The 96-year-old Solent Sunbeam class welcomed a brand new yacht to its fleet last week with the launching of V70 Minty which took place at Itchenor, the base for this historic and much-admired classic keel-boat fleet.
Harriet and Simon Patterson are the proud new owners of Minty, which sports a glacial-green hull. Now their children are sailing so much they wanted to get back on the water themselves.
Commenting at the launch they said, “The Sunbeams are fabulous boats, combining beautiful classic lines with exhilarating sailing and competitive racing. The class is very welcoming and gracious with help for sailors new to the boat!”
Following Minty’s launch the Fleet now on the water and racing this season grows to 27, with the new GRP hulled yachts and the original wooden versions, dating back 96 years to 1923, racing side by side on an equal basis.
Minty’s hull was built on the Isle of Wight by Mark Downer’s AM Structures, a GRP and composites specialist who has built all nine of the new GRP yachts. Minty was fitted out by wooden boat specialists Haines Boatyard based at Itchenor.
The philosophy behind the introduction of GRP construction to the fleet was to reduce necessary annual maintenance, lower the build cost of new boats, and to include watertight bulkheads in order to make the yacht unsinkable.
The first GRP trial boat V61 Betty was built from scratch in 21 weeks and then raced extensively throughout its first season.
Everyone agreed that Betty raced equally against the wooden fleet, the Solent Sunbeam Class accepted her as a Solent Sunbeam, and a green light was given to building new GRP boats.
The introduction of the GRP boats to the historic Sunbeam fleet has encouraged many new entrants into the Fleet, including the owners of the newest Solent Sunbeam, V70 Minty.