Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Flinn Files

Bluenose Class Sloop – The Flinn Files

These pages were assembled by Scott Flinn, a former participant in class events who had a lot of fun in a Bluenose and thought the story of this vessel needed to be recorded. Many thanks to Scott for his contribution. The pages were last updated by Scott in January 2004. Even though some sections may be outdated we offer them as an invaluable source of information for Bluenose Class history.

William J. Roué turned out a great many designs in his career as a naval architect. His 17th plan, the schooner Bluenose, is without a doubt the most famous, but he produced many other designs that are dearly beheld by smaller audiences. In 1945, Roue produced a design, at the request of a group from the Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax, for a small one-design sloop that would be both fast and elegant and could be sailed easily by two or three people. Bluenose herself was still afloat, but had already been sold to the West Indian Trading Company for use as a freighter. The new class was given the name Bluenose to help perpetuate the memory of the great champion. Ironically, the first Bluenose class sloops were launched in the spring of 1946, just months after Bluenose was lost on a Haitian reef.

This collection provides a modest mix of information about the history, design, activities and current status of the class. In compiling it I have drawn on the sources of information readily available to me, but you will soon find that much information remains to be collected. Many details will be available only from yacht clubs in the Halifax area or from conversations with people whose memories have not yet relinquished important facts. Unfortunately, an entire continent currently separates me from those people and places, so I will have to collect the information over a broad period of time as I make occasional visits to the east coast.

I have tried to record only those facts about which I am fairly certain, or to make it clear when I have some doubt. Nevertheless, much of the information contained here has yet to be verified and should not be relied upon to be completely accurate. Furthermore, this page has not been officially sanctioned by the Bluenose Class Association, although they are aware of it.

The Bluenose Sloop is a traditional wooden design: relatively long, low and narrow with a full, weighted keel. The wooden boats are Bermuda rigged and are constructed of carvel planking (planks flush, not overlapping) over steam-bent frames. The fiberglass boats are made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). They have a small cuddy at the head of the cockpit but are otherwise built along the same lines as their wooden counterparts.

The full specification of the Bluenose Class draws from three separate documents: the original Roue plans, the Class one-design sail pattern,
and the Class Association constitution. These are discussed in the sections that follow.

Basic Dimensions

The following dimensions have been gathered from a variety of sources. They should, in general, be fairly accurate, but should not be considered

Length, overall23′ 5″

Length, waterline16′ 0″

Beam6′ 3″

Depth2′ 4″

Draft3′ 8″

Displacement2,050 lbs

Keel ballast, wooden design750-755 lbs lead

Keel ballast, fiberglass design815-900 lbs cast iron

Height of mast above deck28′ 9″

Length of boom12′ 4″

Sail area218 sq. ft.


The Roué Plans

The original Roué plans are easily the best source of design information for the class. In addition to providing the lines of the hull itself, they also give omplete specifications of the rigging, many aspects of which are not available elsewhere. For example, the position of chainplates and attachment points of stays and shrouds must conform to the Roué plans for a yacht to be eligible for Class Association events.

Copies of the original plans are available from the Roué family. Further questions or requests should be directed to info@wjroue.ca.

If you want your Bluenose Sloop to meet current Bluenose Class code, upfit requirements are covered explicitly in the by-laws of the Class Association.

The Official Class Sail Pattern – through December 2006

May 2007 NOTE – The Bluenose Class Association has recently passed a new by-law for a new sail plan. Please visit their site for more details.

The original design called for a mainsail, jib, working jib and spinnaker. Some time later a genoa was added having a considerably lower aspect ratio. It sheeted in well aft of the shrouds, often attached to movable blocks on deck tracks parallel to the toe rails. In the early 1990s, the genoa was replaced by a blade jib as the officially sanctioned primary foresail. It just clears the mast
during a tack and sheets to a position between the mast and the attachment point of the shrouds.

Class By-laws

The by-laws of the Class Association specify a number of characteristics of the rigging and other dimensions. In some cases they supplement the Roué plans and in others they establish allowable bounds of variation. The following excerpt is taken from the constitution of the Class Association and represents all of the rigging specifications included there. It is reproduced here in order to encourage uniformity throughout the fleet.

Mast and boom

The mast shall be made of wood in accordance with the Roué Plans or straight section aluminum.

Rotating masts or permanently bent masts are prohibited. Adjustable mast steps or partners are prohibited.

The boom must be wood or straight section aluminum. The foot of the mainsail must fasten in a straight line in both plan and profile.

The spinnaker and whisker pole shall be a maximum 7′ 8.5″ overall, including fittings when measured square off. The pivot point on the forward side of the mast shall not project forward more than 1.5″ and must be seated home against the mast.

