History (the following information and image courtesy of the National Squib Class Owners Association)
The Squib was designed in 1967 by Oliver Lee as a successor to his Ajax 23. The protoytpe was built in cold moulded wood and sailed extensively over the winter of 1967-68. After successful proving trials she was used as a plug and the first GRP Squib was launched in June 1968. By the end of that year there were six Squibs racing on the Crouch and they had grown into a substantial fleet by 1969 with new fleets forming at Waldringfiled, Brixham, Abersoch and Aldeburgh. At the Yachting World Keelboat Rally held in 1969 the Squib was pronounced to be the most interesting entry. When numbers passed 300 in 1972 the Squib was granted national status.
While the UK fleets expanded, interest began to spread abroad. A couple of Squibs went to Tortola as day charter boats and a fleet grew there. Other groups grew in South Africa, Greece, Germany and Australia. Many of these boats were either club owned, operated on charter or used in sailing schools.
By 1974 sail numbers had approached the 400 mark despite growing economic gloom. That November an event called the Squib Symposium was dreamed up by Simon Fraser, and that country's leading yachting journalists came to Burnham-on-Crouch to race Squibs against one another. The resulting press comment further enhanced the Squib's reputation as did the Design Centre's decision to put the Squib on its index of selected designs.
The Class has now spread to all parts of the British Isles, where there are 27 active racing fleets, ten of which muster more than 20 boats. The most recent fleets to be formed were at Royal Ulster YC in 1998, East Antrim YC in 2000 and Kinsale YC in 2001. The Royal Ulster YC fleet now embrace Squibs from Ballyholme YC and the combined fleet is called the Bangor Fleet. Over 810 Squibs have been built and the National Squib Owners Association has over 640 members. A National Championship has been held at a different venue every year since 1972. In 2002 it was held at Royal North of Ireland YC with an entry of over 80 boats. A Match Racing Championship which was instituted in 1988 was held at Howth in 2000 but was not sailed in 2001. In 1995 Rutland SC instituted an Inland Championship which attracted 34 entries and proved so popular that it has been held every year since and in 2002 attracted 43 entries. Squibs race as a class in Aldeburgh Week, Medway Week, Menai Strait Fortnight, Oulton Week, Tay Week and racing with a PY of 115.
Until his death in 1993 Oliver Lee was the sole licenced builder of Squibs. The licence lapsed on his death and in 1994 it was granted to Barker Brewer Boats Ltd but they relinquished it in 1996 after having built 12 Squibs. In 1997 the licence was granted to parker Sailboats who built 40 squibs up to the end of 2001.
What is a Squib?
Just under 20 foot long, the Squib is a two person racing keelboat with 50% ballast ratio. That means it is big enough to race at sea and small enough to trail comfortably behind a family car. It also means that it needs only two of you to race and it is very safe in a blow. The Squib is sailed by all sorts and by all ages, primarily because it is, and feels, so solid and safe. You sit in a Squib, not on it – though we do hike out!
It is particularly suitable for mixed crews. About 10% of helms at the Nationals are female as are 25% of all participants in the Nationals. The 2007 National Champion crew is Penny Fenwick. Jenny Riley has been twice National Champion crew and recently won Oulton Week as a helm. There are very many married couples racing in the Squib Class.
The Squib seems to suit all ages as well. The youngest crew at the Nationals in 2007 was 13. The youngest helm we have seen was 12 (Holyhead 2004.) Prizes are awarded for first boat with crew combined age over 120. (To win this, the boat would have to be in the top third of the fleet.) The oldest Nationals competitor we are aware of was 85 at the time.
About 80–100 Squibs attend the National Championships which take place at a different venue each year (2008 Lowestoft, 2009 Weymouth, 2010 Dun Laoghaire.) 55 attend the Inland Championships which are held at Rutland and there are usually about 35 Squibs racing in Cowes Week.
There are many other championships – the Irish, Northern Irish, Scottish, North of England, East Coast, South Coast and the Welsh Championships. Squibs sail in many regattas around the country – Oulton Broad, Menai Straits, Aldeburgh, Bridlington, Abersoch, Dart and several others.
In March 2009, Graham Smith wrote the following review of the class for Afloat: "According to the stats, the Squib national fleet stands at 85 which represents an increase over the previous year so the appeal of the boat – affordable, easily trailed and easily sailed – is clearly catching. Indeed, the Irish fleet represents a fair percentage of the total fleet in the British Isles.
Interest has been growing over the years so that it’s no longer a Howth and Cultra monopoly, with burgeoning fleets in Killyleagh, Arklow and Glandore in West Cork.
That said, the northerners still tend to dominate proceedings on the race course and John Driscoll from RNIYC won the national title from a healthy fleet of 36 boats, sailed in Kinsale. National Champion 2009: John Driscoll, RNIYC
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