Rowlands Classics

Banzai - 1897 Bembridge Redwing 21' No 10 (1902)

This was my first, back in 2000.  Banzai is one of the few remaining original Bembridge Redwings, designed (as the later 1937 version) by Charles Nicholson.  I first saw her form on a TV program narrated by the late, great, John Peel who described her as a mini-Britannia (designed by GL Watson in 1893).  Only 21 foot overall but with a lovely shape ending in a classic counter.  As a design the Redwing was both beautiful and controversial.  First there was the Club rules.  The Bembridge Sailing Club commissioned the design in 1896 and the first batch of boats arrived in 1897.  The build materials were strictly controlled and the rules even specified the paint and number of coats which could be used.  But where the hull was strictly one-design, the rig was subject to only two rules; the sail area should not exceed 200 sq feet and the sails must be red!  This led to a wide range of rig designs being tried (which are documented elsewhere), including one famous Gyro-copter rig tried by Lord Brabazon, an idea he dropped when his craft lost control and ploughed into some then new International 14 dinghies.  By 1937, when the old fleet was replaced, all had gravitated to Marconi (bermudian) rigs.

So why 1902?  Another rule was that if any member sold a Redwing outside the club that boat would be banished and a new one built.  So when the original 1897 built No 10 was sold 'outside' in 1901, a new replacement, Banzai was built in 1902.  I sold Banzai in 2002/2003 to a new owner living in Bembridge who planned a comprehensive restoration.  I'm guessing she is in good hands.  Very few remain but there are two in the Museum on the Isle of White, Gypsy Girl and the Gyro-copter boat.

Leonie - 1953 Lion Class 35' K819

Fueled by my experience restoring Banzai and the prospect of shared ownership with friend and neighbour Roger Dann, we went looking for another Classic.  Early on we almost bought a Watson designed 6m in Scotland but she went elsewhere.  Then we spotted Leonie, a 1953 Woodnutts (IoW) built Lion from the board of the great Arthur Robb and were smitten.  Not only did she have beautiful form but unique to her build she had a stunning counter.  She'd had much money spent on equipment and epoxy splining of the hull but needed a lot of cosmetic and some structural works (we ended up sistering 31 frames!).  She even came on her own HGV trailer which proved a God send as we were able to transport her under local cover for the 2000+ hours of work we put in that first year.  Roger loved engines and electrics; I love wood, so between us

we were able to undertake all the works ourselves.  We were on a budget, so refurbishment was the order of the day.  The engine was relatively new, as were the bronze Lewmar 40 self-tailing winches, the Taylors stove and heater and various other key components, but there was much to do.  I remade the mahogany window coamings which being delicate took some time and effort; my first window refurbishment!

After a year she was ready, along with a new suit of Quantum sails (main, genoa and cruising shute) so it was off to the races!  First racing was at the fabulous Suffolk Yacht Harbour (SYH) Classic regatta (big thank you to Jonathan Dyke and his team for what has to be the best value/fun regatta on the East Coast).   With a pole on the asymmetric kite, we stormed off to the gybe mark in great shape.  It was then that we learnt the importance of quick release shackles on the guy, as we couldn't release under load and so just carried on storming in the (now) wrong direction.  As the years passed we tuned her, worked out the systems and acquired the correct equipment, including a symmetrical kite we nicknamed 'Big Yellow', given to me from a Corby 35 used in the Round Britain and cut down slightly.  With a great crew we improved year on year, peaking in 2007 winning overall the SYH regatta and the British Classic Yacht Club (BCYC) Cowes regatta.  In those pre-Panerai days we won three Harken bags for first overall, a far cry from a £15k watch of later years! 

 

When Roger moved south in 2009 we decided it was time to move on and so sold Leonie.  She went to Dartmouth and then on a voyage to Greek waters where she still is used and loved, her exploits featuring in sailing magazines.  I'd like to think we did her proud. 

1994 Porsche 968 Coupe - L30POR

Ok, so it's not a yacht but it is a Classic.  I owned a 944S2 in the early 1990's and purchsed the 968 in 2011.  Since then we've done relatively few miles together but I have plans....  This is the 3.0l Coupe (not the Club Sport or Sport) with, by todays standards, a rather tame 240hp (if that). 

 

Said to be the largest capacity 4 cylinder engine manufactured in volume. 

