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Ireland’s Boatbuilding Magician to Cast a New Spell?

22nd June 2017
The “Super Etchells 22” Guapa on Cork Harbour The “Super Etchells 22” Guapa on Cork Harbour

Bill Trafford, Ireland’s boatbuilding sorcerer who beavers away in a shed near Skenakilla Crossroads in North County Cork, is already hatching new magic as onlookers continue to be entranced by his Super Etchells 22 Guapa currently making her debut on Cork Harbour writes W M Nixon.

This extraordinary project has already attracted several potential customers with their own ideas on re-configuring standard glassfibre boats. But Bill himself reckons that after an Etchells 22, a useful area for exploration might be found with the former Olympic class, the 26.75ft LOA Soling, which already comes with quite a pretty sheerline, and would only need a classic counter (and of course a teak laid deck and an elegant little cabin-top) to transform her into a very special 30-footer.

etchells 22 classic2With a new counter stern inspired by the transom of the Friendship sloop of Maine, this is an Etchells 22 with a difference

etchells 22 classic3Amidships, the Etchells 22 seems purest Scandinavian in concept

There’s no doubt that the Soling has a long-lasting hull, and one in reasonable order would respond very well to the Skenakilla treatment. But I think I’d pass on what used to be a Soling, which we spotted a couple of years ago when cruising the Hebrides.

This boat is to be found – or at least used to be found – abandoned at Port Ellen on Islay. The conversion to her presumably dates from the days of short-handed Round Britain & Ireland Races and other such ventures. Someone had taken a standard Soling, and stuck a sort of cabin on the forward end of the cockpit, and then for stowage space had put a box of sorts on the afterdeck.

The result, it could be argued, was a small centre-cockpit offshore racer. Somehow, she ended up on Islay. The concept is not quite what Bill Trafford has in mind. But it certainly proves that the Soling has considerable scope for innovation and re-configuration.

soling cruiser4Once upon a time, this was an Olympic Soling…Photo: W M Nixon

olympic soling5....and this is how she looked originally

Published in Etchells Team

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