Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Yachting Range

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

Protector - 660 x 82Zhik Dinghy 660x82North Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
A Q&A with Shawn Macking about the StPYC’s Sailing Center and OD fleet
I talked with Shawn Macking, the StPYC’s waterfront director, to learn how the club is getting more people out sailing. I caught up with Shawn Macking, waterfront director of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, via email to learn more about the club’s Sailing Center, its hefty investment in a new fleet of ten J/70s, and how the StPYC is using this infrastructure to expose more people to the sport we all love.
Posted on 13 Feb
A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba
I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event. If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, imagine racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls. I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures it affords.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Anna Tunnicliffe about her return to competitive sailing
I talked with Anna Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing. Anna Tunnicliffe won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the Laser Radial before shifting her sights to the Women’s Match Racing event for the London 2012 Olympics. Here, she came up shy of expectation and left sailing for the CrossFit Games, but now she is returning to her roots. I talked with Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016