Boat designer Keith Callaghan started early when, as a 14-year-old, his father got hold of the first set of plans for the Ballerina Mk2 sloop by designer Robert Tucker, who lived nearby in Enfield, London. Since the age of 18, Keith has been designing and building dinghies and small yachts. Here, he tells us about his latest project: the Hadron H2 Dinghy.
Firstly, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in 1946 and have been designing dinghies and small yachts (and building them) since the age of 18. In the ‘70s I built up a good reputation as a top designer of Merlin Rockets but also designed a National Twelve, a couple of International 14s and also the Harrier single-hander dinghy. Altogether, about 250 dinghies were built to my designs in the ’70s. For most of my life, however, I had a career in IT and it wasn’t until I retired that I started to seriously take up boat design again.
How did the H2 Project come about?
In 2011 I designed and built a multi-chine plywood single-hander for my own use and called it Hadron, built with WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® and 205 Fast Hardener® and 206 Slow Hardener®. The boat was intended for hobbyists and amateur building and was well received (reviewed in Yachts and Yachting in 2013). I ended up selling quite a few sets of plans worldwide.
In early 2015 Simon Hipkin, a boatbuilder who had built one of the Hadrons, suggested that we might develop the design further and produce a carbon/composite version. This was the start of the H2 project. During 2015 Simon built all the tooling for the moulds, and he and White Formula UK then made the moulds, using their cutting-edge technology.
Simon and I set up Hadron Dinghies Ltd in March 2016 to fit out and sell the Hadron H2. As well as using White Formula for the moulding, we consulted David Johnson of West System International during the development phase and he was invaluable in recommending the right techniques and products to use for the best results. He gave us a great deal of confidence to go forward. David has also helped White Formula develop its epoxy infusion process, so it was a good team behind the project.
In early March the prototype H2 was exhibited at the RYA Dinghy Show and attracted a great deal of interest. Eight boats have already been sold.
Which WEST SYSTEM or PRO-SET products did you use? How did they help?
For the H2 we used PRO-SET INF-114® Resin with a blend of INF-210 Fast Cure Infusion hardener and INF-211 Medium Cure Infusion Hardener. INF-210 and INF-211 hardeners can be blended, which meant we were able to control the speed of the cure and achieve better results.
What was the most rewarding part of the project?
For me, it is always the day when the new boat is launched – months of design work and collaboration with Simon and White Formula UK, sailmakers HD Sails, fittings manufacturer Allen Bros and several other suppliers came to fruition and I got a great buzz from seeing the project come to life on the water.
Our thanks to Keith Callaghan. For more information about the Hadron H2 Dinghy visit the website.
To find about more about Keith and his other designs, click here.