The Flying Eleven History - When and Why
by Alan Foster of Mariner Craft
(An extract from the NSW F11 Association Newsletter of March, 1976)
Have you ever wondered when, why and how the F11 started? Unlike the VJ which has a history going back a few decades, the F11 only goes back as far as 1964. The main classes available for training young sailors were the VJ, MJ, Moth, Heron and it appeared there was an opening for a class with:
- Comparative speed to the VJ
- No hiking boards
- More leg room
- Main, jib and spinnaker
- Light in weight, transportable
- A crew of two
- Easy to build, and
- The possibility of dad getting his foot in occasionally
Hence the birth of the Fll. Sounds easy, but like all new classes there is a trial period before acceptance. Most clubs like to be sure a new class is not a flash in the pan before.
Mariner Craft launched the first 3 boats in 1964 - the lines were drawn by E. Maxwell Smith and the sail plan by John McKellar of Gladesville. The 3 boats were built with completely different interior layouts:
1. The Open Sailer - with fore and aft buoyancy tanks, dagger-type centreboard, timber gunwales and gussets. Venturis to take the water out of the boat. Our present class is based on this.
2. The Self Drainer - with foredeck, afterdeck, 2 bulk heads, pivoting centreboard was 2"-3" higher in sheerline. The hull had a false floor rolled into the sides approx 6" above the outer skin providing the extra buoyancy and allowing any water to drain through the bottom of the centreboard case. The problem was if you fell off or capsized, the extra buoyancy and higher sides made it near impossible to climb aboard.
3. The Side Decked Model - similar to the Heron with foredeck, side decking, fore and aft buoyancy tanks, pivoting centreboard and venturis.
The acceptance campaign then started and the 3 boats were taken to different clubs each weekend and sailed in all weathers. Jim Pegram sailed the Open Sailer, Max Smith the Self Drainer, and I sailed the Fully Decked Model. The side decked model did not appeal to the go-fast boys and, although the self drainer was popular, the VJ self drainer was well established therefore the emphasis was put on a boat which, firstly, had to be expertly sailed to stay afloat and, secondly, would serve as a trainer for the open skiff classes - so the open sailer it had to be.
During the 1965-66 season Sans Souci Club accepted the F11 as a class, other clubs slowly followed and the NSW Fl l Association was formed in 1967. After trying various types of additional buoyancy, such as side tanks, the lines were redrawn and a complete set of plans issued to the Association, covering hull, sails, centreboard and rudder.
The early F11s were not as attractive or sophisticated as today - the clew of the genoa was 16" above the gunwale - the mainsail hung from one full length top batten, with some short leech battens, all battens were made of cane, and the venturis, which were tube and box type with corks, would be regarded as museum pieces.
Possibly, because of the exclusive type of manufacture which was adopted at Mariner Craft, the popularity and growth of the class was retarded. The cost of installing and setting up a hot vacuum press to manufacture an unknown class was enough to deter the professional and amateur builders. The F11 was not the only class made at Mariner Craft, therefore the hot vacuum presses were easily adapted to make lls once the original plug had been made. The advantage of using the hot moulding process is that the hull of an F11 can be completed quickly with the curing of the glue taking only 5 minutes compared to a few hours with cold moulding. There are two other advantages - the time taken for completion keeps the overall cost and selling price of the boat down, and because of the even pressure applied to the timber the finished hull is very true and strong.
With the introduction and Association acceptance of fibreglass in 1970 other moulds were built and the class took on a new lease of life. Early glass boats had planing boards until Association restrictions outlawed them, thereby keeping all boats to one design. One of the early problems, and a problem which is still with us, is to hold the weight of glass boats down to minimum weight without sacrificing strength - new resins and glass are helping to overcome this problem. In 1974 the timber mould was completely rebuilt with the addition of a double skin floor area to add strength to the flat bottom of the boat.
During the past few years sails, rigging, fittings and hull materials have greatly improved. So many ask us which is the better and faster boat to buy, timber or glass? The answer is always the same - crew and gear.
The only advantage, if any, would go to the timber boat because of the weight factor. This has been proved many times at Association events, timber boats win one race, and glass boats win the next.
Last Modified on 07/06/2005 10:43