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Vic Smeed's Model Boat Designs

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Roy Verden 118/11/2019 07:46:56
12 forum posts

Hello all, just read through this thread again. I see early mention of Petrel, I think this was a small Panache type yacht (I hope I have remembered that correctly as there was a small long keel yacht that I mave confused it with) and it came out around August 1963 in MM magazine. I remember building her as I was just about to get married and I needed a distraction! We are still married, 56 years ago now.

She sailed very well and I made a very simple vane set up which was very effective. I used to sail at Hampstead model yacht pond where the Highgate model yacht club were based with a storage shed tucked away, but eventually vandals broke in one too many times and the club closed. They were were very friendly and I seem to remember an A Class boat with early RC. I saw recently on TV's Flog it programme a Marblehead in lovely condition sold for £750. I noticed that when a hatch was removed it had the Highgate MYC reference inside.

I, much later (late '90s) bought a Star C yacht ( I also have a full set of plans) and sailed her for a while, she was OK but nothing special. My one was a fibre glass hull and one day at the lake an on-looker stopped to talk and asked about the boat and he said he had made about 30 hulls of the yacht and almost certainly made the one I had. I sold my one on but know where it is.

I have a large collection of Model Maker magazines going back to I think June 1952 with the coronation coach on the cover. I wonder what will happen to them when I kick the bucket but nice to know someone has preserved a set of the magazines. I have a few older model yacht magazines but these were more a letters and results of racing and club activities which are no longer relevant. Whereas Model Maker actually brought practical model making with plans and instructions for bulding to the beginner. I think my first build was a Bustler tug in 1955, it had a small Taycol motor as drive. I remember it bobbed around a lot until I loaded the stern with most of the ball bearings from my Meccano set.

I bought 2 similar (and I do mean almost identical) yacht hulls 2 years ago at a bargain price. They look a lot like the Sea Urchin by Vic Smeed but are 32 inches loa. and a small 4 inch bowsprit, (?). The original builder is unknown but I pay tribute to his ability. I think the builder had an enquiring mind as one hull has a bulb keel and the other a cast in lead keel. Both are bread and butter construction with a beautiful finish and with a skeg as per Sea Urchin.

The bulb keel boat is 8 ounces lighter than the other at about 6 lbs. The decks are screwed down and sealed apart from a hole for the mast. There are some less than presentable sails which do not look like they would have done the job. I tried to retain the skegs but could not come up with a solution and I sawed them off so that I could hang the rudder off the stern. I am sure they were fine with the originally proposed vane steering assuming these hulls are derivatives of Sea Urchin.

My intentions are to convert to RC but have one Bermuda rig (ex Aeronaut Bella sails) and the other as a gaff rig for which I also have a set of sails which I have made myself, and this hull will retain the bowsprit. To balance the gaff rig I have had to move the mast back some distance. I have carefully cut through the deck on one hull and there is a very rough but varnished internal finish. When completed I hope to race them in friendly competition with my son. (OK, who am I kidding it will be war)! I introduced him to dinghy sailing (full size) and now he is qualified as Yachtmaster offshore. So any wins will be a big deal for me!

I know some consider Vic Smeed plans to be over simplified but the artistry he had, retained all of the character of the full size.

Regards to all


Roy Verden 118/11/2019 10:05:17
12 forum posts

Hi all, just remembered the yacht I mentioned was the 'Dabchick'. Was that one of Vic Smeed's?

Regards Roy

Tony Hadley13/12/2019 19:32:52
912 forum posts
552 photos

Hello Roy,

Apologies for the late reply, things have been hectic, which is no good for me as a youngster.

Dabchick was one of Vic's designs MM1024 and is still available from Sarik. At 24" it's a neat little design. It was interesting to read your post and I liked the mention of Bustler. This is one design I've always fancied having a go at this one. Never having built a bread and butter hull, the design offers a good beginners model to this type of construction.

Dabchick -


The original magazine article for Dabchick from August 1963 -


Tony Hadley13/12/2019 19:40:32
912 forum posts
552 photos

Vosper RTTL, plan number MM530 (still available from Sarik). Came as free plan with the Bumper Christmas edition of Model Maker magazine. Ripmax advertised fittings for the model on the magazine's back cover.

vosper rttl (1).jpg

vosper rttl (2).jpg

vosper rttl (3).jpg

vosper rttl (4).jpg

Kev Conlon23/03/2021 15:51:14
1 forum posts

Hey....isn't this interweb thing great!!!smiley

Came across a couple of Vic Smeed plans (Sea Mew catamaran...and the Vosper RTTL as referred to above!)