In building the mast, backing blocks may be inserted at points where fittings are attached.


Rigging shall be as shown on Roué Plans as to position, number and length of stays except as otherwise specified in this Constitution.

Spreaders shall be made of one piece, rigid wood, aluminum or steel.

The method of attaching the rigging to the spar is optional.

Running backstays as shown on the Roué plans shall not be used.

The method for sheeting the mainsail and headsail is optional, but the fittings for the sheets must be placed so that they do not protrude outside or beyond the hull.

Specific dimensions and restrictions as outlined below correspond to the measurement points as shown on the attached diagram. Those identified as mandatory do not have grandfather clause provisions for existing yachts. All dimensions apply to new yachts or replacement of existing equipment.

  1. Keelson to base of mast 8″.
  2. Base of mast to top of boom 4′ 2″, in practice marked with a band of contrasting color to the mast. (Mandatory).
  3. Base of mast to center line of spreaders 13′ 11″, +/- 0.5″.
  4. Spreader length from shroud to mast center line 2′ 1″ minimum. (Mandatory).
  5. Base of mast to jib stay 22′ 5.25″ to 22′ 8.25″.
  6. Base of mast to spinnaker halyard 22′ 9.5″ maximum. (Mandatory).
  7. Base of mast to center line of jumperstruts 22′ 5.5″ to 22′ 9.5″.  (Mandatory).
  8. Jumper strut length 1′ 3″ minimum. (Mandatory).
  9. Rudder post/Keelson intersection (RPKI) to forward hole of forestay deck plate 16′ 6″ maximum. (Mandatory).
  10. RPKI to mast foot forward edge 9′ 6″ to 9′ 9″. (Mandatory).

Other restrictions; adjustable forestays, adjustable jumperstays from deck level, hydraulics of any kind, foil headstays, as well as on board computer systems are not allowed.

Schematic Drawings

The following side and top view drawings were made by Scott Flinn based on a half-hull model crafted by Brian Steves and measurements taken directly from B68 (Freedom, owned by Alan Chandler).


The Core Wooden Fleet

The first twelve boats were built by Barkhouse Boatyard Ltd. in East Chester, Nova Scotia and were ready to be sailed in the spring of 1946. By the summer of 1949, nearly fifty yachts had been constructed by Mr. Barkhouse and a man named Murphy (about whom I have much to learn, including his first name), and were being sailed in various parts of Canada and the New England states.

The two original builders eventually produced 77 boats between them. Many boats migrated throughout the Maritime Provinces, to Ontario and to the New England states, but the core of the fleet remained in Nova Scotia, centered mainly in Halifax but with healthy fleets in Chester and Lunenburg.

The McVay Yachts

In the mid-1960s, George McVay of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia – under license with designer W.J. Roué – began manufacturing a fiberglass version of the Bluenose design from a mold that was made from the hull of Skylark, sail number B71, a wooden boat that remained in very good condition at the time. Sail numbers for these yachts began at 101 and roughly one hundred were eventually produced. Many made their way to Ontario, including a small fleet that was used for the training of naval cadets, and quite a few can still be found throughout the New England states. They were even available for sale in Southern California in the 1960s, and they can still be spotted in places like Marina Del Rey. I am aware of at least one that is actively raced in Morro Bay, California. The McVay license to build Bluenose Sloops was revoked by the W.J. Roué estate in 1972.

The fiberglass boats are quite similar in both style and handling to their wooden counterparts but are generally acknowledged to be somewhat less effective in heavy wind. Their keels are more heavily ballasted than the wooden yachts to compensate for the lighter hull, but the difference in weight distribution leads to noticeably different handling, especially in heavy seas.

A small cuddy closes off a portion of the cockpit that is open in the wooden boats, making it slightly more awkward to race successfully. Similarly, the benches have been removed from many of the wooden boats, adding considerably more maneuvering room in the cockpit. The molded benches in the fiberglass yachts are of course fixed. In spite of this, several fiberglass boats have been competitive at the Championships over the years, though one has yet to win.

New Construction

In May 2007 Snyder’s Shipyard (Dayspring, NS) was named as the exclusive authorized builder of new Bluenose Sloops – the first builder authorized by the Roué family since 1972. Snyder’s will build from a complete set of Roué plans, including his original table of offsetts. For more information on new Bluenose Sloops, please contact Snyder’s directly at 902.543.8323.

