Tally Ho's History

At 47ft 6in LOA and 30 tons TM (Thames Measurement), BETTY (as TALLY HO was originally named) was the largest transom-sterned boat designed by Albert Strange. She was built in 1909 - 1910 for Charles Hellyer of Brixham, who had fishing interests in that port, as well as in Hull, where he owned one of the first steam trawler fleets, and was a member of the Humber Yawl Club. BETTY was built by the well-known and reputable yard of Stow & Sons at Shoreham, Sussex to Lloyd’s highest class.

The ’midship section drawing shows the hull was to be planked in American elm below the waterline, with teak above. The commentary which accompanied the publication of the design in The Yachting Monthly in 1910 remarks that Hellyer required a yacht in which he could ‘cruise in comfort whilst indulging in deep-sea fishing’. This might explain the barrel windlass forward of the mast and perhaps the unusually clear flush deck. It continues: The transom stern, rather unusual in a yacht of this tonnage, was adopted in deference to the wishes of the owner, in order that she might lie in the crowded harbour of Brixham in the smallest possible space.

Shoreham, Sussex. The Stow and Sons yard, where TALLY HO was built in 1910, is in the background.
TALLY HO under full sail with her original rig, 1926
TALLY HO with fidded topmast and spinnaker flying. Photo; Beken of Cowes, 1927.

TALLY HO (ex BETTY) has had a colourful career. When Hellyer commissioned Strange to design the larger BETTY II of 50ft waterline in 1913, BETTY was sold, and in 1927 passed into the ownership of Hugh Grosvenor, Lord Stalbridge, who renamed her TALLY HO.

The photograph by Beken of Cowes shows her at this period under racing canvas, with the short pole mast changed to a taller fidded topmast rig, and sail area increased by some 400 sq.ft. or about 20%.

Her celebrated win of the 1927 Fastnet Race in storm conditions is related later. Alf Loomis, crewing on the Alden schooner LA GOLETA, wrote of it: "At the time, this contest between TALLY HO and LA GOLETA was characterised as the hardest fight between two yachts that had ever been sailed in English waters over so long a course and under such heavy weather conditions."

There is less recorded of TALLY HO in the following decades, although the delightful photographs from the Clark family album show her at the outset of a year-long transatlantic cruise in 1958.

TALLY HO in a drying berth in the 1950s. She would have sat in the mud like this every time the tide was out - a fairly common arrangement in the UK.
These photos show the Clark family on board Tally Ho before and during their 1958 transatlantic cruise.

It seems that she completed more than one trans-Atlantic trip after the Second World War whilst still based in the Southampton area.

In 1967 New Zealander Jim Louden set out in TALLY HO from England heading for home, via the Panama Canal. He paused to charter for a few months in the Caribbean, then sailed on single-handed to Rarotonga in the Pacific, which he reached in July 1968.

Here he was offered a charter to fetch 20 tons of copra from the island of Manuae (Hervey Islands) 120 miles to the northeast.

With a young lad as crew, he reached the offing during darkness and hove to waiting for dawn. As they slept, the current carried the yacht down onto the island, where the surf lifted and drove her onto the coral reef and stove in her port side amidships.

She was eventually dragged off the reef, after seven tons of lead ballast had been removed from her bilge and her cabin filled with empty oil drums. As she came off, she rolled over and was dismasted, also losing her rudder and bowsprit. But the drums kept her floating just awash and in that condition, she was towed the 120 miles back to Rarotonga, something of a tribute to the strength of her original deck construction.

Stuck on the reef on Manuae, near the Cook Islands.
Barely afloat after being pulled off the reef

In Rarotonga she was rebuilt over a period of years, during which time she changed hands, and eventually she found her way, via Tahiti and Hawaii, to the west coast of the United States. There, with aft wheelhouse and twin trolling poles rigged on the mast, she went to work periodically under the name ESCAPE, fishing for tuna and salmon out of Brookings Harbor, Oregon.

During this ownership, in the 10 years between 1977 and 1987, Dave Olson sailed some 20,000 miles in her, twice to the Marquesas, to Tahiti, a frequent visitor to Hawaii, even Pitcairn. At this time she was still in remarkably good condition for a boat of her age and usage. But when Dave Olson wanted to move on, a new owner could not be found and she languished in Brookings Harbor for some years. It was during this period that the Albert Strange Association became aware of TALLY HO, and that she was potentially running into trouble.

In 2008 the Port of Brookings sold her at auction to a local artist, fisherman and shipwright, Manuel Lopez, who formed a charitable foundation and set out to restore her, with the idea of making her a show-piece for Brookings.

Manuel did significant work on the boat but sadly died in early 2010 without having addressed the more structural issues in the hull. With the loss of Manuel’s driving force, TALLY HO found herself again ‘in limbo’, with storage fees accumulating which the charitable foundation had no means to pay.

By late 2012 the Port was preparing to foreclose on her again, and there was a real danger that she would have to be broken up. In the nick of time, the Albert Strange Association stepped up and took ownership of the boat with the understanding that they would find a suitable owner to restore her. They covered her to prevent further deterioration, and embarked on a campaign to raise awareness of TALLY HO’s desperate situation. It was through their efforts that Leo became aware of the boat and wrote the Association a long letter explaining why how and why he could take the project on.

Tally Ho's Fastnet Race win, 1927

The first Fastnet race took place in 1925 after several prominent members of the Yacht Racing Association expressed a wish for a true ocean race that would keep sea-going yachts at sea for several days in testing waters; a course from the Isle of Wight to the Fastnet Rock was decided upon, the rules limited the size of the boats (50ft WL maximum, 30ft WL minimum) which meant roughly 50 tons TM to 10 tons TM and specifically excluded yachts of the International Classes, which were regarded as racing machines and unsuitable for the exposed waters of the Atlantic. Seven entries were attracted and JOLIE BRISE, a converted Le Havre pilot boat built in 1913, was famously the winner of that first race. In 1926 there were nine entries for the second ever Fastnet race, with ILEX, a 20 ton cruising yawl built in 1899, coming first. JOLIE BRISE had entered again and finished fifth.

The summer of 1927 in England was appalling with storms, floods and generally unsettled weather. There were such regular gales that on the eve of the third Fastnet race there was talk of a possible postponement, but in fact the weather moderated overnight and when the 15 starters came to the line for the start there was only a light southwesterly breeze. JOLIE BRISE, ALTAIR, PENBOCH and ILEX from the 1926 race were joined by eleven newcomers: TALLY HO, LA GOLETA, SAOIRSE, NICANOR, MORWENNA, SHIRA, CONTENT, MAITENES, SPICA, NELLIE and THALASSA.

A Cutter's Breeze, Tally Ho, Fastnet Race 1927 (Outward bound) - oil on canvas © Martyn Mackrill

LA GOLETA was a schooner of 30 tons owned by Mr R Peverley, designed by the American John Alden, built in England only just in time for the start of the race and with Alfred F Loomis (the author of several books on sailing) of New York aboard as navigator. Further American interest was in NICANOR, another Alden design, a 36 ton schooner built in America in1926 for Alvin T Simonds and sailed across the Atlantic in 22 days to take part in the race for which she picked up additional local crew. SAOIRSE was the 20 ton squarerigged staysail schooner made famous through his books by Conor O’Brien, who had Miss O’Brien, Peter Gerard and Maurice Griffiths aboard. SPICA, a 22 ton cutter, was co-owned and sailed by Mrs A M Hunt and Mr J T Hunt with Mrs Aitken Dick also on board. NELLIE at 12 tons was the smallest boat in the race, she was a 40 year old cutter built on the lines of a fishing smack and based on the East Coast.

