The Rival Owners Association was formed in 1974, with the official launch at a London hotel in January 1975.  Peter Brett agreed to be our President. 

History of the Rival 31 through to the Rival 34

Peter Brett

This seems a good moment for a record to be made.  I hope it will interest the many Rival 32 owners who did not come onto the scene until some years after the class had started.  I would have preferred someone else to write the story, so that it would have been less personal, but is seemed that I was the only one with enough of the information to do it.  I hope the owners will put up with my viewpoint and will recognise that very important parts were played by many people who have not been mentioned.

If there had been a queue of moulders eagerly wanting to produce the boat to my design, in 1967, I hope I should still have selected Eric White for the job.  But it did not happen like that at all.  Eric was the only one to take an interest in my design, to study my background and to be only a little dubious about my hopes of selling perhaps 50 boats to the design.  He alone offered to make the mouldings, and he quoted a price which I gladly accepted.  In 40 years of cruising, ocean racing and designing yachts I suppose I must have learned something – even if only how much more there was to learn – but this had been a spare time activity and there was an important gap.  Although I had used a small GRP cruising boat for a few years I had never had one built to my design in this material, so I lacked some vital experience.  Eric had built up a successful business producing GRP boats.  His “Trident” class was flourishing and he had established a good reputation with Lloyds.  He was keen to help me and I was keen to learn.

I had decided that no work must start until a sailing model had been produced and tested for hull balance.  So this was the next job.  After five weeks hard work making the model, the sailing trials were carried out on the canoe lake at Sandown over the 1967 Easter weekend and these showed that the balance of the hull was right.

After agreeing that Eric White’s company, Marine Construction (Woolston) Ltd., were to make the moulds, the next subject was the building of the wood plugs from which the moulds would be made.  Eric introduced me to three young men who had recently started a business nearby, as Southern Boatbuilding Company.  This was how I came to meet Charles Maunder, Keith Crossley and John Florance.  I arranged with them to make the plugs for the new boat and they made a superb job of them.

The first set of mouldings was ready for fitting out by the late autumn.  By then Southern Boatbuilding were fully occupied with fitting out the prototype boat for Marine Construction to show at the Boat Show in London, so another firm was sought and found for this work.  By the time they got the mouldings they, too, were fully loaded with other contracts and I began to think my luck was running out.  There followed a frantic rush round other builders.  Someone else was found to fit out the first boat and she was commissioned at Easter 1968, just 12 months after the sailing trials on the model.

In the meantime, on 1 January, Charles Maunder had written to me on behalf of Southern Boatbuilding offering to give “a competitive quotation for the completion of your Rival class yachts”.  Thus started the happy association which still flourishes.  All the complete Rivals which I subsequently sold were fitted out by Southern Boatbuilding, between autumn of 1968 and the middle of 1971.

The excitement of the first trials on the prototype was somewhat tempered by the bitterly cold north-easterly wind in which they were sailed, but it was very satisfying to find that her performance was all that could be desired, except in one respect.  Although she was well-balanced when going to windward, with the helm showing no tendency to change as she heeled over, we found that when reaching in strong winds, at 7 knots or so, she carried more weather helm than I liked.  She had a raking transom with the rudder hung on the outside, an arrangement with which I had had plenty of experience on previous designs, but not when associated with a fin-and-skeg.  After further trials and much consideration I decided that the way to improve matters was to make the rudder-stock vertical, bringing the trunk up inside the boat.  The mould was thereupon altered so that the second boat could be built this way.  The effect was dramatic.  It was found that the boat could be steered with one finger under conditions which had previously required a strong pull on the tiller.  However, this was only realised in the autumn, on delivery of the second boat.  In the meantime I had to carry on campaigning and demonstrating the first one.  It was a season of excitement, hard work and worry.  I had been advertising regularly in the yachting papers, but there were no orders.  My money continued to pour out while nothing was coming in (“How long can this go on?”).  Six off-shore races proved her performance to our satisfaction and bolstered my confidence.  At last – in the autumn – the orders started arriving; there were five before the Boat Show in the following January.

We had a good spot in the pool at the Boat Show and found our first experience of exhibiting at Earls Court exciting – and even exhilarating.  An unending stream of people came on board and nearly all made encouraging comments.  Even though no orders were taken we left full of confidence.  A week after the show I had a quite unexpected telephone call from Switzerland with an order.  That was a really exciting moment!  Other orders trickled in during the year and at the next Boat Show, with the yacht on the Marine Construction stand, five were taken.  The cost of the original mould had now been recovered – more or less – so I decided that the time had come for a new hull mould, with a short counter added, making the length 32 feet instead of 31.  This was something I would liked to have done at the same time as the angle of the rudder stock was altered, but a new mould could not be afforded at that time.

