Game changing Uffa Fox design Vigilant is for sale at the UF50 festival

From 18 –  21 August Cowes will transform into a showcase for the town’s most famous and prolific boat designer, Uffa Fox (1898 – 1972) during the UF50 festival.

For four days, celebration of Fox’s extraordinary design career will take place ashore and afloat with racing along the Green in West Cowes and off the Shrape in East Cowes on Friday and Saturday and an extraordinary range of displays and presentations throughout town at venues including the Classic Boat Museum; the Commodores House; Shephards Marina; the Sir Max Aitken Museum and a sprawling static display of the designer’s dinghies and larger boats on the Parade in West Cowes.

It is on Cowes Parade that 34’6” Vigilant – the Uffa Fox-built yacht that led to a quantum shift in worldwide, offshore yacht design – can be viewed and bought.

Designed and built by Uffa Fox in Cowes, Vigilant was launched in early 1930 and as owner, Fox soon sailed her to Sweden for a summer season of racing regattas. It was, however, the return journey to the Isle of Wight and a fierce North Sea storm that triggered a major change in offshore yacht design. At a time when offshore yachts were slab-sided, heavy, often overbuilt and with prodigious internal volume, taking on a blue water gale in a slender, needle-nosed, ultra-light boat with around three metres of overhang forward and aft and barely any freeboard like Vigilant would be generally regarded as foolhardy… at best.

For Fox, though, the way Vigilant handled the rolling mountains of green water and hammer-blasts of the North Sea storm confirmed his personal design view and ultimately influenced the evolution of offshore yacht design. ‘[She] is just what you need for the rough waters found along the British coast. The volume in the ends of the boat makes it rise lightly and elegantly like a sea swallow over the waves,’ he wrote afterwards.

Uffa Fox successfully promoted this design shift in Germany and America and with his books widely read throughout the British Commonwealth, slender, elegant, light and fast boats began to appear in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and beyond.

Vigilant was partly restored in the early 1970s, then laid-up in 1975 until she was rediscovered in Norfolk and underwent an extensive restoration in 1990-94, returning her to near-original condition. In recent years, Vigilant returned to the Isle of Wight racing and cruising from her base in Yarmouth and underwent significant work at the Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. Vigilant is reported to be in immaculate condition and race ready.

Vigilant specifications:
LOA 34’6”/10.51m
LWL 25’6”/7.77m
Beam 6’4”/1.93m
Draft 4’3”/1.29m
Displacement 2 tons
Sail area 236sqft
Launched 1930
Designer/builder Uffa Fox

For more information, please contact Caryl Terlezki:

More news from All At Sea