In the 1950s I owned a small fleet of Broads Cruisers and I needed dinghies to hire with the cruisers. I started with the usual wooden boats. However, these needed lots of winter maintenance and as the wooden cruisers also needed winter work, this was a pain. One year, whilst at the Boat Show, I saw a boat made from a marvellous, maintenance free and at the time completely unheard of material. Fibreglass. I started to experiments with the new material and in the late 50s; I eventually designed and built moulds for a small lugsail dinghy to use with my Broads Cruisers. From this I designed a racing dinghy which was based on the lugsail dinghy hull and from this developed a larger and improved version which I called the Silver Streak of which we sold more than 60.
Whilst making these I was approached by some local Osprey sailors who asked if I would be interested in producing a fibreglass version of the Osprey which I wjat I did. I took the mould for these from a wooden Osprey and had built quite a few Ospreys when, in the late 60s, I was asked if I would build Javelins.
Although the Osprey was a very nice boat, it was far from an ideal shape to make in fibreglass as the clinker construction of the hull made it a nightmare to mould satisfactorily without getting air void, so I was more than happy to take on the Javelin.
Five Javelins had already been built but Peter Milne, the designer decided he would like to improve the design of the hull and decks and have a fully fibreglass version. The first five boats all had wooden decks.
With Peter’s help I continued from there producing my own moulds from his revised drawing and started building Javelins for the English market. In 1970, the first boats were sold to Germany and Holland and fleets soon started to build in those countries. In 1978, four boats were exported to Brunei. In 1986 we sold a set of moulds to H Froeschke in Germany and these are the mould which have recently been bought by the German Class Association. Numbers had reached 550 in 1990 when Tony Lincoln started building, followed by Porter Brothers and now Jeff Green, the current builder is using my moulds.
In 1970, my friend Brian Taylor (who was Chairman of the Osprey Class when I was putting it into fibreglass and subsequently the owner of Javelin No10) and I designed a single-handed dinghy and called it the Phantom. This was intended for the home builder being made in wood by the stitch and glue method. More recently a fibre glass version has been produced and accepted by the Phantom class. I was thrilled when I discovered over 70 Phantoms sailed in the National Championships at Stone Sailing Club in Essex. There are now more than 1200 of these boats around and the class is still growing.
Although I do not sail a Javelin anymore, it seems that the genetic baton has been passed on. My son-in-law Dick and my grandson Ben are sail in the Javelin fleet. They, like me, are keen supporters of the class which I hope will continue to go from strength to strength and give lots of pleasure to many more sailors in the years to come.
Good luck to all Javelin Sailors,