International Model Lifeboat Rally

DAVE WOOLEY reports from Etherow Country Park 26th June 2011

Held for the second year running at this venue in Compstall (sat. nav. SK6 5JD) and organised by Christopher Guttridge with members of the Etherow MBC, this event was better than 2010 and that was a good year!

A bit of history

Historically, when called the National Lifeboat Rally, it had been held for many years at Southport, initially as the brainchild of Des’ Newton and it raised a lot of money for the RNLI, sufficient for two D class inflatables. Sadly it suffered a demise, but after an absence of a couple of years it was reconstituted in 2010 at a different site as the International Model Lifeboat Rally and has done rather well. Etherow MBC can boast of having two excellent sailing waters and currently has a membership of over 150. The club supports all sectors of the hobby including yachting and is clearly a dynamic group of model boaters.

2011 Rally

Etherow County Park is well located with good parking facilities, toilets (very important!) and a café. Chris Guttridge had managed to secure a D class inflatable lifeboat for display during the two days. The Saturday was for general model boating whilst Sunday was focused very much on the lifeboats. Mind you, having the benefit of two waters meant that normal club activity could continue unabated and the widespread use of 2.4GHz r/c has meant that frequency clashes are usually a thing of the past now. Lifeboat modellers came in good numbers to support this event – without them there would be no rally!
The overall numbers and standard of the models was very good this year, particularly for the static competition, with a rise in entries overall which was an encouraging sign. The on the water segment of the rally was given over to free sailing with no competition element, reflecting perhaps modeller’s current desires. The water was excellent from both a sailing as well as a photographic point of view, with plenty of space to put the models through their paces. In one incident, Peter Farrow’s superb and award winning Clyde class RNLB Charles H Barrett was cruising happily until the wash of an Arun under full power started a real wave formation heading right for his model. Quick as a flash, he turned RNLB Charles H Barrett into the oncoming waves and as you would expect from such a design, it rode them with hardly a problem.

One of the most appealing of entries and generating a lot of interest, was Andrew and Margaret Chandler’s supremely entertaining ‘bear’ crewed RNLI Atlantic 21 on a trailer and towed by a DUKW. The Atlantic and its crew were towed down the slipway into the water, then the lifeboat was free to make its own way and off it went with a real turn of speed, a good performance all round. This was a real crowd pleaser for both the young and old.

Another unusual entry, which certainly made the judges think hard, was a spectacular piece of engineering in the form of a one quarter scale Talus launching tractor built by William Power. This was an amazing entry, accurate in every detail to the full size counterpart. Only the power plant was different, an electric motor replacing the 210hp Caterpillar diesel engine. Apparently this model Talus tractor took 19 years to build and when one just looks at the winch and internal cab detail I can understand why. It is worth noting that the cab on the full size tractor is watertight. Entered in scratch the judges could only award the Talus a third place. Why? Well it was not a lifeboat and the rules said ‘lifeboat’! Nevertheless, this amazing model was awarded the John Docwra Trophy by the RNLI as their choice of winning model. The Talus was not the only tractor on display, others being part of boat launching trailer combinations. Apparently there is a strong indication that there will be some form of recognition for lifeboat towing vehicles and the launching carriages next year.

The National Girobank trophy for best scratch built model went to Peter Farrow’s Clyde class lifeboat. Peter’s model is an outstanding example of hull construction, it being double diagonal planked, but as they say the devil is in the detail. Peter also gained the award for the highest scoring model. What always impresses me is the delight that builders have in recreating the finest of detail, even down to the hexagonal bolt heads for securing panels etc.

The Aerokits Charity Shield for Best Kit went to Ken Pheasey with his excellent Waveney class The Scout 44-018, the original being stationed at Hartlepool from 1977 to1997.

This year’s Winner of Winner’s award went to Les Jones with his sailing/pulling Lifeboat displayed on its carriage. Mind you, Dave Moss from Spalding, Lincs, also had a new and very nice model of an FCB-2 (Shannon) class lifeboat on its trailer. These new lifeboats are intended to replace the Mersey class and are due to start entering service in 2013. They are believed to have a top speed of 25kts. (See Gallery of the FCB-2 undergoing trials in the very recent MB 2011 Celebration of Model Boating Winter Special – Editor)

Models of lifeboats such as the classic Arun class look superb both on and off the water, but the first Arun was not identical to the production versions, having a straight sheer line and a very different superstructure to that of those we are familiar with. Arthur Barlow is building this unique craft and no doubt it will generate a lot of interest, if not controversy. This original Arun served briefly at St. Peter Port, Guernsey from 1972 to 1973, then at Barry Docks from 1973 until 1997, before being sold out of service and renamed Arun Adventurer.


This was the second year of the ‘new’ International Model Lifeboat Rally. It had good weather, more innovative and unique models and good public interest. The host club worked very hard at making the weekend a success.

Downside? Well none really, other than perhaps a bit more pre-event publicity to further boost numbers. Dates for 2012 are 23/24 June and the host club’s website is: