I have been thinking a lot lately about a sculling boat that would be ideal for the Great River Race but not so specialised it would be unusable for general club use.
Langstone Cutters have a couple of Teifi skiffs and members own a small fleet of Salter skiffs, plastic reproductions of a Thames skiff.
The basic problem with both types of skiff is accommodating the passenger that is mandatory under GRR rules. Neither have much space, and putting the passenger in the bow digs it down and slows the boat. In the Salters, passenger and cox usually squeeze into the sternsheets so the bow lifts out of the water. And it makes it very difficult and time-wasting to change the passenger into the bow seat.
I came to the conclusion that a purpose-designed double skiff with a passenger thwart in the bow would be ideal as the bow could be made fuller to take the extra weight. In club use, the bow thwart would be used for an extra sculler making it into a very fast triple scull.
It seems that someone else has been thinking on the same lines. Paul Fisher's new design, the Loddon 20, is exactly that - a triple scull that can also be used as a double with passenger.
Paul's description reads:
The Loddon 20 is round bilged and can be made using foam sandwich (FRP) and strip plank Cedar construction methods. The moulds, transom and inner stem shape. She is designed for 2 or 3 rowing plus a cox or 2 rowing plus cox and passenger. The hull shape has a low wetted surface area shape with good stability and a reasonable freeboard for use in choppy waters.The only drawback might be that at 20ft long she would be handicapped to hell, starting at around 100 I would guess. Hmm..