RL 24 History
Over 50 years ago, a keen yachtsman and professional boat builder named Rob Legg began toying with the notion of a new concept in sailing craft. Rob sought to design a boat which:
had sleeping accommodation for at least 4 people,
was fast, safe and exciting to sail,
was simple to rig and handle, and
could be trailed easily behind the average family car thus giving access to sailing waters all over the country.
The idea and the design for such a trailable yacht would not go away. Eventually, Rob drew out the lines of a prototype boat that he called "Tiki".
He built her in ply in the late 1960's and "Tiki" thus became the prototype and forerunner of what has become arguably one of the world's most versatile trailable yachts, the RL24.
After some years of sailing and refining "Tiki" on most of the waterways of the eastern seaboard of Australia, including the Gippsland Lakes, Rob was persuaded to begin manufacturing the RL24. In 1974 or thereabouts, the first fibreglass examples of the class emerged from the Shark Cat factory on the Gold Coast in Queensland. These first RL24s were known as the Mark 1 RL24. They were lightweight, had a 100kg Swing Keel, had internal ribbing on the cabin floor area, and a small anchor well on the foredeck. They were an instant hit with the sailing community and numbers quickly multiplied particularly in Queensland and Victoria.
Always on the look-out for opportunities to improve the boat, Rob introduced what has become known as the RL24 Mk.2 in early 1976. This version of the boat had the cabin moulding modified to lift the cockpit floor thus giving much more space in the quarter berths. Equally as important was the widening of the cockpit coamings which, by eliminating the dreaded "gunwhale bum" was an improvement applauded heartily by all RL24 sailors. The Mark 2 came with a heavier 125Kg swing keel.
In late 1977, Rob set up his own boat building operation named, not surprisingly, Rob. Legg Yachts Pty Ltd. To celebrate, this courageous move, the company released a new model of the RL24, (the Mk.3) which had 100mm added to the hull freeboard giving more headroom inside the cabin area as well as in the rea quarter berths, a new interior furniture moulding, and a heavier 140 Kg swing keel.
The result was a huge improvement in the boat's accommodation while retaining its exceptional sailing and handling characteristics. The first Mark 3 RL24s appeared at the RL24 National Championships held at Barmera on Lake Bonney in South Australia's Riverland district in January 1978. Rob also recognised a growing cruising market for the RL24 and produced a cruising version of the Mark 3 RL24. The cruising version was very similar to the racing version while having a smaller mast length (30cms less), slightly reduced mainsail area and a heavier 180kg swing keel. Since the introduction of the Mark 3 RL24, there have been no further modifications to the hull design.
However, the cockpit moulding was changed in the late 1980's to allow the outboard motor to be retracted into the hull more readily and an alternative "sports" interior moulding without icebox or stove bench was introduced to cater for the club racer with no cruising ambitions. These changes lead to the final Mark 4 version of the RL24 to be offered in Australia. At about this time, a drop keel configuration was also offered, the instant improvement in overall performance being such as to make the drop keel version a very popular and widely accepted option. The drop keel version was promoted as the ‘racing Mark 4 RL24’.
Towards the end of the 1980's, Rob retired from his business. Unfortunately, without his eye for innovation, a succession of subsequent owners saw the business decline to the point where production ceased altogether in the early 1990’s.