When the Looe Sailing Club commissioned Uffa Fox to design the Redwing it was stipulated that she must be a sturdy, able seaboat first and foremost and at the same time fast and fun to sail. At first the boat remained an exclusively West Country class where her qualities in the steep open seas around these coasts were immediately appreciated, but soon her popularity spread to other parts of the coast where similar conditions prevail, until now the latest sail number is 254.
The Redwing is not a “do-it-yourself” type of boat, but one that needs skilful craftsmanship in her construction. She is built to stand up to any amount of rough treatment, and to last for many years. Boats that are now over 70 years old still race regularly at the annual championships and perform admirably. As a consequence, when boats do change hands, which is not often, the second-hand price remains remarkably steady.
However, thanks to the efforts of our boat builders and restorers, over the last couple of decades there are now plenty newer and refurbished boats joining the fleet to complement the older hulls weathered from more half a century of hard racing. The first boats are now nearly 80 years old but with a little bit of TLC even a tired or neglected boat can be given a new lease of life. For example, R19 ‘Gleam’, built in 1947, was found worn-out and abandoned in 1978 and put back in commission for five pounds. Years later and after many changes of ownership she was restored again by Rev Barribal and is now in regular use in the IOS fleet. As far as we know there are two pre-war survivors in seaworthy condition. Number 2 ‘Kittiwake’, having been given a thorough restoration to beautiful condition by Richard Spiller is raced regularly in class events. Number 1, ‘Robin’ (previously Jackdaw) is still in Polruan in Cornwall, in good order and racing regularly, winning the Polruan Regatta K-class this summer.