Lord Stalbridge’s crew on TALLY HO consisted of his son Hugh Grosvenor, Mr Peter Bathurst and paid hands Mark Spinks, Jim Wills (cook) and Lou Springett (steward). The crew was divided into two watches; the starboard watch being Lord Stalbridge and Mr Bathurst and the port watch his son and Jim Wills, the other two crew members to be available on call at any time.

The Weather Gods did not relent for long; shortly after the starting gun at 11.30am strong winds and rain hit the fleet and the weather was so thick that the yachts lost sight of each other whilst still in the Solent. At that time, according to Loomis, JOLIE BRISE was in the lead followed by NICANOR, ILEX, and then TALLY HO and LA GOLETA alongside each other. Once they left the shelter of the Island they were met by the full force of the wind and big seas, and it became necessary to hand topsails and reef mains for the beat into the night.

Over the next two days beating down Channel much damage was suffered by the fleet. On Monday with the wind at gale force JOLIE BRISE, NICANOR, TALLY HO, LA GOLETA and ILEX were off Start Point when ILEX sprang a leak, blew out two jibs and was forced to turn tail and run back to Plymouth. JOLIE BRISE carried on in the lead until the Lizard Light where she was hit by a wild squall, took down her main and ran back to Falmouth, speaking to TALLY HO on the way.

These yachts had in fact weathered the conditions rather better than the rest of the fleet but by Tuesday the 16th of August only LA GOLETA, TALLY HO and NICANOR were left at sea. Split mainsails had caused ALTAIR and MAITENES to run for shelter in Weymouth and Fowey respectively; CONTENT was unlucky in that she was handling the weather in the Atlantic well when her compasses became unreliable and she put into Queenstown in Ireland; SAOIRSE, with a rig more suited to down wind sailing, gave up and ran back to the Solent; little NELLIE with her low freeboard found a safe haven in St Helens after a wet and windy struggle, and the equally small PENBOCH, the converted French fisherman, was in Dartmouth.

After putting in to Falmouth for respite (where three of her local crew jumped ship) NICANOR carried on short-handed into the Irish Sea only to be forced to retire with a broken gaff, leaving TALLY HO and LA GOLETA to fight it out. When off the Eddystone on the 15th, Loomis in LA GOLETA later wrote:

The only other contestant in sight was TALLY HO, working toward the Lizard under reefed main and spitfire jib. High though the seas rose, she seemed as steady as a church, and we watched her in silent admiration. Here indeed was a competitor.

After speaking to JOLIE BRISE Lord Stalbridge wrote:

Now was our chance as, knowing from the experiences in a gale in the Bay of Biscay what a wonderful sea-boat TALLY HO was, and also, confident in our sails and gear, we thought that by reefing her down and making things shipshape, we might be able to weather the Lizard, and if so would catch the tide and be a tide ahead of any of our competitors who failed to do so. So we hove-to and double reefed the mainsail, reefed the foresail and set our storm jib. We also got out the canvas covers for the skylights and the hatches and lashed them down securely, and put some more lashings on our dinghy and our spare spars and thus made ourselves as snug and as comfortable and watertight as we possibly could be.

After clearing the Lizard in enormous seas TALLY HO stood into Mount’s Bay and as they neared Penzance she felt the shelter of the land but as the seas moderated the wind appeared to increase and swung to the north-west. As night was coming on and with a foul tide in prospect, and believing that none of the others still at sea had yet rounded the Lizard, it was decided to run into Newlyn Roadstead and anchor for the night before beating out round the Longships.

