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Bruce Bingham Turns 78 And Sails Wookie

Bruce first laid eyes on the Newport boats whilst serving in the navy in the late 1950’s. The character and ruggedness of these small lobster boats appealed to him and while still in the navy he sketched lines inspired by these. His concept was to design a rugged cruising sailboat with full headroom but within the minimum budget of amateur builders. In 1971, now out of the navy, and with his own naval architect office established, his design was finally published and the Flicka-20 was born. The word Flicka is Swedish and translates as a happy, vivacious little girl. Soon after Bruce constructed a detail plug in fibreglass of the hull. Bruce spent many hours on this project including the carving of the beautiful bow and quarter scroll work. At the same time his sailing partner Kate drew up the impressive planking lines which Bruce then carved into the plug. In 1974 Bruce finally got his Flicka which he named Sabrina and several years were spent sailing thousands of miles on the East Coast of the USA and as far away as Bermuda. A few years later s/v Sabrina was sold (a move he often regrets) and Bruce went on to design many other boats. If any of my readers know what happened to that Flicka please drop us a note as I feel many of us, and especially Bruce would be interested.

Yesterday (2nd March 2018) Bruce had an opportunity to sail on my Flicka-20. To celebrate his upcoming 78th birthday and the fact Wookie finally had a complete set of well-shaped sails I invited Bruce for a ride on his creation. I was thrilled when I heard him holler with glee that he would love to go out.

He showed up ready to sail with his lovely lady friend Judith Woodruff and off we went. Judith has her own 27 footer and was excited to join us and experience a boat she had heard so much about.

Lets Go Sailing Bruce




Having Bruce aboard Wookie was an absolute thrill. We raised the sails and he spent a few minutes feeling the boat before he looked over at me and said with a grin, “time to trim this baby”.

“Go for it”, I yelled back “but I have a surprise for you.”

I reached into my lazarette and pulled out a line for the tiller-lock as I watched the surprise on Bruce’s face. We set this up, balanced Wookie and let her sail herself. Bruce loved it.

Wookie Sailing With The Tiller-Lock As The Helmsman



The Happy Crew


Everybody had a turn at the helm although Judith turned on some soft jazz, went below for a couple of hours to take a nap and enjoy Wookie’s interior underway.



Sail-Wookie-Sail – Your Creator Is Aboard



We had an amazing day. The wind was great, Wookie performed beautifully, the sails were well shaped but most importantly the company was superb. All three were thrilled with the Flicka.

Bruce got to feel what it was like to be aboard his creation and Judith got to experience a boat she had heard so much about.

As for myself….what can I say. After 35 years of dreaming of a Flicka and reading about Bruce Bingham I got to spend an entire day sailing my dream and chatting with the man himself. Proof that dreams can come true. Lets do this again soon Bruce…..


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