The first GRP Mirrors were produced in March 1986 for Bell Woodworking by Ferranti. At that time sail numbers were 68076 and above. They are easy to spot, they had hollow topsides (i.e. the hull sides above deck level) and very rounded corners inside the hull where the topsides meet the aft and the bow transoms.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.
Some of the buoyancy tanks may be connected via the hollow topsides (one boat had the bow tank connected to the stern tank !). The drip rail above the cuddies, and the lower part of the skeg are wood.
It seems there were two vesions of the deck moulding. The first version (normally the decks were white) stopped at deck level & a seperate moulding (normally grey) filled the gap above the deck and rolled over the gunwale. The small radius on the join between inner topside panel and deck is distinctive. These boats appear to have GRP thwarts.
The later version of the deck moulding goes up to the gunwale (so uniform in colour) and wraps over onto the hull mould. There is a lip along each side deck edge by the cockpit. Not exactly sure when the change was made & identifying the correct sail number on these boats is difficult. For the record, here is what information I have.
|68491 (see photos below)||first version|
|69033 - Rock-it!||second version|
|69056 - Squid||second version|
|69383 - Goosie||second version|
They were not very popular, so not very many were made. They can be very heavy (one recorded at 85Kg, minimum hull weight is 45Kg). 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.
Above are some photos of a Bell/Ferranti, number 68491 (using the wrong mainsail number). Note that if the boat has a GRP thwart the sail number is not stamped or recorded anywhere on the boat. This can make it difficult or impossible to work out the correct sail number (but they always start 68, or 69, or low 70, so 68*** or 69*** or 700**). The highest sail number I have come across is 70088, purchased from Bell/Widebeam in January 2001.
Later boats had wooden thwarts and some of these had the sail number engraved onto that, for example 68849 below. If you have one with a GRP thwart, you might be able to find the sailnumber 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). Remember the sail number will start 68, i.e. 68xxx, or 69xxx, or maybe a low 70, i.e. 700xx, so you only need to find a few digits.
Bell Ferranti Mirror number 68849 - thanks to Trevor Wilson for the photos.