My post about the ACA Cruising Canoe, sans rudder, elicited a comment and also an email, an unprecedented response for this blog. Both readers pointed out that there exists in the UK, a small sailing craft copied after a local wild fowl gunning punt, that is raced with no rudder, just a paddle, and even more surprising, no daggerboard either. Truth be told, I had stumbled across the Dylan Winter video on the West Mersea Duck Punt and already had it penciled in as one of my classes for my "Look Ma, No Rudder" series. Plus, Paul Mullings, pointed me to their website and some more digging on the Internet fleshed out more of the West Mersea Punt story.
The West Mersea Duck Punt is, what we call in the U.S, a flat bottom skiff. Being a craft designed to sneak up on wild fowl, it has very low freeboard and narrow beam. A local boatbuilder took the traditional design and converted it to 12mm plywood. He sells the plywood shell to homebuilders to finish off. The rig looks to be an Optimist sprit rig. The steering paddle is plopped into an oarlock on the leeward side and, like the ACA Cruising Canoe, the steering position forces the skipper to recline about in the middle of the punt. According to Dylan Winter, lateral resistance depends on heeling the punt to get the chine into the water. It must be very interesting to watch the fleet race, particularly since most racing takes place in the winter and, as far as I can see, they have no buoyancy for self rescue. Some of the paddling techniques on the turns are identical to the ACA Cruising Canoe but I'm sure there are some other racing techniques unique to the West Mersea Duck Punt.
According to the website, they have 20 and growing certified crazies that have put one of these craft together. My type of crazy.
Dylan Winters, the great sailing/travelogue videographer, documents his Duck Punt build over here.
And a video on light air Duck Punt Racing;
We also have in the U.S, the Barnegat Bay Sneakbox and the Delaware Ducker, two other gunning craft that evolved to become some very smart sailing dinghies.