Canadian Radio Yachting Association, RC Sailing

Got Wood?

CRYA member Martin Herbert recently embarked on a project to build a wooden IOM. Here is his build log. As he gets further along in the process, we’ll post any updates that he sends. We look forward to seeing Martin’s craftsmanship on the water.






After attending the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival this year I decided to build a wooden IOM. I have built ten glass boats and wanted to challenge myself. For a design I chose Graham Herbert’s Calypso design, a boat that performs at the top level and is a good looking boat. I asked Graham for the drawings and he e-mailed me a file that I took to Apple photo and had them print with the hull one metre long. I started on November 2nd. While it is more work to make a wooden boat the work is so much more pleasant that I feel my days of building in fibreglass are over. I am enjoying the project a lot.

At first I was worried that a wooden boat would be heavier and my scale was with me every step of the way. I had notes on the weight of the parts from the glass builds and I knew that I had about 150 grams of leeway due to the corrector weights in all my boats. Initially the parts were coming in a little heavier but not as much as I expected and the flip side of that was that they were about five times stiffer than the glass parts of similar weight. I began to realize that there were huge weight savings coming because I could eliminate a lot of the reinforcing that the glass boats needed. As I worked I sent images to Graham and before long he started his own wooden IOM. Although they are the same design they look very different. This is due to our colour choice in the cedar we used and our construction methods. Graham’s boat is drop dead gorgeous and mine looks good too.

Coming up to two months of work and I will be finishing the internal rigging and putting the foredeck on tomorrow. Then about a week of putting finish on, borrowing some rigs from my current boat, and a test sail. There will be corrector weights.

Click on any image for a higher resolution version.

Wooden IOM

Wooden IOM

Wooden IOM

Wooden IOM

Wooden IOM


Update – January 16th

Here is how my wooden IOM looks today. Work has slowed down as I am letting the varnish dry for three days between coats. I built all the sails this week except for the C rig main, which I have in parts and will assemble at an open-shop event that I am having in my studio. It will be a show and tell about how to build a wooden IOM, with all the jigs and molds on display as well as my fleet of five boats. If I manage to get some photos of the event I will send them along.

Wooden IOM

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Update – February 7th

The first launch was today, not much wind and lots of chop but just had to get her wet. Learned lots in the build and as always, the next wooden IOM will be even better.

We hope to see it compete at the upcoming Beaver Fever regatta – Editor




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Update – Jun 10

The big question in my mind when I started building a wooden IOM this winter was could I get it down to weight. I had a list of the weights of all the parts from my glass boats, which typically carry about 150 grams of corrector weights so I had some wiggle room. The parts, hull, aft deck and foredeck were coming in about 10-15 grams heavy but massively stiffer. This extra weight was more than offset by the elimination of reinforcing that the glass boats required. The final result was a super stiff boat with 320 grams of corrector weights. Now the question was can it stand up to the rough and tumble of racing and will it be competitive? My Brother Graham brought both his new wooden boats to the Cowichan Lake training campout and all three woodies seemed fast but only real competition would tell.

Two of the wooden IOM’s made their regatta debut at the Canadian Nationals this year. One immediate advantage was noticed at the practise sail on Thursday as even starboard boats tacked away, not wanting to be the first to scratch the gleaming varnish. This advantage vanished on race day. The field had all the major boats on the world market in attendance, Brit Pop, V8, V9, Cheinz, Mojo, Kantun s, and Fractal so the field was full.

My boat was fast, in step with the top boats sailed by good sailors. I never felt that it let me down. My lack of experience in big fleets was obvious and clearly the sailing skills of the five skippers that beat me were sharper. There were some skippers who I beat who were also sailing better than me but I felt rescued by my boat several times when she showed some leg. I was very happy with my 6th place. Graham sailed well and won the event with his wooden boat. Congratulations Graham!

For me, a serial boatbuilder, I doubt that I will build another glass boat. The wooden boat takes longer to build but the process is so much more fun. After I had started my friend Lawrie Neish brought over a cedar 2×4, a gift, thats two more boats easy. If you have a winter and your water gets hard you owe it to yourself to make a beauty.

Martin Herbert IOM34

Graham Herbert Wooden IOM
Graham Herbert’s Wooden IOM ‘PDQ’