Bob Underwood
1933.03.21 – 2019.09.07

He was a lovely gentle man and a fantastically skilled craftsman whether working in metal, wood or moulding in glass fibre. He had a great enthusiasm for making things, which ranged from the engineering of model steam trains, wooden master plugs to create the moulds for which he created beautiful and long lasting mouldings. He was always generous with the gelcoat, which gave his boats a fine finish and fantastic appearance. As a result you can always pick out one of Bob’s mouldings because of this quality.

As a designer and builder of model yachts, I first bumped into Bob in the mid-1970s when as a busy architect, I needed a professional moulder to continue making designs that became popular. Initially he offered to build from my moulds for the Marblehead BLOODAXE. In 1977 we discussed a new A class design LOLLIPOP and he offered to build the wooden plug and mould. He made a really good job of both!

However, he was very concerned about moulding a LOLLIPOP down to the very light weight specification, because this did not meet with his standards of structure. However, with his usual enthusiasm made a really good job of it and the boat went on to win the 1978 and 1979 A class Championships and carried on being structurally okay for over 20 years. This initial success led him to make many more LOLLIPOPS for some of the best vane sailors in the country, like Alex Austin, Walter Jones and Dave Latham.

In 1981 he had a more important job to do for Peter de Savoury’s 1983 Americas Cup challenge. The full-size world was yet not into bulb keel yachts and the model yacht designers taking part Project Acorn had demonstrated the benefit of these in the 1/10 scale 12 metre models trials of that initial year.

So, building on this experience was the design of WAKE, which had a very narrow beam and much more sail than the Americans were using. I think that Bob really enjoyed building the plug and the mould as it was a traditional deep vee sectioned hull with a nice sheerline. With no real structural restriction to achieve the scale weight, Bob was really delighted that he could build hulls to his normal specification! As a result, his hulls were beautiful and he even took the trouble of moulding in the waterline in a different coloured gelcoat.

Subsequently, he made hulls, keels and rudders for several of later Marblehead and 6 metre designs and so made a big contribution to the progress of model yachting and the Model Yachting Association by providing boats, always at a reasonable price, for newcomers to the sport and those who admired his beautiful work.

Roger Stollery 2019-09-21

The funeral will be on 24 September at 2:30 PM at the West Wiltshire Crematorium, Devizes Road, Semington DA14 6HL and afterwards at the Cumberwell Golf Club, Bradford-on-Avon.

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