 

She came with cruise and A/C from the factory (both of which were not common in 1994) and has approx 95k on the clock.  Blue, with blue leather, a club sport steering wheel and a set of 18" Gemballa Le Mans wheels (similar in design to std cups). 

 

Difficult to justify, but my sons (17, 20) have forbidden me to move on. 

1998 Alpha Z33 - Speedboat

Not mine at all, though I did have the pleasure of working with the original owner to process the EU compliance when he sold it to an Englishman living in Monaco.  The Alpha Z33 was the successor to the Alpha Z23, known as the 'White Boat',a smaller GRP speedboat envisaged as a superyacht tender.  The Z23 proved too large and at $60k in 1992, too expensive for purpose, in spite of a 75mph top speed. But undaunted, the owner Jeff Jones along with wife Carolyn decided to build the most wonderful boat.  For the design they went to Michael Peters and for the build Van Dam Yachts. 

This is simply the most beautiful boat I have been close to.  Built of mahogany, 33 foot long but with full length planks to a flowing design and fitted with a 825hp Steve Ekhart custom chromed V8 mated to an Anderson surface drive, this is a boat capable of 100mph in flat water.  Built for use on Lake Tahoe in the USA, she won the hearts of all who saw her, including readers of Playboy magazine which featured her as centre-spread under the title of 'Want a woody?'.  I shipped her from Sarasota to Monaco and then several years later from St Tropez back to North America where she was restored before placement in a private collection as a museum quality exhibit.  Her owners attention to detail was extreme - they wanted leather seats without seams, were told it was impossible, bought a load of leather from an Italian handbag manufacturer and spent six months developing a new technique.  The seats have no seams on show. 

Foglio - 1937 - Dallimore 42'

Not my yacht, but one I sailed/raced for several years with a bunch of old farts, led by the owner Barry Bristow.  Foglio is a 42' full keel yacht with a tall marconi rig.  Built as 'Allegro' at Kings (Burnham on Crouch) to a design by Norman Dallimore.  One of two sisters built in 1937. 

 

My abiding memories?  Never a winner, but a challenge with that huge main and spindle mast.  Finally getting a kite we had some chance of controlling. Barry and the others snoring to the point at which I used to stock pile throwing ammunition.  Decks that leaked and made sleeping even more

challenging.  The great regattas in France.  Winning the largest trophy in La Rochelle, not for racing but for being judged the most original yacht.  The fun and friendship that made us come back time and time again.  Oh, and the French mayday when one of the running backstay blocks broke away and split Barry's spleen - impressive service from the French lifeboat and air ambulance services and a happy ending.  Foglio is now based in Mallorca and Barry has a Swordsman stink-pot....

Mabel - 1966 - Holman 42'

Owned by Bruce Thorogood and based in Saltash, Mabel is a beauty in all respects.  Built by Moody's to Lloyds 100A1, she ended up in California, spotted by Bruce and brought back to the UK.  Bruce, who had already completed a years boat building course set upon her restoration and did a fabulous job.  She is now as original, strong and well equipped.  It's a real privilege to be able to sail her with her happy crew. 

 

Bruce is an ex-OYC skipper and last year invited some other ex-OYC skippers, one of who turned out to have been skipper on Scott-Bader Commonwealth when I, aged 15, spent a week aboard which included my first channel crossing to Holland from Harwich. It's a small World...

 

Bruce founded the Classic Channel Regatta (CRAB) a biannual race from Dartmouth to Paimpol several years ago and along with a band of merry contributors and sponsors has made this the fabulous event it is today.  In 2019, the modest Bruce even let us win our class, a first for us.  If you can, do it, as with our French friends onboard I assure you the parties in Dartmouth and Paimpol are not to be missed.  Special thank you to Paimpol who put on such a wonderful reception and demonstrate their undying love for Classic yachts.  Mable is currently for sale, but please don't buy her!  

1980 - F&C 44'

One I aspire to.  I did certify an example on the Isle of Wight so can attest to the beauty of the interior.  A classic design from German Frers, built at the family yard by Alberto Cibil in Argentina.  44' overall, just under 33' on the waterline and with a draft between 5'1"centreboard up, to 7'6" down.  Manageable ketch rig and classic good looks on a GRP hull.  

 

But the real joy is the interior crafted using a local exotic South American hardwood called  Viraro.  A lovely colour, lighter than teak, but with a vibrant grain, produces a light but intensely beautiful and comfortable interior.  Quite exquisite and only found in these yachts.

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