Class of March 2012

The Class of March 2012 started on Monday 12th 2012. As is usual with Boat Building Academy students they come from a wide range of backgrounds but have one common aim – to learn the craft of modern and traditional boat building.

Over 38 weeks the group have developed their woodworking skills (some were absolute beginners, some had used a chisel before), worked with plastics, learnt lofting, made oars and more… they moved downstairs to the main workshop in June and started building their boats with the incentive of the Class of September 2011’s launch to spur them on. Not that it’s competitive…

They launched in December 2012. See our Events page for photos.

Dominik Gschwind

While travelling the world with his family the sight of the boats in Novia Scotia gave Dominik the final push to pursue his passion for boats.  Dominik is an architect and has run his own practice in Zurich for the last seven years.  Dom’s goal is to combine his two passions by working in both architecture and boat construction.

Dom is keeping a blog of his time here, Boat Builders Diary.


Don Smith

Don finished college a year ago, where he studied English, Film, Psychology and Environmental Science. During his studies, Don also worked as a Green Keeper at Slinfold golf and country club and continued to do so for a year after. Don decided not to go to university, and instead, chose to look for a more practical course. When he found the Academy on the internet, he knew straight away that it was something he wanted to pursue.

Ewan Thomson

Ewan joined the Academy from his home on Skye. Since leaving school he has worked in various practical roles from timber framing and gardening to boat repair. But boat maintenance work stole his attention when he fitted out a plastic dinghy, repaired a clinker boat, did some boat painting and a spot of fibre glassing. Ewan joined the course to gain more experience with different construction types and designs with a particular interest in wooden boats. Ewan eventually wants to start his own boat building business.

Geoff Foulkes

Geoff has worked in a number of different fields, including volunteering for the British Heart Foundation and working for a software testing company.  After completing a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2010 at City University London, Geoff decided he wanted a more hands-on, practical career.  He has undertaken various woodworking projects for family and friends, building a garden bench and gate and carving an eagle.  He is currently making a Victorian sweet cart for a friend’s wedding reception in his spare time.  As for the future, Geoff will see where the course takes him.

Ivan Cave

Ivan grew up in South Africa but has lived in Australia for most of his life.  His first significant boating experience was in 1978 when he joined the crew of ‘Alvee’, a John Alden schooner, in Malta.  Ivan met his wife Jacqueline after hitching a ride on a 40′ steel cutter from South Africa to Sydney and consequently took Australian citizenship in 1980.  Ivan retired from his job as a Sales Administrator and is now starting to live his dream of working with boats.


Before joining the Academy Jack was a dog of leisure, whiling away the hours at his local grooming parlour ‘Short Bark and Sides’.  He is now being trained intensively in wood chewing, barking at the router, swimming and stealing sandwiches.

Jade Randell

After 20 years working in the construction industry Jade needed a challenge.  He wanted to improve his carpentry skills, broaden his horizons and provide a good environment for his family.  Jade loves the sea and is relishing the opportunity to live, surf, learn and work on the coast.  Jade and his wife’s second child will launch in December… at around the same time as the group launch their boats.  After the course Jade is looking for work in a traditional boatyard.

Jim Higginson

Jim completed an art foundation course, gaining skills in drawing, sculpture and metalwork.  He started a BA in Painting at Canterbury Christchurch but, after the first year, realised he wanted to follow a more vocational path.  Jim knew he wanted to be a craftsman of some sort but it wasn’t until he built a skin-on-frame canoein his spare time that he realised boat building was the craft.  After completing the course Jim wants to gain experience in the industry and then think about setting up his own business.

Kyle Paternoster

Sailing was a childhood passion for Kyle who has raced boats since the age of ten.  He gained a degree in Marine Sports Technology at Portsmouth University which included modules on Naval Architecture and Boat and Yacht Design.  Since then Kyle has crewed on yachts, most recently a Swan 82S across the Pacific.  Kyle’s range of RYA qualifications include Yacht Master Offshore, Dinghy Instructor and Powerboat L2 Tidal.  He studied Marine Surveying through distance learning and in May received a dinstinction in his final exam.

