Seafly Design History – Introduction

The Seafly was designed by John Kelley and initially developed and built by John Kelley and Stan Herbert at South Devon Boatbuilders; eventually other boat builders were licensed, but the restricted number of builders limited the growth of the class. Nevertheless there was an active Class Association which organised National Championships in the south of England and Seafly fleets also raced in Northern Ireland, Australia, and Canada. Like its fore-runner, the Mayfly, the Seafly hull has a single chine which is swept up to the bow giving a wide, buoyant section forward with a large planing surface aft. Length is 14’9″ (4.49m) with a 5’9″ (1.75m) beam. The sail area is 120 sq.ft. (11.14 m2) with a 135 sq.ft. (12.54 m2) spinnaker.

A new “Seafly SD” at the Seafly National Campionships, Blakeney S.C., 2016

The original design was modified to produce the “new look” Seafly during the 1960’s and through the 1970’s the class grew. Seaflys continued to be built until the late 1980’s but dwindling fleets, and continuing issues regarding ownership of the design copyright, led to the Class Association being disbanded in the 1990’s.

Seaflys are still sailed by enthusiasts at a number of locations and in recent years new Seaflys have been built. At the 2014 Southampton Boat Show a new version of the Seafly with modernised deck plan was exhibited by John Claridge Boats.  In 2016 a National Championship event was held at Blakeney Sailing Club and the Class Association reformed.

[Next: The Original Seafly Design (or read about The Mayfly Sailing Dinghy)]