Friday 19 December 2014

A sculling boat for the Great River Race?

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..



Robbie W said...

The passenger requirement is one of the reasons why I find the fact that the race organisers self proclaim GRR to be "The UK Traditional Boat Championships" a bit disrespectful to folk not from London who care deeply about the traditional boats that they use. While many of the Thames Boats are designed for the purpose of carrying a passenger, the purpose of many other traditional boats was not and is not, and forcing those boats to carry a passenger can ruin their trim. If I am going to row over 20 miles, I want to do it in a boat that is trimmed to her very best. Anyway, this looks like a nice boat, and the idea of a triple, which can reasonably be used as a double is a good one.

Chris Partridge said...

I tend to agree, Robbie, but the passenger is now such an ingrained part of GRR tradition I don't think the requirement will ever be lifted.
Here's an idea, though: Alec Jordan made some spiffy clamp-on rowlocks for the Wemyss Skiff. They could be attached temporarily to the gunwales of a St Ayles Skiff to rig it as a triple scull, with the bow thwart left available for the passenger. I think that would be a a formidable contender in the GRR.