Flying across the top of the Main Hall is our flotilla of small boats.

Boats powered by muscles, engines or by various shapes of sail; and?our Regatta of prize-winning racing sailing boats.

The earliest boats were muscle-powered and we have everything from a primitive dugout canoe powered by paddles to an elegant Thames rowing boat for leisure and pleasure.

Alongside these, the engine-powered boats include?Defender II,?an early stepless hydroplane; the world-record holding Venter or the sophisticated Albatross, plaything of the rich and famous in the post-war years.

Sails come in all shapes and sizes, designed to capture the wind as effectively as possible and to power boats up-wind and down-wind with ease. The sheer variety is eye-catching and we show some examples in traditional craft.

Our Regatta, contains the cream of the fleet: two of the boats won Olympic gold medals;?Ben Ainslie’s Rita at the Sydney 2000 games and?Superdocious (for short) at the 1968 Games in Mexico, skippered by Rodney Pattisson.

Thunder and Lightning was the first boat to use a trapeze competitively; and very successfully.?Dart No 1 and Firefly No 1 are both representatives of classes that have become classics of our time.

Visible in the round, this fabulous collection of significant boats?is accompanied by displays telling their histories and showing many of them in action.