Crew: 2 man crew.
Dimensions: 5.35 meters in length and ±134kg.
Sail Area: 31.15 square meters.
Class: Restricted (hull shape remains the same from year to year)
Characteristics: Fast all over the course.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
The Osprey design was originally penned by the late Ian Proctor in the early 1950’s. It was designed for the Olympic Selection Trials along with several others; two of which became the Flying Dutchman and 505 of today. The Flying Dutchman was chosen after winning the trials. The Tempest Class, another Ian Proctor design, in their class history document makes mention of the Osprey and the IYRU trials.
Osprey’s in the early days often raced with a crew of three, although with introduction of the trapeze, (which was either invented or re-invented for the class depending on who’s memory you believe), the optimum racing crew became two. The class still allow 2 or 3 on board whilst racing and the use of the trapeze, but by only one crew member at a time.
The original design built in so much strength and longevity that this has influenced much in the development of the class. Old boats don’t fade away, but remain competitive as the day they were built for decades.
Although the shape and weight of the hull are strictly controlled, as are the sails. The rig controls are open and over the years travellers, hoops, strops, centre main sheeting and transom sheeting have all be tried, discarded and brought back as fashion changes. Also lower shrouds, mast struts and rams have been used.
With a UK handicap of 938 the Osprey is a fast exciting boat to sail. The Osprey relies on the traditional values of boat design, dating back to the 1950’s, to achieve its speed. An Osprey doesn’t struggle upwind only to fly on the downhill leg, it’s simply fast all over the course.
Upwind performance is catered for by a large over-lapping Genoa, whereas off-wind speed is generated by the large spinnaker emerging from the ‘chute. (Spinnaker bags are a rare sight due to the generous freeboard provided in the original design. This makes the intake of water so minimal as to render bags an inconvenience compared to the speed of a ‘chute.)
With the ever increasing sophistication and competitiveness of many classes, competent helms and crews are finding themselves off the pace as a result of being either too heavy or light. Crew weight has never featured highly in the Osprey Class with a range of weights that any other class would find hard to beat. After all, with a hull weight of 134kg the boat itself is no lightweight. Perhaps this is the reason why the odd 7kgs or so of crew weight does not make that much difference. The extra weight and power upwind only results in a penalty downwind!