Introduction

Welcome to the Axe One Design website.  The Axe O.D. is a traditional 12 foot clinker built Bermudan rigged dinghy.  The boats were designed in 1951 specifically for members of the Axe Yacht Club, based at Axmouth in South East Devon. The A.O.D. was  developed principally as a two man dinghy, but could easily be sailed single handed. Races for the class were held both in Seaton Bay and on the Axe estuary, launching from the club’s open beach or onto the tidal Axe estuary. The class was designed by amateur boat builder Jack Drew, who was then Vice Commodore of the A.Y.C.  Jack was instrumental in constructing the first batch of nine boats during the early 1950s. The fleet continued to grow and in the 60s numbered nineteen. Sadly most of these boats have disappeared with out trace, but one of the original fleet survived intact – Whimbrel, No.1,  she continued to sail as the sole representative of the class. In 2000 a new A.O.D. was built, rekindling interest in the class. Subsequently six more have been built in Fowey for A.Y.C. members and during that period two more of the original fleet were restored and re-commissioned; with the fleet now totalling nine boats.

Invariably each summer the boats return to Cornwall to sail on the Fowey, Fal and Helford Rivers and attend Fowey Classics. The small fleet of  dinghies invariably attract attention, the sight of varnished dinghies cannot help but draw inquiring and admiring comments.

By coincidence, rather than any specific ruling each of the boats has adopted the same colour scheme – varnished topsides with cream coloured paint below the waterline. This now makes telling them apart somewhat difficult when drawn up on the beach together! Although Swallow was the odd one out, having had a painted interior. She has now joined the rest of the fleet following her 2019/20 winter refit, all traces of paint removed.

The original sails were white cotton, however the class has now adopted cream coloured (champagne) sails throughout, with the panels cut to half width, reflecting the narrower panels of the old original sails.

In todays world of modern performance dinghies we are fortunate to retain our indigenous one design class. So many others have disappeared, had Whimbrel not survived then a similar fate would have faced the AODs. The resurgence of the class came with the building of Shearwater in 2000; some 35 years after the last AOD to be built in the 1960s. Her building inspired other local sailors to take that step and with the restoration of two other original boats, the class re-established itself. The AODCA is aware of only three original  boats –  No.s 1,6 & 8, (all sailing at Axmouth), should there be any other survivors unknown to us then we would dearly like to hear of them.

Since 2005 the A.Y.C. has organised a separate class series for the A.O.D.s within the summer River Races. Appropriately the Axe Ones now race for the Jack Drew Cup donated by Jack in 1960. We are indebted to him for his enthusiasm and attention to detail in designing and establishing such an incredibly pretty and pleasurable classic dinghy to sail.

This year has seen the launching of a new Axe One Avocet, and another is under construction – the news page will update on progress. In the meantime we look forward to the 2022 programme.

Axe One Design Class Association.