The Association promotes GP14 sailing and racing. There is a thriving club sailing network and training for all abilities; unrivalled championship racing, plus an active cruising and vintage fleet.
Originally designed by Jack Holt in 1949, the GP14 is easily recognised by the distinctive bell on the mainsail.
Bell Woodworking based in Narborough Road, Leicester made the initial prototype and sold many of hundreds of 'home build' kits.
The idea behind the design was to build a general purpose (GP), 14-foot dinghy which could be raced, cruised, rowed or to which you could even attach an outboard motor if you wanted to! Nowadays, you are most likely to see the GP14 being used to race competitively, train people to sail or occasionally just enjoying a casual cruise around a lake, estuary or coastline.
At the start of 2020 I had a good clear-out of GP's and I am currently left with just 2, I did at one point have 4! My main cruising boat ‘Erebus' I have put into retirement and a young family has it for pottering about.
'Aeolian' number 28 is a 'classic' boat, built in 1950, had a full paint and varnish job and looks just superb. I finished that just in time to put it alongside my brand new Duffin/Paintcraft 14269 which I have called 'Soirbheas' (Gaelic for 'fair wind).
I find the GP14 a great little boat for these journeys. It's a great size and weight, single-person sailing is not too dificult, provided you are well organised. I do not sleep aboard (nor would I want to). Carrying a small tent and sleeping on the shore gives you a better nights sleep. Getting it back on to your launching trolley is at times a bit of a struggle but still miles better than with a Wayfarer.
Aeolian was probably built in 1950, it has the unique number of ‘28’ and probably in the top 5 of the oldest boats left in its class. The Bell Woodworking label on the boat has the company at Percy Road, Leicester.
The Royal Wndermere Yacht club acquired about 10 boats from Bell Woodworking and Aeolian was purchased from them by Dr Scott (although Bell records show this was a Dr Wilson).
It passed to very few owners over the years and was enthusiastically sailed by a family living near Bowness, eventually it was laid up and thankfully in a nice dry barn. Its owner was keen for it to go sailing again and advertised it on the GP web site where I bought it in July 2010. It was (for its age) in very good condition and after a rub down and repaint, it sailed again at the Aberdovey 60th anniversary meeting.
It was there I was introduced to Searson Thompson; his company - Bell Woodworking - built my boat, and his son Paul then tested them at Aberdovey in everything that the sea could throw at them. At age 99 (and he doesn't look it!) he still still could name all the early boats and who bought them.
My spanking, brand new GP14. Built by Alistair Duffin in Belfast and painted/epoxied at Paintcraft, Nottingham
This was my cruising boat and it has been 'everywhere'. Previously I had 'Kyle Lea' (sail number 250) and I simply wore it out!
I did more miles in this than was good for me. I have some great memories of sailing all over the country with Kyle Lea...... REST IN PEACE little boatie.
’Twas such a little—little boat ....That toddled down the bay!.... .....’Twas such a gallant—gallant sea..... That beckoned it away!