Delaware River Tuckup

Welcome to, a website dedicated to the Delaware River Tuckup, a beautiful, historic and some say, insane, cat rigged sailboat that was a popular racer in the mid to late 1800's. On a given afternoon hundreds of 15' "hikers" of several different classes would hold races on the Delaware near Philadelphia. The Tuckup was a "4th class hiker," the smallest of the classes. Visit the History page for more in depth information.

The name comes from the way the stern is "tucked up" which required some twisting of wood and usually a "stealer" plank to make the turn. They were typically 15' in length, 4 1/2' in beam and carried a lot of sail for their size. The sail plans varied through the years and boats typically had two rigs, a racing rig and a somewhat more manageable pleasure rig. They were built lapstrake of white cedar over steamed oak or black locust frames.

Excerpts from the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1889:
“Tuck-up sailing is not always pleasant... The Tuck-up capsizes on the slightest provocation, and the yachtsman is always on the lookout for a ‘dump’. If a squall is seen approaching and it becomes necessary to lighten ship, the captain orders two or three of the best swimmers in the crew overboard and the obedient subordinates unhesitatingly take to the water, whether they are dressed in their Sunday best or only in working clothes. Sometimes they swim ashore, but usually a boat is close at hand to pick them up. The Tuck-up never takes in sail, but if a squall strikes her, over she goes."


So the question begs why would anyone want to preserve, restore or reconstruct such a vessel? First good reason is because it is one beautiful design!

This is Top Priority on display at Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum


And as Roger Allen says: "Why sail one now? Because unless you have, you’re not a real man! Unless you have, you’re not a Boatman, or a Waterman, or a complete sailorman. Unless you have sailed a Tuckup, you’re a lubber, and you should keep your eyes downcast when speaking in the company of real sailormen who have. Couldn't be any better reason than that except that when a Tuckup is cooking along with that big racing rig, it is a most exhilarating sailing thing to do with friends."

Tom Spider,
A glued lapstrake tuckup built by John VanSlembrouck of Stoney Creek Wooden Boatshop and launched in 2006.

Several tuckups were built in the 1980's using traditional construction and at least one using modern glued lapstrake. So there is a small fleet of existing tuckups, some that get to actively race. Click on the Fleet link on the top of the page to learn more about each one.