Put as succinctly as possible: our designers, builders and a World Champion were Alan Buchanan and Guy Thompson; Kings, Petticrows, Priors and Stebbings, Tucker Browns; and Dick Pitcher.
Alan Buchanan came to Burnham in 1952, and was responsible for many successful designs. He won the EAORA Championship in 1955 with his design, Priors built, 7 ton racer TAEPING. A 38ft 10 tonner TAITSING followed in 1961, which was most successful on the East Coast up to 19656.
Sir Maurice Laing had an S tonner CORUS built by Stebbings. then VASHTI, an 11 ton masthead sloop, built by Priors. This class proved to he very successful one winning the Sydney/Hobart race in 1962. He had another yacht built by Priors for the first Admirals Cup called HEPHZIBAH.
Meanwhile Ron Amey, to whom racing on two wheels was more usual, had his first NORYEMA, designed by Alan, built by Priors. She was an orthodox low foretriangle sloop of 12 tons, some two feet longer than VASHTI. She was very successful and Ron had NORYEMA II built. So started his extraordinary story of international successes with NORYEMAS coming along steadily but that is another story.
Other boats designed and built for RBYC members were CORE BUS for Cyril Sweett, AELFWYN, a Saxon 10 ton masthead sloop spawned by YEOMAN I! out of VASHTI, and OTHONA for the Stanleys. EASTER and BARBICAN for Bernard Hayman (of Yachting World)
The Earl of St. Germans had CHOUETTE a 6 ton East Anglian built by Kings, then CHOUETTE II, a powerful transom sterner built by Priors and then CHOVETTE Ill, a 24 ton 48ft. yawl built by Kings. When a firm of naval architects is commissioned to design three yachts, one after the other, for the same owner, it says much for the satisfaction each design must have given.
Between 1955 and 1965 Burnham was a busy place with all yards working to capacity building wooden boats, while between 1960 and 1965 the RBYC. in particular, had a strong ocean racing fleet, most of them Burnham built boats.
Alan Buchanan, always very helpful, made a great contribution to the Burnham scene while he was here. A successful racer himself he produced designs of international repute and, moreover, he introduced such successful owners as Ron Amey. Maurice Laing and Bob Watson to the RBYC.
Guy Thompson believed from his early (lays that he got best results from designing and testing models, 1 to the foot, and then building the yachts because he found that the yacht had the same behaviour as the model, and he saved thousands of pounds in avoiding, thereby, building a yacht which was a failure. He was cheerful company, always ready to try a new design but if things went wrong, it could be difficult.
In the post war years he was convinced that in RORC racing two outstanding features made a yacht fast and safe at sea; the less a yacht pitches the better she goes to windward and a yacht needs to steer easily down wind in a blow: and that, at the time, the front runners were becoming two fine in the ends and the rudder was getting too far forward.
Guy decided to design a yacht with fin and skeg profile. When he sailed a model to this design against the conventional one, he found it sailed faster and straighter. He sailed these models on open water and observed them, over miles, from his motor dinghy.
So CALLIOPE VII1. a cruising yacht was built in 1956. one of the first offshore boats with fin and skeg. CALLIOPE IX followed in 1958. Both boats proved extremely successful. Dick Pitcher crewed in them and out of this, the association between designer and racer became close indeed.
Dick raced successfully in dinghys from 1949. Up to the Flying Dutchman in 1965 when he became World Champion, following this in 1966 by becoming North American Champion. He was Endeavour Trophy winner, hut his dinghy sailing was never at the expense of going ~off-shore and in 1965 he approached Guy Thompson and asked him to design a cruiser, with five berths, with a good speed potential yet sea kindly and safe in all conditions. LOA 24 feet was decided on, models were made and tested and GOOSANDER was born.
She had a very successful season racing in EAORA events in 1967, showing a good balance between cruising and racing qualities. Based on this success, the design went into production as the T24 in 1968 with separate fin and rudder and skeg right aft. Phil Herring, Gerry Lilley and John James became owners.
A year later. Guy Thompson designed in conjunction with Dick Pitcher. WILLIWAW 31 feet LOA, the first British designed and built Half Ton Cup Boat with trim tab and bustle superficially resembling the T24 yet very different and she went into production as the T31.
WILLIWAW in her first season’s EAO Racing won Class III points with a clean sweep and the Round the Isle of Wight Race Division 7 but when shipped to Sandhamn for the ton Cup, a disappointing 12th place led her to eventual sale in Scandinavia.