A fleet of Bembridge One Designs has existed as long as the Bembridge Sailing Club itself. Two boats to the design of Ernest du Boulay were built at Sandown in 1889 at a cost of £30 each; and by 1904 there were twelve of these craft racing.
However, following a design competition held in the Yachtsman in 1903, twelve new boats to the design of EC Cockburn (a BSC Member) and modified by Charlie Ricardo and Alfred Westmacott (who also designed the “X” One-Design in 1909 and the Solent Sunbeam in 1923) were ready for the 1906 season. Thirty years later, following a decision to adopt a more modern design, they were sold off to Portsmouth and became the popular Victory Class of which seventy-two have been built; forty remain in the Portsmouth area and there are still a few in Gibraltar.
The present fleet of twelve boats were designed by Arthur Westmacott and built at Woodnutts Yard during 1936/37. The very best materials available were used in their construction and the cost to the Club for all twelve boats was £2,261!
Three boats were built at the same time to the same design for other customers – one of these “Black Beauty” is now owned by BODA.
Over the years the fleet inevitably became more expensive to maintain and in 1980 a number of keen “club boat” sailors got together and raised sufficient funds to purchase the fleet from the Club – the result was the Bembridge One Design Association (BODA). Initially there was little change to the previous organisation; members paid a charge to race the boats and the boats continued to be used for outside events. However, all costs were borne by BODA, rather than the BSC. By 1989 it became apparent that, despite generous donations from members, the fleet was still not generating enough cash to cover its expenses. Various alternative schemes were considered and in the end, with agreement from BSC, it was decided to privatise the fleet and lease individual boats to Members.
In 1990, therefore, BODA appeared in a new role. Whilst continuing to own the fleet (which all agreed should continue to race as a fleet and the one design concepts be maintained), the boats were leased to Members on a 50 year renewable lease, on the basis that the boats must not leave Bembridge and the lease could only be sold to other Members of the BSC.