The Tricorn dinghy was
designed by Illingworth and Primrose
in 1962. Since theirs was one
of the most famous names in offshore racing yacht design at the time,
she came with some impressive pedigree. The design brief appears to
have been to create a low maintenance dinghy, capable of serious open
water passage-making, that would be better and faster than Ian
Proctor's well proven and famous Wayfarer class.
Back then in the early
60s there were very few dinghies purpose-designed for construction
in GRP. Almost certainly this was the first boat to be designed by Illingworth and Primrose for this type of construction,
and at the time the Wayfarer would only have been available in
plywood, so although Angus Primrose had certainly designed dinghies
before, the Tricorn brief must have come as a considerable new
challenge. His approach, in common with most other designers who
were learning to work with this little known material, was to make the
boat strong and not to spare on materials. When you examine the
layup of a Tricorn, you'll notice a predominance of woven rovings
throughout, and lots of reinforcement in areas where a contemporary
wooden or plywood dinghy might have had a tendency to develop stress
cracks or other weakness.
Very unusually for such
an early fibreglass boat, there is almost no wood, except for the
tiller, rudder, and some backing pads for deck fittings. This may
have been a bit too avant-garde for the times, since boat enthusiasts
in those days would have expected quite a lot of visible wood trim,
coamings, decks, floorboards, benches, hatches, etc. The all plastic
Tricorn might have been regarded as just too space-age and factory
produced, and this perception, as well as its price and the
narrowness of its marketing concept, may have seriously limited
sales. I’m not sure how many were built, but it’s certain that few remain in serviceable condition.
Not that there was
anything wrong with the performance of the Tricorn, nor its ability
to shelter its crew of 2 adults, plus maybe a child, for overnight
camping stops. Contemporary boat tests make it clear that Tricorn
had the edge over the Wayfarer in both departments, although
nowadays, after 50 years of Wayfarer class development, the Tricorn
would probably struggle to keep up on some points.
however, Tricorn would still show a Wayfarer a clean pair of heels to
windward, since with her centreplate fully down she draws
1.6m (5ft 3in) to the Wayfarer's 1.17m (3ft 10in). She is also a few
inches longer overall and carries around 1sqm more windward sail.
Compared to the Wayfarer, Tricorn is noticeably less stable at rest,
though she stiffens up when under way.
foredeck and short cabin roof enclose a cuddy with sitting space for 2 or 3 adults or sleeping space for 2 (in berths extending under
the cockpit side benches). There would be just enough space left
over in camping mode for a child of up to about 7 years old to
stretch out. There's a large watertight locker aft, and two capacious
cockpit side lockers, probably not really totally watertight in the
event of capsize, but which resist rain, spray, and even a fair
amount of solid water landing in the cockpit.
Some years ago, I
found and bought an old Tricorn. It was very scruffy, had a hole in
the bottom, and lacked its original moulded forehatch cover as well
as the original winch for lifting the centreplate. This 1963 example
had at some time been used as a sailing school boat and was fitted with a horrible
non-original rusty steel plate, weighing in at 50kg or more, double
the original design spec. In addition, the mainsail had been
reduced in area by cutting the foot off it to a depth of about 1m.
These modifications must have made her extremely slow and dull to sail.
Salvo is now back in
sailing order with a few minor changes to her original specification.
I changed the overweight rusty centreplate to one that weighs about
20kg, about the same as the original design, but mine is home-made
from a sandwich of steel, epoxy and plywood. I had to give up on
finding an original plate lifting winch and fitted a simple tackle
instead. I made a forehatch cover from plywood and clear
polycarbonate, and lastly, I changed from a transom mainsheet track
to centre sheeting for no better reason than I was scared the sheet
might foul on my outboard motor and cause a capsize. The old roller
reefing boom was replaced by one from a Fireball, to which I fixed
some fittings for slab reefing.
I made a new rudder
blade cut from the plywood centreboard from an old Miracle dinghy, but it
snapped in half in a fearsome tiderace in Brittany, so I have gone back
to the original which I might reproduce in aluminium plate.
There are still a couple of niggling problems which I will get round to sorting out one day. For instance the original self
bailers let more water in to the watertight cockpit than they remove,
so my feet are always wet. The in-mast jib halyard emerges from the
mast foot in such a way that it is difficult to tension properly. I'm considering making it external from a point just below the
spreaders so that I can swig it up tight. (Edit: Now successfully modified). Most importantly, because
of the total lack of rowlocks, a rowing thwart, and a stowage space
long enough for decent oars, it's impossible to row the boat in the
event of flat calm and engine failure. Emergency propulsion consists
of a long paddle at the moment.
In spite of the age of
the design, and these very minor shortcomings, I like my Tricorn. She is a fine,
strong, and capable boat - with a top class pedigree!
