The history of the (German) „H-Jolle“ (Michael Krieg)

blue.gif (104 Byte) I would like to introduce to you an old German class boat the beginnings of which lie back more than 80 years and whose cradle stood on the surface of the water regions in and around the capital of the then „Deutsches Reich“, Berlin.
No less a person than the famous British constructor and sailor Uffa Fox visited the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (N.R.V.) in Hamburg in November, 1929. There he sailed his sailing-friend „Pimm“ von Hütschler’s centreboarder on the Alster, a Hamburg urban sailing district. (In the 1930s became Starboat world champion.) Uffa Fox intended to get to know German class boats and was very enthusiastic about the sailing performance of his friend‘s „15-Square Meter-Centreboarder“ (“Binnenfahrtjolle”, as it was named by the German Sailing Association/D.S.Vb. of that time.)
The centreboard showed the sailing No. F 57.

But let us start from the beginning.

blue.gif (104 Byte) The beginnings and realisation of an idea

After the terror and hardships of World War I had been overcome and the sport of sailing in Germany had recovered slowly, one had made efforts since the beginning of the 20s of last century to foster sailing in „class boats“.
In addition to „22qm-nationalen Rennjolle/racing centreboard“ (J-Jolle) – created in 1909 - of then Deutscher Segler-Verband (D.S.VB.) further racing centreboard classes turned up. They were defined in design which gave the constructors possibilities for relatively free styling of lines plan but within the limits given produced look-alike or similar boats.
So in the trade one was more competitive, easier comparable, and on the side of constructors and wharfs one could calculate more economically. All the boats which just were no Centreboarders with class rule were banned into handicap classes.
The design of the racing centreboard class were held open as to not prescribing waterline, so that partially very long and narrow boat types were realised. The most famous of them were, maybe, the 20 Square-Meter racing centreboard (Z-Jolle ) that among others famous Manfred Curry (constructor of the cam cleat; in German “Curry-Klemme”) sailed, and the 15 Square-Metre- racing centreboard (M-Jolle).

Then, in the various sailors‘ organisations there was a strong tendency to foster not only racing, but cruising , too. The other German sailing association “D.S.B.” had put emphasis to this , and the “D.S.Vb.” documented this later by uniting with the Cruising Association. Until today there is a Cruising Department in the DSV. The „Kreuzer“yacht or Cruising yacht so became a counterpart to the pure “Renn”/racingyacht.
Since the important sailing organisations didn‘ t issue any standardised constructing regulations first, even partially fostered various classes, the cruising- or “Kreuzer”-Centreboarder which had been demanded for quite a time developed differently.
So the class I am trying to introduce to you today, after all seems to have two dates of birth. Already in 1921 during the federal meeting of the „Deutscher Segler-Bund“ (D.S.B.) which was held in Altona/Hamburg was resolved to introduce a „15-square-metre Bundeswanderjolle “ and added the discerning classification sign H which is still used today.

With the „Deutsche Segler-Verband“ (S.S.Vb.) it still lasted until 1925 until the people who favoured the idea of the „Wanderjolle“ were able to overcome in Munich. Bruno Vogelhaupt who then was the chairman of Berliner Segler Vereinigung 03, and Dipl.Ing. E. Müller must be mentioned here. While Müller, basically a sailor of cruising designed and improved the centreboarder all the time, it was Vogelhaupt who sailed it in races and passed over all the knowledge he had earned to Müller. The union ordered an F on the sail to mark a difference.

The N.R.V. in Hamburg, even founding member in 1886, was a member of the D.S.Vb., and that explains the F in the sail of the centreboard of his friend sailed by Fox in 1929.

Until today, there are more than 65 –year-old ex F-Centreboarders . When in 1933 the take-over of the National Socialists took place and the Sailing Association was forced along with the Segler-Verband to join the (new) Deutscher Seglerverband, the registered H- and F- Centreboarders were counted. Since there were more „H-Jolle“ s than “F-Jolle”s in the Union, the sailors of the F-Centreboarders had to have their boats measured anew and gave an H sewn onto their sails.

With the 15-square-metre- cruising centreboard a centreboard had been created that was equally apt for family, cruising and racing , equipped with a solid design which should grant a long period of functioning. So an open design class was created which was able to adapt to the latest standards of boat makers‘ standards during the decades. Many of these open designs have been valid until today: maximum length 6.20 m, minimum width 1.70 m, sail measurement 15 square meter, height of mast over deck 7.50 m, minimum weight (measured) 190 kg and just a compulsory designed waterline of at least 1.50 m.
The classical ““H-Jolle“ ” in most cases was sailed with a sliding gunter/gunter sail (until the 1960s), dad a wooden fore stay spar and a long sail batten-sail, typical of this class. When this was forbidden by the D.S.Vb. in 1929 and later by the effort of Bruno Vogelhaupt was permitted again he was nicknamed „Lattenbruno“ (Batten-Bruno) among sailors.

blue.gif (104 Byte) The development of „H-Jolle“ in Western Germany (Federal Republic)

Until the end of the 60s were built fully in wood, mostly mahogany or oak. In southern Germany soon they cast overboard the so-called „wooden leg“- fore stay spar and sailed short sail batten-sails. Everything else was too heavy for the soft winds prevailing in the southern areas. Anyway, weighs problems had always been vital, for lighter bodies were already being built, only 1.70 m wide, but one worked at heavier, 2.00 m wide ones which were hoped to grant better gliding-conditions. On the rougher coast they built Centreboarders completely in oak that became as heavy as 500 kg.

