Iain Oughtred’s first boating experience was in his native Australia where he spent six years racing 12′ centreboard boats like the National Gwen 12, designed by Charles Cunningham. Before leaving the country, he built seven boats and won two National Championships. He ended up drawing the official plans for the Association.
Later, Iain spent several years touring in his van and building mountain dulcimers and doing leather work.
He has worked with several Naval Architects and yacht designers as well as with a modern boating magazine selling plans and books.
While in Norway, Iain became fascinated with the local boats, captivated by their beauty and simplicity, as well as the skill and efficiency of the local boatbuilders. He appreciated the perfection of form evolved over hundreds of years, the ways of working, the ways of being, and the satisfaction in creating beautiful things.
He went on to establish boatbuilding workshops in Bristol and by the River Thames where he designed and built the first Acorn Skiff. WoodenBoat featured the design and began selling its plans. Iain continued working on a series of designs for amateur builders, but slowly, while he gained sufficient experience. Living mainly in London, he took on part-time, non-boat-related jobs to pay the rent. Unable to afford a boat of his own, he sailed a radio-controlled Marblehead model. Eventually, income from the WoodenBoat Store plan sales made it possible to work on the designs full-time, although it was 60 + hours a week at less than £1 an hour for quite a while.
Back in Australia for two years, Iain designed and helped build a 29′ double-ended raised-deck cutter. He also designed, built, and raced International Moths of the late scow type. For Bob Ross’s Australian Sailing magazine, Iain wrote series of articles on boatbuilding.
Iain compiled and edited the book Wooden Boatbuilding in Britain. He’s been involved with the first Wooden Boat Shows at Greenwich, and the Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association.
Finally, Iain obtained a boat of his own, a fine old 16′ Hornet for which he paid £75. Later, an International 10 Sq M Canoe came to be his.
In the U.S., Iain worked informally at WoodenBoat for six months, designing, writing, photographing, and modelmaking. He claims to have learned more in those six months than in three years working alone!
Other interests include calligraphy, modelmaking, photography, and traditional music.
Finally, in 1989, Iain came “home” to Scotland. He arrived originally to race 10 Sq M Canoes, but never left, living in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Findhorn. He continued to build more prototypes of his designs, and developed a series of double-enders. He benefits from sailing in the Raids (small boat cruises in company), which were very intense and demanding. It’s an entire season’s experience stuffed into a week.
Iain moved to Isle of Skye in 2001 and continued designing, building and sailing. He loves living on one of Scotland’s Western Isles, surrounded by many creative people and a good traditional music scene. His work keeps him too isolated, he feels.
For travel, Iain has attended boat festivals in Tasmania, Holland, and Mystic Seaport. He spent an additional three weeks at WoodenBoat, where he felt right at home with the work, the place, and the people.