Her performance under sail is excellent. She is faster and more weatherly than most serious cruising dinghies of similar size, even many well-known highly regarded modern designs. Her fittings and gear are strong, sound and serviceable. The rig is simple and, on dry land, the mast can be raised and lowered singlehanded. The new sails are of the highest quality.
In very rough seas the closed-off cabin and self draining cockpit largely eliminate the risk of swamping. The cockpit will free itself of water automatically within a couple of minutes while the boat sails on. However, even in the unlikely event of a disastrous total flooding, Salvo’s hull contains enough buoyancy to remain afloat.
Salvo sails well under reefed sails. In very severe conditions Salvo is capable of making safe harbour under sail with 3 reefs in the main and the small jib set, like a cutter’s staysail, well back from the stem head.
The Tricorn is designed for fast coastal cruising. Relatively high freeboard helps shelter the crew from spray.
The lockable cabin provides permanent onboard dry storage.
The draining cockpit enables the boat to be left unattended on a mooring indefinitely.
Cockpit lockers are lockable and weatherproof. The outboard motor can be stowed out of sight and out of the way in the lazarette.
The hull design offers good load carrying capacity for heavy camping or extended cruising equipment.
The electric outboard is powerful, ready for instant use without any starting problems, and has forward-neutral-reverse modes.
What are the weaker points?
Salvo’s cockpit drains let water in as well as out, so you often have wet feet. Fitting new bailers that seal properly would probably solve this problem.
Cabin access is awkward through a small hatch. It can be a tight squeeze for a person of average size, and requires flexibility and agility. Once in, there is just enough space to shelter 2, maximum 3 persons, though, on the plus side, it is dry and warm and you don’t need a cockpit tent.
Pretty much like most other boats that don’t have a centreline outboard well, manoeuvring Salvo under outboard motor, transom-mounted on the starboard quarter, can be tricky. The turning circle is large unless the plate is down, the rudder becomes ineffective at low speed, and the bows tend to blow off. The outboard prop can come out of the water and lose traction if there is a man on the foredeck.
The Tricorn is initially a relatively “tippy” boat for its size. Onboard you need to trim correctly and not jump about. On the other hand, once sailing, she feels steadier and her generous freeboard means you would have to be very, very clumsy or very unlucky indeed to suffer a capsize.
Salvo is now equipped for sculling when necessary for brief harbour manoeuvres!
|Salvo at La Semaine du Golfe du Morbihan, 2019|
Tricorn Sailing Dinghy
Designed by Illingworth and Primrose, 1962
Built by Martin Goacher Ltd.
LOA: 16ft 6in (5m03)
LWL: 15ft (4m57)
Beam: 6ft 2in (1m87)
Draft: 9in (0m22) plate up, 5ft 3in (1m60) plate lowered.
Air draft: 24ft 6in (7m46)
Sail area: 139 sq ft (12.91sqm)
Congratulations on your restoration. She looks good. I love the Wayfarer dinghy and have enjoyed reading about her ocean voyaging and coastal sailing but if I had to choose I would choose the Tricom - She looks great!ReplyDelete
You might find this of interest...http://bursledonblog.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/small-world.htmlReplyDelete
Thanks Paul - I took a look again at Max's blog and saw your boat. The Whiting looks very similar to the Tricon in concept, a concept I like a lot. Do you still have her? Are you able to sleep inside your little cuddy cabin?ReplyDelete
Great boat! Glad she is now in your capable hands. This is a boat who's time has come again. Someone should start making her again.ReplyDelete
Hi Alden, yes I still have her,don't think I could ever part. Two can sleep in the cuddly as long as they are good friends,but the cockpit is the crowning glory with the room of a thirty footer. Again like the TriconReplyDelete
Paul, I really like the look of your Whiting. The Tricorn's cockpit, though it looks big, is cluttered a bit by the long c/b case, and the big locker aft takes up a lot of space. The Whiting seems to have plenty of unencumbered cockpit space, and the look of a bigger boat.ReplyDelete
Thanks Patrick,like the Tricorn, sadly also no longer in production. In my view she is just about the perfect concept for an easily handled (afloat and ashore) trailer yacht.ReplyDelete
Patrick thanks for posting such an interesting thread, I like both the Tricorn and the Whiting - for a while I've had my eye out for an old Westerly Nimrod at the right price, but I think both these boats are better. Having just finished a 5 year restoration or Erica's SCOW (work and life got in the way far too often) I'm of the opinion that building from scratch can be quicker and easier. To Alden's point might be worth trying to find a designer who could produce an updated version - or maybe update the lines into Defltship if I find some time over winter would be a start and then take the best from each to redesign the cockpit/interior.ReplyDelete
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The boat looks gorgeous. You did a phenomenal job on the restoration. Thank you for the post!ReplyDelete
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Driving back from St. Andrews New Brunswick, quite by accident, came across the Tricorn which my father bought on the day I was born June 14th, 1962. We lived in Port Cartier Quebec at that time, and then moved home to New Brunswick. Dad sold it in 1965 when he bought a 32 foot wooden schooner that had just been built in Chester Nova Scotia, on spec.ReplyDelete
If I take her and do fix her up I hope to do as good as you have done. Nice work. She is going to need a lot of work, but if anyone is going to fix up the old girl it should be her long lost twin brother. :-)
Here is my facebook page with photos taken today of M'Lady in her present condition.ReplyDelete
She was built in 1962. Not sure of hull number as the builders plate has peeled off in places.
