An evening racer
Laidlaw’s current fleet includes 31ft, 52ft, 82ft and 115ft racing yachts. “I’ve got a lot of fast carbon boats so I thought it would be fun to do something different,” he told me as we headed out of the Lymington River on a particularly blustery Solent afternoon. “I wanted to do the evening races, so I was limited by draught.” Laidlaw added that he wanted something pretty and had always considered Spirits attractive.
The result is this first flush-decked Spirit Yacht: a stripped-out wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Ipswich based yard has launched over 65 wood epoxy boats in 25 years (see feature in September issue), but Oui Fling is rather different than most.
“I enjoy the boatbuilding process,” said Laidlaw, candidly. “I enjoy the process of planning it, seeing it through – then how to make it go faster.”
The 52D was a fittingly bespoke project. Laidlaw specified a cockpit to suit his raceonly crew, something much larger than the conventional keyhole shape used on most Spirit yachts. Oui Fling also has separate cockpits for both the helmsman and tactician. Laidlaw only races his yachts and never spends the night on them, hence he didn’t require any home comforts or facilities below decks.
Oui Fling’s build was fast-tracked. She launched just seven months after those initial discussions and, a week after arriving in her now homeport of Lymington, convincingly won her class in the Panerai British Classic Week.
“The drive was to make it the best racer within the spirit of tradition ethos,” said Spirit’s managing director, Nigel Stuart. Laidlaw’s