R.W CLARKE Force Eight’s – “Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor”

R.W CLARKE Force Eight’s – “Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor”

Monaco - Louly first Launched 1959
"Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor"

In 1961 when entries started flowing in for the first Daily Express Cowes Torquay race besides the multiple entries from Fairey Marine and Bruce Campbell another major boat builder was well represented with no less than 5 of its Cowes built cruisers. These were the Clarke Bros "Force Eight" Colin Mudie designed cruisers.
When the final entry list appeared only 2 boats were confirmed for the race including one for a Mr Donovan Shead. In the event neither finished but Clarke brothers Bob and Wally were well represented in the following races by "Smoked Salmon", Sir Robert Hoberts 36ft Hurricane class cruiser, the Levi designed Tridents and then the Moreland Class cruisers "Ja Conga" and "Michelle S".
The 25ft Force Eights were eventually replaced by a 28ft version of the then new Moreland Class and for 4 years Edward Lacy-Hulbert raced one "Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor".

For many years Sandpiper has been stored in a barn in Southern Ireland until purchased 3 years ago by Peter Wilson, who is now almost ready to launch the restored craft in spring this year.
Peter has been asked to send more pictures of works undertaken but here are a few pictures of what is another rarity from the 1960’s.


Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor
2 Parsons/Cummins Diesels
Total 447hp
Raced 1966/7/8/9
66 she retired almost immediately after start
67 retired again
68 finished 3rd in CLASS 2 and 16th overall
69 finished 6th in Class 2 Cabin Cruiser and 29th overall

A selection of restoration pictures

Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor
Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor
Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor
Sandpiper 2 of Itchenor

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Renato (Sonny) Levi.

Renato Levi, known to all as Sonny, was born in Karachi, India in 1926.
His father ran a shipyard in Bombay(now Mumbai), so Sonny naturally took an
early interest in boats & ships.

Sonny became an apprentice in his fathers shipyard in Bombay, but with the coming of World War 2, he joined the RAF, becoming a Pilot Officer. No doubt his interest not only in boats but also aircraft was heightened by this part of his life.

Sonny became primarily interested in marine design, especially in relation to smaller, fast craft, and the ability of such craft to withstand the varieties of sea conditions often encountered. He designed craft for his fathers yard during the 1950’s, but moved to Italy in 1960. In Italy, Sonny managed Cantiere Navaltecnica (Canav), in Anzio.

No one of a certain age can forget “A’Speranziella”, built by Canav to Sonny’s design for the 1961 Cowes-Torquay Race. She finished sixth, after experiencing mechanical problems, but had led the race for a considerable distance, dueling with the eventual winner “Thunderbolt”.

After partially re-building the boat in light of the experiences of 1961, success dawned with a win in the 1962 Viareggio-Bastia Race. Further developments resulted in great success with “A’Speranziella” winning the 1963 Cowes-Torquay Race.

Sonny became a world renowned designer of fast craft largely as a result of these successes, and the many fast craft he designed culminated in the 1965 launch of
“Surfury”, often thought of as one of Sonny’s most memorable designs. This boat
made a name for herself, winning Cowes-Torquay in 1967. “Surfury” was the first of Sonny’s much lauded Delta designs.

This success brought more commissions, and Levi designs were sought world wide,
where fast sea-going boats were needed.

In the 1980’s, Richard Branson commissioned Sonny to design “Virgin Atlantic
Challenger II”, which was successful in recording the then fastest trans-Atlantic crossing, despite contaminated fuel issues en route. This famous boat was certainly a fabulous marker in Sonny’s career. “VAC II” not only had its design by Sonny, but also the Levi Drive system too.

Developments in high speed propeller and drive systems have been part of Sonny’s
great contribution to fast boat development over the last forty or more years.

Martin Napier

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