Reprinted from Yachting Western Australia - Making Waves
Photo: Carol Richards starts the keel lowering device - Photo courtesy: Rick Steuart
In a small corner of the Legends boat building sheds in Naval Base, south of Perth, the newest Herreshoff 28 is being built.
The fleet of H28s is well known on Perth waters as a sloop rig timber yacht that contests every sailing day out of the South of Perth Yacht Club.
This ceremony marks the first H28 being built since Gundarra was built in the 1990’s by John Midolo (SoPYC), but departs from the idea of a family cruiser as was the concept of Francis Herreshoff when he lay down the original design in the mid 1930s. Herreshoff planned to build a two masted yacht, a ketch rig, that could get a family there and back in a weekend (exactly where was a moot point), but had to be simply designed and sturdy.
Bill Richards is building a cold molded hull which means that it will be lighter than the traditional full or half jarrah planked hull but with a more weighted keel. The boat will then be able to compete on favourable terms with the rest of the H28 fleet - but there are enough of the cold moulded hulls around to keep Bill honest. He also plans to enlarge the cockpit area so that the crew is able to move around in freedom, when working the boat during a race.
His research into the old plans and drawings has developed a series of plans that could be used for future H28’s and he is keen to promote their use, in order to keep the H28s alive and as racers in the Swan River Clubs. The H28s on the SwanRiver are all single masted hulls and as such, when raced in their class, are most competitive, with sometimes under three minutes between first and last over the finish line.
The Keel laying ceremony for the new H28 was very well attended with the keel laying ceremony and invocation well handled by the club's resident Padre, Howard McCallum. Bill’s wife, Carol, a noted Fremantle artist, started the keel lowering device and the boat builder, Brian Phillips was there to answer all questions. It was pleasing to see the old master, Len Randall come down to see another timber boat setting off on the journey of life.
It is expected that the boat will take another few months to get to the launching stage and then the fit-out and rigging of the mast and essentials will take place. An interesting concept has been mooted about the use of an electric motor rather than the traditional diesel motor. It is lighter, can be recharged by solar panels as well as the power points on the jetties at the club and would cover all the needs Bill has for a craft that would essentially be sailed on the river, not as an offshore yacht. As Bill claims, he’d not be more than 2 hours away from the club at any one time and that is all he would need.