These GRP Mirrors were produced from March 1986 onwards for Bell Woodworking by Ferranti. Just after, it would appear, Holt started to make an all GRP Mirror. At that time sail numbers were 68076 and above. They are easy to spot, they had hollow topsides (i.e. the hull sides above deck level) and very rounded corners inside the hull where the topsides meet the aft and the bow transoms, following in plan view, the profile of the normal bow shapes and quarter knees. Constructed using chopped strand mat. Similar deck layout to most wooden Mirrors (i.e. Mk2 interior) but no inner gunwales, no bow shapes or quarter knees.
Some of the buoyancy tanks may be connected via the hollow topsides (one boat had the bow tank connected to the stern tank !). The drip rail above the cuddies are wood.
The deck moulding is a little different to the Holt GRP boat. The (white, it always seems to be white) deck moulding stops at deck level & a seperate moulding (normally grey) filled the gap above the deck, hiding the deck mould to hull joint and rolled over the gunwale. The small radius, and colour change on the join between inner topside panel and deck is distinctive. This topside/gunwale design & construction is quite weak. These boats appear to have GRP thwarts.
This boat features on page 3 this Bell Mirror publicity leaflet, thought to date to 1993.
For the record, here is what information I have.
|68???||This boat has 'Bell' branding as seen in the photo on the 1993 publicity leaflet, so could well be the same boat.|
|68393 ? - Hippo|
|69510 - Maisy||As ever, we don't know if the Holt sails are the original ones, but Bell did switch to supply Holt sails, rather than Jeckells, at some time before 69679 was built.|
|69621||On Apollo Duck 2023, I have photos|
|70043||Hull built by Widebeam in 2000, understood to be a Bell/Ferranti style GRP boat|
|70111||It's thought the hull was moulded by Widebeam, so it was an asset when they went out of business in 2001 and was acquired by Trident-UK and then sold.|
These boats were not very popular, so not very many were made. They can be very heavy (one recorded at 85Kg, by comparison, the minimum hull weight of a Mirror is 45.5Kg). As they are chopped strand mat they are not very stiff. The come up on sites like E-Bay from time to time for around £500 - £800, probably best avoided if you want to race seriously.
Above are some photos of a Bell/Ferranti, number 68??? (using a borrowed mainsail and a spinnaker from a wooden boat, 68491). Note that if the boat has a GRP thwart the sail number is not stamped or recorded anywhere on the boat. This can make it difficult or impossible to work out the correct sail number (but they always start 68, or 69, or low 70, so 68*** or 69*** or 70***). The highest sail numbers I have come across are 70088, purchased from Bell/Widebeam in January 2001 and 70111 purchased from Trident-UK later in 2001.