After a more comfortable night in relative shelter she was underway again by 6.30am in a moderating wind but when the Longships was reached there was still a big sea running; beating out into the Irish Channel no other sail was in sight and by 10pm a position about 6 miles north-west of the Sevenstones had been reached, the wind went into the south-west and moderated to a nice sailing breeze, and for the first time a course for the Fastnet could be laid. At dawn the next morning a sail was sighted far astern which was at first believed to be the NICANOR but by late evening, with the Fastnet Rock some 3 miles ahead and in an almost flat calm, it was in fact LA GOLETA that appeared out of the murk and hailed TALLY HO. The yachts had sailed into the centre of the depression and TALLY HO was the first to pick up a light air and round the Fastnet at 1.20am some quarter of a mile ahead of LA GOLETA. Of this time Loomis wrote:

At one thirty-five in the morning of the 18th, in pouring rain and freshening wind, we considered ourselves around and signalled our name and letter to the light keeper. We had held TALLY HO to windward, and now if we could get a reaching wind instead of this northeaster that was commencing to blow the cold of the Arctic down our way, we felt that we had a chance to save our time.

Tally Ho and La Goleta approaching Fastnet lighthouse, Fastnet race 1927 - Oil on canvas, © David Cobb

Lord Stalbridge later recorded:

The glass was now down to 29.3 and we were palpably in the centre of a depression, large or small, of course we had no means of telling, but I fear that standing into a lee shore in thick weather and a falling glass was not an act of great seamanship. However you cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs; we were out to win the Fastnet Race if we could, so we were out to take some chances and luckily they came off as, no sooner were we clear of the Fastnet, than it began to blow hard from the north- east, and from 2 to 4am that morning I think we had as big a bucketing as at any time, as the wind was against the sea. Yet we had to drive her along for all we were worth, not only to beat LA GOLETA, but to get sea room. And drive her we did, more under water than over I fear, but by 4am it had got too bad and we had to heave-to and reef again.

In these testing conditions the yachts raced hard back to Plymouth, often within site of each other, reefing as the weather demanded and passing through the French fishing fleet, all hove-to, with a big following sea that required only the most experienced steersmen to be at the helm. LA GOLETA, with six men on deck and the jumbo set, gradually drew ahead of Tally Ho and much to the relief of those on shore – there had been concern expressed for the safety of both yachts in the prevailing conditions – crossed the finishing line at 1.40pm on Friday the 19th of August followed by Tally Ho some 50 minutes later. Tally Ho’s handicap meant her time was adjusted by nearly 4 hours and so she won the Fastnet Cup. In spite of the number of retirements and some of the worst conditions that could be experienced, the English cutter and the American-designed schooner showed once and for all to the many doubters at the time that well designed, well found and well sailed yachts could race offshore satisfactorily and give good sport to those who wished to enjoy more than sheltered waters. Ocean racing for the larger classes had been in vogue for some time but the Fastnet in 1927 confirmed that racing of this kind for the smaller classes had come to stay and Albert Strange had played his part in it.

The Homeward Leg, Tally Ho and La Goleta, Fastnet Race 1927 (Homeward bound) - oil on canvas © Martyn Mackrill

Albert Strange

Albert Strange (1855-1917) was one of the foremost designers of small cruising yachts; his boats are now considered true classics and are still sought after all over the world. His designs and his writings on the subject contributed significantly to the evolution of the seaworthy cruising yacht. He had a lifelong career in art, exhibiting many times at the Royal Academy, and turned to yacht design as an activity complementary to his love of small boat sailing.

Albert Strange designed some 150 craft of varying size and style, and his work has been admired and respected by yachtsmen for more than a hundred years. A keen sailor from a very young age, Strange made a number of noteworthy single-handed trips along the east coast of England. All of these adventures he recorded in prose, drawings and paintings, the accounts appearing in The Yachting Monthly and other magazines of the day.

The experience he gained afloat lent great authority to his output as artist, writer and yacht designer. Among is friends was that most respected of English yachtsmen, Claud Worth, for whom he drew up the lines of TERN III, and W. P. Stevens, the American yachtsman and writer, whose collected papers at Mystic Seaport Museum contain many of Strange’s original design drawings.

Albert Strange studies a drawing

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