Uffa Fox

Uffa Fox, CBE (15 January 1898 – 26 October 1972) was an English boat designer and sailing enthusiast.

Airborne Lifeboat - Warwick B1 BV351
A Fox-designed airborne lifeboat, shown rigged for sailing, in front of a Vickers Warwick


Uffa Fox was born on the Isle of Wight and was raised in East Cowes.[1] He lived for a while in Puckaster on the Isle of Wight.


Grave of Uffa Fox, Whippingham, Isle of Wight, showing lifeboat of his design on parachute

He was responsible for many of the developments which have contributed to the modern popularity of Dinghy sailing. He first introduced the technique of planing to dinghy racing, and was influential in the introduction of trapezing.

In about 1943 he designed a 27 ft lifeboat to be dropped from Vickers Warwick aircraft when rescuing downed aircrew or mariners; its deficiencies led to the more sturdy American A-1 lifeboat. An example of this craft and of others built and/or designed by Fox are in the collections of the Classic Boat Museum at East Cowes, Isle of Wight.[2] These boats could be released from under the aeroplane retarded by six 32 ft diameter parachutes. Although initially adapted for the Warwick, the lifeboat was subsequently also carried by Air-Sea Rescue Lancasters and B-17 Flying Fortresses. The museum also holds a large collection of photographs by and about Fox.[2]

He became a friend of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1949 and they raced together at Cowes Week on many occasions. They raced on Fox's Dragon "Fresh Breeze" or the Duke's 'Royal' Dragon "Bluebottle". He also took the Royal children sailing at Cowes.

Apart from having a highly successful racing, cruising and sailing career, he ran successful boat design and boatbuilding businesses in the south of England. He designed many of the significant classes of boats around today, including the planing International 14, the Foxcub and Super Foxcub, the Flying Fifteen, the Flying Ten, the National 12, the National 18, the Albacore, the Firefly, the Javelin, the Pegasus Dinghy, the Jollyboat and the Day Sailer. Many of his designs exploited the wartime developments of moulded plywood, extruded aluminium, Tufnol etc..

In addition to dinghies he designed several keel boats all loosely based on the same concept as the flying fifteen, with separate fin keel and rudder. They were very light weight compared with other boats of the era. Huff of Arklow for Douglas Heard was 30'-0" on the waterline and Flying Fox for Fred Brownlee was 35'-0" waterline length.[3]

Uffa Fox designed the Britannia rowboat, used by John Fairfax, used for the first solo-rowing expedition across the Atlantic Ocean in 1969.[4] The Britannia was described as "the Rolls-Royce of rowboats, made of mahogany." It was self-righting, self-bailing and partly covered.[4] He also designed Britannia II, used by Fairfax and Sylvia Cook to row across the Pacific Ocean in 1971 through 1972.

His character is perhaps best indicated by an escapade whereby he led a group of Sea Scouts, without their parents' consent (they thought it was a weekend sailing camp), across the English Channel and up the Seine to within a few kilometres of Paris in a 25 ft open boat.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in January 1963 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Colston Hall in Bristol. He was also among the crew of the Typhoon, an account of which was written and published by William Washburn Nutting in In the Track of Typhoon (1922). Fox joined the crew in England for her transatlantic return via France, Spain, and the Azores into New York City.

Fox is said to have been the instigator in the 1950s of the "quintessentially English" annual cricket match on Bramble Bank in the central Solent.[5]


  1. ^ Uffa Fox biography, Uffa Fox official website
  2. ^ a b "Classic Boat Museum". Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Huff of Arklow". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (18 February 2012). "John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  5. ^ Majendie, Matt (10 January 2014). "Cricketers at sea: The world's most pointless sporting contest?". CNN. Retrieved 4 January 2015. It is quintessentially English, a land to have spawned more than its fair share of sporting eccentricities. On the surface of it, this match is supremely pointless – and actually, that remains the same even if you dig below the surface.

External links

Airborne lifeboat

Airborne lifeboats were powered lifeboats that were made to be dropped by fixed-wing aircraft into water to aid in air-sea rescue operations. An airborne lifeboat was to be carried by a heavy bomber specially modified to handle the external load of the lifeboat. The airborne lifeboat was intended to be dropped by parachute to land within reach of the survivors of an accident on the ocean, specifically airmen survivors of an emergency water landing. Airborne lifeboats were used during World War II by the United Kingdom and on Dumbo rescue missions by the United States from 1943 until the mid-1950s.

