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Beale Park Boat Show weathers the storms

The Beale Park Boat Show rode out the storms that lashed the Jubilee week, and produced another successful event considering the conditions. The Friday was going to be a wash-out, so the organisers sensibly decided not to open the show, as the ground was cutting up badly. Instead, with a sunny Saturday forecast, they emulated countless IWA nationals and bought in a huge lorry-load of straw. This was laid first thing Saturday morning, and when the crowds arrived, all was ready for them. Over 5000 people came through the gates, up on previous Saturdays, and the exhibitors were full of praise for the efforts of the staff.

Set in its idyllic location round a lake alongside one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames, the show produced its usual eclectic mix of boats and boating activities, modern and old, expensive and affordable. 

Man-power, sail-power, steam-power and electric-power - every form of propulsion was there, including this year a remarkable competition for boats powered just by rechargeable electric drills. And before you look surprised, the fastest of these was running at over 8mph round the set course, powered by a V4 bank of Makita drills driving a home-designed underwater propeller. 

At the other end of the spectrum Consuta, the 52ft steam-powered umpire’s launch thundered, or more accurately swooshed its way across the lake. Built in 1898 by Sam Saunders at his nearby boatyard in Goring, Consuta was revolutionary for its construction, with four layers of 1/8th inch mahogany laid diagonally and stitched together with copper wires. The resulting monocoque hull with no frames, weighed just 3 tons, half that of similar craft, and had a top speed of 27mph, astonishing for the time.

But modern craft were also being exhibited, with a wide range of GRP day-boats and cruisers, for rivers or the sea, plus more traditional river launches and cruisers, and free river trips on one of Salter’s passenger boats.

Emrhys Barrell

The Beale Park Boat Show this year included a competition to
power boats using only Makita electric drills.

Boat show regular John Ross once again appeared with his classic decorated Mirror Dinghy Elizabeth Rose, this year decorated appropriate in a jubilee theme. 

Friday 15 June  | Andrew Denny  | 3.42pm, Friday 15 June 2012

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