The Squib was designed by Oliver Lee in 1967 as a scaled down version of the Ajax 23. The prototype was a cold moulded wooden hull, with an iron keel. It was extensively and successfully tested in 1967/68 and was used as a plug for the first GRP Squib launched in June 1968. The first production boat was No.11, called “Squib” . She is now owned and regularly raced on both sides of the Irish Sea by the current Squib Class chairman Dick Batt
The first fleet was formed at the Royal Corinthian YC in Burnham, where the first 150 or so boats were built by Oliver Lee (up to 157 Cheque Mate).
From the early 1970s production transferred to Hunter Boats in Rochford, Essex. Hunter Boats produced boat numbers 158, “Hera” to 724, “Tais”.
Squib fleets were soon established elsewhere on the East Coast, at Waldringfield and Aldeburgh, and also spread to the South, the South-West, the West Coast and to Wales.
In half a century Squib fleets at Brixham. Plymouth, Hamble, Seaview, Brighton, Bridlington, Aldeburgh, Rutland, Datchet and Beaumaris have all enjoyed decades of Squib racing under their flag. Other fleets now continue this great tradition, ( See more…….)
In the mid ’70’s Winkie Nixon introduced the Squib to Ireland, with active fleets quickly establising on Belfast Lough and in Howth. Fleets at Killyleagh, Kinsale, Glandore and other centres have built on this inspired initiative.
The enduring Squib design enjoyed wide appeal and achieved rapid growth, as demonstrated in the Class’s early years: 300 by 1972, and 400 by 1974.
The successful adoption of the Squib class by clubs was typified by the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club. In 1972 one Squib was test saile. By 1977 twenty-two Squibs were registered at the club with a regular turnout of ten or more.
This pattern has since been repeated numerous times, most recently by the burgeoning Squib fleet at Portsmouth Sailing Club.
By the end of the 1970s the Squib was a well-established class. Its qualities were recognised early in the decade when the RYA granted the Squib national status.
Following the Squib symposium at Burnham in 1974, where members of the yachting press raced in Squibs, the Design Council placed the Squib on its index of selected designs.
Two important and linked characteristics have contributed to the long term success and resilience of the class. One is the longevity of the competitiveness of the boat itself – it does not need to be replaced.
The second is the long term commitment to the class, of good helms and crews of national prominence and ability, who have chosen to race Squibs for many years because of the challenges that the boat and the national fleet provide.
Leading sailors, boat-builders and sailmakers from fleets lincluding the 505, Enterprise, Fireflly, Merlin Rocket, Scorpoin, Osprey and Dragon are an integral part of the Squib Fleet.
The growth and spread of the Squib class has continued in more recent times but not surprisingly at a more steady rate. Following a long period of production by Hunter Boats in the 1980s, production was taken over by Oliver Lee Racing Yachts (John Chardin and Peter Barker) who built from number 725 to 767 Leisurely Pint.
After the death of Oliver Lee in 1993, production was continued by Barker Brewer Boats from 1994–1996. .
In 1997 the Squib building license licence was transferred to Parker Sailboats in Boston, Lincs. The First Parker Squib was number 783 “Yes m’Lady” and when production ceased in 2010 they had built approximately100 boats.
Bruce Parker Sailboats inherited the Squib license and the last sail number issued to a Parker Squib was 888.
Rondar Raceboats Ltd are the current licensed manufacturer. While the hull and deck have not changed, they have remodelled the cockpit to make the new boat self-draining and the mouldings are now of a more modern foam sanwich construction.
In 2009/2010 the NSOA invested in a new deck mould and a new hull mould. Since the first Squib was built, three slightly different keel patterns have been in use. The first was allegedly destroyed in a fire, since when ther have been two revisions, the most recent being a close copy of the original. The keel pattern, like the hull moulds, is owned by the class and approved by the RYA.
Successful championship boats in the last 20 years have come from five of the builders who have served the Class so well.
900 boats across 30 fleets
The total number of boats produced now approaches 900 of which two thirds are registered with the association. They are raced in approximately 25 fleets. You will find Squibs actively raced in Clubs and events on the East, South, South West, and North East coasts of England, in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic. Several clubs have between 20-30 registered boats.
A feature of the last few decades has been the growth and development of the Squib fleet in Ireland. The UK ( open) championships are periodically held in Ireland and alway attract excellent support. The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, Howth Yacht Club and Kinsale Yacht Club have all played their part.
Between 1990 and 2022 seven UK Open Championships have been held in hte island of Ireland, originally alternating between Belfast and Dublin and most recently in Kinsale. – the 1996 UK Nationals held at Howth, just North of Dublin were the first ever to attract over 100 boats.
The Irish fleet is still growing with the Irish Squib Class dealing with its promotion. There is a regular flow of boats shanging hands between the UK and Irish fleets. The Irish Freshwater Championships held on beautiful Loch Derg on the Shannon, regularly attracts entries from the UK as well and is now designated the Irish Inland Chamiionships.
There have also been some interesting international developments in recent years.
There are Squibs sailing regularly in the Caribbean, Norway and Denmark and six Squibs were sold to Germany to bolster an existing fleet near Hamburg.
Most recently a Squib fleet has emerged in Malaysia, proudly holding its first championships in 2022. ( more…….)