The National Redwing Dinghy – THE BOAT

When the Looe Sailing Club commissioned Uffa Fox to design the Redwing it was stipulated that she must be a sturdy, able seaboat first and foremost and at the same time fast and fun to sail. At first the boat remained an exclusively West Country class where her qualities in the steep open seas around these coasts were immediately appreciated, but soon her popularity spread to other parts of the coast where similar conditions prevail, until now the latest sail number is 251.

The Redwing is not a “do-it-yourself” type of boat, but one that needs skilful craftsmanship in her construction. She is built to stand up to any amount of rough treatment, and to last for many years. Boats that are now over 60 years old still race regularly at the annual championships and perform admirably. As a consequence, when boats do change hands, which is not often, the second-hand price remains remarkably steady.

However, thanks to the efforts of our boat builders and restorers, over the last couple of decades there are now plenty newer and refurbished boats joining the fleet to complement the older hulls weathered from more half a century of hard racing. The first boats are now more than sixty years old but with a little bit of TLC even a tired or neglected boat can be given a new lease of life. For example, R19 ‘Gleam’, built in 1947, was found worn-out and abandoned in 1978 and put back in commission for five pounds. Years later and after many changes of ownership she was restored again by Rev Barribal and is now in regular use in the IOS fleet. As far as we know the only pre-war survivor in seaworthy condition is number 2 ‘Kittiwake’, recently given a thorough restoration to beautiful condition by Richard Spiller. Number 1, ‘Jackdaw’ is believed to still be at Polruan in Cornwall, but probably not currently in commission.

Finally, to quote Uffa Fox: “Those who know and understand Redwings are inspired by their seaworthiness. They are outstandingly brave little boats, from which we can learn that the sea is to sail upon... in a boat in which we can enjoy the sea in all its moods and not fear it.. even in a hat-ful of wind.”