Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sentinel Explorers Racing

I designed the Sentinel Explorer for Sentinel Boats in 1991. My client was the importer of the Drascombe range of boats built by Honnor Marine but had not been able to sell any of those boats due to the high cost of importing them into South Africa. The brief was to draw my design to a broadly similar concept to the Drascombe Lugger but with sloop gunter rig instead of the yawl gunter rig of the Lugger.

My design was for a much fuller boat, with more volume on less overall length and very different hull section shape, resulting in a boat with more stability and considerably more speed. The UK builders of the Lugger took exception to the design and tried to shut down production, claiming that the moulds for our boat had been made from an existing Lugger hull, which was patently nonsense and no more than bullying the little guy in the playground. It lasted for several years but eventually went away, leaving a very bad taste for the low standard of business ethics displayed by Honnor Marine.

Ironically, Honnor Marine went broke and the company was bought by Bob and Norma Brown. The new iteration of Honnor Marine is now builder of my Cape Cutter 19 design in UK.

Production of the Explorer has been very low key, with small numbers built over the years. I heard a few years ago that there was a fleet of Explorers gathering on Langebaan Lagoon, on the West Coast of South Africa, with owners enthusiastic over their boats. Today I have received photos of this group racing as a one-design fleet in the Sandy Bay Yacht Club Easter Regatta. I have to admit that this is the first time that I have seen more than two Explorers sailing together. The time that I did see two together, I was racing one of them in the Hout Bay Dinghy Regatta, with my late friend Bryan Ferreira as crew.
Explorer start line action. "Dawdle", on the left, won the Easter Regatta.
Explorers dicing to windward in the Easter Regatta.
Explorer #59 being chased by Challenger #20.
It is good to see a smaller sister, the Sentinel Challenger, racing in the same fleet. The Explorer is only built in GRP from moulds but the Challenger can be built from plywood to our plans.

To see more about these and our other designs, please visit http://dixdesign.com/.