Seventy years ago, a busy time for Newman & son, the Poole yacht builder. In the previous ten years eight new custom Laurent Giles designs of various sizes left the yard.  1948 saw the start of construction of another two: the 38’ racing cutter Tilly Whim named after a cave on the Jurassic coast of Dorset, and Woodpecker of Poole, named one supposes after a Woodpecker.

At 70’ long from stem to taff-rail, she is a light displacement motor yacht with a remarkably low displacement length ratio of just 90! Considered at the time to be at the pinnacle of motor yacht hull design and quite unlike anything that Giles had designed previously, bearing little similarity to the Motor Fishing Vessels (M.F.V.) he had designed during the war, yet she retains the elegant workmanlike simplicity that her naval sisters had.

She is fast, with 1000 mile range; styled as a gentleman’s fishing launch, but on a grand scale. Owner’s spacious stateroom and crew quarters aft, galley and guest saloon, and second stateroom forward.

She is light, double diagonal mahogany on close spaced stringers – Giles wartime worked involved the development of light wood composite construction methods in aviation and marine applications, leading the way forward. Newman’s attention to detail and the quality of their work was unsurpassed, and it is not surprising the Newmans yard was favoured by Giles.

If built today Woodpecker would certainly be the outstanding yacht of her class. For those tempted plans are available, or perhaps the more manageable 1:25 scale model plan.


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