ISSUE 5 - June 2019
Dear Fellow Six Metre Sailors

The season is upon us, we have some fantastic racing ahead of us and I am looking for ward to seeing you all on the water very soon. If you haven't already entered for the forthcoming events there is still time to do so and links to the various web pages are given below.

It was great to see five boats out for the first part of the British Open hosted by the RYS in Cowes. The weather was unkind to us on Saturday but wonderful on Sunday for some perfect 6mR sailing conditions. We're very much looking forward to part two of the series this coming weekend of 22 and 23 June and I would encourage everyone to join us.

In this J une edition of the BISMA E-news we have another fantastic article by Ian Howlett who this time shares the story of Maida II plus details of some of his latest work, news of the new ISMA Website which is now live, forthcoming regatta information, a request from ISMA Archivist Jenny Wittamore for photos for the new ISMA Archive Website and we look forward to the Worlds in Finland.

Robin Richardson
BISMA Chairman
ISMA Launch New Website
ISMA has now launched its new website which you can find at
The new site works on mobiles and tablets and is much simpler and easier to use. There is a new Market Place section where you can list boats and gear for sale, and the Programme page is kept fully up to date with all the latest international events.
Come And Join Us!
We have some brilliant events on offer this summer, both at home and with the Worlds in Hanko, Finland, so do come and join us for what promises to be a great season.

Details of the full programme are available at and we've given direct links to the key events below.
British Open Championship - June 8 & 9 and June 22 & 23.

Entry for Panerai British Classic Week from 13 to 20 July is open and we're once again looking forward to a fabulous week of racing and partying at this terrific Cowes Yacht Haven based event.

On the weekend of 26 to 28 July will see us heading to Yarmouth for the Royal Solent's annual Taittinger Regatta for which online entry is now open.

We will finish the BISMA season with the Hamble Classics Regatta on the weekend of 21 and 22 September. Hosted by the RAF Yacht Club this will be a lovely way to see out the season so do please join us.

For the full International Programme please see
6 Metre Online Archive Photo Request
The ISMA Archive Website is now fast approaching completion (see sneak preview of the home page at right) but Archivist Jenny Wittamore needs more good quality 6 Metre photos for the site. If you have images you could share with her please email her at
6 Metre Worlds - Hanko
Currently Valdai, Erica & St. Francis IX are entered to represent the UK fleet in Hanko, Finland, at the Sinebrychoff 6 Metre World Championship 2019 from 1 to 9 August. Entries are still open if you wish to join them and the 50 strong international fleet for what promises to be a terrific regatta. Online entry, the full entry list and all the logistical info can be found at
British 6 Metre Championship - Part 1
The opening weekend of the British Six Metre Championship brought mixed conditions for the five strong fleet with gales preventing racing on the Saturday, but some terrific racing on the Sunday.

You can read the full report and check out some terrific images from John Green at
Ian Howlett on the fascinating story of the revolutionary Maida II
For my contribution to this edition we are indebted to the family* of the late J.G. Stephen who provided me with access to its remarkable family records. Some of his visionary design work is depicted in the accompanying photographs and drawings.

In 1922, J.G.S., when a young man, helmed ‘Coila lll’ K20 to an extraordinary Seawanhaka Cup victory in Long Island Sound. He was racing a very early Second Rule Six Metre, designed by his father, Fred G. Stephen, who found himself indisposed for that event by injury. Notable in the hand written report of the racing (below) to his father, is the importance and public awareness of this contest, for he noted that there was a fleet of some two thousand vessels watching the racing. By way of comparison the huge spectator fleet for the first race of the America’s Cup in 1958 was said to be some fifteen hundred craft.
To provide direction to his Six Metre developments JGS trialled sailing models at the model yacht Class scale of 1:7.2 (such were referred to as "The Wee Sixes" in the 1930's) on the open water of nearby lochs. This work led to the design of ‘Maida’ in 1931 as recounted in The Model Yachtsman of December 1931.

