First new Class launch for 20 years and first in GRP

Photo:Zafirahtest sail – Credit:

This weekend saw the launch of the first GRP Victory Class boat,Zafirahat Camber Dock, Old Portsmouth. Lady West, wife of former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West performed the launching and blessing ceremony.

As the Class takes its name from Nelson’s own H.M.S.Victory, it was fitting that the unveiling ceremony took place alongside her illustrious predecessor in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The Victory Class consists of some 40 racing boats based in and around Portsmouth Harbour. The distinctive 21ft black clinker built hulls have all been built of wood, to date, with some of the fleet more than 60 years old. Twenty boats regularly take part in the 70-race season plus participation in the annual Cowes Week regatta, in which it has raced continuously since the class was founded in 1934.

Zafirahis seen as a particularly important development as it is the first Victory with hull and deck in GRP (glass reinforced plastic). However, the interior and deck trim, as well as the spars, have been kept in wood to ensure that it looks exactly the same as the previous all-wooden boats.

Part of the construction brief to Cowes builder David Heritage Racing Yachts was to include built-in buoyancy so that the boats are virtually unsinkable and also compliant with the Recreational Craft Directive Category “C” for inshore sailing.

Zafirahis to have her ballast adjusted to ensure that her performance matches that of her older siblings.