Classic Boat Article

Classic Boat magazine have an article on the Osprey. Alan Henderson & Oscar Chess helped them with the article.

by Jim Thompson

I thought I should share my experience of the early history of the Osprey.

The original Mk 1 was built to compete in the 1952 IYRU trials in Holland to replace the Tornado as the two man Olympic dinghy. Although both it and Jack Holts Hornet did well the decision went to the Flying Dutchman which had elements of the design cedited to Uffa Fox's world record holding Jollyboat.

This Osprey Mk 1 was a PLANKED boat with strong resemblance to Ian Proctors successful 1950's Merlin Rockets. The sail emblem had just one aft facing wing on the O and was probably the only one built.

This was the start of the homebuild era that launched the great dinghy sailing era with the leading Brittish company Bell Woodworking producing kits and finished boats for the Cadet, Yachting World General purpose dinghy [GP14], and the Yachting World Cartop dinghy [Heron] and were looking for a larger dinghy to add to their range.

Thus the Mk 2 was redisigned as a MULTICHINE dinghy suitable for homebuild kits or completed boats by Bells. These early boats had wooden masts, cotton sails, and no trapeze. The jib fairlead was a simple deadeye on the sidedeck with a central snubbing winch on the thwart with staight vertical strip chainplates. The rudder was plywood and raked aft which gave a tendency to broach at high speed. Buoyancy relied on the seals surrounding large square hatches in the fore and aft bulkheads.

I used to crew on Bells built No 7 Thunderbird at Penarth MBSC in the 1950's and later restored No 25 which I believe was Val Howells boat sailed in the first National Championship in Saundersfoot with Ian Proctor sailing No 222. It was very rough with several broken masts and Ian Proctor soon sold out of the several aluminium masts he had brought with him.

These first generation masts were not annodised, small sectioned and did not have spreaders instead they had one set of lower diamonds  and a foreward facing jumper strut at the hounds these were made of piano wire and tensioned by small bronze bottle srews. Several chainplates pulled through and these were redighned to have two horizontal lugs under the gunnel and two vertical ones attached to the hull.

The class very quickly became popular in South Wales with fleets in Penarth, British Steel[Tata] Mumbles and Ferryside and produced several National Champions.

Now past my mid 70's I have returned to Ospreys and race No 1232 in Pembrokeshire.
I hope this article will be of interest to Osprey owners.

John Thompson