Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Monday, 10 January 2011

Something about Sally

Sally II was launched in April 1937, at a time when good timber and shipwrights were both plentiful. Her hull is of long-leaf pitchpine from Pensecola, scarcely obtainable today, her keel of English elm and her grown frames of English oak, interspersed by steamed timbers in the pre-war fashion. Her ballast keel is a lump of lead weighing around two tons, held on with a dozen 1in diameter bronze bolts, and the straps deep in her bilge that keep her hull from drifting apart are forged from a type of bronze developed for the hydraulic pipes of Wellington bombers, Tungum alloy.

She was built in four months over the winter of 1936/37 by three men and a boy, employed by Messrs Elkins of Christchurch, Dorset, and her lines were drawn by of one of the most talented designers of the pre-war years; a Cambridge graduate who spent the early years of his career in the drawing office of aircraft manufacturer and later, bolstered by a family legacy from the Fry’s chocolate empire, set up as a naval architect in a little bow-fronted Georgian house in Lymington. Slight, bespectacled, chain-smoking Jack Laurent Giles made his name, ironically, not from the radical, race-winning yachts of the pre- and post-war years but from a handful of modest cruising boats, based on the lines of French fishing boats and pilot cutters, among them a 25ft sloop called Andrillot, the forerunner of the Vertue class.

Sally is the second of the class, although the name was only applied much later. In 1937, when Philip Sharp, a Poole lawyer, commissioned her she was just a standard 5-tonner in the days when even standard boats were custom-built.

Those who know their sheerlines will have no trouble guessing her provenance. For the curve at her bow is extravagant to say the least, sweeping up from aft like the ski-jump on the bows of aircraft carriers to let loose Harrier jets. That alone is not enough to place her; for that you have also to take into account the little upward ‘kick’ in the sheerline aft, and the elegant transom, full and buoyant, with the tucked in sides delightfully known as tumblehome. Sally II is indubitably, undoubtedly, undeniably a Laurent Giles.

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