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Cowes Fire Destroys Classic Keelboat Fleet

28th January 2016

A fire at a boatyard in Cowes on the Isle of Wight yesterday has seen the destruction of around 30 yachts and one-design dayboats, including many irreplaceable classics.

Vintage boats, including a World War Two rescue vessel, are among those feared to have been destroyed in a fire on an Isle of Wight industrial estate.

Thick black smoke billowed over Cowes when the major blaze broke out at Medina Village on Monday.

Classic vessels, including the Dunkirk "little ship" Vere, and racing yachts are believed to be among the wreckage.
Boat building firm owner David Heritage said they were "irreplaceable".

XOD class captain Mike Till reported that seven XOD one-designs were among the boats destroyed in the blaze, which ripped through an industrial unit off Bridge Road known as Samuel White's, formerly Souter's yard. Till described it as 'an unmitigated disaster'.

"It's probably the greatest single loss of boats ever recorded in one place. They were all top-class XODs, old obviously, but in beautiful condition. Three of those boats are the core of the Cowes Division, so it's a huge loss. The Vice-Captain lost his boat, and I am now Class Captain of the whole fleet without an XOD.

"You can't buy a replacement. You could buy another XOD, it's never going to be the boat you've lost. You can't just walk out and buy something off the shelf. My boat was built in 1938, called 'Delight' X75, many of the others were post-war. The point about these boats, we're just guardians of them. There's a heritage here and in the XOD fleet there's a finite number of boats, there are no new ones being built at the moment. They've been around since 1911 and they've never had a loss like this in the XOD fleet before."

Fifteen Etchells keelboats were also destroyed. More from the Yachts and Yachting website here

The Solent's XOD fleet were featured in WM Nixon's blog here

Published in Historic Boats
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