International Canoe
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IC History pages

History of the International Canoe: 1900-1950

The winter of 1899/1900 saw the presentation of a Challenge Cup for cruisers by Roger de Quincey, known as the Quincey Cup. 1901 saw the presentation of the Knowles Challenge Cup and the Murphy-Howard Cup. During the winter of 1901/1902 the classes had their names changed. The Cruisers became the Sailing Canoe Class, whilst the racers were incorporated into the new 16' class and called the Paddleable Sailing Canoe Class.

In 1908 Linton Hope designed new canoes for himself and Bertram de Quincey; they were called Mayfly and Haze. Haze was the first of the Hope canoes to show a modem shape with a flattened stern to promote planing. Haze would plane on a reach with the whole of her fore-body back to the mast out of the water. The Great War and its aftermath slowed development of the Canoe. Only Iota was designed (by D V Hotchkiss) during the 1920s. She was specifically designed as an inexpensive canoe in 1923 to try to popularise the sport, and so had a stern hung rudder, and a dagger board. The numbering system was starting to be used and Iota carried number one.

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Number 20, Ladybird designed and built by R.C. Anderson was the last canoe built to 'B' class rule and essentially ended that phase of canoe sailing, although the 'B' class canoes continued to sail on the Thames along with the International Canoes into the 1970s.

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Over the period from 1930 to about 1950 Uffa Fox was one of the major influences on Canoe sailing. Indeed without him it is doubtful whether there would be an International Canoe Class today. He took what was essentially a club boat and turned it into an international class. He, with others, set in motion the developments which would lead to the International Canoe Federation adopting Canoe sailing as a world championship sport. Uffa Fox, a member of the Humber Yawl Club, and Roger de Quincey, an R.C.C. member, challenged in 1933 for the New York Canoe Club International Trophy.They were to have sister boats, which were to conform to both the R.C.C. 'B' class rule and the American Canoe Association rule. Uffa foresaw that such a challenge, if successful, could lead to an International Rule. The American rules at that time required Canoes to have two masts, so Uffa equipped his boat with a solid wooden fore-stay which fulfilled the requirement. He and de Quincy cleaned up. They and the American Canoe Association agreed to incorporate the best of the two existing rules. They returned home andthe Royal Canoe Club agreed to the new "International Rule".

It was to be some fifteen years before the International Canoe Federation agreed to adopt the class for world championships. For all other purposes, however, all the Canoes built after this were to the "International Rule". The rules remained essentially unchanged up until the one-design hull-shape rule for International competition was adopted in 1971. The most significant change had been from a 4 ft to a 5 ft seat extension, which was agreed in 1948 at the request of the Americans. Rig development continues to this day. In continental Europe the first international canoeing organisation was formed in 1924 which adopted the 10sq.m Canoe sailed in Sweden as the official International class. All the time the British and Americans went their own way, there being no contact with Continental sailors until a number of Swedes came to Hayling Island in 1939 with their 10sq.m B Class Canoes. The Swedes were decisively beaten by the sliding seat Canoes of the British but further international co-operation was halted by the outbreak of World War II.

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After the war the I.C.F. was revived in 1946 and Canoe sailing started again. In 1949, John Aumonier rigged Wake with a fully battened mainsail (first designed in 1946). At the time this didn't cause a stir, but later when Joy Quaife won races, the rig was taken seriously. It took about 6 years before almost all the canoe fleet had fully battened mains. The highlight of the year was the appearance of Quest, the hard chine canoe designed and built by Jack Holt. In 1951 a Canoe Eastwind was designed by Austin Farrar, and had a seat which was curved, the first such seat but did not include rungs, which came later

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Historical information up to 1990 comes from Andrew Eastwood's History of Canoe Sailing in Britain, which is available on CD, contact Andrew Eastwood on