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094 Venya

40 m2  Spissgatter  W Klasse

VenyaIn 1938 The KNS created a new class of cruiser racer which was  designed  by Jac Iversen. This class had a 6m sail plan and the restricted rule  allowed some variation in measurement. My boat was built by O. Alfsen at the Grimsoykilen yard at Sarpsborg near Hanko as the  6th of the class (eventually  20 were built). She was originally called Vanja, after the owner’s daughter. During the war she (the yacht, not the daughter) was commandeered by the German Navy as a recreation vessel, but returned to the Barfod family after 1945. She continued in family ownership until the mid 50’s when she was bought by Captain Hector Perry a director of Canada  Stevedores, and shipped as deck cargo to the West coast of Canada. He installed the large Bronze winches and new boom. She was next sold to Fred Davies of a well known Vancouver sailing family, who installed the Atomic 4 inboard engine, and continued upgrading the rig. He cruised the West Coast with his young family and raced in regattas in Vancouver  and Cowichan Bay, crewed by his wife, and friends, frequently beating the other Spittsgatter Ann Mari.  In 1971 Fred swapped Venya to The Maple Bay Boatyard on Vancouver Island in part exchange for a new Sparkman and Stevens yacht based on the design of Morning Cloud. Venya then stayed on Vancouver Island, and went through a number of owners, one of whom continued the tradition by naming his daughter after his favourite yacht.

I spotted her for sale at a marina in Sidney, near Victoria, in 1994, while on holiday. She was a bit tatty but in sound condition and it was love at first sight. A deal was struck on the agreement that the boat would stay in BC and be looked after by a local partner. The owner and his family sailed all over the Gulf and San Juan Islands in the summer holidays for 7 years, while the lucky local partner, got to sail her all over the west coast to regattas and cruises for the rest of the year. He used her eye catching beauty to such good effect, as a marketing device, that he founded a yacht management business and now employs 15 staff.

By 2002 she was getting tired and in need of a refit, so was laid up, initially in a warehouse  where some misadventures required a midnight flit via low loader, then more quietly, in a barn.

VenyaI retired in 2004 and started the challenging process of shipping her back to England for a rebuild at Peter Wilson’s Yard in Aldeburgh, where I live. Eventually in 2005, after an epic journey by CP Rail through the Canadian Rockies to Montreal, and Container ship to the Thames, she arrived in Aldeburgh. The hull and deck were adjudged “sound” as was the interior. Most of the ribs were still good but those in need were replaced and new floors were put in and the keel bolts were renewed. A new diesel engine replaced the venerable and much loved, Atomic 4 petrol engine as Peter Wilson refused to countenance a “Petrol Bomb” in a wooden boat. A new cockpit was installed and a suitable spar was found in Mr. Wilson’s used mast collection, and refurbished and lengthened to replace the original, which had been ignominiously chopped in three by some overzealous Canucks with a chainsaw, in order to fit on the shipping cradle.

She was re-launched in December 2007, with a new Ratsey Main and blade jenny for short handed cruising, as well as a vang to enable less stressful gybes.

In Norway the 40sq is known as the W class. In England  West Solents are also the W class. To avoid confusion, a decision was taken to rebrand the sail  numbers. Venya now sports N for Norway W for the 40 sq Metre class and as I did not then know the her class number,   started with 1, then opted for 3 which was the post code for Hampstead  where we  lived for many years, However we have subsequently discovered that her class number is in fact 6 so will change for the final and last time, to NW6 which is also the post code for West Hampstead where we own a flat. Life can be so confusing.

We winter afloat at Levington, on the Orwell and spend the rest of the seasons on a swinging mooring on the River Alde where we cruise and picnic on the East coast rivers, as Venya is a dream to sail two up. She continues to draw admiring glances wherever we go. Venya competes annually in the East Coast Classic Regatta, sporting the Ratsey Main  and hand me down 6 Metre Genoas and spinnakers, crewed by a selection of  family and Dragon sailors. We all agree it is a great treat to be part of the Classic Fleet, and look forward to further cruising and racing with our old girl.



Yacht Description


Rufus Gilday


Jac Iversen/Arthur Holth



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Grimsoykilen Boat Yard Sarpsbord Oslo Fjord Norway


xxx m

35 ft


xxx m

xx ft


xxx m

8.2 ft


xxx m

5.7 ft


xxx m

27.3 ft

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6.5 tonnes

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3/4 per 6m rules

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xxx spreaders

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