trailer-sailers by Keith Callaghan
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Robert Tucker's BALLERINA Mk2

Alicia sailing in the River Blackwater, April 1964

My interest in sailing, boat design and boatbuilding started in about 1960 when I was 14. My family lived near Robert Tucker in Enfield, North London, and my father got hold of the first set of plans for his 21ft Ballerina Mk2 sloop. Like many of Tucker's designs, it was a hard chine bilge keeler, and was sold as suitable for amateur construction in plywood. It took my father, my brother and I two years to build the hull of "Alicia". Due to moving house, the boat was actually completed at my father's cousin's boatyard in Leigh, Essex. Then we learned to sail in her at the Up River Yacht Club, Hullbridge, Essex.

As far as I can recall, our Ballerina was made precisely to Robert Tucker's plans, with one exception - the coachroof was raised by 2 inches, to give a little more headroom. We used Afrormosia for the chines, hog, gunwhales and framing - a very hard timber, and difficult to bend round the curves of the serpentine sheer! Aerolite 300 glue was used throughout, but 15 gross of gunmetal screws backed up our glue joints. Our boat had a central ballast keel and steel plate bilge keels and only 155 sq ft of sail area. She floated about 4 inches below her designed waterline, and she was thus a slug in light weather. In a blow, however, and especially to windward, she sailed efficiently enough.

The last time I saw "Alicia" was in about 1976 - she was laid up on the Hamble.

Alicia"s weathered burgee

Alicia at Seacraft Ltd, Leigh, Essex. 1 week before launch. Alicia at Wivenhoe, River Colne, April 1964

Further details of the Ballerina Mk2 design can be found here.

Last updated 2 December 2012