The Wivenhoe One-Design Association

In 2011 the association was re-born and now a determined group meet regularly to keep the class alive and the boats on the water.  

The principle aim of the association for the immediate future is the renovation of the fleet. The association is in the process of buying up boats needing work, having them renovated and selling them on. The only stipulation is that the new owners keep the boats in Wivenhoe.

If you are interested in WOD sailing please contact Nic Blower at wivenhoeonedesign@gmail.com.  


 
The History Of The Association - Walter Evans 
The Wivenhoe One-Design Association was inaugurated in March 1980. Up till then there had been various W. 0. D. Owners Associations but, as their name implies, these were restricted to a dozen or so boat owners. They tended therefore to suffer from fluctuations in enthusiasm and effectiveness as membership changed or members left the district.
The concept of the new Association may be said to have sprung from two sources. The first was the spectacularly successful re-building of Duet (No. 2) after becoming a total loss in November 1977. She had fallen 15 feet onto the concrete while being hoisted for winter storage onto the first floor of the Wilkins Jam Factory. Her bows were burst completely open, her fore-deck torn loose, the ends of her strakes shattered when they were ripped from the stem, and the stem itself smashed by the impact. Her loss was a serious blow to the fleet - only five boats at that time being left in commission at Wivenhoe, and of these only one or two turned out for club races.

During 1978, having failed to get any boatyard even to consider rebuilding her, her then owners, Cecily and Walter Evans, were introduced to Geoff Bailey, as being an amateur boat-builder and a professional expert in modern commercial glues. A quiet modest man, he made no promises or conditions - simply said he had looked at the remains of Duet and said he felt he could make a boat out of them again. It took many hours of devoted work, but he succeeded brilliantly and she is now one of the soundest boats in the fleet and, remarkably for a clinker-built boat of her age, totally dry.
Duet redecked during refit.

A newly formed W. O. D. Owners' Association decided that special efforts must be made to re-vitalise the Class. Members felt that the bringing back to life of Duet supported their own conviction that the W. O. D. design was so basically good, and the construction so thoroughly sound that if a boat so completely wrecked as Duet could be re-built, there was no reason why other boats which had left the. district and were lying in a state of neglect could not be similarly restored. As a result of this upsurge of enthusiasm, several boats were found or enticed back to Wivenhoe

A great fillip to this process was given by Elise (No. 17). She had been brought back from Brightlingsea to Wivenhoe by Pat Hatch and John Lay-Flurrie who raced her with great keenness, winning by a large margin the W.O.D. Cup, for points scored over the whole season. This had been presented by Cecily and Walter Evans to encourage W. O. D. racing, and was being competed for in that year for the first time. Chiquita (No. 15) had been found in a state of serious neglect at West Mersea, where she had been left upside down in the open without any cover, with her phosphor-bronze centre-plate still in her, pulling her out of shape and bending her main thwart till it cracked.

Through David Cannell's diplomacy we were able to buy her from the boat-yard concerned at scrap value, and Colin Butterfield undertook the mammoth task of restoring her shape and condition. Dorothy (No. 9), which had been away for some years was brought back from Manningtree under an agreement with her owner,' Dr. Erskine. Osprey (No. 19) was brought back to the Colne. Then Capriol (No. 11) which had originally been owned by Dr. Walter Radcliffe, the designer of the W.O.D. Class, and thus of particular significance, had been located lying on the mud -at Tollesbury. Her mast had been left lying on the ground, had rotted and was in two halves: she had no boom or rudder but her deck and planks appeared sound, and she still had her original phosphor-bronze centre-plate. So we added her to the fleet, which now numbered 10 boats.
 In the spring of 1979, Nick Baker found a note attached to his W.O.D., Vivian (No. 4) at Rowhedge. The writer of the note said he thought he had the hull of a sister-yacht, lying at Gosport on the South Coast. She had lost mast, boom and rudder when a gale blew her under a pier some time back, but she was now floating at a mooring. Pat Hatch, who had to visit the south coast on business had a look at her, confirmed that she was in fact a W. O. D. and brought her back with him. She was stripped of a very heavy crop of barnacles and weed and a cargo of mud, crabs and a six-inch starfish, and there was a prolonged debate as to her identity. This was eventually confirmed by Ernie Vince, who had sailed extensively in her, as Corretta (No. 16).
 It was at this point that the second event leading to the concept of a different type of Association occurred. An article in the Sailing Club Newsletter about the recently re-formed W.O.D. owners Association's attempts to revive the fortunes of the Class came to the notice of Malcolm Goodwin. He had been one of the most active and successful W.O.D. skippers during the period 1962-1966, when he and his wife-to-be, Jenny, raced Ranger (No. 3). After inspecting the hull of Corretta, he wrote to the W.O.D. Owner's Association, in October, 1979, saying how interested he was in the current revival of the Class, and adding an authoritative account of W.O.D. activities during the years 1962 - 1966. This had been the most active part of that particular revival - which incidentally had seen the formation of the first W.O.D. Owners Association, through the enthusiasm of Alan Brooking.
In this letter he set out in particular one vitally important principle, which was to shape the policy of the present Association: -

"One problem when I sailed one-designs was that they were such excellent value as a sailing and general cruising boat. So, when an owner needed to sell because of moving away etc. the chances were that the boat would be bought by, perhaps a potential Wayfarer-owner for about a third of the price of a Wayfarer, and lost to the river. I felt sure that some properly structured answer to the problem of boats leaving Wivenhoe was required to hold together a fleet so painstakingly built up. For some reason the boats were seen to age twice as fast away from Wivenhoe as when they are at Wivenhoe and despite the truth of your remarks about construction, as the years go by there will come a time.

But it was his concluding sentence, which proved to be the second source of inspiration for the present, wider, Association: -

"One more point - is your Association restricted to owners ... ?"

 Clearly this thought added a new dimension to the entire operation. Malcolm was a successful professional boat-builder. In addition, after his years as an outstanding W.O.D. skipper, he had established a reputation as a racing helmsman in the Hornet Class, having been National and European Champion, and World Champion in 1972, 73 and 74. His knowledge of past W. O. D. owners and crews was encyclopaedic. His view therefore carried exceptional authority.

With such a lead, it took no time for the current W.O.D. owners to accept the implications - that the combined efforts of 60 or 70 former W. 0. D. enthusiasts could achieve far more, by way both of financial support and continuity, than could the present dozen or so current owners, any of whom, as in past years, might at any moment move away from Wivenhoe.

The plans for launching an extended Association were quickly drawn up and the new, wider Wivenhoe One-Design Association was launched at an Inaugural Meeting on 29th March 1980. Its main aims were: -

(1) To build up a fund which could be used to buy boats to prevent them leaving the district or to help keep them in condition.
(2) To provide continuity, so that interest would not lapse.

By the year 1985, which saw the Golden Jubilee of the W.O.D. Class, and the end of the ' first five years of the new Association, it may be claimed that these aims have been achieved thanks to the continued support of members, without which it would not have been remotely possible.
In conclusion, the policy of the Association may be summed up as embodying the twin aspects of the inspiration which underlay its foundation, namely: -
(A) The nature of the W.O.D. itself and its inherent qualities;
(B) The practical value of harnessing the lasting affection which the W.O.D. has inspired in helmsmen and crews over 50 years.