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Famous Belfast Lough GP14 Dinghy 'Ventura' is Restored & Sailing Again at Newtownards

10th July 2021
Ventura, no 796 built in 1955 and once owned by Ernie Mawhinney of Belfast Lough, is back in the water on Strangford Lough at Newtownards
Ventura, no 796 built in 1955 and once owned by Ernie Mawhinney of Belfast Lough, is back in the water on Strangford Lough at Newtownards

A year and a half ago, Afloat reported on a famous GP14 called Ventura, which had been saved from destruction and was being restored by Derek McCune of Newtownards Sailing Club. 

Now Ventura, no 796 built in 1955 and once owned by Ernie Mawhinney of Belfast Lough, is back in the water on Strangford Lough at Newtownards. Three weeks ago, he sailed her for the first time in what is essentially Ventura's second life.

Ventura's  decks are varnised Ventura's decks are varnised

After sorting out the inevitable teething problems, Derek will then concentrate on future plans, which include possibly the Irish Nationals at Lough Erne Yacht Club in August and hopefully the postponed GP14 Worlds next year in Skerries.

Vintage GP14 dinghy Ventura a year and a half ago - work to be done

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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The GP14 is a popular sailing dinghy, with well over 14,000 boats built.

The class is active in the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and parts of north-eastern USA, and the GP14 can be used for both racing and cruising. 

Designed by Jack Holt in 1949, with the assistance of the Dovey Yacht Club in Aberdyfi. The idea behind the design was to build a General Purpose (GP) 14-foot dinghy which could be sailed or rowed, capable of also being powered effectively by a small outboard motor, able to be towed behind a small family car and able to be launched and recovered reasonably easily, and stable enough to be able to lie to moorings or anchor when required. Racing soon followed, initially with some degree of opposition from Yachting World, who had commissioned the design, and the boat soon turned out to be an outstanding racing design also.

The boat was initially designed with a main and small jib as a comfortable family dinghy. In a design philosophy that is both practical and highly redolent of social attitudes of the day the intention was that she should accommodate a family comprising parents plus two children, and specifically that the jib should be modest enough for "Mum" or older children to handle, while she should perform well enough to give "Dad" some excitement when not taking the family out. While this rig is still available, and can be useful when using the boat to teach sailing, or for family sailing, and has some popularity for cruising, the boat is more commonly seen with the full modern rig of a mainsail, genoa and spinnaker. Australian boats also routinely use trapezes.

At A Glance – GP14 Dinghy Specifications

Crew 2
Draft 1,200 mm (47 in)
Hull weight 132.9 kg
LOA 4.27 m (14 ft)
Beam 1.54 m
Spinnaker area 8.4 m2
Upwind sail area 12.85 m2

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