I am still trying to piece together the exact history and provenance of early GRP mirrors such as the one above. We know Bell Woodworking started producing a GRP boat moulded by Ferranti in March 1986. However, the boat shown above, and others I have come across differ from the Bell/Ferranti boat in some important ways. One has a sail number dating to 1985, so pre-dating the Bell/Ferranti boat. I'm now of the view these were built by Holt (who were also Licence holders). We know that Holt made 70 GRP composite Mirrors (GRP hull, wooden interior) around the same time, so it would be logical for them to have made an all GRP version. They are quite similar to the Bell/Ferranti with very rounded corners inside the hull where the topsides meet the aft and the bow transoms, following in plan view, the profile of the normal bow shapes and quarter knees. Constructed using chopped strand mat. Similar deck layout to most wooden Mirrors (i.e. Mk2 interior) but no inner gunwales, no bow shapes or quarter knees.The differences between the Holt boat and the Bell/Ferranti are:
- The deck moulding goes up to the gunwale (so is uniform in colour) and wraps over onto the hull mould. There is a lip along each side deck edge by the cockpit and strengthening knees around the rowlock locations. This is a much stronger construction than the Bell/Ferranti boat where the deck mould stops just above deck level.
- They often have a coloured hull (dark blue, red, light blue,...) and different, uniform colour decks (white or beige/yellow).
- They have a wooden skeg (just visible in the photo above). The Holt composite Mirrors are the same, evidence that the same hull mould was used by the same builder. The Bell/Ferranti has a two part GRP skeg.
- They have wooden thwarts
- They originally had Holt sails
Earliest sail number found so far is 67938 - Foxy.
For the record, here is what information I have of GRP boats thought to be by Holt.
|67938 - Foxy||This sail number dates to 1985, so before the Bell-Ferranti boat was introduced|
|68074 - Startforth||One of the last boats built in 1985, so before the Bell-Ferranti boat was introduced|
|68162 - Nancy|
|68614||We are pretty sure this is the correct number for this boat|
|68849||See slideshow below for details of thwart|
|69033 - Rock-it!|
|69056 - Squid|
|69383 - Goosie|
These boats were not very popular, so not very many were made. They can be very heavy (one recorded at 85Kg, by comparison, the minimum hull weight of a Mirror is 45.5Kg). As they are chopped strand mat they are not very stiff. The come up on sites like E-Bay from time to time for around £500 - £800, probably best avoided if you want to race seriously.
These boats had wooden thwarts and some of these had the sail number engraved onto that, for example 68849 below. If not, or it's not readable, you might be able to find the sail number from some paperwork that came with the boat, or the original mainsail (even if the numbers have come off, there may be traces of glue where they were or the sailcloth may be less faded), the original spinnaker, or it may have been written on a some of the equipment (e.g. the rudder). The original mainsail would be made by Holt, with a black oval sailmakers mark as seen on 68614 & 69383 - Goosie. Remember the sail number will start 68, i.e. 68xxx, or 69xxx, so you only need to find a few digits.
Holt Mirror number 68849 - thanks to Trevor Wilson for the photos.