Dad had these from when I can first recall(1961...I was 5!!)....and now it appears that the Vosper may have been 'free' with a magazine....although priced at 10/-.

Would also be interested to find info on the Sea Mew...was it popular in it's day

Hehe....priced at 8/6d....perhaps this was also given away with a magazine???

Tony Hadley24/03/2021 11:06:07
912 forum posts
552 photos

Hi Kevin , welcome and thanks for the interest in Vic's designs, which bring back many happy memories to many of us.

Sea Mew was a 36" long racing catamaran, the magazine item was in the December 1958 Model Maker magazine. The Vosper RTTL (above) was the free plan in this magazine, whereas Sea Mew was a magazine article which I've posted below. Also in the magazine was a small 3/4 page size plan of Sea Mew, which can't be posted as the plan in still on sale with Sarik Hobbies MM533.


As to whether it was popular in it's day, I would very much doubt it being a top seller, yet I could be wrong.

sea mew (1).jpg

sea mew (2).jpg

Tony Hadley01/04/2021 10:02:07
912 forum posts
552 photos

Recently, Vic Smeed's 'Royal Falcon' 24" (610mm) little balsa paddler has been under construction. Originally from 1955 and featured in Model Maker magazine, #8 of this thread shows p1 of the mag item. The model is loosely based around the River Thames paddler 'Royal Eagle'

Attached are three photographs of the build, currently the stern is under construction. I've also attached a photograph of Vic's original model from his book, Scale Model Ships.


royal falcon (2).jpg

royal falcon (12).jpg

royal falcon (13).jpg

royal falcon orig (4) scale model ships 1988.jpg

Ian Gardner04/04/2021 10:02:50
566 forum posts
1 photos

Hello Tony,

It's nice to see some progress on Royal Falcon. Hopefully we can all get out to do some sailing soon. I haven't sailed a boat since last August when I took the video of SY Minnow. I'd love to see some video of your Guardsman if you ever got round to it and I'd still like to build a bigger Guardsman some day myself, but doubt I'll ever get to it now.

I wonder if you still plan to replicate Vic's epic voyage across Brotherswater with Royal Falcon when it's finished? That would be really something - but somewhat nerve-wracking I should think!

I'll be in touch soon,

All the best,


Tony Hadley05/04/2021 11:51:17
912 forum posts
552 photos

Hello Ian,

Thanks for the reply.

Royal Falcon is proving a lovely little build, there will need to be changes to the original e.g. to accommodate radio which wouldn't have been fitted back in the mid 1950s. It's all a learning curve as the build progresses.

I researched the epic crossing of the Lake District lake Brotherswater, by one of these little models and attached it to this post. The text is from Vic's 1966 book, Power Model Boats. Although the lake isn't big, it's still a remarkable achievement. Paddle steamers are notoriously unstable craft, slim hull with two large wheels to further upset the trim/balance. Vic has very cleverly engineered this one to be flat bottomed with slim paddle wheels which don't look out of place and shouldn't present a problem.

After watching the video featuring the superb SY Minnow on your website, this has given me an inspiration to make a couple of clips of my two little Smeed models, Guardsman and Lorena. Perhaps later this years or next, I would like to do some tidying up and minor modifications to these during the summer.

Reading the text on your website, SY Minnow was based around the Silver Mist design. Hope you don't mind me posting the link.


royal falcon orig (5) power model boats 1966.jpg

royal falcon orig (6) power model boats 1966e.jpg

Ian Gardner05/04/2021 14:28:53
566 forum posts
1 photos

Hi again Tony,

It's always nice to have a bit of video of boats if only for one's own satisfaction but I would like to see some of your Vic Smeed models in action. I plan to do more this year once I can get up to Cheddar again. Hopefully it won't be too long now.

One problem with sailing small boats on larger sheets of water is keeping sight of them. I used to sail very occasionally on the Round Pond as a boy and remember completely losing sight of boats among the wildfowl! I wonder if Vic took binoculars with him - and was it actually him? The article merely states, ''It is on record...'' You would probably know about this having done so much research about him.

Yes, my steam yacht did use the Silver Mist hull at 36". I'm not sure if this counts as Vic Smeed boat or not.

It is odd that my spell checker is quite happy with Sneed but doesn't like Smeed! I must look up Sneed.😐

Also rather sobering to note that you started this thread in 2013.

Cheers for now,


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