(The photo shows the prototype Atalanta between a production Atalanta on the left and Sujanwiz on the right, Alan Vines concept boat which started it all)
On a family visit to Uffa Fox at Cowes it was suggested that Fairey Marine might be persuaded to develop the design as a cruiser/racer and after a time, to Alan’s joy, the firm agreed to build a 24ft prototype.
For this prototype Uffa Fox did the design of the hull, keeping the bow full for safety when riding down a swell into the wave ahead. A shape which was an outstanding success, and reminiscent of the airborne lifeboat which Uffa had developed during World War II for use in rescuing airmen shot down into the sea.
The layout of the prototype, and the engineering of the twin retractable keels, were a joint effort between Alan Vines and Fairey Marine, greatly helped by the considerable facilities available at Fairey Aviation.
The boat that emerged was named Atalanta after the last Flying Boat built by Fairey Aviation. It was described on page 129 of the 1955 Yachting World Annual and the article is reproduced here as Appendix 1 with the kind permission of the publishers.
She was sailed hard for one season (1955) and her performance substantiated the predictions made by Fox and Vines that a dinghy style light displacement design could be extended safely to the larger cruiser/racer class and bring with it a number of advantages over heavier boats. As Uffa Fox always maintained, “weight is useful only to the designer of a steam roller”.
The 24ft prototype bearing the name ‘Atalanta’ was given the sail number A1 and may be seen today sailing off the East Coast.