Yes, it's a rudder - from a long-forgotten revolution in British sailing


Thanks to all who commented on what they thought was illustrated in Paul Larsen’s mysterious farmyard photo (sorry, proper blog comment, er, functionality is coming soon). Yes, you were right, it is a rudder and that is a trim tab. Alex Haworth was very close with the suggestion Crossbow I and commented: ‘Crossbow was sponsored by – somewhat topical, given current events – Bernard Matthews. Presumably the boat flu like a bird?’

However, the answer is that it’s the rudder of Crossbow II, which is the long white craft just visible in the background. Paul Larsen elaborates: ‘The ol’ boy there is Tim Whealpton, who built both Crossbows and crewed on them as well. The old barn in the background houses them both and they are in amazingly good condition.

‘Sir Timothy Coleman and Tim Whealpton are legends. They held the record from the very beginning of speed sailing in 1972 right through to 1986. They averaged 36 knots across a choppy Portland harbour in 1980, hitting 40 on occasion. That is a bloody impressive average for a big boat these days. And all they steered it with was that little rudder.

‘Crossbow II weighed around 2 tons with crew. Each hull was 60ft long but they were staggered in arrangement making an overall boat length of 72ft. It was made using cold-moulded wood with alloy spars. A glint came in Sir Timothy’s eye when he imagined what it would do today with modern materials.’