Gosport MB&YC

ROBERT HOBBS describes how his club is involved with helping the designers of tomorrow

Most of us consider model boating as a pleasurable hobby and do not consider its wider implications. At Gosport Model Boat and Yacht Club (GMB&YC), due to our location on the South Coast we are involved with many of the less obvious activities associated with model yachting.

These include working with crews from Clipper Ventures (the Round the World Yacht Race) as a training exercise, and also supporting an annual event with Southampton Solent University which forms part of the first year unit on their Yacht and Power Craft Design, Yacht Production and Surveying degree courses.

This event has grown over the last 20 years, and certainly over the last six years I have seen the quality of the projects transform from a basic designs to the quality of the example shown.

The first year unit requires students of whom 50% are from Europe and also places as far away as South Africa, some of whom have little practical experience and others who have previous model building and sail making experience, to design, build and race a model yacht which has been designed and built to a rule which is set by the unit tutor, Giles Barkley. That aside, the yachts must be free sailing, i.e. no radio control and because of the balanced design, some do not even require a rudder for steering.

Giles explained that the project is split into three stages with marks being awarded for each stage. The first stage requires a yacht to be designed within the parameters of length, displacement and sail area, similar to that of the metre class rule. This design is then translated into CAD drawings using commercial software used in the yacht design industry. The student then laser cuts his components for his design using a nested CAD file.

The second stage is to then build a model of their design, which is easier said than done. The choice of construction methods ranged from using simple bread and butter foam blocks, which are hollowed out and glassed over, to hulls made from male or female moulds with GRP, as well as various levels of plank on frame hulls. One model even had solar film, heat shrunk over balsa ribs. Once the model is built they are submitted for assessment together with the drawings.

This is where I met up with Giles and his team, Ian Thomas, and Steve Crook to act as an external judge for awarding the construction marks. This year (2008), 45 models were completed and without a doubt, several of them where built to exhibition standard with the remainder of the fleet being the best quality models we had seen for some years. The overall standard was remarkable, as for many this was their first attempt at model yacht building.

The third and most exciting part of this project is to race the yachts in a knock-out event at Gosport Boating Lake. The models were seeded on the basis of their building marks then split into fleets. The first seven from each race went through into the next round. The seven lower skippers from each race sailing together in a further race where the top seven went through to the next round, culminating in 14 skippers taking part in the final. The course was a windward beat, the full the length of the lake (230 metres), with skippers tacking the yachts as they reached the banks. Finally a downwind race was held with all 44 yachts - one was missing because it sank in an earlier round). This years overall winner was Stephen Botes (a very appropriate name) from South Africa.

In yacht design terms, many students from past years have turned out to be great designers having significant influence on the design of full scale yacht and boat design, with some having a marked effect on the model yachting scene. If you require any further information about the degree course, see Southampton Solent Universitys website www.solent.ac.uk. and www.gosportmybc.org.uk or www.rclasergosport.org.uk yachting at GMB&YC.