The Bangor S-Class Archive

The latest discoveries of the S-Class Archive include the lost boats Quinsibar, discovered derelict near Whiterock Boatyard, Shejenka in Whiterock Boatyard, and Salterello in unknown condition in Galway Bay Yacht Club. Sarcelle, also derelict, was recently discovered by William Nixon at Mullaghmore and has been taken on by Elliot Kearns of Mullaghmore.

In the meantime, interest in the class is growing. In 2012 the Royal Ulster Yacht Club hosted a reunion of many people with connections to the  S-Class, attended by among others Martin and Ann Pearsons (owners of Stealaway, the first of the S-Class boats), Ronnie Slater son of the builder and designer of the S-Class ships, as well as Gordon Finlay archivist of the club and many others. The reunion was reported by yachting journalist Betty Armstrong in the County Down Spectator - the Spectator’s editor Paul Flowers has kindly allowed us to reproduce the report below.

2014 News

Over the last couple of years Martin Pearsons, Ronnie Slater and Gordon Finlay have
been instrumental in researching and disseminating the history of these remarkable boats, which represent a high point in the building and sailing of superbly-designed affordable sailing yachts built of traditional timber by traditional craftsmen. It is unlikely that such affordable classic boats will ever roll off the production lines of small boatyards again - although interest in wooden boats is growing year by year, the days of affordability are over. A new timber boat today will probably be of higher quality than anything the everyday sailor could buy in the years following the Second World War when wooden boats were still the norm - but that is because the contemporary boats are bought by sailors willing to pay for superbly finished and lavishly equipped craft made from a blend of modern and traditional materials. The S-Class boats are different: tough, working cruisers without gratuitous refinement and without pretension to being something they are not. These were boats designed to be sailed by sailors on an ordinary budget, sailors who expected their boats to work well and last long. Luckily, Robert Slater knew how to make such boats.

Ronnie Slater and Gordon Finlay

The S-Class has also made its way into Classic Boat magazine, courtesy of Vanessa Bird’s class notes on the Bangor boats in last December’s issue.

This 2014 season marks the point at which the Archive has finally amassed at least some data on all of the presumed 22 S-Class cruisers - even if the data is nothing more than the record of a regatta of 60 years ago, as in the case of Silhouette. Several other boats have not been heard from for a while, but Southward and Silhouette are the only two boats remaining where their whereabouts cannot even be guessed at. Silhouette was a Bangor Yacht Club boat in 1954, and Southward was photographed on Lake Ullswater in the 1960s. Then both boats disappear from the records - but we hope they will reappear soon.   

Sarcelle, recently discovered at Mullaghmore