Haiku is a sharpie designed by Iain Oughtred. I first became aware of the design from numerous references to it in boatbuilding forums, where there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for it. I was surprised therefore that I could only discover one completed example. If any others have been made, they have kept a very low profile! Part of my purpose in writing this blog therefore is to give an insight into the build and the boat itself, for the benefit of anyone else thinking of taking one on. I do think this design deserves wider recognition and a much bigger fleet.
The one example I know of is owned by Alastair Bremner, who originally commissioned the design. It is a beautiful boat, though it actually departed significantly from the one drawn by Iain. The biggest change was to go with a stayed main mast in a tabernacle for ease of stepping. Alastair’s masts are a bit taller than drawn to enable him to dispense with the gaffs and he has devised some extremely handsome sails to suit this arrangement. The wishbone booms are a stroke of genius and very nicely executed, but again, do not feature in Iain’s design. Alastair very generously shared his experience in general with his boat, for which I am very grateful. I know he is happy to talk to anyone else who is thinking of making a Haiku – I won’t publish his details here but would be glad to pass on any such enquiries: just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much as I admire Alastair’s boat, I will be sticking faithfully to the original plans – I prefer the authenticity and functionality of the keel-stepped, free-standing masts; I have also always been a gaff enthusiast and like the simplicity of Iain’s sprit booms.
Iain Oughtred is a master of taking a traditional form as a raw ingredient, distilling it and adding his own magic to produce something very special, if often understated. To make a discrete leap forward every time – as he seems invariably to have done – is quite a startling achievement, given that the starting points have had the benefit of generations of evolution. It is a process that is a lot harder than it looks, but in fact the apparent ease and grace of the designs are themselves signs of the skill and care that have gone in. In Haiku’s case the starting point was the sharpie form, but more specifically the famous sharpie Egret designed by ‘Commodore’ Ralph Munroe in 1886. Much has been written about this boat, which appears to have almost legendary status. In particular it is said to have sailed regularly through some very wild seas quite unscathed (though of course this may say as much about Munroe’s sailing ability as the boat!) If Iain has pulled off his usual trick, Haiku should be something quite remarkable.