Post WW1 race boat restored

GL Watson designed St Patrick revitalised by Fairlie Restorations

Thursday June 30th 2011, Author: Jack Gifford, Location: United Kingdom

Last sailed in the 1960s the uniquely original 92 year old racing yacht St Patrick was re-launched today.

Traced to a garden in Scotland, the yacht was the subject of a planned restoration some 20 years ago, but this did not materialise. Recovered in 2009 by her original designers, G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd., St Patrick has been restored by the Fife specialists Fairlie Restorations using the same techniques as the William Fife yard who originally built her in 1919.

St Patrick is one of four identical yachts designed by G. L. Watson & Co. to the Boat Racing Association 18ft Class. The 'Saints' were commissioned by Capt. L. Lindsay-Smith for the Salcombe Yacht Club – these were the first racing yachts to be commissioned after the First World War and were named after the patron saints of the United Kingdom.

After an initial period based in Devon, all four boats were purchased by the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club where they were based until 1930. After being sold by the RN&SYC, St Patrick went to the River Deben and then on to Brightlingsea before being moved to the Solway Firth and extensively raced in the 1950s. Thereafter St Patrick’s condition steadily declined.

St Patrick is a near unique survivor of this type of extremely lightly built yacht that characterised the development classes in British yachting from the 1890s to the mid-1920s. The hull was built using techniques that Fife pioneered in the 1890s. All the planks are full length and close seamed with a thread of caulking lodged in a small groove rolled into the plank edge. The planking is Alaskan Yellow Cedar and the framing is all steamed timbers.

Mid-restoration St Patrick was exhibited at the London International Boat Show and now returns to the water fully restored and sporting the original livery.

St Patrick’s owners commented, “Prior to discovering St Patrick I had never seen such a well preserved example of this type of light weight yacht construction. The combination of the Watson design and Fife construction is a fabulous pedigree and, even after many years of neglect, this shone through. The meticulous restoration by G. L. Watson & Co. and Fairlie Restorations has returned St Patrick to as close to the original condition as possible. We are greatly looking forward to discovering the boat’s performance under sail.”

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