Aug 12, 2021
photos by Nicholas Lewin
The history of the Bluenose Class sloop begins in 1946 when naval architect William J. Roué designed the wooden one design for a group of sailors from the Armdale Yacht Club. The first Bluenose class sloops set sail in Nova Scotia water in the spring of 1946. They were carvel built of pine planking on oak frames in East Chester NS, under the direction of master boatbuilder Lloyd Barkhouse. The boat shop still stands and can be seen on the left as you make the turn at Goat Lake, East Chester, on Highway 3.
In the mid 1960s, George McVay of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia – under license with designer W.J. Roué – began manufacturing a fibreglass version of the Bluenose.
Fleet President Nicholas Lewin writes from Chester.
“The classic lined Bluenose sloop, which turns 75 this year, has earned the name ‘Austin Healey of the seas’
“The boat has been made in several series, first in Wood and then in fibreglass with cuddy cabins. Some newer wood ones and some now fresh out of the mold brand new. The boats of spread from Minnesota and Massachusetts and Muskoka, That are mainly based in Chester Nova Scotia where there is a very healthy racing fleet of 20 to 30 modified boats. In the spirit of American summer visitors consorting with local boat builders to create pleasure yachts, there was an initiative to cut off the top deck and cockpit of fibreglass McVays and to create a kind of mini Etchells22.
“Working with North Sails, new rigging and sails were developed with full controls although no one in our fleet is currently flying spinnaker. Modifying boats has caused some controversy in our so-called one design fleet with a certain amount of variance in specs. A couple of fibreglass boats have had wood keels from older wooden boats put on feeling that they are faired better.
“These are relatively lumbering boats that do not start on a dime off the line. Nevertheless our fleet is attracting more and more young blood, even some Olympic dinghy sailors. On the start line the gray hairs might be to one side, as the growing youthful contingent start howling when the gun goes off as if to put fear in the hearts of the Cagey elders It’s a truly beautiful sight to see 10 to 25 Bluenoses racing Off Chester, hardly any yelling or crashes…”
For full results of the 2021 Maritime Championship, click here