Pegasus by Uffa Fox.

    Length Overall: 14' 6'' (4.42m)

    Length Waterline: 14' 0'' (4.26m)

    Beam: 4' 10'' (1.57m)

    Draught: 9'' (.23m) or 4' 3'' (1.29m)

    Displacement: 750lb. (340 kilos)

    Sail Area: 114sq.ft. (10.59 sq.m)

    Designer: Uffa Fox

    Builder: Bell Woodworking Kit Sets

Original Line Drawing by Uffa Fox

If you hold a piece of paper up and curve it round, you will find it will bend easily, but now try and put a double curvature in the paper by bending it downwards the other way and you will find that it will wrinkle an resist all efforts to bend two ways. Wood is exactly like this, and therin is the reason all boats until now designed for amateur construction are designed wih a chine or a corner on them as on a box. This chine is desirable for high planing speeds, as it throws the water out and makes a sharp edge for the water to leave, and is the reason why all high speed motor-boats are designed with chines. It is, however, the wrong thing for the lower speeds of sailing craft, as it increases the wetted surface and this corner, or the lee bilge, being coninually pushed in and out of the water sets up a great amount of resistance. The proffesional and the amateur built boats can be spotted a mile off, because the first is a smooth, round craft as sweet as an apple to look at, while the other looks like a box.

One day up in Leicestershire, I was driving along with the late Dusty Pollock, an old friend who had been a timber merchant and was now the managing director of the Bell Woodworking Company, the pioneers of home boat building in Britain, who send out so many kit sets for amateur building.

Dusty said, "What about designing a round bilge boat for home built building which can be built of plywood which will be capable of being bent both ways."

My mind suddenly flashed back about 30 years to some plywood I had had especially made, so I said to Dusty "Wonderful, drive slower, talk slower, and let's enjoy the prospect to the full", and in that moment Pegasus was born. As we drove along, and discussed this, Dusty said, "Design the best fourteen foot water-line sailing dinghy you can and make it quick to plane, unlike so many boats of late years by other designers that destroy themselves by their own speed. Spare no time or thought in making it the best fourteen footer in the world , as we shall be spending a lot of time and money to perfect the method of building the jigs and the prefabricated parts. We do not mind building half a dozen prototypes to finalize the best possible."

After much thought, and with days spent together, the design for Pegasus was finished, It will be seen that her lines are quite normal. She has an easy, firm round bilge, a deep chest, long clean run and planing lines. Her shape cannot be distinguishded from a proffessionally built boat. The foredeck rakes aft, to the shrouds, so that the afterdeck member becomes a strut to take the thrust and pull of the shrouds at the gunwale, and transfers it directly to the mast at the centre line. We have one piece of wood doing the job of two, all of which saves cost, work and weight.


Photo by Beken & Sons

Uffa takes the prototype for a spin.


The side decks are fairly flat to form comfortable seats and, at the same time, they keep the water out of the boat. The inner edge is rounded in to make it comfortable for the legs. The supporting sheets of plywood to this sidedeck form the whole side-deck into a tank, and this, with a foreward and aft bulkhead, also stiffens the boat and gives Pegasus some 500lb of buoyancy when full of water. There are long fore and aft bottom boards inside the boat with their edges rounded down six in number, and outside, on the bilge, similar pieces of wood form bilge keels. These, as well as forming bottom boards and bilge keels , stiffen the bottom of the boat, so that once again we have one piece of wood doing the work of two , saving cost, work and weight.

There is a stringer running through the bilge of the boat, and on this the joints of plywood are made. There are four sheets to form each side of Pegasus, two at the bow and two at the stern, jointing at mid length on a vertical butt-strap and on these bilge stringers runing the full length of the boat.

The prototype only took seventy hourse to build as against the normal building time of two hundred and ten hours for 14-Footers. Thus this new building method not only enable amateurs to build a round bilge boat at home, but also cuts the professional bulider's time down by two thirds - a tremendous saving in labour and cost.

Pegasus was trailed down to my house at Cowes and lauched off the quay, and out we went for our first sail in a pleasant breeze.

We sailed close hauled, reaching, and running and on all points of sailing she was a delight to handle. For a short while I allowed her to heel over. Immediately, she set up weather helm for, like all planing boats i've designed, her lines are only balanced when sailed upright, so that to get the greatest speed out of her she must be sailed upright. After an exhilarating and joyous sail, we came in and lifted her out, well content with the knowledge that from now on, by using the Bell method construction the amateur home builders could have a perfectly shaped thorough-bred with round bilges. Subsequent trials proved that Pegasus planes readily. Once on the plane she stays fairly confortable and has no tendency to destroy herself.

Pegasus is therefore, the first boat to be built to the Bell Round Bilge Method and marks a great advancement in design suitable for amatuer boat building. It also obviates the use of the expensive moulds or stocks necessary with normal procedure. The construction is as easy as possible for the amateur builder, and the boat can be built on the crate in which the kit of parts arrives. Apart from saving in mould costs, another advantage of building on packing cases - unlike building on frames extending to floor level and screwed to floor boards - is that one can move the whole set-up from one place to another. This is a geat help to home boat builders as it permits more working room where building space is confined.

Using no more plywood panels or longitudingal members than a hard chine boat, this method eliminateds the hundreds of joints necessary with the traditional planking of round bilge hulls.

This special plywood is made to the latest specification BSS 1088 - 1957, which has brought marine plywood to the highest standard yet.

The first thing an amateur bulder must do when his kit set arrives. is to examine it thoroughly, as no claim for damage will be entertained after two or three days.

With the kit set comes a book of building instructions well illustrated with photographs and this should be read carefully before building starts.

The packing case in which the material arrives is opened out, set up and on this the transom, the four temporary building moulds and forward watertight bulkhead are bolted.

Next, the hog or inner keel is fastened to the transom and moulds and the stem fitted and fastened and all faired in.

Next the two bilge stringers and the two gunwales are fitted and faired in, the the two vertical stips taking the midship joints of the plywood are set in place and now a start can be made on the shell of the boat.

The four panels of plywood should be fitted each side, glued and screwed, carefully following the order set out in the building book.

When cleaned down and priming coats have been applied, the boat is ready to lift off the moulds, and the keel case, bottom boards, bilge keels, deck and tanks fitted and fastened.

When all is cleaned up and painted in the colours chosen, the builder has a wonderful prospect opening up ahead of him, for he can sail the boat he has built with his own hands on inland waters or the sea.


Taken from Sailing Boats by Uffa Fox - 1959


Original Lines by Uffa Fox