Derwent Raiders

Derwent Raiders are proving themselves stunning performers. You will be hard pressed to find another boat that does both of its designed functions so well: Row with a sliding seat and sail.

It’s achieved with a very light, strong and buoyant hull that is slender enough to accelerate and run well between strokes, but stable enough to be easily driven by a small 5sqm sail. The slender, easily driven hull means that, while it is tender, it remains comfortable and controllable, even when healed a long way. Importantly, it does not develop weather helm, letting you sail well-healed without pressure.

But there are many more design-leading elements that go to achieving the Raider’s performance finesse in these two domains of recreational boating. They are elements like:

The riggers pivot so that they can be stowed inboard, moved out of the way when coming alongside a boat or jetty, or positioned so that the oars are secured out of the cockpit when sailing. The riggers are also quick-release to keep the hull very light for carrying. Stowing them inboard means that Derwent Raiders take up less room in sheds than longer and thinner racing sculls. The quick- change design allows you to reconfigure your boat from one person rowing to a rower plus passenger and do it in a way that keeps the boat in trim.

The centre-board is really a dagger-board but it pivots and stows in a three quarters up position. This has three big advantages. One, if you hit and underwater object, the centre-board will pivot and not cause damage. Two, the board is left in its case when rowing so that the cockpit remains uncluttered. Three, the centre-board is easily removed. Again, this keeps the hull very light for carrying.

The three quarter up stowed position for the centre-board means that the centre-case does not present an obstacle for your feet when changing tack or being in the middle when running. This is an important feature in a slender boat where ease of movement is valuable.

The rig is designed so that it is simple and uncluttered. The mast is highly raked so that the sail is a bit like a big jib without a boom. There is a small loss in performance when not pointing hard but there is nothing to hit your head when you go about and the barest minimum of stuff. The lack of a boom is a real advantage when jibing. The sail folds across gently rather than swinging across with a sudden change in leverage.
There are other small details that add to your pleasure. For example, gone are metal gudgeons and pintel bases for the rudder. They are replaced with purpose made polyethylene parts with no fastenings exposed to cause scratches.

The Raider is ideal for a variety of purposes:

It can be used just for rowing and even built just for that purpose, without all the sailing stuff. Then it becomes a beautifully elegant light-weight dinghy, with a self-draining cockpit for safety. With its sliding seat, it is a dinghy that gives you whole-of-body exercise and you can go fast enough to make journeys. The buoyancy compartments allow you to stow gear and keep it dry too.

When set up for rowing and sailing, you can choose to go for a row or for a sail and leave whatever you don’t need at home. That is simple, very tidy and gives you two great recreational opportunities in the one boat.
Alternatively, you can change between rowing and sailing and back again on the water. This lets you undertake journeys especially like participating in raid events. Raiding is the name given to rowing and sailing in company, usually on journeys over a number of days. One such raid is the Tawe Nunnugah, run by the Living Boat Trust in Tasmania. On the seventh day of rowing and sailing in daily hops from southern Tasmania, crews arrive in Hobart for the opening of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.

You can build Derwent Raiders from beautifully engineered kits or have them built for you.

The Derwent Raider’s Story:

The Derwent Raider started without that name. A request came for a recreational rowing boat that was a bit shorter than the Derwent Skiff and a bit more stable, so that it could be used for taking the grand-children out fishing and could even be used with a small outboard. Allan didn’t want to make a one-off boat because it is very hard to recoup the real costs of the time invested in design. With the Australian Wooden Boat Festival not far away, he quickly generated a concept drawing. That’s fun and easy for a designer. The concept drawings met with a positive response. Allan committed to supplying the first boat and, the rest is history.

Ned Trewartha built the hull and Allan fitted it out. Allan made the passenger seat in this first boat from Huon Pine. The aircraft fabric stretched over it was done by local friend, and highly skilled maker of skin-on-frame kayaks, Peter Ingram-Jones. This seat was beautiful and wonderfully light. It made a good connection between furniture and boat design.

Then Julian Robertson made a passing comment “that would make a lovely little raid boat if it had a sail.” A raid is an event where people row and sail in company on a journey, often over more than one day with camps along the way. At that point Allan couldn’t help himself. With some design tweaks plus 5sqm of sail in an uncluttered, but very effective rig, the Derwent Raider was born. You will be hard pressed to find another boat that combines siding seat rowing and sailing, so well, in the one light-weight hull.

Boat number 2 was built by father and son team, Tristram and Clancy. Allan provided the tuition for their first boat build. A stunning varnished boat was the result and its sailing and rowing ability continue to delight.
Boat number 3 was built by Allan to get everything ready for supplying kits. Boat number 4 was also built by Allan. He double checked the kit and made many photos and notes as the basis for the building notes. Subsequent builds by people, ranging from novice to experienced, have created much pleasure and pride.

Images Of The Raider

Derwent Raider
Derwent Raider
Derwent Raider
Derwent Raider

Contact The Guys

Allan Witt
allan@wittdesign.com.au
03 6273 0254
0408 331 510

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