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Bringing to life an R Boat, the classic, 1926-built Ruweida V

by IYRS/Nancy Knudsen on 20 May 2011
R Boats sailing in the late 1920’s .. .

'It's amazing how much more finished a boat looks once you put a deck on it.' It has been a long journey in Newport Rhode Island since it was decided to bring to life one of the International Yacht Restoration School's most treasured yachts, an R boat called Ruweida V, but this understatement by one of the students working on her says it all.

So what is an R boat and why such a strange name and why are they so special?

Ruweida V is a Burgess, Swasey & Paine (BS&P) designed and Lawley built Rboat that used to be prominently perched on her poppets in front of the school where she is now being restored.

Since she turned 80, in 2007, the classic boat has been in the process of getting a fresh start in life. Her long life had included attentive care by a succession of owners, racing in both salt and

fresh water, nautical mile after mile of family cruising,and most importantly (considering her intended purpose), more than her fair share of silver.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th Century, boats were designed to a new rule, known as the Universal Rule, developed by Nathanael Herreshoff.

With a letter designated for each class of boats corresponding to their size, the rule was intended to be an improvement over the Seawanhaka Rule, which tended to spawn freakish and expensive boats such as the 1901 America’s Cup winner Reliance. While the Seawanhaka Rule measured waterline length and sail area, the new Universal Rule also took into account displacement, penalizing boats with lower displacement. The yachts designed to the Universal Rule were generally long, narrow and deep and more wholesome. Larger than the popular S-boats, R’s were smaller than the Q’s, M’s and

magnificent J’s.

Measuring 38’10' overall, with a waterline of 25’, a narrow beam of 7’ and a draft of 5’ 9', Ruweida V carried 591 sq. ft of sail. Her lines, often attributed to Starling Burgess, appear to have been drawn by Frank Paine, a partner of Burgess at Burgess, Swasey and Paine. Paine designed over 15 Rboats from 1922 through 1927.

Ruweida V was built in 1926 by the renowned George Lawley & Sons yard of Neponset, Mass. According to the BS&P records at MIT, her original owner, Sydney A. Beggs, was replacing Ruweida IV, an earlier BS&P R-boat.

Beggs sailed Ruweida V out of Marblehead, Mass. until selling her to an owner in Gloucester. There followed a number of owners, and she had a number of names, distinguishing herself under the name of Prelude as a fine racer.

After she had 'rested' for a number of years, a Maine restorer finally was employed to begin a thorough restoration of the boat. Beautiful work was done in replacing the framing, floors and deckbeams but the work was halted and she was donated to IYRS to complete the restoration.

The images show the work that is now lovingly being carried out by IYRS students, but there's a great satisfaction in see her deck finally there!


Ruweida V, some specifications:

Type: R Boat; Designers: Burgess, Swasey and Pine; Builder: George Lawley and Son in 1926. With her cutaway forefoot, long bow and stern overhangs and deep draft, heavily-ballasted hull Ruweida V looks like a miniature J boat. LOA: 38' 10'; Beam: 7'

The Universal Rule:
Developed by Nathanael Herreshoff, and adopted by US yacht clubs in 1903/4, the Universal Rule produced a series of letter classes, including: J boats, M boats, P boats, Q boats, R boats and S boats. The Universal Rule was most common in the US and the International Rule (which produced the metre classes) was associated more with the UK and Europe.

About the IYRS:
With campuses in the heart of historic Newport and Bristol, Rhode Island, the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) offers technical training for individuals interested in working in the marine industry and related fields. The school teaches the skills, history, art and science of building, restoring and maintaining wooden and composite-construction boats and their onboard systems. IYRS offers three full-time programs in Boatbuilding & Restoration, Marine Systems and Composites Technology employing a time-honored educational model that teaches problem solving, teamwork, project management and hands-on skills. IYRS graduates are highly regarded for their passion and craftsmanship, and work in many of the premier modern and restoration yards around the world.

More information: http://www.iyrs.org

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