Albacore (dinghy)

The Albacore is a 4.57 m (15 ft) two-person planing dinghy, for competitive racing and lake and near-inshore day sailing. Hulls are made of either wood or fibreglass. The basic shape was developed in 1954 from an Uffa Fox design. Recent boats retain the same classic dimensions, and use modern materials and modern control systems, making it ideal for the recently graduated college racer, as well as those with less experience.

A deep airfoil section centerboard and rudder make the Albacore highly manoeuvrable. The Albacore's rig uses swept spreaders supporting a tapered mast, a powerful vang, and adjustable jib halyard and other sail controls to depower in high winds. This adjustability enables light crews and heavy crews to race head-to-head in all but the most extreme conditions. It does not have a trapeze or spinnaker, and hence avoids the difficult handling of sport boats. The powerful rig and easily driven hull give excellent performance over a wide range of wind and wave conditions.

The 2011 International Champion described the Albacore as a boat that is simple to get into at first, but one that will challenge the tuning and tactical skills of a sailor for the rest of their life. Recent champions have been "graduates" of college sailing teams.

Championship Standard Open NH Flat Race

The Championship Standard Open NH Flat Race is a listed National Hunt flat race in Britain. It is run at Ascot a distance of about 2 miles (1 mile 7 furlongs and 152 yards, or 3,156 metres). The race is scheduled to take place each year in December. Prior to 2011 it was run as a Grade 2 race. It is currently sponsored by St. Andrews Holdings.

Day Sailer

The Day Sailer (also called the O'Day Day Sailer) is a day sailer for pleasure sailing as well as racing; it is sailed throughout North America and Brazil. Designed by Uffa Fox and George O'Day in 1958, the Day Sailer possesses a 6 foot beam, an overall length of 17 feet, a fiberglass hull and a cuddy cabin. It is able to sleep two (more if a tent is added to the boom). The sloop rig includes mainsail, jib and a spinnaker on an aluminum mast and boom.Over 10,000 boats have been built, and races are held throughout the year in the USA and Brazil by the Day Sailer Association and its fleets. The Day Sailer was inducted in 2003 into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame.

From 1958 until 1972, the boat was built and sold by O'Day Corp.. Later various other builders produced the Day Sailer, including Spindrift, Precision Boat Works, McLaughlin Boat Works, and Sunfish/Laser Inc. Since 1995, the boat has been built by Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. As of 2010, the Junior North American Championships are to be held every year in order to promote the class and reach out to local youth sailors.

Dinghy sailing

Dinghy sailing is the activity of sailing small boats by using five essential controls:

the sails

the foils (i.e. the daggerboard or centreboard and rudder and sometimes lifting foils as found on the Moth)

the trim (forward/rear angle of the boat in the water)

side-to-side balance of the dinghy by hiking or movement of the crew, particularly in windy weather ("move fast or swim")

the choice of route (in terms of existing and anticipated wind shifts, possible obstacles, other water traffic, currents, tides etc.)When racing, the above skills need to be refined and additional skills and techniques learned, such as the application of the "racing rules of sailing", boat handling skills when starting and when rounding marks, and knowledge of tactics and strategy. Racing tactics include positioning your boat at different angles. To improve speed when racing, sailors should position themselves at the windward direction (closest to the direction of the wind) in order to get "clean air".

The RYA, regulating authority for sail training in the UK and Europe, states that, "With a reliance on nature and the elements, sailing ... is about adventure, exploration, teamwork and fun."

Fairey Atalanta

In the 1950s, together with a variety of designs of dinghies, Fairey Marine Ltd produced larger sailing cruisers, the Atalanta (named after Sir Richard's wife), Titania, and Fulmar, also the 27' Fisherman motor sailer (based on the Fairey Lifeboat hull). They also made the 15' Cinderella (outboard runabout)/ Carefree (inboard runabout), and the 16'6" Faun (outboard powered family cruiser).

Between 1956 and 1968 Fairey Marine produced some 291 Atalanta class sailing yachts, designed by Uffa Fox: The Atalanta was conceived in 1955 by Alan Vines, a senior executive at Fairey, with the expertise of Uffa Fox who was their Design Consultant. It was envisaged as a trailable shallow draft performance cruiser with the sea keeping capabilities and safety of a fin keel yacht. Over the succeeding decades the distinctive centre cockpit design with its rolled decks and generous accommodation has more than fulfilled expectations, offering a respectable turn of speed in light airs while her retractable cast iron keels give outstanding heavy weather performance in a seaway. Robust enough to carry its full sail in winds up to force five, the Atalanta retains many of the handling characteristics of a classic dinghy.

