Green Light For The Whittle Marine XOD
Another landmark in the building of Whittle Marine’s new X One Design (XOD) has been passed with the approval of the hull shape and dimensions by the XOD Class. This vital, official approval means the Whittle Marine XOD complies with the stringent rules of the 105-year-old class of racing boats and building can now continue.
Stuart Jardine’s original involvement with the XOD Class began 75 years ago in Palestine, followed in 1956 by winning the overall, Cowes Week XOD Captain’s Cup. Stuart travelled from Lymington to the Whittle Marine yard outside Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, to check on progress and inspect the new boat’s shape using the official XOD metal templates and applying over 50 years of personal, XOD experience.
“We’ve checked the whole of the hull through from top to bottom and all the frames are in correctly and in the right positions with the appropriate measurements,” Jardine confirms. “All these metal templates must fit within 10mm of what we’re allowed to play with and with this boat, they’re all accurate to within 5mm, so I’m very happy that it’s completely on the right lines,” he explains.
Applying such a low margin for error to a 20ft 8inch-long, wooden racing boat may seem excessive, but with between 110-130 XODs still sailing, the competition within the class is intense and the level of racing is extremely high. With three yards building new XODs, the class is on high-alert for any errors with new-builds. “We’re not going to let anyone get away with any nonsense,” assures Jardine. “Nick and the Whittle Marine team have done a very good job here; the boat is perfectly correct and the frame is solid,” he continues. “I’m very happy and they’re taking it very seriously, which is good. The boat will go fast, you can tell even at this stage.”
The new-build boats will be far truer to the original design than almost all the XODs currently sailing. “Many of the old boats are way out!” says Jardine. “We have to accept this fact as in the old days there weren’t any proper drawings for the boat builders to work from.” Whittle Marine is using drawings from 2000 and official drawings were only published in 1986; 77 years after the XOD was originally designed. “This is fairly normal for boats of this age,” he adds.
Indeed, constant rebuilding and repair work to existing XODs has had a detrimental effect: “Boats have been bodged over the years because some owners are more particular than others,” Jardine explains. “We’ve got a lot of errors in these old boats. They never had proper drawings to build boats to begin with.” However, two historical XOD builders stand-out: “The Woodnutt boats have been pretty accurate all the way through and also the Lallow boats have all been pretty similar,” Jardine believes. “However, you wouldn’t find the level of accuracy we have here with this new-build.”
Currently, there are only two accurate XODs afloat: one was built over a ten-year period by John Wilson, a student at a boat building academy in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and the second, Xoanon, was built by a small team in Lymington that included Stuart. However, for Jardine - who has won XOD championships in three different XOD designs - it isn’t all about the particular design of XOD: “Just because the old boats have been fiddled with, many think they are faster, but in most cases, it’s all about who is aboard,” he says. “If you have a top class helm and good crew, you’re going to be at the top of the fleet the whole time.”
Jardine is certain that new-build boats are vital for the continued survival of the XOD Class. “We’ve lost five already this year at Cowes in the devastating fire in January at the Medina Boat Yard storage facility,” he explains. “We’ve also been losing the odd, old boat,” says Stuart. “X5 over in Lymington is the oldest-built still floating and X1 is now in a museum. We have to start bringing very well made and truly accurate new boats into the class.”
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