The Original Twelve

The first 12 Bluenose Sloops were built by John H. Barkhouse, of Barkhouse Boatyard Ltd., in East Chester, Nova Scotia. Construction began in 1945 and the first boats were ready for the summer of 1946. For posterity, the original names and owners (as recorded in the archives of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic) are as follows:

Sail Number Original Name Original Owner

B1 Gilpie N. Gilpin
B2 Stormy Weather P. Beaner
B3 Betty Lou A. Levy
B4 Rowdy A. Gilford
B5 Spindrift S. (or G.) Doane
B6 Shady Lady W. Oxner
B7 Bluenose G. Dauphinee
B8 Penguin D. Currie
B9 Glen Ho D. Hopgood
B10 Pixie D. Cooley
B11 Nemesis C. Wallace
B12 Jolly Moron E. Murphy

A surprising number of these are still actively sailed or even raced, although all of the names and owners have since changed. B7 and B8 have been recent winners of the Championship trophy. To my knowledge, B2, B4 and B5 are also well maintained and still active, and others may be as well. B1 was allowed to fall into a state of considerable disrepair but has since been restored and now occupies a place of distinction at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. You will find it there fully rigged, looking very much as it must have when its sails were first hoisted back in 1946.

Bluenose Class Racing

Although the fleet is now more than 50 years old, many of the boats are in very good condition. It is not uncommon to have twenty or more yachts from the Halifax and Chester areas, mostly wooden, competing at a single event. Individual clubs also run smaller one-design races, and handicap racing in club fleets is quite popular as the size of the fleet makes it possible to establish a reasonable handicap without unduly penalizing the best skippers and crews.

The most coveted prize by far is the Russell-Youla Trophy, awarded each year to the winner of the Maritime Bluenose Championships, but there are several other events that are also hotly contested.

The Maritime Bluenose Championships

By the summer of 1949 the fleet was nearly fifty strong. In August of that year, the Halifax Herald donated the International Bluenose Class Championship Trophy, as it had done for the International Fishermen’s Trophy twenty-eight years earlier. The winner that year was a crew from Marblehead, Massachusetts.

A championship competition, open to all Bluenose sloops, is still held every year. However, the international format was abandoned after several boats sank during a particularly stormy weekend of racing. The Maritime Bluenose Championships are now contested by boats from the local fleets and are held in Halifax and Chester in alternating years.

The Russell-Youla Trophy has been presented every year since 1955 to the winner of the Maritime Bluenose Championships. (I do not  know what became of the International Bluenose Class Trophy donated in 1949 by the Halifax Herald, or when the word International was replaced with Maritime in the name of the contest.) It was presented to the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS) in 1955 by Miss Kathleen Wylde. It had originally been donated to the Squadron by General Lord Alexander G. Russell and was first won by the schooner Wenonah in 1886.

The format of the contest has changed only modestly over the years. It is always held during the last weekend of August and, since 1986, has alternated location between Halifax and Chester. For many years prior to 1986, it was held exclusively in Halifax, but I am not aware of the full history. Five races are sailed, ideally with three on Saturday and two on Sunday. Occasionally, conditions are such that three races can not be completed on Saturday, in which case at most three are sailed on Sunday. If fewer than three races can be completed in total, the trophy is not awarded, although this circumstance has yet to arise. The course is an Olympic triangle or, in more recent years, a windward-leeward arrangement, with legs ranging from 1/2 – 2 miles in length (a detail I need to check), depending on the conditions. The winner is determined using the Olympic scoring system. Each yacht must comply with class specification rules and carry a crew of exactly three.

Since many of the participants remain the same from year to year, a high level of comradery usually attends the event. There is a dinner of some description followed by award presentations — first, second and third place overall, most improved and best fiberglass yacht — and the traditional throwing of the winning skipper from the dock, no matter how cold or polluted the water may be.

Other Regattas

There are several other major regattas in the area at which the Bluenose fleet usually has sufficient representation to qualify for its own one-design class. I hope eventually to provide at least brief descriptions of these events. For now, a simple list will have to suffice.

  • The Ark Regatta: BBYC
  • Metro Regatta: Halifax
  • Chester Race Week

Reproduced below is a tuning sheet from Sable Sailmakers of Lunenburg, now a North Sails loft. It was written by the designers of the official sail pattern for the class and pertains specifically to sails made from that pattern, but offers many guidelines and suggestions that will be applicable to any Bluenose. It describes only the older low-aspect genoa and not the newer blade jib that is now the officially prescribed foresail. I don’t know if an updated sheet exists or if it does, whether I would be allowed to include it here. I hope that you find at least some value in this version.


As in any One-Design Class the differences from boat to boat are controlled and limited which increases the importance of basic rig tuning and set-up.

This sheet is designed to be used when you first launch your boat. At that time set your boat up according to this.

