We hope to have the R-boats in Port Townsend for this June’s Classic Mariners Regatta.
R-Boat racing started on the West Coast in 1912 and was very active up until 1940. Most major Yacht clubs had at least one in their stall and they raced for the Seattle Lipton Cup, the Isherwood Trophy, and others, with Seattle Yacht Club’s R-Boat, Sir Tom, dominating the fleet for over 14 years. The fleet racing died on the West Coast after WWII and was not seen again until our own Wooden Boat Festival in 2010. There are now three completed, restored, R-Boats active in the PNW: Pirate, Aloha, and Lady Van. A fourth, Ace, is almost ready to sail again. Below is a brief history of each of them.
Pirate is the well-known Ted Geary designed boat restored by Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats and launched in 2005. She was originally built for Don Lee of Los Angeles for his son Tommy to sail, in 1926. She was successfully raced on the West Coast, and even shipped to the East coast in 1929 to compete. Beginning with the Depression and Word War II she was used as a cruiser, racing under handicap rules up until the 70’s. In the 90’s she was donated to the Blue Whale Sailing School in Santa Barbara and in 1999 she was purchased by a syndicate in Seattle and given to the CWB for restoration. Under Scott Rohrer’s direction, she was beautifully restored and began sailing the waters of Puget Sound again in 2005. More information is available at www.r-boat.org/
Lady Van R-7
Lady Van is a 1927 Charles Nicholson design that is owned by the Boatbuilding Heritage Society of British Columbia . She was originally commissioned by a syndicate of Vancouver yachtsmen to dethrone the Seattle Yacht Club’s Sir Tom, who had dominated west coast R- boat racing for years. She raced and cruised the Pacific Northwest until the mid-1960’s when she fell into disuse and disrepair. She was rediscovered in 2009, purchased by the Boatbuilding Heritage Society, and rebuilt by Jespersen Boat Builders of Sidney, BC. She was splashed in June of 2010. See www.ladyvan.com/ladyvan.htm for more information.
An Edson Schock design from 1925, Aloha was a former flagship of the San Diego Yacht Club. She was still actively sailing in Southern California when she was purchased by a group of Sidney B.C. businessmen and restored. She hit the water running in July 2010 and made it to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival for a reunion that September. See www.r-boat-aloha.ca/ for more information.
Ace is a Charles Mower design R- Boat built in Sausalito and commissioned by Arthur Rousseau of San Francisco in 1926. She was raced along the West Coast, restored in the 1980’s, and was found in Newport Beach on the hard awaiting another restoration. Bob Cadranell purchased her and brought her to Poulsbo to be restored there instead. That restoration, being overseen by John Guzzwell, was begun in the spring of 2010 and is expected to be completed very soon. If we are lucky, in time for the Classic Mariners Regatta. For a complete history and pictures, see: www.r-boatace.com/.