Graduate Dinghy Association

Posts from 2016-06-15

A bit of History

This is an except from the Grad History "Go On Graduate" written by Keith Lamdin in 1995


During the winter of 1951-52, whilst he was finalising his plans for glued plywood plank Twelves and obtaining approval from the RYA for their adoption under the Class Rules, Dick Wyche hurt his back. As he could not do any physical work, and his firm were not getting many orders for traditional Twelves, he put his time to good use by drawing plans for a new, simple, hard chine twelve foot type dinghy.

In a rapidly expanding market it became clear that there was a need for a boat that was cheaper than the Twelve though of comparable size and sailing performance. A simpler form of construction, bringing the bonus of enabling more sailors to build the boat themselves, was seen as the answer.

He intended it to be a family boat with wider appeal than the purely racing Twelve but to be rigged with the 90 square feet National Twelve sails and mast.

prototype Graduate

Using the new improved marine plywoods now widely available in the standard 8’ sheets, the design was based on a simple wooden frame and intended for home construction from scratch kits, as well as professional boat builders such as Wyche and Coppock.

One major advantage of the frame construction was the ability to construct built-in buoyancy tanks as an integral part of the dinghy. This removed the need for plastic buoyancy bags which were difficult to secure and often leaked whilst improving the stiffness of the hull through the full-depth transverse bulkheads.

The tanks also gave a safe, enclosed cockpit and allowed the boat, if swamped, to float level in the water and still be sailed. Whether Dick intended the new design to act as a feeder into the more traditional classes is not clear, but the name of “Graduate” was coined.

A prototype boat, named “Undergrad”, was constructed during the winter and Dick, and his family, sailed it on the River Trent at Beeston in 1952.

Dick Wyche and family sailing the prototype Graduate


As I send the complete copy to our committee to see what can be done about circulating it more widely.