Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Larken Klasse: Another Modified Lark Scow Resurrected

As mentioned in my post on the Lark Scow - The Laser of the 1900's, Thomas Day of The Rudder magazine encouraged the home-builders of the Lark to be inventive; there was no strong concept of one-design strictness at this genesis of small sailboat development. So builders strayed from the plans, building Larks with yachty looking counter sterns, with cuddy cabins, longer and shorter Larks and they gleefully sent reports of their modifications into The Rudder and Thomas Day published them.

In 1903, in The Netherlands, W. Beekhuis, owner of the boat building yard "Navis" te Loosdrecht, built a small Lark, only 3.6 meters long (11.8 feet). He built them from the time period 1903-1905 but it is unclear how many he actually produced.

The 1903 Beekhuis Mini-Lark

In 1919, A Van Gool, from the northern coastal district of Friesland, The Netherlands, built a Beekhuis type Lark with additional modifications. Having traveled to America and observed American sailboats, Van Gool borrowed the Star type keel and grafted it on the Beekhuis Lark scow hull. He made the hull longer, 4 meters (13.1 feet). He replaced the squat gaff rig with a taller gunter rig. This Larken Klasse would become very popular in Friesland and Twente during the 1920's and 1930's.

The Van Gool/Friesland Larken

In 1934, Romke Vries designed an even higher aspect, full battened gunter rig for the Larken Klasse. By the end of the 1930's the more modern O-Jolle singlehander centerboarder was cutting into the Larken Klasse numbers and, as the Finn dinghy and OK dinghy were introduced after World War II, the class continued to lose popularity. In 1965, the class made its last appearance at Sneekweek, seemingly destined to fade into obscurity.

That is until 2004 where a group of Larken Klasse enthusiasts banded together to start restoring the old Larkens and build new ones. In the short span of 11 years they have built the class up to where they are now getting a vibrant 20+ turnout at the major regattas. An amazing resurrection of a true classic!

The newer Larkens have adopted a more modern keel with a separate rudder. The lead ballast is 34 kg.

The present day Larken Klasse on a reach (Anyone know who the photographer is?)

A vintage photo of a happy Larken skipper.

At this years Sneekweek regatta, artist and small boat racing enthusiast, Jan Tekstra decided to jump into a different class each day and record his race on a GoPro. This is his Larken segment.

Acknowledgement: All of the history of the Larken Klasse was taken from this article by J.K Kuipers

As I was tossing this post around my brain, the German Segel Reporter beat me to it by about two weeks and brought out Michael Kunst's post on the Larken Klasse.


Alden Smith said...

This is a really great post - as a result I watched a number of Sneek Week videos. I am amazed at the number of nice traditional small boats racing there - fantastic.

This Larken Klasse with its ballast keel looks just the right sort of boat for someone of my age (64) who wants to just keep looking at the scenery (especially the other yachts) instead of hiking out madly even time a gust of wind comes along!

I think I might blog about this class myself sometime - including a link to your blog.

Bursledon Blogger said...

The fixed keel versions are really interesting, wonder if anyone has tried to fit a lead keel to a lazer?

but then I got diverted by the new header- lovely dinghies - International 12s? Arcachon Mono Type? ....

Tweezerman said...

Mr. Bursledon

A keel on a Laser. Not seen that one yet.

Yep, you nailed the current header photo - Monotype du Bassin d'Arcachon. I found out after I put it up that there is a connection between the previous header photo of Mariposa, the French Classic Moth and the Monotype Arcachon. Details in a later post.

Anonymous said...

The Lark had a good turnout at the most recent (2015) Sneekweek event (in Friesland, The Netherlands):
14 entries sailed five races.

I read (so it must be true) that the Lark has a bad tendency to bury the bow. Also, it tends to take in a lot of water during high-speed reaches.


Tweezerman said...


I don't doubt the Larken Klasse has a problem with bow stuffing in a breeze. Most scows that don't have a spinnaker seem to have that problem. I remember sailing a 28 foot E-scow once and even that bow was submarining when we didn't have the spinnaker up. You either love the scows and their idiosyncrasies or you think they are just ugly. There doesn't seem to be a middle camp. I belong to the first camp.

Thanks for providing the info on this years Sneekweek, probably the greatest regatta week and spectacle going.