History Of the Dee Class



History of the Dee Class: Jane Ashe

Alec's boat "Pellegrina" was the first Dee 27. A beautiful varnished wooden yacht, she was designed by Peter Brett and built in 1961 for Michael and Molly Tomlinson. To explain her origins, I need to go back 10 years further to the first Dee 25. This was "Fair Rover", whom my father designed and had built for himself to cruise on the north-west coast; he also raced her very successfully in the RORC races in the Irish Sea. She had a waterline length of 25ft, LOA 30.8ft, and she had such a good reputation that 10 sister-ships were built over the following 15 years, the number 2 being "Rondinella", for the Tomlinsons (1953). "Rondinella" was the offshore queen of the Northwest for many seasons, including being the overall winner of the 1959 Cowes-Dinard Race. Her greatest fame was in the 1965 Channel Race, when there was a very severe gale. She was the only boat to finish in Class Ill, and finished before the only 2 boats that finished in Class II, and this was quoted in support of her sea-keeping qualities by Adlard Coles in Heavy Weather Sailing.

In 1960, Michael and Molly decided to have a larger boat and my father designed "Pellegrina". They owned and raced her for 20 years, and also cruised her extensively, especially around the coast of Ireland. She was 36ft 9" overall, 27ft waterline. Her beautiful varnished topsides, and appeared in a series of Spinnaker Varnish adverts in the 70's. Three other Dee 27s were built in the early 60's, one for another Dee 25 ex-owner, and one for the future Irish Cruising Club Commodore, Rory O'Hanlon.

The Dee 25s and 27s were certainly direct ancestors of the Rivals. I have found some notes of my father's for an article about design ideas, which was never finished or published, written in 1965, before the designing of the Rivals. At one point, he asks himself the question: "which of the qualities of the Dee 25s are to be retained, which modified - why or how'?" You may find the answers interesting - they were, in précis:

• Size - Dee 25 ideal for small crew to live comfortably and go anywhere, and more affordable than larger.

• Displacement - no reason to change

• Engine - not envisaging racing, so larger engine (F.R had 8hp Stuart Turner),

• Sail area - smaller mainsail, same fore-triangle, would not affect heavy weather performance, nor ability to work to windward in heavy weather.

• Arrangement below- slightly more freeboard to give more headroom, the loo in a separate compartment (FR's was in the fo'csle)

• Construction - move to fibreglass

• Looks - a rugged character, appearance of safety and comfort, a bolder sweep up to the stem head, with increase in freeboard forward - also gives advantage of drier decks.

So you can follow the evolution of the Rival yachts from these earlier designs.

Dee 25
LOA: 30' 9"
LWL: 25'
Beam: 9' 3"
Draft: 4' 9"
Diplacement: 11000 lbs


Dee 27

LOA: 39' 
LWL: 27'
Draft: ?



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