The Osprey design was originally penned by 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.
Ospreys in the early days often raced with a crew of three, although with introduction of the trapeze, the optimum racing crew became two. The class still allow 2 or 3 on board whilst racing, but only one on trapeze.
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 for decades.
There have only been three major hull developments, which took place in 1973, 2002 and 2005. In 1973 the Mk III was designed. This removed the rear buoyancy tank; the hull shape being kept the same. The principal reason behind this was to enable a good quality glass reinforced plastic (GRP) boat to be built. The original intention was achieved, as the Mk III hull was no faster or lighter, just different.
In 2002 a change to the measurement rules allowed owners to have a half-height front buoyancy tank if they wished.
In 2005 the new Mark IV FRP boat arrived. The rework of the design was undertaken by Phil Morrison, with new moulds built by Ian Teasdale and Kevin Driver, and boats built by the new sole builder, Hartley Boats. The major changes were:-
o Addition of a mini buoyancy tank at the stern to stiffen the whole transom
o moving the main thwart aft to give more space for the crew
o redesigned forward bulkhead a la standard GRP 505
In 2016, the new Osprey Mark V arrived, for the first time of epoxy construction. Internal design is different to the Mark IV, but the external hull shape is unchanged. Hartley Boats remain the sole builder.
The shape and weight of the Osprey hull is strictly controlled. The rig controls are open, and spars may be carbon or alloy. There is choice of sailmaker while spars come from either of two manufacturers.
The Osprey class includes a wide variety of wooden, GRP and a few composite boats, all competing on level terms with the recent FRP ones.
In some classes, it seems that each year’s latest new feature must be bought to keep your boat competitive. Not so in the Osprey, where development is strictly controlled, so it is neither necessary nor possible to buy your way to the front of the fleet.
But watch out …
In the Osprey class you may be beaten by a boat that is older than you are!