Overview of the Top Hat 25

The Top Hat is a 1950's, English JOG, designed by Capt. John .H. Illingworth (ex-Royal Navy) & Angus Primrose.

A timber version was sailed to Australia where the moulds were taken off. It came in four different 'marks' (models) named Mk 0 - III.

There were shallow draft versions built in Mk 2 & 3. A 10'' high plug was inserted into mould and the then extra ballast added to give the same performance. Bill Jeffries owned Fibreglass Yachts and Formit. (Name changed to Formit when the company moved to Wyong under a government grant scheme to move factories out of Sydney). Mike Garratt was the salesman before Merv Howlett. 500 + originate from Fibreglass Yachts and Formit. Some were built in Victoria, the exact number is unknown.

The deluxe model sold for around $30,000 in 1980's.

The ballast developed over three phases (changes caused by cost).
Phase 1. A 1 piece cast lead moulding fibre glassed in.
Phase 2. A 2 piece cast lead moulding fibre glassed in.
Phase 3. 20lb lead ingots set in place with a cement slurry and fibre glassed in.

A lot of Top hats were completed by their owners. Caution should be exercised with these vessels as a number left the factory as a separate hull and deck. Always check the deck connection to the hull in these vessels. Some Mark 3's had three windows and not one long one. All timbers encased in fibreglass, were of pine and ordinary plywood. Mast steps (about $600) are still available from Marine Installations, The cabin floor was lowered in the Mark 2 & 3 to maintain the head room; some home completed versions may vary. Most important structural part of a Top Hat is the bulkhead under the mast.
Most of the above information, kindly supplied by Merv Howlett.

MK 0
The cold moulded model from 1963, five 3 mm laminations laid up with resorsinal glue on mahogany stem and main frame with laminated mahogany floors.

(The following information about the Mk0 is on the rlyachts website)

http://www.rlyachts.net/rlstory6.asp
By Rob Legg

Junior Offshore Group (J.O.G.) " Top Hat"
A strong JOG fleet was forming on Port Phillip Bay and we were approached to build an initial six boats designed by Illingworth and Primrose. Right from the start John Illingworth proved to be the most cooperative designer I had worked with. Nothing was too much trouble, and he had a vast practical experience.

He was the man who revolutionised the Sydney to Hobart race just after the war, he brought his own boat "Rani" here for the race, and shocked everyone by actually racing right thru the night, unlike the general practice at that time of quitting till sun up.

While we were building the "Top Hats" I had played with the idea of a trailer-able yacht with the same accommodation, and 24 ft in length, I had done some preliminary sketches and mentioned the idea to my partner, but he didn't like the idea, and anyway we were really too busy to take on another type of boat, and had run out of space. At that time we were running no less than fifteen stock models and this took a lot of keeping up with. Also we had taken on a Mercury outboard dealership, so I had to concentrate on power boats a lot more.

From a newspaper clipping.

Top hat dips its lid..
Meet Top Hat, the new 25 ft. Illingworth and Primrose design moulded plywood cruiser-racer, adopted by the Junior Offshore Group of Victoria, which will dip its lid to Australian yachtsmen for the first time on Port Phillip Bay this season.

The group formed a co-operative of potential owners to order a mould and bulk buy components and fittings.

Mouldcraft of Frankston are completing the last two hulls of the six the group ordered in its original scheme and have also received orders for another seven or eight, including one from NSW.

The first two to hit the water, owned by group secretary Bob Moon and David Cockburn, should be launched at Sandringham early in November. Nine or ten could be racing on the Bay by the end of the season. The Top hat is moulded in five-ply construction of 9/16ths (15 mm) thickness, has accommodation for four, with 5 ft, 9 in. (175 cm) headroom in the saloon, an adequate galley and self-draining cockpit.

Details:
- Length over-all, 25.1 ft.
- Length waterline, 21 ft.
- Beam (max.), 8 ft.
- Draft, 4.25 ft.
- Displacement, 2.54 tons.
- Lead keel, 1.25 tons.
- Sail area, 286 sq. ft.

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