Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

Book review: Uffa - Yachting's eccentric genius

by Magnus Smith 3 Mar 17:00 GMT
Uffa - Yachting's eccentric genius by Malcolm Turner © SunRise

Last summer (August 2023) there was a large celebration in the Solent, marking 50 years since sailor and designer Uffa Fox passed away. Many of his popular dinghies and small keelboats raced, and - in some ways - this was nothing out of the ordinary, because those fleets were still going strong today! Uffa's legacy still lives on.

Not only did he design the Flying Fifteen, Firefly, Albacore, the first National 12, some unbeatable International 14s, various yachts, and more... he also invented the Airborne Lifeboat during the second world war, wrote several books, and made a record singing sea shanties. If you think it sounds like a busy and full life, then you should read the biography to see how much more crazy it really was.

Whilst I have an interest in classic dinghies and traditional yachts, I wasn't expecting to be particularly interested in a biography just because it covered the designer of such craft. But one of the delights of reviewing books is the unexpected gem that grips you. This is one such book!

I found myself chuckling out loud at Uffa's childhood exploits, and becoming more curious about his odd mix of skills. Of particular amusement was the details of his floating workshop in Cowes: how it was made, how the old features were reused, the finishing touches his wife added, and how council tax was avoided!

I really feel the pace is kept going at all times in this book. Apparently this is what life with Uffa was actually like!

It was sad to note how badly-managed his finances were, but remarkable that he managed to hit the top heights of dinghy design and wartime innovation regardless, leaving his legacy (one of many) in the form of a small keelboat racing class still considered "high performance" today.

The book ends with Uffa's ten commandments for living, which are rather focussed on eating, drinking, and how to use the toilet. What a shame that these alone won't make me into the genius that he really was! His is a fascinating story, well worth reading.

You can read the first chapter for free at: www.upperoctave.uk/uffa-look-inside

Purchase the book (three formats) for a reduced price at: www.upperoctave.uk/uffa

The book is printed on very high quality gloss paper. Consequently the photos have more chance to shine, compared to most books of this genre.

Related Articles

All Hands on Deck at sailing clubs
To fundraise for the RNLI in 200th anniversary year The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is marking 200 years of saving lives at sea in 2024, and the charity is inviting sailing clubs to celebrate with them. Posted on 9 Apr
America's Cup and SailGP merge designs
Cost-saving measure will ensure that teams only have to purchase one type of boat In negotiations reminiscent of the PGA and LIV golf, an agreement has been come to by the America's Cup and SailGP to merge the design of the yachts used on the two high-profile circuits. Posted on 1 Apr
Thirteen from Fourteen
Not races in a sprint series - we're talking years! Not races in a sprint series. We're talking years! Yes. That's over a decade. Bruce McCracken's Beneteau First 45, Ikon, has just won Division One of the Range Series on Melbourne's Port Phillip to amass this most brilliant of achievements. Posted on 27 Mar
Sailing Chandlery's Founder Andrew Dowley
Interview with Andrew as the business has gone from strength to strength The business has gone from strength to strength, but never moved away from its ethos of getting sailing gear to the customer as fast as possible. Posted on 27 Mar
Shaking off the rust
Sunday was what I'd count as the start of my 'sailing season' While I had sailed a couple of times already this year, Sunday was what I'd count as the start of my 'sailing season'. It's been a pretty grim February in the UK so the days getting longer and a bit drier is welcome. Posted on 18 Mar
Remembering the early days of sailing races on TV
Finding old episodes on Youtube, starting with the Ultra 30s Do you remember when certain classes managed to make the breakthrough into television coverage, and have a whole series filmed, not just appear briefly on a single show? Posted on 17 Mar
Winning at last!
How did the Firefly class come to be at the 1948 Olympics in the first place? We'll get into detail on Firefly 503, Jacaranda, later on but maybe an even bigger story is how the Firefly Class came to be at the Olympics in the first place. To put things into perspective we first have to go back even further to the early 1930s. Posted on 15 Mar
The Maiden. A Triple. Four Bullets
I kind of like our Managing Editor's name for 18-footers: The Kings of the Lowriding World The JJ Giltinan Championship is often referred to as the unofficial World Championship of the mighty and majestic 18-Footers. I kind of like our Managing Editor's name for them – The Kings of the Lowriding World. Yes. That most definitely suits. Posted on 11 Mar
Taking a look at the Nacra 570
We chat with Rogier Voetelink the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show The Nacra 570 is designed to bridge the gap between a holiday beach cat and a high performance catamaran, making exhilarating multihull sailing more accessible for those who don't want the hassle of a daggerboard cat. Posted on 6 Mar
A show like no other
I've written a lot about the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show in the past and will in the future I've written a lot about the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show in the past and am sure I will write more on it in the future. Last year I wrote 'It may not be the biggest...'. The reason I keep coming back to it is that it's truly a show like no other. Posted on 4 Mar