Author Topic: Uffa Fox, naval architect and designer  (Read 408 times)

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Online pomme homme

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Uffa Fox, naval architect and designer
« on: March 12, 2023, 13:10:44 pm »
Uffa Fox was a Vectisian. He was born, lived and finally was buried on the Isle of Wight. He made his name designing sailing dinghies, keelboats and yachts but also designed canoes, rowing boats, and airborne lifeboats. He was a close friend of the late Prince Philip, with whom he sailed and raced frequently. He may, I think, fairly be described as a maverick, the like of which is rarely seen in today's heavily regulated world.

Fox was born on the Isle of Wight, in 1898, and was raised at East Cowes. After school, he was apprenticed to S. E. Saunders, the Cowes boatbuilders, for seven years. When he had served his apprenticeship, he established his own boatbuilding business based in a former Cowes ferry on the Medina river. He lived his whole life (when he was not at sea) in Cowes, his last home being the Commodore's House, overlooking Cowes Harbour. He died at the house of a friend in Worcester, in 1972, and is buried at Whippingham, on the Isle of Wight.

Fox's first notable design was a 14' sailing dinghy with a planing hull,  which was a precursor to the International 14 class. He designed and built a sailing canoe, which he used to make an Atlantic crossing. He designed successful sailing dinghies for the National 12, 14 and 18 classes. During WW2 he designed an airborne lifeboat, examples of which were carried by Vickers Warwicks, Avro Lancasters and Boeing B-17s of RAF Coastal Command. Their purpose was to be dropped near downed airmen, who would then raise a mast and sail and sail to safety. After the war he designed more sailing dinghies, including the Albacore, Firefly (an Olympic class in the 1948 Olympics), Javelin, Pegasus, Duckling and Jollyboat. His Flying Fifteen, a keelboat, was a very successful design, which spawned a range of similar racing day boats of varying lengths - from the Flying Ten to the Flying Twenty Five. The same basic planing hull design spawned the Flying Twenty Five to Flying Fifty range of cruising and racing yachts. He also designed and built the Britannia rowing boat, used by John Fairfax for the first self propelled Atlantic crossing in 1969. In addition to designing and building boats, he wrote extensively on the subject. 

Online pomme homme

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Re: Uffa Fox, naval architect and designer
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2023, 16:41:52 pm »
He may, I think, fairly be described as a maverick, the like of which is rarely seen in today's heavily regulated world.

In late July 1921, Fox and a crew of nine sea scouts departed Cowes for the western Solent, under sail in a 27-foot open whaler 'Valhalla'. The parents of the sea scouts were led to believe they were going on a camping and sailing trip in the Solent area. However Fox and the sea scouts knew otherwise, but the latter were sworn to secrecy. They struck out west, but instead of heading for the Beaulieu river they continued in a westerly direction, passing the Needles and then setting a south easterly course. After about thirty six hours at sea, the French coast came into sight and, after another five hours sailing, they landed at Le Havre. They then sailed up the Seine, getting to within 30 miles of the French capital before, due to pressure of time, on reaching Mantes Fox decided to turn about and head up river and for home. Two days later they were back in Rouen. This was the day when they were expected back at Cowes after their camping and sailing trip to the Solent! It was another two days before they reached the Isle of Wight, making landfall at Ventnor that evening. It was the afternoon of the following day before the Valhalla returned to Cowes. Fox and his crew saw the trip as an unmitigated success. The parents of the crew and the local sea scout hierarchy did not share that point of view. The Cowes sea scout committee resigned and Fox was dismissed from his post of scoutmaster. But I suspect that the crew were better men - and better sailors - for their voyage, from which all returned unscathed, even if they were a few days late!     


Offline alkhamhills

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Re: Uffa Fox, naval architect and designer
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2023, 10:19:41 am »
Uffa Fox
Born 15.1.1898 I O W
Died 26.10.1972 Alvechurch
Buried St Mildred’s Churchyard, Whippingham, I O W
He married Alma Elsa Phillips Sept 1925 I O W(she died 1967). Later married Laura Louise Sach June 1942 I O W. and again Yvonne C C Bernard 1956. 
 
In 1911 with parents Arthur Walda & Eliza. Also younger sister Elfreda
At Woodside, Oakfield Rd, I O W
Father was an Assistant Overseer for Isle of Wight Guardians

In WW1 he was No 167350 from 14.5.1918 RAF

In 1939 Uffa with father & Sister . He shows married.
He was a Yacht Designer & Building Author.
Father Arthur a retired overseer. Sister Elfreda was a Housekeeper.
At Teventy Acres Newport

Probate. Of The Commodores, High St, Cowes. Died 26.10.1972 Effects £49786