In the middle till the end of the 60s they delierately disposed of anything that was considered too heavy and started constructing Centreboarders of short of 200 kg, in most cases 1.90 m wide, had a wooden rudder and leeboard and were equipped with an obviously more modern aluminium rig. Moreover, the planks were glued so that it was not necessary to keep the Centreboarders in the water permanently. The completely wooden Centreboarders have got to get tight again after the winter break.

blue.gif (104 Byte) The GRP- „H-Jolle“

Then the era of glass fibre set in. The boat wharf Kother in Krefeld/Western Germany copied a form from the next-to-last completely wooden H 608, and so the GRP – Centreboarder , partially equipped with a wooden deck, was realised. Since constructing activities suddenly boomed, the „H-Jolle“ might have become the „General Class“ in Germany because large fields like this were considered super. On the other hand, the enthusiasts about the construction class noticed that, therewith, then would continue a Centreboarder which might be outmoded again in a couple of years. So it turned out to be good advice, not to become General Class because with the material of moulded plywood it was suddenly possible to build wide and light models.

blue.gif (104 Byte) The wide lines drawing

And so from the middle till the end of the 1970s the „H-Jolle“, as we still know it today, was created in Western Germany: A modern gliding Centreboarder weighing 190 kg, 2.15 m wide, with a double bottom, modern aluminium or carbon-rig, flying trapeze (since 1979 – in ex-DDR a few years earlier), spinnaker (which had been sailed before the War), furling jib and anything that today is „in“ modern Centreboarder-Sport (provided it meets the compulsory class regulations.) There were only modifications concerning the lines drawing. The latest lines drawing until today came to existence in 1889/90. The Centreboarders are built in moulded plywood with carbon or GFK/Sandwich.

blue.gif (104 Byte) „H-Jolle“ as open design class is gaining reputation anew

Today’s „H-Jolle“ has been graded faster by DSV than international FD or 505. Strange enough, in the 50s FD prevented „H-Jolle“ to establish itself as an international class, and thus bereft the class of many of its yachtsmen.

blue.gif (104 Byte) The development in Eastern Germany (GDR)

In former GDR „H-Jolle“ s were built completely in wood for a long time, too. Not long after the end of the War there were races of „H-Jolle“ s on the East Berlin waters.
But in the GDR there were more serious problems during the 70s and 80s. To survive, it was necessary to walk the way of a Common Class, and by the end of the 60s there was an agreement on a lines drawing designed by Manfred Ernst (Berlin) favouring a lines drawing with a width of 1.90 m. This did not imply a spinnaker tube but much earlier had been allowed to sail with a flying trapeze in the west. Basically, one built out the GRP-hull in wood in individual construction which originated in an east-German boat-wharf Seedorf (Arendsee/Sachsen-Anhalt).
The lines drawing was superior to the west GRP-Centreboarders of the Kother firm, but has been inferior to the wide hulls of today by its missing width.

The new „H-Jolle“ s, too, are apt for cruising even if a Centreboarder equipped for racing has got more (parts to trim aboard than an old one. But many yachtsmen of the class have sailed the Baltic Sea to the Swedish coast, around the island of Rügen in Eastern Germany and Fünen and the Danish „South Sea“, on the coasts of the North Sea or in the Mediterranean – and all the Centreboarders have performed well.

blue.gif (104 Byte) Finally, a word about the „Elb-“H-Jolle“ “, familiar to the citizens of Hamburg

The still gunter sailed Centreboarder is a development of the end of the 20s dependent on the region. It is shorter and higher-boarded than the Berlin model „H-Jolle“ but on the whole fits better to the rougher conditions of the Elbe-adapted design to the measurement of the „H-Jolle“ s- class , and so, not being an autonomous One-Design-Class class, carries the „H“ on the sail.

At present, in Germany there are still more than 400 classical „H-Jolle“ s registered, built in solid wood .
About 100 of them were built before the War and are, therefore older than 60 years. The association of „H-Jolle“ s is organising several oldie- or traditional meetings annually. More and more sailors take part in the events of „Freundeskreis klassischer Yachten“ (friends of classic-boats).

We have got connections to Switzerland where the „H-Jolle“ is being sailed as well ... and will maybe start some to Poland, where at the end of 1940 a Polish 15-Square Metre national H-Class – following the German H-Class – was founded, which named after the War until today “Omega class”.

Michael Krieg (e-mail:

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