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Ovington Boats - VX One

New boats add to expanding Brightlingsea One Design fleet

by Fiona Brown 24 Apr 2014 16:06 BST 24 April 2014
Brightlingsea One Design C54 Storm Petrel © Tim Bees

Designed in 1927 by Robbie Stone, the Brightlingsea One Design (BOD) has been sailed from the Essex seaside town for which it was named ever since. An 18' clinker built three man centre-boarder, the BOD is a particularly elegant and spirited form of the classic day-boats adopted by so many British clubs during the 1920s and 30s. Like other local one designs, the BOD went through a lean patch in the '80s and 90s when racing numbers dropped into single figures. But unlike many others, the BOD has seen an enthusiastic revival in recent years and interest is now so high that fibreglass boats have been successfully introduced.

The Easter Weekend brought launch celebrations for the first of four new fiberglass BODs currently under construction. Alan Hicks' new C54 Storm Petrel was launched from Brightlingsea Hard in front of an audience of more than 100 friends, family, BOD sailors and Brightlingsea residents, all keen to celebrate the ongoing success of this amazing little boat.

Accompanying Storm Petrel on her maiden sail were C51 Grethe, the first fiberglass BOD originally built for Poul Riccard Hoj-Jensen, who helped develop the glass boats, and now owned by Fiona Brown, and C53 White Spirit, built for the late Reg White and now sailed by his son Mark, who both offered trial sails to those interested in the BOD. With bright spring sunshine and a cracking breeze the three boats made a spectacular sight as they careened up and down the river with spray flying and big smiles on everyone's faces.

Alan has been a BOD owner for more than 20 years and is clearly delighted with the resurgence of interest in the class. Having sold his previous boat C11 Grayling to new owners who will continue to race her in Brightlingsea, he poured all his experience and knowledge into the new boat and is now looking forward to an exciting 2014 season. The boat looks stunning and Alan's ear to ear grin as he sailed Storm Petrel for the first time said it all regarding her performance!

C54 is the fifth fiberglass boat to be built and was moulded by White Formula of Brightlingsea, with the joinery elements being completed by Simon Hipkin of nearby Thorpe-Le-Soaken. The boat is a truly local effort with the mast supplied by Sailspar in Great Bromley, rigging by Brightlingsea based Sailing School and Rigging and sails from UK Sailmakers just over the Suffolk boarder at Levington.

Three further fiberglass BODs are already on order with the next new boat, James Anderson's C55, due to launch this summer. Alongside the new boats there is also great interest in restoring the original wooden boats which perform on an equal footing against the glass boats. Currently undergoing restoration is C4 Cormorant, one of the most successful BODs ever under her original owner, the late Ralph Sutton. Cormorant is being restored by legendary boat builder and sailor Malcolm Goodwin, who spearheaded the recent BOD revival and will be sailing Cormorant personally. Malcolm is working with local boat builder Rob Maloney, who is taking over the restoration work as Malcolm moves towards retirement. C44 Janice will follow Cormorant into the restoration shed later this year having been recently purchased by Richard Austin, who sailed on her as a child, first under the ownership of family friends and later under his father's ownership.

The President's Race and Pyefleet Week (9 to 16 August 2014) are the BOD fleet's big annual celebrations and in 2014 some 20 boats were entered. This year 25 boats are expected and the fleet is acknowledged to be one of the most competitive in the regatta. Even for regular club racing turnouts in double figures are now the norm and the class also puts up good entries for the local Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe and Rowhedge Regattas. In 2014 the fleet is making its first long distance foray in some decades, sending a delegation of at least five boats to the Bosham Classic Dinghy Regatta on 6 and 7 September.

For further information about the Brightlingsea One Design or to arrange a trial sail please visit www.brightlingseaonedesign.com or contact BOD Press Officer at Mobile +44 (0)7711 718470 or email

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