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Unveiling of the New Range Rover Velar | Step inside some of the planet’s most exclusive homes | Man’s relationship with dogs | An epic drive through the Isle of Skye | The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza takes to the Skies

RATAN TATA The lessons

RATAN TATA The lessons of early boatbuilding are instrumental to understanding how today’s America’s Cup boats are designed, says Head of Operations at IBTC Portsmouth, Jim Brooke-Jones A few feet from the seawater of Portsmouth Harbour sits Boathouse 4 of Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. It’s the site of the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) Portsmouth. A gull sitting atop the dockyard hangar would be able to make out the sleek new white wraparound structure of the Land Rover BAR headquarters – the collaboration between Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and Land Rover that aims to win the America’s Cup for Britain. At first glance, the dockyard’s trainee shipwrights working at wooden joints can appear a world away from the carbon fiber engineering of Sir Ben’s team. Yet their fortunes are intimately linked. “We teach craftsmanship. The medium is wood, but craftsmanship covers all disciplines. It’s incredibly transferable,” says Jim Brooke-Jones, Head of Operations at IBTC Portsmouth. “We do a traditional boatbuilding course because this is the king of all trades. If you can learn how to work with wood using hand tools and machinery, you can drop onto any other form of boatbuilding.” Opened 18 months ago, the IBTC Portsmouth is housed in a striking piece of 1930s military industrial architecture. It’s serrated hangar roofline covers four gantry cranes over a tidal wet dock and a canal. The canal links the dockyard to the inland Mast Pond where smaller vessels were once taken for repair. The dockyard was hurriedly constructed in the build-up to World War II, and was originally intended to be double the size, a plan curtailed by war. “They put this temporary corrugated iron end wall up and it’s still here,” says Brooke-Jones. “The cranes are also original to the building and have early, basic tram controls that work really well.” Inside, the scene is one of intense industry. The low hum of men at work is interspersed with the occasional series of loud reports as hammer hits metal. It must once have been the sound of every British industrial city. Its re-emergence speaks for itself. “There are nearly 40 boats in here,” explains Brooke-Jones. “All traditionally built – be it carvel, clinker or double-diagonal with copper nails and roves.” Trainee shipwrights from teenage to retirees move at their work on a sea of wood shavings. Some boats are part of the collection of the Property Trust, but many are privately owned and being repaired to their owners’ specifications. “We have 37 trainees at present with a new intake every three months,” says Brooke-Jones. “It’s a real, bustling working yard. We also work with six local schools and recently launched two big rowing boats that the kids made themselves. We are a registered charity and we rely on donations – both financial and in terms of materials.” The Portsmouth college joins Lowestoft, where boatbuilding has been taught on a broadly similar course for 40 years, and the British Boatbuilding Academy (BBA) in Lyme Regis. “We have, to date, a 100 percent employment rate for our students,” says Brooke-Jones. “Industry laps them up because they are well trained. We take students from a wide range of backgrounds and train everyone based on their own skills.” In a formidable storeroom, two toolmakers are at work with boxes of donated tools, repairing and oiling. “A well-refurbished old tool is always better than a new one,” says Brooke-Jones. “And we teach our trainees how to make their own. Their first three months are in joinery, where they start by making a beechwood mallet and end with their own dovetail shipbuilder’s toolbox.” Such resourceful craftsmanship is reminiscent of the work at Land Rover Reborn in Solihull, where Series I Land Rover vehicles are being painstakingly restored part by part to their former glory. Brooke-Jones points out the ribbed hulls of a pair of Dartmouth rigs. “The trainees are learning to take the lines off a boat, prepare a full-size lofting and build a replica,” he explains. “Taking the lines off a boat is a skill in itself. The hull shape is critical. It is a similar process to vintage ash-framed cars – working in the round. They are preserving the timber where they can on the old gig and adding new around it. They have even kept the original boat number and inlaid it into the new transom [the surface at the stern of the vessel].” It is a blending of old and new that is at the heart of true craftsmanship. “We are a maritime nation with a huge sailing heritage,” Brooke-Jones enthuses. “Ben Ainslie is the latest link in that chain. He is as important as what we are doing. But don’t forget the past, because it informs the future.” FIND OUT MORE about how Land Rover is restoring its own original icons, the Series I, to their former glory, and search Land Rover Reborn 48



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Land Rover Magazine 39


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