Squib Class Dominates One of the Biggest Regattas in the World

pic by Rick Tomlinson/CWL

pic by Rick Tomlinson/CWL

Rick Tomlinson/CWL

Rick Tomlinson/CWL

An overall win of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week for the second year in a row has further endorsed the Squib’s reputation as one of the most successful, versatile and affordable small racing keelboats on the market.

Corinthian sailors Malcolm Hutchings and crewman Andy Ramsey sailing Lady Penelope not only won their class at Cowes Week from a highly competitive 31-boat fleet, but also won White Group overall, and were deemed overall winners of the week from the 800 plus fleet beating Adam Gosling’s Corby 36 Yes! – winner of Black Group – for the second year running.

While there is no doubt that Hutchings and Ramsey’s impressive sailing skill and teamwork led to their ultimate win, their passion for the 47-year-old class is what really spurs them on. As fine class ambassadors they have proved once again that winning the biggest regatta of its type in the world is not all about spending big bucks but more about good, consistent competition and maintaining a healthy class status within a fleet.

With over 500 members including a strong youth contingent, 35 fleets around the British Isles, plus boats in France, Denmark, Germany and the Caribbean, the Squib class is booming. The recent appointment of Rondar Raceboats as the new builder is good news too because it means more used boats are likely to be on the market once production of new boats is underway.

Hutchings and Ramsey, from Burnham-on-Crouch on the east coast, say that 13-year-old Lady Penelope is a fine example of the sort of results an ageing Squib can achieve: “Age is not an issue in the Squib class it’s all about keeping the fleet alive. Because she is a one-design, nothing really changes, so it is possible to pick up relatively old boat for a good price and, and as long as it is maintained well, there is no reason not to do well. The key is to keep everything in tip top condition as this will ensure the Squib class is winning in years to come.”

With 31 boats on the water, the Squib class was the second largest one-design fleet after the X-One Designs at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week this year. Endorsing the ethos of the class, which encourages ‘sailing for all’, Cowes Week attracted eight under 25-year-olds including the youngest at just 12. Twenty-two of the boats had family members on board, and a third of the fleet girls including five at the helm.

Steve Warren-Smith – chairman of the class association – crewing for Sarah Everitt on Aquabat, were the only team to beat Hutchings and Ramsey in a race during Cowes Week. Warren-Smith concluded: “Winning Cowes Week in a Squib is a bit like winning the Champions League with the local village team, or winning a Grand Prix in a go-cart. It’s the ability that counts, not the wallet!”

Editor’s Note: The Squib is very similar to the Hunter Class in South Africa. I asked a doyen of the Hunter Class locally what the difference between the two is. Craig Millar replied: “A squib is a 19′ fractional rig open boat. I guess like a bigger flying 15. it was designed by model yachtsman Oliver Lee. The Hunter 19 is a squib with a deck and cabin. The hunter has a masthead rig with a big overlapping genoa and masthead spinnaker. It was quite ahead of its time because it has a bulb and was designed more than 50 years ago.