AFFORDABLE CLASSIC Albacore
Classic Boat|February 2021
Uffa Fox was an unforgettable character and a great British yacht designer.
Peter Poland

Born in 1898 on the Isle of Wight, he grew up on the Cowes waterfront and completed a seven year apprenticeship with SE Saunders covering boat and ship building and design before – at the tender age of 21 – setting up his own business in an old converted ‘floating bridge’ ferry.

Uffa hit the headlines in 1928 when he designed the first planing sailing dinghy. He had worked on high-speed motorboats and reckoned that the right shape of sailboat hull – if kept upright in a breeze – could also skim across the sea. He put his theory into practice with an International 14 (a restricted as opposed to One- Design class) called Avenger. In 57 starts in the 1928 season, she amassed an amazing 52 first places, two seconds and three thirds. To prove her seaworthiness (and his nerve?) Uffa also sailed her (three up) to Le Havre, raced against and beat the French, then sailed her home again.

Not surprisingly, his order book filled as his International 14s, National 12s and 18s began to dominate the pre-war racing scene. However, Uffa’s career as a designer of successful classes – many of which are still built today – really took off after the war.

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