WINNING THE CANOE CHAMPIONSHIP OF AMERICA
from "Sailing, Seamanship and Yacht Construction" by Uffa Fox, 1934

February 25, 1933, the Royal Canoe Club held its annual dinner and presentation of cups, and as winner of the two most important of these, it was my privilege and pleasure to fill them and pass them round the table.

In olden times, many a man met his end by being stabbed from behind whilst drinking, and often in old pictures a man is shown drinking with his back to the wall. This protected him from behind, and the old tankards had glass bottoms, so that those drinking could see any danger ahead. As the challenge and De Qulncey Cups were passed round, three men stood ll the while, the man drinking toasted the man on his left, while the man on his right, who drank last, remained standing, so the man drinking had a friend standing either side of him as was the old custom.

Through dinner we toasted canoeists the world over, and afterwards Roger and I departed, he to Oxford and I to the Isle of Wight, hoping that we should both take canoes to America in August, sister ships that would not only conform to the American rules, but also to the English.

Two days later, on the Monday, I sent the following cable to a friend, who is the oldest canoeist in America

W. P. STEPHENS, 3716 Bay Street, Bayside, New York.
Please send 1933 sailing canoe building rules, latest date for Challenge from England and date of Contest. Uffa.

Letters and cables passed between America and England, mostly cables from England, with the result that we challenged for eveything we could, Roger as the Royal Canoe Club, and I the Humber Yawl Club.

Then came the designing of our canoes, Roger helping with letters, full of ideas, from Trinity, and finally the canoes were designed to both sets of rules.

Lines Drawing for Valiant and East Anglian
The American maximum beam rule forced us to design canoes 3 in. narrower than the English rule, whilst the English rule, demanding a 1/4 in. planking, forced our hulls 40 lb. over the minimum weight allowed in America.

Time alone would tell if we could afford to give away the 3 in. of beam under the English rule, where no sliding seat was allowed, and carry the extra 40 lb. of hull weight round the American courses, but we thought we might, and it was worth trying.

The rig would have to be different, as entirely different rules prevailed. Under the American rule, we were allowed 111 sq. ft. of sail, actual area, with a height of 16 ft., but no side stays on the mast, while under the English rule we were allowed 96 sq. ft., Y.R.A. measurement, with no restriction as to height or staying of mast.

Sail plans for Valiant and East Anglian
The Americans had no limit to the depth of centre board, so, while racing there, we thought we would try a very deep one, which was impossible under the English rule, which only allowed a board to extend 1 metre below the canoe.

Deck layout and fittings for Valiant and East Anglian
The American rules allowed a sliding seat, and the English did not, so by changing rigs and drop keels, and adding a sliding seat, our canoes were changed from the English to the American rules.

The American rule allowing a sliding seat, but no sidestays, made a fair amount of work calculating the leverage and power exerted by a man five foot out on a slide, plus the power of the canoe and balancing this against the strength and elasticity of hollow spruce spars. For, to win races, weight, and so strength, must be cut down to its limit, yet to carry away a spar is fatal.

After the designing, came the building. Valiant and East Anglian were built upside down, for the bottom of any vessel is the part that decides her speed, and by building upside dovn this is always in view.

Moulds were made and set up on the stock, the keel, stem and stem post fitted, and the moulds ribbanded out. Next, the 3/8 in. by 1/4 in. timbers were steamed and bent 2 in. apart round the ribbands, and the first skin, of 1/8 in. thick diagonal planking, fitted. Oiled silk, stretched over the diagonals, formed the next skin, on which the 1/8 in. fore and aft plarking was fitted and fastened. After this the keel case, extending aimost the full length of the canoe, was fitted, followed by the deck beams and mast steps, and after six coats of varnish inside, the deck, of specially made 3-ply, was fitted, and fastened in one piece.

Valiant and East Anglian on the stocks

Spars were made and all was merry and bright, for we were ready for sea. The following verses by my wife will illustrate our pleasant thoughts during the building of Valiant and East Anglian.

ROGER'S NEW CANOE
There's a shaving in our workshop,
It's planed and varnished too,
It trembles in a tiny breeze,
It's the keel of R.'s canoe.

And gossamer hangs from the beams,
I ask, “What will that do
They tell me `tis the planking light
Of Roger's new canoe.

There's wood so delicate at hand
No nails in this, but glue,
And `tis the deck, so I am told,
Of Roger's new canoe.

There is a tube both short and spare,
Sans crosstree, stay or shroud.
It is the mast, don't speak so loud,
Of Roger's fine canoe.

There is a pocket handkerchief,
So small and dainty too,
It is the sail of R.'s delight,
The sail of his canoe.

* * * * * *

There's a flutter in our workshop,
There's happy work to do,
Wish her good luck, a gentle touch,
She's launched -the new canoe.

There's no mark upon the water,
No ripple, sure `tis true.
As Roger gaily glideth by,
In his wondrous new canoe.

We had had some experience with the Enqlish rig, but none with the American, so this was the first to be tried out, and it proved better to windward than expected, and I easily beat an International Star Class Yacht to windward in both light and strong winds, so, as far as windward work went, we were contented with our canoes, for winning, after allowing the Star Class 15 minutes in an hour, showed this to be a good rig.

Then the English rig was fitted in tabernacle, which allowed the mast to be reefed in strong winds. This too seemed good.

Continued....