General setup

Mast butt position
This is critical because it determines helm, heel, acceleration. From the aft face of the mast where it rests in the step to the front face of the rudder shaft where it penetrates the hull is 9 ft. 0.75 inches.
The rake is fixed by the headstay length which should be 21 ft. 7.75 inches from the foredeck where the headstay is attached, to the front face of the mast where the headstay is attached.
Jumper tension
The tension on the jumper wires with mast at rest (without bend) determines the mainsail fullness. Therefore more jumper tension equals more main fullness. Less jumper tension produces a relatively flatter sail. The jumpers should have sufficient
tension to keep the mast straight (Fore and Aft) in ten knots of wind with the mainsail sheeted correctly.
Mast bend
The mainsail is designed for a straight mast (fore and aft) until overpowered. Therefore you do not need backstay tension until you are overpowered. Pull the backstay control only enough to eliminate excessive helm and heel.
Mast blocking
This prevents unnecessary mast breakage and risk of damage. The mast should be firmly blocked to prevent lateral motion. The blocks which prevent fore and aft motion should be 0.5 inches or 0.25 inches thick. The blocks are installed (by force usually) such that no fore and aft bend exists throughout the length of the mast in winds up to ten knots.
The genoa
  1. Should be tacked as close as possible to the deck.
  2. Should have a minimum stretch adjustable Halyard.
  3. Should have the turning point of the sheet 11 ft. 4.5 inches aft of its tack position.
  4. Should have two tracks to adjust for various wind speeds. The inboard track should be 2 ft. 7 inches off the centre
    line. The outboard track should be 2 ft. 11 inches off the centre line.

Genoa adjustments

Wind Speed Halyard Tension Track in/out
0 – 4 small horizontal wrinkles out
4 – 10 small horizontal wrinkles in
11 – 15 no horizontal wrinkles in
16 – 20 no horizontal wrinkles in
21 – 26 no horizontal wrinkles
plus 2 inches tension

Mainsail adjustments

Wind Speed Battens Cunningham Outhaul Vang Backstay Traveller
0 – 4 light 0 0 0 0 ½ down
5 – 10 light 0 0 0 0 centre
11 – 15 medium 2 inches ½ 0 2 inches varies*
16 – 20 stiff no wrinkles ¾ 0 as in picture varies*
21 – 26 stiff maximum maximum 0 maximum varies*

* For adjustments of the traveller in wind speeds of over 10 knots the wave pattern is an important factor. If it is flat water or choppy the boat will move best with the traveller gradually eased out as the wind speed builds. In large waves and swells it is better to leave the traveller centred and use the mainsheet to adjust twist in the main to keep the boat fairly level and moving.

Boat attitude

Wind Speed Beating Reaching Running
0 – 4 10° – 12° level level
5 – 10 12° – 15° level weather heel
11 – 15 15° – 18° slight weather heel
16 – 20 pinch to 15° – 18° minimum level
21 – 26 minimum minimum level

Bluenose Class Links

There is a collection of information relating to the Bluenose Class.

Yacht Clubs

Armdale Yacht Club
The Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax was the birthplace of the Bluenose Class and continues today as the home port for many active Bluenose sailors.
Chester Yacht Club
Home to a healthy fleet of Bluenoses, and is host to the Maritime Championships every other year.
Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron
Home of the Russell-Youla Trophy, awarded each year to the winner of the Maritime Bluenose Championships, and occasional host of the event.
Bedford Basin Yacht Club
Located at the end of Bedford Basin, at the innermost end of Halifax Harbour, this club offers a nice location for the Championships, and often several yachts that can challenge for the Trophy.
Lunenburg Yacht Club
The Lunenburg arm of the Bluenose fleet has waxed and waned over the years, but those who do participate are able sailors from a strong tradition.
Barrachois Harbour Yacht Club
The yacht Black and Blue (B116) sails out of this club near Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.
Bay of Quinte Yacht Club
This club is the home of McVay yacht number 281, Blue Heat. The club is over 100 years old, has sponsored an America’s cup challenge, and is one of the first 5 established yacht clubs in North America. It has a wonderful web page, and to this day is referred to as a “grunt club” by its members,
with only the bar staff and cleaner paid employees. All other positions are manned through volunteers.
Lac Deschenes Sailing Club
The yacht Delicia (B220) has moved to this club in Ottawa.
Eagle Creek Sailing Club
Located on Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indianapolis, Indiana, this club is the home of McVay yacht number 320, Nariz Azul.

Sail Makers

North Sails
North Sails is a huge, worldwide organization that makes sails for America’s Cup yachts from extraordinary space age materials. At the North Sails Atlantic loft in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, they also make sails for the Bluenose Class yacht.
Michele Stevens Sail Loft
Michele Stevens runs the Stevens Sail Loft, which is located on Second Peninsula near Lunenburg. The loft is a certified maker of Bluenose Class sails.