Fairey Marine went on to produce three variants of the Atalanta, another 26 ft (8.1m) hull with a slightly shorter cockpit and more headroom called the Titania (named after another Fairey flying boat), a larger version -the Atalanta 31 (9.45m)- and the Fulmar a 20 ft(6.1m) version with a single lifting keel. Small Dinghies were built using similar techniques as tenders for the larger boats.

Production Yachts from Fairey Marine

Atalanta 26

Atalanta 31

Titania (also 26 ft but with greater cabin headroom)


Dimensions for Atalanta 31

LOA: 31´ (9.45m)

Max beam: 8´3" (2.51m)

Freeboard fwd: 4' (1.22m)

Freeboard aft: 2'3" (0.7m)

Draft keels up: 2' (0.61m)

Draft keels down: 7' (2.13m)

Total weight of keels: 2,120lbs (962 kg) for the two

Designed load displacement: 8,000lbs (3,628 kg)


Main: 192ft2,

Genoa: 275ft2

Height of sail plan over sheerline: 37' (11.28m)

Fairey Marine

Fairey Marine Ltd, latterly known as FBM Marine, was a boat building company based on the River Hamble, Southampton, England. The company was created in the late 1940s by Sir Charles Richard Fairey and Fairey Aviation's managing director, Mr. Chichester-Smith. Both were avid sailing enthusiasts along with Chichester-Smith's good friend and former Olympic yachtsman, Charles Currey.

Firefly (dinghy)

The Firefly is a two-sail, one design, wooden or GRP sailing dinghy with no spinnaker, designed by Uffa Fox in 1938. The first four boats from the production line were named Fe, Fi, Fo and Fum. Number one, Fe, is now owned by the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Although designed as a double hander, it was selected as the single handed class for the 1948 Olympics but was subsequently replaced by the Finn class. The class then became popular as a low cost, one design, double hander, as was originally intended, tolerating remarkably well combined weights of 16 to 25 stone (102 to 159 kg).

The Firefly class today has a thriving open events calendar in the UK. The national championships are always held at a sea venue and attracts a very high level of dinghy racing competitors in boats of all ages from all over the country and fleets of 60 entries plus. Away events are held at a number of the top end sailing clubs in the UK including Restonguet, Itchenor, West Kirby, Felixstowe Ferry, Southport, Budworth and Rickmansworth. It has become particularly successful as a team racing boat in the UK, thanks to its high manoeuvrability, easy handling, and low cost. Another benefit is the use of smaller mainsail which enables sailing in stronger winds. The class has become particularly popular for the British Universities Sailing Association team racing events and is used in similar BSDRA events, thus a large number of universities and schools that team race have a fleet of Fireflys, taking advantage of the benefits above.

The Firefly ideal was to produce a one-design dinghy at a low cost; this is why the class celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 and continues to grow. The Firefly appeals to all ages and is raced by both men and women. A more detailed history will be found on the class association website.

Flying Fifteen

The Flying Fifteen is a 20-foot two person keelboat designed by Uffa Fox in 1947. In 2018 therefore the class is 71 years old.

International 14

The International 14 is a 14-foot double-handed racing dinghy. The class originated in England in the early part of the 20th century. It is sailed and raced in many countries around the world and was one of the very first true international racing dinghy classes recognised by International Sailing Federation. It is a Development Class being controlled by a set of rules that allow for innovation and changes in hull and rig design as long as they fall within a set of specific limitations such as length, weight, beam, and sail area. The class has permitted its rules to be revised at various times in its history in order to keep the class at the forefront of dinghy racing development and can now best be described as an ultralight dual-trapeze sailing dinghy with large sail area. It is often raced with boats of similar design in one-design, or non-handicap races.

Javelin dinghy

The Javelin is a 14-foot dinghy designed by Uffa Fox in 1960 and built by the O'Day company until 1984. The boat is a comfortable daysailer. Over 5000 were produced in the United States and the older "classic" models are still being built in Japan.

The Javelin sails off a D-PN of 111.3

Jollyboat (dinghy)

Traditionally the term jolly boat refers to a boat carried by a ship, powered by 4 or six oars and occasionally yawl rigged sails. The term might also refer to

A Jollyboat is a 1953 sailing dinghy designed by Uffa Fox. It was the fastest dinghy in its day, and was built by Fairey Marine 1953 - 1971. [1]

A Jollyboat is a New Zealand sailing dinghy designed by John Spencer. It is intended to be suitable for low cost home construction for sailing by teenagers or a parent and child.

Jolly Boat a 15-foot ketch rigged heavy open boat available in GRP and designed by famous yacht designer Laurent Giles and made by AJS Marine in Chichester. AJS marine brochure

List of people from the Isle of Wight

This is a list of notable people born in or strongly associated with the Isle of Wight, alphabetically within categories.

