Considered one of the more popular traditional wooden day sailing boats the St. Mawes One Design is found on a very small yet active fleet located in St. Mawes, the Falmouth area and Carrick Roads.
After the formation of the St. Mawes Sailing Club in 1920, racing ensued but because of the differences between the boats that were competing. Many who competed for the club consistent lost their races. One such person was Frank Green who lived in St. Mawes, and who had been the designer of the St. Mawes one design in the early 1920’s. There were only four of the classes at the time but many the then owners sold their boats and interest in the class abated. Frank green, because of his many losses to a boat named ‘Phantom’, eventually designed a boat that could win him races and the St. Mawes Sailing Club adopted his design. The first boat with this new design was named ‘Aileen’.
Frank Peters’ St. Mawes one design ‘Aileen’ was the winner of the Falmouth Town Regatta Class for 16, from 1923 – 1925. This established Peters as a talented boat builder and sailor at the age of twenty-one. Due to the success of Aileen two other boats were quickly built, Mooncat and Phoebe. This led to the growth of the class and also class racing and by the beginning of the World War II a small fleet of between four and eight boats regularly raced every week under the patronage of the St. Mawes Sailing Club. Frank Peters built some thirteen boats from the twenties into the thirties but not more than two were built each year. Their construction time was about six weeks.
Peters was part of a family run firm that built boats in St. Mawes at the Freshwater Boatyard for almost two hundred years. The firm was known for building many of the original pilot gigs that were used extensively especially around the Isles of Scilly.
The numbers of the St. Mawes One Design increased in 1938 when the design was used by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club in its cadet class and they had seven boats that were built in the Falmouth boatyard, Ponsharden. The boats that were built were not as quick as those built in Frank’s own yard. The major reason for the difference in performance was the heavier construction methods adapted by the Ponsharden Yard. The extra weight guaranteed that success at the races was going to rare, yet almost 50 years later Nick Muller in Widgeon (a Ponsharden boat) won the Class Championships hence dispelling the weight excuse.
When the war ended competitive racing began again and the fleet was increased with the addition of six new boats built by Frank Peters between 1949 and 1951. There came in 1953 a significant moment in the fortune of the class, when Mr. Anthony Beasley, who owned Rainbow had made a special fitting on the mast which allowed the gaff to lie closer to the mast, therefore the boat was able to point significantly higher than the other boats. This made the boat similar to a Bermudan type rig. Many sailors protested and this ended up causing the class to be converted to Bermudan rig. This meant that the height of the rig would be increased significantly and also the sail plan and a reduction in the size of the jib but increasing the mainsail and in turn the aspect of the sail area and the overall area by 20 sq. ft. More changes in the rules have today resulted in a mainsail of 133 sq. ft and a jib of 44 sq. ft a total of 177 sq. ft, which is a significant 27 sq. ft of sail area over that which ‘Aileen’ had when she was first launched in the early 1920’s.
Soon after these rules were made officially all boats were converted to Bermudan rig so as to keep them competitive. Class racing did extremely well in the fifties and this was aided by a local sailor, Les Ferris who started a sailing school and used two one designs (Kelpie & Nymph) as training boats. Before Frank Peters retired in 1964 he built another five boats with Choochky (No. 33) being the last boat to be built by the Peters family. A boatbuilder named Brian Crockford built Kittiwake No. 34 in 1969. As the new decade started the racing fleet started to become depleted, as other boats became more attractive to the visitors and local residents of St. Mawes and by 1977 class racing had completely stopped.
Once the boats started to be bought and sold to persons who were enthusiasts some interest started to grow in the class and through the efforts of Andrew Tyler who had purchased Vesper (No. 29) in 1978. The outcome of this interest was the formation of The Class Association which held its first meeting on the 6th September 1980. Soon after fleets of eight to ten boats begun racing and over time it was done during holiday periods. Local boatbuilder Jonathan Leach built another one design, Outlaw (No. 35) in 1982 Outlaw was the first one design to be built for 13 years and because of its success twelve more have been built by Jonathan to date. The construction of the new boats was done as close to the original specification as possible although no plans or moulds were in existence.
The year 2007 will be the 84th anniversary of the Class. Only a total of 45 boats have been built over the past 80 years of which 43 boats are still in around. The cost of building a new One Design has increased drastically over the years due to the cost of materials. At present it will cost approximately £11,000 to build today.