Great story James...ReplyDelete
James - nice boat - incredible really that a boat which must be 50 years old is in such good or at least easilly repairable conditionReplyDelete
Hi Patrick, look like a good job.ReplyDelete
If you need some materials or help on further restoration feel free to contact me. I have a friend of mine working on similar boats for customers of our boat shop.
This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. Almost certainly this was the first Seafarer boats of any type designed by this company.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing the info, keep the good work going.... I really enjoyed exploring your site.Good resource.ReplyDelete
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Great information! The Tricorn dinghy looks great after your restoration work. Tricorn seems to be the early version of modern sailing boats, which vacationers often charter for sailing vacation destinations such as Cancun. Thanks for the post!!ReplyDelete
This story reminded me of how I began in the great hobby of building boats.ReplyDelete
As a child, my dad would take me to the harbor and I would watch the boats bring in their catch for the day. It all seemed very magical to a young boy.
I started building tiny model boats but due to our familie's financial situation, I could never graduate to building a "real" boat.
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Only 37 built ? - curious, my sail no is 55 ("Sandpiper" is in the process of being "rebuilt").ReplyDelete
A problem with the Tricorn not mention so far was the weakness of the cabin roof. The rig bore down mightily in winds above force 3 and the lee shroad flapped about. I made an aluminium king-post which incorporated a screw-jack. This stood on apurpose built plate on the inner surface of the hull where the keelson would be in a wooden boat. Slim crew could enter and leave the cabin with the king-post in situ but it was easily removed and replaced if necessary. The king-post considerably improved rig stability at sea.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the information about providing extra support under the mast. Will bear it in mind when reassembling the boat; the cabin mould is off the boat at the moment (Sail No 55)Delete
Very interesting, I noticed when sailing mine that the lee shroud seemed to go slack and didn't understand why. Seems so blindingly obvious now you explain it!Delete
(I was less experienced back then... I'm better now, but still a novice at boat building/repairs.)
So I've been looking at making my own king post recently. Problem is finding somewhere strong enough to ground it. Don't know about yours, buy my cabin floor is foam-filled, it's flat all the way across so quite deep in the centre but shallows out towards the sides as the hull tapers up.
I very much doubt that foam is enough to stop the cabin roof from flexing under the pressure of the mast. I did consider running a beam all the way across the floor to the sides of the boat where the foam stopped, which would give me a stronger platform for mounting the post, but then again even a fairly chunky piece of timber I imagine would still have enough flex for the Lee shroud to go slack.
It appears a previous owner has already cut a cylindrical hole out of the foam floor for pumping out the bilge, I could consider dropping something in there to support it from the bottom, but this existing hole is too far aft for the mast, it is directly underneath the slightly sloped main hatch.
So after all that I thought... do I actually need it? Is the cabin roof likely to give way and fail/crack?
Don't get me wrong I like the idea of a king post, I'm an over-engineer kind of mentality because when you're out on the sea in frightening conditions it's better for something to be slightly too tough than slightly too flimsy! But looking at the complications of it, and the very little time I get to work on that sort of thing, I'm wondering if it'll get along ok without?
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Hi Patrick. Looks like you've made an absolutely fantastic job on Salvo, very admirable.ReplyDelete
You might've seen my reply on bursledonblog, but didn't think it'd harm to copy paste in here as well. It would be interesting to get in touch with fellow Tricorn owners with it being such a rare boat.
I bought one back in 2015, but it's in a bad way. I have managed to get out on it a couple of times, but it was clear how much work needed doing. I even have a youtube video of me sailing it if you're interested.
I absolutely love the design - swing keel, lightweight yet still slightly ballasted, massive open cockpit, small cuddy to stash all your gear and even curl up in for a break from the elements.
I didn't want a project boat because I just don't have the time, didn't realise how much work it needed at first. But I just can't bare to part with it because I love the concept/design of it so much.
I've been making very very slow progress over the last few years. I'm very far from an expert at this sort of thing either so there's been a lot of difficult decisions and various challenges to overcome.
But I feel like I'm starting to get somewhere recently and am really hoping it gets to see a bit more action this summer.
Thanks for the great post on your blog, it really gives me an insight on this topic.ReplyDelete
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