Louis Rhoades

Louis recently gained ‘A’ Levels in Business, Biology, Media and Photography.  He stumbled across the Academy while visiting his grandparents in 2008 and was fascintated by what was being created in the workshops.  He enjoys surfing and has his surfboard in Lyme but is still waiting for some swell…

Mark Bestford

Mark Bestford

Mark returned to England two years ago after serving in the Merchant Navy followed by 22 years in the Royal Navy. Upon leaving the Royal Navy Mark went on to work in various roles including yacht skipper, sailing instructor and private charter skipper; with his wife he managed a yacht charter base in the West Indies. The course will lead to enhanced opportunities in the marine industry. With such a wealth of experience behind him we look forward to seeing where the wind takes him after the course.

Paddy Uniacke

Paddy successfully graduated as a Deckhand on a Tallships Youth Trust voyage in 2007 and has since spent time working in Australia and New Zealand. One of his many and varied jobs included a stint at Freshwater Bay Shipwrights in Perth. Since returning to England Paddy has worked in various jobs but is now starting his long term career. On completion of the course Paddy plans to take his new skills to Canada.

Patrick Hughes

After following Product Design at ‘A’ level with a degree in Graphic Design and Communications Pat looked for a practical way to turn the qualifications into a career.  He had enjoyed wood carving and wanted to gain experience of wood construction.  This led him to the Academy where he joined the 8 week ‘Woodworking Skills’ course in January 2012.  Seeing what the students were learning and producing on the 38 week course decided him to further develop his woodworking skills.  He plans to put his own skills to work by making guitars and boats.

Rob Hounslow

Rob grew up around water, his father runs a fish farm on the River Kennet, but doesn’t sail.  Over the years Rob has covered almost every job on the farm, including working with green oak and making bridges and jetties.  Wanting to master a craft Rob joined the Academy to learn boat building.  His hobbies include camping, walking, swimming, playing the guitar and bushcraft.  At the end of the course Rob will find work in the marine industry.

Ryan Gostick

Ryan has spent 10 years working on various construction sites, mainly with ‘Kayam’, building structures for theatre and concerts.  Working with ‘Kayam’ involved travel, which is one of Ryan’s passions.  Ryan thoroughly enjoyed restoring a small fibre glass boat, but wants to improve his woodworking skills and work with wood.  After the course he will find a job in the marine industry.

Scott Russell

Scott, aka ‘Scoot’, served for 23 years as a Chief Artificer in the Royal Navy stationed at Gosport.  Although Scott has spent over 2000 days at sea he claims to know nothing about boats.  He is now on a sabbatical and getting back into civilian life… he says he hopes the Academy will cure his laziness.  After graduating Scott hopes to find a future in building innovative festival pods.  Scott’s dog, Jack, has joined the Academy pack.

Tim Talo

After completing a Degree in Photography at Staffordshire University two years ago, Tim saw the Boat Building Academy demonstrating at Art in Action, Oxford. Tim was drawn to the Academy’s stand in the woodworking marquee and decided the 38 week course could help him realise his dream of working with wood. Tim has done a number of jobs, including portering for the NHS, helping set-up exhibitions for Bedford Creative Arts and volunteering on a working farm. He has also worked on a restoration project involving general building and restoring furniture. After the course Tim would like to work for a large company to gain experience before eventually setting up his own business.

Will Hide

Will started sailing with his family at the age of three and from 15 was restoring and selling boats in his spare time starting with a Hurley Felicity 20.  Will is restoring a boat in his spare time while at the Academy… which means he doesn’t mind working long hours.  He has an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualification and since finishing his ‘A’ Levels has travelled throughout Kenya and southern Africa.  Two weeks’ work experience with a marine engineer in 2008 confirmed Will’s dedication to working with boats.  Will wants a thorough understanding of boat building techniques and to work in a yard after the course.

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