LOA: 27ft 11ins, LWL; 20ft 0in, Beam: 5ft 6ins, Draught: 3ft 3ins, Sail Area: 200 sq. ft

In October 1896, a decision was taken to instruct Charles Nicholson to design what became the first Bembridge Redwings.  Fourteen were built ready to race in the 1897 season.  Between 1897 and 1937 a total of twenty seven boats were built.  Although some were sold out of the class, those that remained continued to race at Bembridge until the close of the 1937 season.

A number of 1897 Redwings have been restored in recent years:

No. 10 “banzai”

No. 16 “Red Mullet” and

No. 23 “Red Snapper” are based at Bembridge (awaiting restoration)

No. 14 “Circus Girl” is in the Classic Boat Museum in Cowes and

No. 20 “Kestrel” is currently for sale

No. 15 “ibis” was sunk in an accident off Cowes in 2005

By 1937 many of the original fleet were at the end of their “natural life”.  Accordingly the Redwing Club approached Charles Nicholson once more to design a replacement.  The new design was approved and sixteen new boats were built ready for the 1938 season.

Shortly after the war, four further boats were constructed – the last one being built in 1950 – thus completing the class of twenty that had been agreed would be the maximum built to the new design.

In the mid-80’s the class once more discussed its future and a decision was taken to build additional boats to the same design in GRP.

In September 1987, the prototype GRP Boat (No. 21 “Redwing”) was launched.  She was sailed and raced by Redwing owners throughout the 1988 season to evaluate her performance against her wooden sisters.

The first new GRP boats were ready for the 1989 season and twenty eight have been built so far – the last one being launched in 2001 as a replacement for the wooden No. 18 which was lost at Cowes the year before.

Thirteen wooden boats were sold in 1989; originally used for corporate charter in Poole they have now been sold to private owners.  Eight wooden boats are now in Bembridge.

No. 1, 8, 10 (formally No. 6) 11, 16, 17 and 113 have been completely rebuilt and epoxied both inside and out.  Although not raced for many years, this leaves No. 15 as the last “traditional” wooden boat at Bembridge.

The Class Rules have always restricted the Sale Area to 200 sq ft, but owners are free to experiment with sail design.  This has led over the years to many unusual innovations, perhaps the strangest being the propeller rig the first Lord Brabazon put on his old Redwing (No. 20 “Kestrel”) in 1934.  Owners of the class have continued to experiment in recent years, the most dramatic being the “swing rig” developed by John Cleave in the 1980s.  The current very high aspect rig (with multiple controls) was developed by Vernon Stratton in the 1990s, based on the Star Class, and is currently the most successful rig.

The Class celebrated its centenary in 1996/1997.  Twenty eight of the current fleet and four of the 1897 boats took part in a sail-past in Bembridge Harbour in August 1997 to complete the first hundred years of this famous and oldest established class in the country.

If you would like to crew a Redwing, please either contact an owner direct or get in touch with the Hon. Sec. Joe Robertson – 01983 875193.

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