#modelboat – Pirate ships were made of wood, viking ships were also build of wood, in fact a lot of boats were made using this noble and natural material, wood writes Gilbert Louis.
But nowadays most of the boats are build using composite materials like fibreglass, carbon, kevlar, aramid, honeycomb etc...I said most because some are still built in wood. I used to race a Europe dinghy made entirely in mahogany over 25 years ago when I was racing in this class in France and yet I was as competitive as with a fibreglass one.
Some model boat classes like the IOM (International One Metre) forbid the use of exotic composites like carbon, kevlar and other expensive type in the building of the boat to keep the cost down. However the class rule do allow fibreglass for the hull and carbon fibre for the fin and rudder but to encourage home build, they allow wood too.
One could think that a wooden boat wouldn't be a performant as a fibreglass one. But they'd be wrong. A German skipper designs and builds his boat (in wood as well as fibreglass), and even builds his spares in wood and uses florist wrapping laminate to cut his sails in and regularly finish in the top ten at international events. This shows that it is not all about the latest design or building material.
There is something magical in a wooden boats, something a fibreglass boat simply can't deliver. I remember my fireball had a a kevlar reinforced hull but a wooden deck and I loved it, it looked fantastic. In IOM I've only sailed fibreglass boats but this is about to change as I am about to take delivery of my first woody or wooden boat.
I am expecting a lot from that boat, and actually think that being in wood will add to the performance as it will be a really stiff boat yet with corrector weights to bring her up to minimum weight (amount of corrector weight still to be determined but expect to put around 100g). Thanks to Neill's great wood working skills who did a fantastic work building his XP.
I will be campaigning this boat going forward – I'm going to build new rigs, get new set of sails will spend time on the water to learn how to get the best of her. Hopefully joining 2 other skippers to see what we can do at the Woody's championships in the UK (reserved to wooden IOM). But also will race against fibreglass boats.
It is the beginning of a new chapter for me and if you want to know more about how I get on with my woody then stay tune as I will write progress and findings here.
To be continued