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Gannet III

Gannet III is one the two Axmouth based Beer Luggers, she is a derivative of Gannet II, her slightly smaller sister.


Gannet III – first sail, 20th June 2014 – Pete Taylor & Bryan Davis crewing

Under the Beer Lugger rules the permitted maximum LOA is 18’06’’. Gannet II is 17’04’’ LOA which includes the stern post, so the hull is actually 16’08’’. Although only 1’10’’ shorter than the maximum permitted LOA, it does limit the potential speed achievable in terms of waterline length; the governing factor for any displacement hull. Over the years there have been an increasing number of Beer Luggers racing that are in the region of 18’06’’LOA. So, after having owned Gannet II for some 22 years, with a successful race record (impressive for an old ship’s lifeboat) she was reluctantly sold to Pete Poulson in 2012, opening the way for a new Gannet (III).

Gannet II and her successful crew following her first Beer regatta in 1991,

          Nigel Daniel, David Trezise, Aidan Winder & Tom Bridgeman

Gannet III & Gannet II – September 2014

During Easter 2013, Fowey boat builder Peter Williams came up to the Axe and took the lines off of Gannet II in order to produce a set of drawings. From these we then expanded the design to take advantage of the maximum permissible LOA, it also involved raising the freeboard proportionally more and similarly the beam. The transom was also re-shaped, Gannet II’s having been constrained by the fact that she was originally double ended. One major difference is the form of construction, the new design being carvel, for ease of maintenance!

Building commenced in September 2013, with the keel being laid at Peter’s yard at Bodinnick on the River Fowey. The hull is constructed of Brazilian cedar, a very clean, stable and fairly light timber, the keel is iroko and the ribs are oak.

Gannet III under construction at Bodinnick October 2013

Gannet III had her first ‘unofficial’ launching at Bodinnick on the 14th of June 2014, this due to the fact that there is no road access to the yard, therefore everything comes and goes by water! After a quick sea trial under power, the crew returned to Fowey for a jar or two! She was slipped at Fowey the following day and towed home by George Dart ready for final fit out and launching at Axmouth.

The initial launching at Bodinnick, 14th June 2014.

Official launching at Axmouth -  19th June 2014.

Launch date was a perfect summers day, hot & sunny, all went according to plan with vintage Axmouth cider used to christen her. There was very little take up of the timbers and she was soon dry and ready for racing. Her first race was at the Axe Regatta, the afternoon race being a fresh SW breeze, she showed her potential and the fact that a minimum crew of four was highly desirable (Gannet II sailed with three)! Her first visit to Beer didn’t go according to plan - no wind, so her first race was not until 30th June. This was a pursuit race, the BLC sailing committee deemed her to be the fastest boat (as an unknown quantity - or was it being an Axmouth boat!). This meant giving the slowest handicap boat an eleven-minute start and the then fastest boat a one minute start. Gannet III finished a creditable second place – by 40 seconds. Her first season was brief due to work commitments, in her second race (and last) she came first over the line.

Since her brief initial season, she has proven to be a quick boat – her light weather speed is impressive and with the addition of a smaller foresail for stronger breezes has proved equally quick in more demanding conditions.

Sailing under small foresail – fresh breeze Beer Regatta 2016

Surprisingly, the boat performs just as well in either light or strong conditions with a crew of five, except in very light conditions we have managed with just three, as below. The only modifications from the original sail plan has been to reduce the length of the bumpkin. It was found that she was well balanced with the foresail tacked inboard of the outer end (both large and small foresails), therefore the iron bumpkin was shortened by a foot.

Post-race visitor, schooner Johanna-Lucretia  July 2019.

Gannet III – sailing at Lyme Regatta, 2018.

After a few years of frustrating events, Gannet III eventually won the Percy Westlake Cup in 2019 – job done!

2019 Crew : Pete Taylor, Bruce Kenny, Jane Calvert, Nigel Daniel & Bryan Davis

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