Design number: 20 Year: 1977
The British Lamb project was, above all, a bit of a giggle. Dick Hickton, whose well-endowed sense of humour has a mischievous streak, figured that it would be great fun to compete in the French Micro Cup with a boat so-named when French farmers were blockading ports to prevent the import of British lamb. With some tacit ‘sponsorship’ from the British newspaper Farmer’s Weekly Dick commissioned this non-standard Gem, and the boat was duly packed off to France where she was received with fairly good humour by the (mainly) French participants.
She was also a bit of a utility boat and had been intended to compete in the Mini Ton Cup in Britain in the same year, with the addition of a ‘sugar scoop’ transom and an increased depth, rotating keel to bring the rating up to the Mini Ton level. Unfortunately the project had run so late that she was not able to do well in either format, and one of the great highlights of the year was the all-night drive in convoy with another Gem and two motor-cycle outriders from Roscoff (which was still blockaded) to Santander in Spain. No-one had a map of Spain as the convoy set off at midnight, but the general consensus that Santander was ‘just around the corner’ in Spain gave false encouragement. Four hours after crossing the Spanish border the convoy made the Plymouth ferry with barely a moment to spare.
The pivoting keel was a particularly interesting feature of the boat and one which could have benefitted from more sailing time with the boat.