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A LUCKY GAMBLE AND A LOT OF SKILL

Martin Jones talks about Mr. Jones.

The choice of name was Hugh Welbourns’, and I take no responsi­bility whatsoever! It demonstrates the extreme difficulty most of us have in finding names for our boats.

99%of the credit for the success of Mr. Jones in its first season is due to Hugh himself, he built it from scratch single handed and learnt how to sail it just in time for Weymouth, and credit, too, to ace crew Danny Hooker. He has crewed in three Burton Weeks and each time placed second, quite a lad to have in the boat, unless you only want to win!

Hugh wanted a boat that was different and, if possible, faster than anyone else’s and was prepared to take a gamble. Naturally we were pleased with the success of Lucky Number and Fantasia. But they seemed to me to drag their sterns and I wondered whether a little less transom in the water would help in moderate weather and to windward. Of course, the speed might suffer in heavier conditions, so the Lucky Number shape was carved away aft to give a narrow run, and a bit of rocker added to give more buoyancy. The beam at deck level was increased aft of amidships to give even more power, though keeping the boat dry became even more of a problem.

When I first saw the boat I was slightly surprised it seemed so different from Fantasia, it is amazing how an inch or so here and there can change the look of a boat. It handled differently, too, so buoyant that one had to sit well forward to get the bow in, unusual in a fine bowed boat but no more nose diving problems. It soon proved that it would go very cleanly to windward and bob along down wind like nobody’s business. Planing in a sea the boat is unpredictable and its all go for the poor helmsman. Contrary to rumour, however, I don’t think Hugh has ever capsized Mr. Jones, although he finds it difficult to really drive her in a blow. I believe if one could learn the technique she would be unbeatable in any weather.

This year there have been an unusual number of new designs and the clinker ply constructions makes even a one off job a reasonably cheap proposition. Anyone who has completed a 12 from a shell is capable of building from scratch, once the procedure is understood it is easier to build the shell than finish it off, and I think, more satisfying. More people should have a go, it is probably the easiest method of construction after hard chine.

However, if you want a Mr. Jones shell, Wyche & Coppock will be going into production in time for next season.

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