McFrawd Scow design

McFrawd plans and building instructions kindly released for public use by Jim French and Ian Ward. Click on the green link. 

A brief history of the last 3 years of scow dominance before the skiffs took over, and how the McFrawd was developed. 

By Jim French and Ian Ward

The McFrawd is not a well understood design, there are a few left around, but not much is known of the history of the design and racing pedigree.

I have a very clear memory of the time and have consulted Ian Ward to compare memories and get the story right.  We would like to tell what happened to create the design and to use results of Championships to show its success. - Jim French.

During the late 70’s Ian Ward designed and built his own lightweight double chine scow Effanineffable.  At the 1980 Worlds in Auckland he came 2nd beating all but one Magnum Skiff Moth from the UK.

1980 Worlds Results;

1st  David Iszatt Magnum Skiff

2nd Ian Ward Effenineffable Scow

3rd Greg Hilton Bunyip Scow

1980 National Results;

1st Greg Hilton Bunyip Scow

2nd Ian Ward Effenineffable Scow

3rd Peter Lamb  Scow

Soon after, Peter Lamb designed his own Stunned Mullet in which he won the 1981 Sorrento Nationals.

1981 Nationals Results;

1st Peter Lamb Stunned Mullet Scow

2nd Greg Hilton Bunyip Scow

3rd Ian Ward Effenineffable Scow

The McFrawd design;

The McFrawd scow Moth came about as a collaboration, drawn by Ian Ward and built by myself.  The design was influenced primarily by Stunned Mullet and Effanineffable designs.   We included our mate Andrew McDougall in name only, we used parts of our surnames to create the name McFrawd.

Almost at the same time I built production Skiffs called Wombats which morphed to French Skiffs, but that is another story!

The First McFrawd was built late 1981 after building plugs and molds and a few competed for the first time in the 1982 Nationals and Worlds in Sydney.  Ian Ward had one of the first built and sailed it to a creditable 2nd behind Greg Hilton in a Bunyip, only losing the World Championship by a bad mistake in the last race.

1982 Nationals Results;

1st Andrew McDougall Wombat Skiff

2nd Steve Shimeld Skiff

3rd Ian Ward McFrawd Scow

4th Peter Lamb Stunned Mullet Scow

5th Greg Hilton Bunyip Scow

1982 World Results;

1st Greg Hilton Bunyip Scow

2nd Ian Ward McFrawd Scow

3rd Peter Lamb Stunned Mullet Scow

The next Championship was in Brisbane in 1983 and was the last time the scows were competitive.  Andrew McDougall in a Wombat skiff won when the wind turned light. One more windier day would have meant a McFrawd scow would have won.

This was the last championships that Scows were up the front, after that the Skiffs won and dominated all the World and National Championships.

1983 Nationals Results;

1st Andrew McDougall Wombat Skiff

2nd Jon Briggs McFrawd Scow

3rd Jim French McFrawd Scow

4th Ian Ward McFrawd Scow

As you can observe from all the results, most championships were a battle of designs with no real best scow design, towards the end maybe the McFrawd just tipped the scales.

The McFrawd is a very versatile boat, really fast in all weather and sea conditions because of its design.  The concept was that the narrow stern and rounded sides in plan view took care of the light winds so the boat could be heeled to reduce wetted surface without submerging the transom, which was a limitation of the straight sided wider stern boats of the time.

In heavier winds the narrow stern kept the bow from nose-diving if you shifted your weight aft.  You can really drive it hard in complete safety.  This allowed an extremely flat run aft, which made it plane fast downwind, there was no need to have a wide stern as this just added wetted surface when planing and slowed the boat.

The wide sterns add stability on some boats, but it was not needed on the scows as the boats were already stable enough.  Low wetted surface is fast!  The McFrawd remains almost unbeatable downwind in a breeze!

The McFrawd hulls were built from 10mm PVC foam and glass, 3mm ply frames and with a 1.5mm ply deck.  I built 30 of them in 2 models, first in polyester resin with a straight bulkhead between the stay area, then an epoxy boat with a Veed bulkhead to the stays.

I also created plans and instructions for the boats to be built in plywood.  I sold about 100 sets of plans over the next 10 years, many went overseas.

In 1988 I took the molds reluctantly to the tip as they were not competitive with the skiffs anymore.

The McFrawd may be one of the most popular and successful scow Moths built with more than 50 known boats built( 30 from moulds and over 20 known built from plans (over 100 sets of plans sold but maybe not all built).

The above history shows the McFrawd had a great pedigree that it inherited from the Stunned Mullet and Effenineffable designs before it.  It nearly won the worlds in 1982 on its first outing.  Then the next year it really showed it potential by filling the first 3 Scow placings before being excluded from further glories by the faster skiff designs. 

I feel partly responsible for this happening as I developed and built the skiffs that killed the scows.  I have always had fantastic memories of designing, building and sailing scows.

I bought back a McFrawd I named Horace in 1998, sailed it for a bit, and then lent it to Ian Ward for a few years for him to do hydrofoiling experiments on.  Then in 2008 I got it back and started experiments of my own with Ian’s help.  

We just wanted to see if we could combine the beautiful handling scow with the new form of sailing, foiling.  It is a really good match, the low hull and the stability of the scow really works well with foiling.  Even the current Americas cup boats look like big scows if you ignore the bustle down the middle. (The definition of a scow is a flat bottomed boat, they can have pointy bows also) and even the moths are moving that way too as they are getting lower and wider.

Scows are awesome!

Cheers,  Jim French

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software