Sonia in the care of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

After a careful examination of Sonia in storage at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum it has been agreed to rebuild Kestrel. Permission has been obtained to take the lines from Sonia and with the use of a surviving copy of the lines and rigging plan the yacht will be rebuilt using the same construction methods as used in the originals. The fleet of nine yachts were built upside down over moulds, carvel planked with stem bent ribs on an oak backbone. The centreboard case, constructed in wood, over an iron frame had its lead ballast attached with keel bolts. The centreboard, set within the keel, left the cockpit free of obstructions, an important feature. Lady Mary Crichton, a keen yachtswoman was paralysed from the waist down following a horse riding accident in March 1909. She was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life and therefore the B Class were designed around the needs of a disabled person (as far as I am aware this is the first example of a racing yacht designed for use by a disabled person). Their decks were built of yellow pine planking, tongue and grooved together with a canvas covering attached with a mixture of paint and glue to make a water and drum tight deck, but as with the restored Fairy Class yachts Maeve and Storm this will be changed to marine ply covered with glass matting for extra strength and longevity. A number of the deck fittings and rigging survive and these will be refurbished and refitted in Kestrel.

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