His most extraordinary achievement was however the concept and hull form of the Six Metre ‘Maida ll’ which was constructed by McGruers in 1938. The Yachting Monthly of May 1939 shows this ‘futuristic’ vessel on the slip. Notably, the ‘bustled’ form of her afterbody predates the work of Mario Tarabocchia at S&S (12m ‘Intrepid’ etc) by some twenty seven years, and this achieved without the guidance of a towing tank. Perhaps such inspiration was made possible as JGS was unfettered by commercial/career considerations? However things came to pass, it might be considered that this hull shape development and the advent of the wing keel in 1983 were, apart from the availability of new materials, the most significant developments in Yacht Design over the last century …
Not content just to develop a special shape of hull, JGS fitted a ‘fat top’ mainsail, (short gaff) as pictured here.. but this is reported to have been discarded quite soon. Notable perhaps, is the amount of staying needed to control the sail … 

Perhaps it was the 1939-45 conflict that prevented this remarkable vessel from realising its potential, but in the case of the gaff mainsail it was probably the materials of the day (in particular the cotton sailcloth and wooden mast) that prevented its further development and success.

In order to pursue his fascination with hull improvements in his retirement, J.G.S. had a circular tank (ca 50ft in diameter) constructed ca. 1962, in which moving water passed by a stationary model. As well as resistance measurement, there was a capability for flow visualization with tufts. The water in the videos of the set up shows the water surface driven and much disturbed by multiple water jets but the use of several British Seagull motors to power the system has also been mentioned ...
Reflecting on ‘Maida ll’, it seems most neglectful that not one of the four designers selected to design the eight models for the 12m ‘Sceptre’ tests at Saunders Roe in 1957, adopted a ‘Maida ll” style ‘bustle’ form for his experimental model. Nor, presumably, were they prompted to do so by the pundits of the day even though in the 1950s, as ‘Fane’, with her ends cropped and a larger rudder fitted, (see drg) the boat did become competitive. It would seem reasonable to conclude that because this very special Six did not dominate the racing, the visionary concept of J.G. Stephen was abandoned for more than twenty years as a ‘blind alley’. 
So often even the very best concepts do not reach their potential when first introduced and a story told by my first Twelve Metre patron, John Livingston is perhaps pertinent. Finding themselves penniless in the 1920s in the Great Depression, went off to prospect for gold. Whilst so doing, Frank and John met a geologist who told them that discovering new veins was not really necessary as the old workings from disused mines could be reprocessed with new techniques that had recently become available. Hence gold could be extracted in plenty.

The reminder of the public importance of the Seawanhaka Cup in the 1920s emphasises how the opportunity afforded by the winning of that Cup in 1987 was squandered at the very time when the America’s Cup was in disarray. Those circumstances would have meant that the Seawanhaka could have become, for a few years at least, the most prestigious match racing event of all. And of course the Six Metre Class would have boomed in response.
*Alexander Stephen & Sons were a very long established and significant shipbuilding company on the Clyde. Its story was published in 1932 as “A Shipbuilding History 1750- 1932”. The Company was based at Linthouse, in Govan on the South Bank of the Clyde. 

PS It would be appropriate also for me to gratefully acknowledge the help of Roger Mander, a retired naval architect living in France, who reawakened my interest in ‘Maida ll’ and enabled my introduction to the Stephen family. As a student Roger crewed for ‘Stug’ Perry on ‘Maida ll’ after she was renamed ‘Fane’. Visiting David Stephen (son of JGS) more than ten years ago, Roger was shown the sailing model of ‘Maida ll' as pictured and the other test models and was able to trace the original lines plan, hence later redraw those using modern methodology. Roger’s model building skills are most evident in his display model.

Ian Howlett Oxford May 2019
Latest Developments From Ian Howlett
When not writing articles for the BISMA E-newsletter, Ian is hard at work helping to meet the needs of owners around the world who are keen to maintain and develop their boats in response to the significant surge in activity the class is currently enjoying.

He tells us that "The new design of mast taper that I worked on last year is now in process and I am much encouraged by the same. In addition three boats have fitted my 2019 design of keel. The image below shows the new keel of Maybe XIV."

It is very interesting to compare Ian's latest 2019 design with the keel designs shown in the article above.
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