There is always an air of anticipation (and anxiety) when contemplating building a new design that you have never seen (much less been on board). Such was the case a few years back, when WoodenBoat School shop manager Jerry Cumbo and I were casting about for another boat to use as a shop project for the Fundamentals of Boatbuilding courses taught at the school. The design needed to be technically interesting, with plenty of different operations, yet not so complex that it would take forever to build. It had to be safe and handle well enough that it might be a candidate to join the school’s waterfront fleet, and at the same time be practical enough that a student might actually want to build one. And it wouldn’t hurt if it looked good, too. We already had the usual suspects on the floor—the dory types and East Coast carvel pulling boat types. We were ready for something new, but what?That’s when Mike O’Brien, WoodenBoat’s senior editor and design guru, suggested Skylark by Paul Gartside. Mike had recently reviewed the boat for the magazine and liked the cut of her jib (and other parts, too). Skylark was designed for day-sailing in the sporty estuary and ocean waters off the Oregon coast. Gartside’s customer had a preference for the lug-rigged older British sailing dinghies, and that’s where the design began. The resulting plans looked great. With a 14' length and a 5'8" beam and tipping the scales at a beefy 550 lbs, Skylark is one big, little boat with plenty of freeboard and stability. A quick look at the design reveals hollow waterlines forward, an easy run of planks aft, and a broad transom that barely touches the water. She has lots of rocker so she would tack easily, and if need be, would be efficient enough to move decently with either oars or small outboard. Skylark reflects her British Isles heritage with robust construction featuring a heavy-duty skeg-type backbone,, clinker (in the British parlance) planking fastened with square European-type rivets, a plethora of frames, and a profusion of reinforcing knees—at the transom, stern, and thwarts.

Photo by Benjamin Mendlowitz

Paul Gartside designed Skylark, a 14' daysailer, in the tradition of the sailing dinghies of his native Britain. The boat is heavily built and robust, and is also a fine sailer. Rig options include the lugsail shown here, and a marconi sloop.

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