National 12

The National 12 is a two-person, two-sail, twelve-foot (3.6 metre) long sailing dinghy. They are sailed extensively in the UK. The class was started in 1936 by the Royal Yachting Association as an alternative to the more expensive International 14s.

The rules limit the length of the boat to 12 ft, beam to 6 ft 6 in, an all up weight to 78 kg and a sail area of 10.4 m2. National 12s are sailed on all types of water from narrow rivers to the open sea. The class holds a national championships on an annual basis – known as Burton Week after the premier prize of the week: The Sir William Burton Cup – at various venues around the UK coast.

The National 12 is a development class where within a set of rules (and with occasional considered changes to those rules) the boats have been able to evolve over time, moving from wood and clinker construction to high-performance glass and carbon fibre-foam composite boats. One of the most noticeable changes in the boats is the steady increase in beam over the history of the class – early examples were less than 5 ft while modern ones are usually at the maximum 6 ft 6 in to provide maximum righting moment for the crew. The Twelve has developed into a racing boat which performs well in all conditions being highly manouvreable and challenging to sail in windy weather.

Pegasus Dinghy

The Pegasus is a powerful and fast two person racing and cruising dinghy designed by Uffa Fox in 1958. It was notable for being a boat capable of being built at home using marine ply but still with an efficient and aesthetically pleasing round bilged hull form - see pictures on the cvrda website.

The designer's brief was particularly well thought out:

In 1958, the famous dinghy designer, Uffa Fox was asked to design the Pegasus, and was given a brief to:-

"Design the best 14ft water-line dinghy you can. A stable fast thoroughbred, quick to plane and a boat, which does not destroy itself by its own speed when planing. Spare no time or thought to making it the best 14ft dinghy in the world"

Uffa Fox rose to the challenge and the result is the Pegasus, which at the time proved to be one of the best performing dinghies around. Modern designs are now very different in concept, and the high performance ones are certainly capable of speeds unheard of in the early 1960s.

'from CVRDA website'

... and the present day owners would probably agree that it was well met!

It is an excellent sea boat with a narrow bow entry and a planing hull, carrying a mainsail, and a jib and a large symmetric spinnaker. Stability is achieved with a trapeze allowing this relatively narrow boat by modern standards to carry a large sail plan.

Approximately 250 Pegasus's were constructed, some all wooden and many in composite construction from GRP hulls and marine ply decks and buoyancy tanks. A few all GRP boats were also produced. It is believed that about 30 remain (2007) many of these are still sailing. The Pegasus owners were closely involved in the creation of the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association.

Planing (boat)

Planing ( PLAY-ning) is the mode of operation for a waterborne craft in which its weight is predominantly supported by hydrodynamic lift, rather than hydrostatic lift (buoyancy).

Many forms of marine transport make use of planing, including fast ferries, racing boats, floatplanes, flying boats, and seaplanes. Most surfboards are planing or semi-planing hulls. Beyond planing, fast vessel designs have seen a transition to hydrofoil designs.

St Mildred's Church, Whippingham

St Mildred's Church, Whippingham is the Church of England parish church of the village of Whippingham, Isle of Wight.


The Tumlare (lit. Porpoise) is a class of canoe-sterned (or 'double-ended') yacht designed by Knud Reimers. The design dates from the early 1930s (1933 from a majority of sources; No. 1, Aibe was built the next year for Bengt Kinde). The Tumlare is 8.30 metres (27.2 ft) overall; the design was strongly endorsed as a 'very advanced type' by Uffa Fox who was especially interested in the composite method of construction employed, with metal frames interspersed between the timber ones.The class became popular worldwide. Examples are to be found all round the Baltic, in the UK, North America and Australia. The total number built is given variously from 'At least 200' to 'Some 600', with '660' given in Vanessa Bird's 'Classic Classes'.As standard, the class carries 20 square metres (220 sq ft) of sail, however a variant known as the Hocco is a class with the same hull but 28 square metres (300 sq ft) of sail, conceived for sailing on inland waters, specifically Lake Geneva.The larger sister class, the 32' Large Tumlare, Stortumlare, or 'Albatross' class is a related design.


Uffa or UFFA may refer to:

Uffa or Wuffa of East Anglia, 6th-century king of East Anglia

Uffa Fox (1898–1972), English boat designer and sailing enthusiast

UFFA, anarchist youth house in Trondheim, Norway

UFFA (Uganda), Uganda Freight Forwarders Association, formed in 2001

UFFA, acronym in the Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) methodology that stands for Use It, Flag It, Fix It, Add It


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