Leader was one of the largest of the Brixham sailing trawlers, known, despite their Ketch rig, as the ‘Big Sloops’.
Leader, at 105 feet in length overall (LOA) including bowsprit, and displacing 110 tonnes, is the largest and oldest of the three Trinity boats. She carries 3,150 sq ft of sail on a gaff ketch rig, measures 80 ft on deck, has a beam of 19 ft and a draught of 10 ft. She is one of the largest class of sailing trawler. She was built in 1892 at W. A. Gibbs’ yard at Galmpton on the River Dart in Devon. She fished in UK waters until 1907, when she was sold to Swedish owners. She operated on Sweden’s west coast until 1970, when she became a sail training vessel for the Swedish Cruising Club.
In 1985 she moved to the west coast of Scotland where, as ‘Lorne Leader’, she was used for sailing holidays and charter for ten years. In 1996 she was brought home to South Devon, and operated from Dartmouth until 1999, when she became part of the Trinity fleet, based in Brixham.
Since that time, Leader has undergone a programme of restoration culminating in a £250,000 project to replace her decks, bulwarks and stanchions. The ‘Leader Project’, which was completed in May 2012, was part funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £170,000 and the cheque was handed over the Trinity by the Eastender’s actor Larry Lamb. More info can be found at the ‘Leader Project‘ page.
Down below, Leader has been fitted out for her modern role. She has accommodation for twelve guests and five crew, a large saloon area, modern galley, two heads (toilets), a hot shower, and a generator that supplies a ring main with 240v electricity. She has a well equipped navigation station with modern navigation equipment including radar, GPS and DSC VHF Radio.
Leader is rigged now just as she was when she fished under sail, over 100 years ago. She has a ‘Gaff Rig’, indicating that the Main and Mizzen sails are hoisted using a ‘gaff’, a spar attached to their upper side. The Ketch rig (two masts) was used to divide up the sail area, making each sail easier to handle by a small crew. The large number of sails (up to eight) makes it easy to ‘change gear’ by hoisting or lowering sails as required, depending upon the strength of the wind.
The Ketch rig is very versatile; good in light winds, when extra sails can be set (such as flying jib and mizzen staysail), good in heavy winds (she can sail under mizzen and staysail alone) and good for manoeuvring (the mizzen can be used to help to balance and turn the boat).