Christopher Gordon Wilson, better known as Dooley and his brother Alexander, better known as Sandy were both home from WWII and had a dream of racing the Fastnet. However, the war had left the NZ dollar devalued and buying a yacht was out of the question. So, of course, they decided to build one. They had in their possession a book by Uffa Fox of noteworthy yacht designs. One of the boats featured in that book was Ragna R.
Ragna R, launched in 1938, was built by Gustav Plym in Stockholm for a British client. She is a Knud Reimers design. The Wilson brothers admired the yacht and showed the book to a fellow named Jack Taylor, whom I believe worked for Lidgard. Jack Taylor developed a full set of construction plans, including a list for the sawyer of the dimensions of all the timbers needed for the project.
A few years ago I was able to make contact with the owner of Ragna R. At that time she was being used as a training vessel. It was interesting to discover that the masts of both vessels had been shortened to masthead rigs during the 1960s. I was able to trade some photos with her owner, so I will post a few here to show a comparison between the two vessels. Ragna R will be the first photo in each set, followed by Leda.
There are a few notable differences between the two yachts, mostly construction techniques and materials. Ragna R is mahogany carvel planking over oak and steel frames with teak decks and cabin. Leda is double-planked kauri over mangeao frames with pohutakawa knees and copper rivets. Leda’s deck is double planked kauri, her cabin is Douglas fir (Oregon pine) and pine.
So, Dooley and Sandy, had their plan. Now they just needed to build their boat. The line drawings below are dated June, of 1947. Sandy would have been 25 and Dooley, 27-years old. Remarkably Leda would be sailing 29 months later.
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