Thursday, 22 March 2012

Jack Chippendale

The picture on this blog's masthead is of one of the best recreational rowing boats ever designed. It is the Sprite, created by Jack Chippendale who died recently.
It was Jack's idea to create the hull by sewing the two bottom planks together and splaying them apart over frames so they naturally adopted a sleek profile. He was collaborating with naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme to create a kit that could be easily built at home, and Andrew rather despaired of it because the method meant the shape could not be developed by computer and he had to draw the lines more or less by trial and error.
I first came across the Sprite, and Jack himself, at the old Wooden Boat Show in Greenwich in the 1990s. His enthusiasm was infectious, as was his talkativeness - which I later discovered was legendary. Sometimes he had to work late into the night completing work delayed by conversations with visitors to his workshop.
I built the kit in my garage (but the one in the picture I got later when I moved to Chichester Harbour). It was simplicity itself, and the Sprite has given me boundless pleasure over the years. I also had its big sister, the double skiff Otter, for a while. Golly could that boat go.
There are obituaries of this wonderful man here and here.


Thumbs said...

Looks like "Storm" taking shape there, is it not?

JP said...

Think I saw you very briefly last night on the box, in between the biking and the three marathons.

Chris Partridge said...

It is indeed Storm, Thumbs. Still reputed to be the fastest boat on the Broads after all these years.

Thumbs said...

Hadn't realised it was such a skmming dish. Something tells me he had to remove half the end wall of his workshop to get it out of the doors - now I know why...

Not my cup of tea really, I prefer the "proper" cruisers to the modern "Thames rater on steroids" rigs.