Practical Boat Owner editor Rob Melotti officially launches the PBO Project Boat charity auction in naming ceremony held at Southampton Boat Show

Stunning weather on the South Coast of the UK today as PBO editor, Rob Melotti, officially launched the PBO Project Boat auction to raise funds for youth support charity Oarsome Chance. The Silent Auction will run for the length of the show at

The boat was also officially named in memory of a charity volunteer who played a big part in the build, Tony Harvey, who sadly died in March this year.

Charity principal, John Gillard, paid tribute to Tony and thanked the lead boatbuilder Jon Carver for all his hard work on the project so far.

Guests at the event included PBO staff past and present, marine industry supporters and kind donors to the charity auction, which is now live online at

About the Project Boat

The project began back in 2016 when the flat-pack build-your-own kit for the Secret 20 arrived from Australia to the PBO offices in Poole, Dorset. Former editor David Pugh and deputy, Ben Meakins, progressed quickly for 15 months and published articles in every issue of the magazine.

See all 20 articles in the series so far…

When the magazine was moved to Farnborough, the boat remained safe in Poole but work stopped for a year, until current editor, Rob Melotti, decided to donate the half-finished boat to Oarsome Chance, a charity in Gosport with boatbuilding facilities.

Oarsome Chance engages young people aged 9-19 who have been excluded from or are at risk of exclusion from mainstream education. The Project Boat has been an inspiration for the students and the exposure in the UK’s biggest selling boating magazine has been priceless.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with the magazine,” said John Gillard. “For a small youth support charity like us the exposure has been amazing.”

The auction is now live online featuring a dozen varied lots from two nights in a marina, to a week’s holiday in Cornwall; a Powerboat Level 2 training course, a paddleboard package and some exclusive Alex Thomson Racing merchandise… and more!

But the main lot is the Secret 20 – a racing gaff cutter designed by Scruffie Marine in Australia. Built in plywood but veneered and trimmed in Australian silky oak and red cedar, the boat package will include a Torqeedo Travel 1103, a Lifos 68Ah Lithium battery, a full set of brand new cream sails – material donated by Contender – and winter storage 2019-20. The highest bidder will be able to specify certain finishing touches in communication with the charity in Gosport.

See for yourself at Southampton Boat Show Stand E030A or contact the charity in Gosport to pay a visit any time. Volunteers for ongoing projects always wanted!

L-R: Oarsome Chance charity principal John Gillard, PBO editor Rob Melotti, charity founder Paul O’Grady and head boatbuilder Jon Carver

Oarsome Chance PBO Project Boat team (L-R): fundraising coordinator Jane Rutterford, head boatbuilder Jon Carver, charity founder Paul O’Grady, PBO editor Rob Melotti and charity principal John Gillard

“It’s one of the most interesting and approachable stands at the show,” said PBO editor Rob Melotti. I’m delighted with the response so far and I hope the Oarsome Chance team can get their name and their good work better known by talking to visitors and the marine industry here.”