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In the 21st Century

The Jollyboat in the 21st century

Jollyboat with twin wire and fully battened main

Jollyboat with twin wire and fully battened main

We know of about 20 – 25 Jollyboats left sailing in the UK but unfortunately with no concentration anywhere to allow the class to gain any momentum. In fact it would be hard to choose a more widespread selection of waters in which they could sail. There are boats to found in Scotland, North and West Wales, Cornwall, Devon, Norfolk and still quite a few on the South Coast, but it is rare to find two in any one location.A different situation exists at Port Melbourne Yacht Club in Australia. Here they had a full fleet of nearly 50 boats in the 60s-70s which unfortunately had shrunk to 7 in the 80’s. The fleet was resurrected through the 90s with the club regularly putting over 20 boats on the water and at times building 3 to 4 new foam sandwich boats a year. More recently building has been slower, but 2008 is their 50th anniversary of their main event – the Ashes.

In the UK the Class rules have largely been ignored for the last 20 years, which some owners find a pity and others an excuse to explore their ideas of what makes a fast dinghy really go!
Originally the Jolly was designed for a crew of 3 without trapeze but in it’s racing heyday in the 60s it tended to be sailed by a large and heavy 2 man crew with one on the wire.

The Australians always sailed theirs 3 up with one on the wire giving the middle man the main sheet. Lately in the UK there has been a move towards sailing with 2 wires and a crew of 2 or 3 depending on the wind-strength. Others like two large blokes and a small bod to rush around clearing things and adjusting others, like that it is easily possible to get by on just the one wire.

Some have explored more advanced sails, either fully battened or with a long top batten. The 1971 and last revision of the rules allowed a taller mast (same sail luff) which allowed more head room and also allowed for a more high aspect jib with shorter foot which could be then lead within the shrouds (and still be 52 sqft). – This certainly helps the boat get closer to the wind.

Earlier boats have just the side tanks – later boats have totally enclosed bow and full-length side tanks. Earlier boats had steel (or even bronze) plates – later boats had wood boards. Earlier boats were aft sheeted and later boats mid sheeted.

Rudder design was originally restricted to the “Uffa Spoon” and then the class gave the alternative of a smaller straighter shape but by now to be honest most boats are using all sorts of design and the shape might as well be considered free. Some people swear by the Osprey shape others like a straight dagger; square of elliptical like a 14 or merlin.

Many owners find the original genoa a bit of a pain to use and although the extra size is useful on a long reach it does nothing for your up-wind performance. Like-wise the original full kite is great on a true run but uncontrollable on a reach so owners have gone for smaller flatter cut kites and use a size which is essentially straight from the flying fifteen class.

Without the support of an owners association most owners that make up the remnants of the assoc are happy to let the boats be changed to fit their owners whims as long as they stay within the character of the class. On the whole, more boats are being renovated to original state than are being brought up to a later state of tune.