Please select your home edition
Edition
Newport Boat Show 728x90

Volvo Legends- Great Britain II - Her builder's story

by Derek Kelsall on 12 Nov 2011
Great Britain II leaving Auckland in the 1977-78 Whitbread, which she was again first around the World © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

The ketch rigged Great Britain II was the first boat to finish in the first Whitbread Round the World Race which started in September 1973.

Derek Kelsall was the builder of the 78ft maxi designed by Alan Gurney and skippered by Chay Blyth writes to give his perspective of how the foam sandwich ketch was constructed. She went on to compete in five round the world races:

Prior to GB 11, I had designed and built the first foam sandwich yacht of note, trimaran Toria, which won us the 1966 2000 mile Round Britain Race and along with a number of other multihull winners, I built the Robert Clark design mono Sir Thomas Lipton, the winner of OSTAR 68. Chay Blyth chose a near sister ship, British Steel, for his solo around the World.

Chay had found a sponsor for his mount for the first Whitbread yacht and approached me to discuss building the 78 ft Alan Gurney design in foam/fiberglass sandwich. No problem. STL was the biggest sailing yacht in fiberglass at that time and another jump in size to 78ft. was the kind of challenge I enjoyed.


I was designing only at the time and I would be happy to be consultant on this prestige project. We would find a suitable established builder. We talked to several, but none came forward or were in a position to launch by May of the next year, which was the date set for Princess Anne to crack the champagne bottle.

The time came, when I said to myself and then to Chay, if this boat is going to get built, someone had better start building.

To cut a long story short, I put my hand up. A week later I had employed a model yacht builder and found an old sail loft in Sandwich, Kent, in which to loft the frames. Lots of hurdles were climbed during the next six months. There were still some jobs to do when GB 11 trundled down the old fashioned slipway in Ramsgate but she got to the water on schedule.

The most remarkable part of this story is not that we achieved in six months what most such projects take 2-3 times as long, but that the crew, which built up to 32,working in three shifts around the clock at launch time, had all learnt their boat building on the job. Half of these men where the sailing crew of Royal Marines. What a fantastic group they were to work with. The motivation was to ensure their place when the boat sailed. There can be no better testament to the dedication of the crew than the boat and its history since. Of course, having helped build the boat, most of the crew then had to learn to sail.


One question I do wonder ? Is there a more travelled yacht ever?

About fifteen years ago I was talking to Alan Toone, one of the original crew who has skippered and followed the progress of GB 11 on its various projects since. He counted to 50 Atlantic crossings and 6 or more times around the World. I have met dozens of those crews. There was one common factor; the confidence they all had in GB 11. With 17 tons of lead ballast, she was no light weight racer by today's standards but a great boat for her time and for the event.

At that time GB 11 seemed to have been sailing almost continuously. I would love to get in touch with the present owner or crew and learn her story since.

Today I have an active design company in NZ where we continue to specialize in refining foam sandwich build methods (KSS) and design catamarans of all kinds, with clients in 20 countries around the World. GB 11 is testament to the efficiency and durability of the materials and the Kelsall methods.

Amazingly, we continue to find refinements to our KSS building technique for these exceptionally versatile and effective materials for composite boat building. The materials have changed little. The handling methods are now very much more build time efficient.

Derek Kelsall, FRINA.
www.kelsall.com

For the Volvo Legnds story on Great Britain II http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/Legends-Great-Britain-II/2979/news.html!click_here

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignWildwind 2016 660x82Naiad

Related Articles

Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the Mens RS:X Medal Race
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, was on the water at the Medal Race for the RS:X class won before the race by Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) without needing points from the Medal Race. Nick Dempsey (GBR) was second on a similar basis.
Posted on 15 Aug
Rio 2016 - Sailors talk of Life at the Extreme on the Atlantic Ocean
Certainly the Volvo Ocean Race catchcry of Life at the Extreme is not a phrase associated with the Sailing Olympics. The 470 crews were suffering the mixed emotions of survival of an extreme test by nature, the cold, and for some elation at their placings, after Thursday's battle for survival. In conditions that looked more out of the Volvo Ocean Race, than an Olympic sailing regatta, crews battled 20kt plus winds and Atlantic Ocean rollers that towered up to four metres.
Posted on 13 Aug
Rio Olympics - Fourth gallery of images the fearsome Niteroi course
Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Fourth image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds. believe it or not the sea conditions were worse inshore as the fleet encountered the backwashed Atlantic rollers
Posted on 12 Aug
Rio 2016 - Third image gallery of 470's braving the Atlantic Ocean
Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean Third image gallery from racing on Day 4 in the Mens and Womens 470 class on the Niteroi course in the Atlantic Ocean - sailing in 3-4 metre swells and 20kt plus winds
Posted on 12 Aug
Gladwell's Line - The challenges of Guanbara Bay
The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer course, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest The decision to run Medal Racing on the Pao de Acucer, probably won't be remembered as one of the brightest of the 2016 Sailing Olympics. Over shadowed by a 1300ft tall granite and quartz mountain in the shape of a sugarloaf, the bay suffers from dramatic windshifts, and huge variance in wind pressure.
Posted on 11 Aug
Rio 2016 - Fresher breezes expected inside and outside on Day 3
Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Stronger winds are expected for the third day of racing in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the fleet scheduled to race outside on the Atlantic Ocean course off Copacabana Beach, while the 470 Men and Women will race inside on Guananara Bay.
Posted on 10 Aug