After three seasons sailing in the class the time came to think about improvements.  Also, talks were going on with Southern Boatbuilding about their sponsoring a class of their own.  So I took the original model, which had been made for sailing, and stripped it down for testing in the tank at Southampton University.  It was decided to explore the effect of deepening the afterbody, following the practice becoming more common in off-shore racing yachts.  The model was tested at heel angles of 10°,20° and 30° and leeway angles between 5° and 9°, resistance and side-force being measured.  Two different degrees of increase in after-body depth were tried and the less extreme one showed the best average reduction in resistance over a wide speed extreme one showed the best average reduction in resistance over a wide speed range so this was followed.  One can summarize roughly the mass of results obtained by saying that the average reduction in resistance, compared with the Rival 32, was about 6%.  The slightly longer overhangs given to the Rival 34 had nothing to do with the tank tests.  They were included to improve her steadiness when beating to windward in a seaway, and to give her a more graceful appearance.

Southern Boatbuilding decided to go ahead with the class and at that point I decided to drop out of the procurement and marketing sides of the business as there were taking up too much of my time and I needed to concentrate all my attention on design.  Rival 32 mouldings were still available to customers as Marine Construction had always had the right to sell mouldings for home completion, though previously they had sold very few because my company had been doing all the advertising.  Marine Construction – or “Marcon” as they were more commonly called by then – did not immediately pick up the advertising, as their sales effort was fully occupied with marketing the classes they had developed themselves.  In spite of this the sales of ‘32’ mouldings kept up well, partly because of the good reputation the class had established and partly because the instant success of the Rival 34, which came out in 1972, led to it having a very extended delivery date, so Rival 32 mouldings could be obtained quicker.  From 1974 Marcon included the Rival 32 with the other boats they were advertising, produced brochures for them and exhibited them at Boat Shows.

In 1975 the original superstructure mould became too worn for future use and a new one was built.   Some modifications were included at the same time and a new interior layout was developed, thus making the Rival 32 “Mark III”.

In 1979, shortly before Marine Construction (UK) Ltd. was taken over by a Receiver, Rival 32 No 200 was moulded.  Later, Southern Boatbuilding bought the moulds.  It is sad to see them still outside, unused, but the hart fact is that the cost of producing a Rival 32 is almost identical with that for a 34 and one cannot see there being a demand for both at the same price.

The activities and achievements of many of the individual Rival 32’s are recorded in the pages of this and earlier Rival Round-ups, and there must be many that are unrecorded.  At least four have crossed the Atlantic both ways and of these John Chaundy’s round trip described on pp 7-12 is perhaps the most remarkable.  In the very early days of Rivals, John Hobson sailed 6000 miles in the Indian Ocean in a Rival 31, while many have gone to-and-fro between this country and the Mediterranean, some round the outside and some through the French canals.  One spent many years in the Persian Gulf.  Possibly the most satisfaction had been realised by the great number of husbands and wives who have used them happily for cruising round the British Isles and on nearby coasts.  Les us hope that this will continue for many years.


Rival Model History

Rival 31

Peter Brett designed the R31 in 1967 and she was launched in 1968. The original boat had a raking rudder stock and to reduce weather helm in reaching conditions the subsequent R31s had a vertical rudder stock. Twenty-two R31s were built.

L.O.A.   31' 0"
L.W.L.   24' 6"
Beam      9' 8"
 Draft       4' 8"
Displacement  11,650 lbs
Rival 32 

The Rival 32 was a development of the R31 but with a short counter. Over 200 R32s were built.

L.O.A.   32' 0"
L.W.L.   24' 6"
Beam     9' 8"
Draft      4' 8"
Displacement  11,650 lb


Rival 34

The R34 was a further development with a slightly deeper afterbody and longer overhangs to give steadiness in a seaway.

There were two basic hull versions, one with a deep keel at 5ft 10ins, and a shallow one at 4ft 8ins draft. 174 R34s were built.

L.O.A.   34' 0"
L.W.L.   24' 10"
Beam      9'  8"
Draft     4'  8" or 5' 10"
Displacement 11,900 lbs
Rival 36

The R36 was the sixth and last RIVAL designed by Peter and comes in three basic versions. Deep draft, Scheel keel, and Centre board. 78 R36s were built. The first being launched in 1980.

L.O.A.   35' 10"
L.W.L.   27' 2"
Beam     11' 0"
Draft     3' 9"and 6' 9" or  6' 0"
Displacement  14,250 lbs
Rival 38

The R38 was the fifth RIVAL designed by Peter. Whilst being very much a Rival she has fuller ends than his previous designs enabling a stern cabin to be fitted in beneath the companionway in the aft cockpit version. There is also a centre cockpit design but not many of these were built. The centre cockpit can be ketch rigged, whilst the aft cockpit version is either sloop or cutter rigged. The first R38 was launched in 1977. 63 were built

LOA : 37' 7"
LWL : 29'6"
Beam : 11' 3"
Draft : 5' 4"
Displacement  17280 lbs
Rival 41

The R41 was the fourth RIVAL to be designed and is a much sought after long range cruising yacht. There are two versions based on the same hull, aft cockpit and centre cockpit and was rigged as either a ketch, sloop or cutter. There were 57 R41s built.

LOA: 41'
LWL: 31 8"
Beam: 12' 3"
Draft: 5' 11"
Displacement: 22046 lbs


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