Will Lesh, Tippecanoe Boats Owner and Designer, and Trans-Atlantic Sailor
Welcome to Tippecanoe Boats, founded by Will Lesh in 1983. For over 30 years we have been producing the highest quality of model sailboats, toy sailboats, and Radio Controlled model sailing boats in the world. Over 70,000 Tippecanoe model sailboats are sailing in more than 65 countries. No other company produces the fine sailing and traditionally elegant boats that are the hallmark of Tippecanoe Boats. We believe that every boat that leaves our shop in Washington State should be a boat we would be proud to own ourselves. Every boat should sail beautifully, fast, and provide hours of fun and excitement.
The wonderful tradition of beautifully crafted wooden model sailboats has been around for a long time. Model boats have been found in the pyramids of Egypt, and although these models may not have actually sailed, we can picture the children of the period floating these along the banks of the Nile. In the early 1800’s, ponds in Paris became famous due to the ability to rent and sail model boats on them. Model boats at Central Park’s Conservatory Waters were immortalized in E. B. White’s classic story “Stuart Little” where the crowd gets so excited watching the model yachts the Wasp and the Lillian B. Womrath racing that the policeman trying to hold the crowd back falls into the pond. Later, companies such as Jacrim-Seaworthy Keystone and Star Yachts of Birkenhead began producing model boats with realistic sailing performance and sleek, elegant wooden hulls. It was these boats that Will Lesh and his sister grew up sailing every summer on Lake Tippecanoe in Indiana. When these companies closed down in the mid and late 1900’s there was no one left to continue the tradition of building beautifully crafted wooden model sailboats.
Not wanting this wonderful tradition to be lost forever, Will Lesh founded Tippecanoe Boats in 1983. Ever since his childhood of sailing model yachts at Lake Tippecanoe and racing full sized boats on the Chesapeake, Will has been passionate about sailing. He built his own 24 foot sailboat from Western Red Cedar and sailed it across the Atlantic Ocean in 1981! All this experience on the water with boats of all sizes made Will the perfect person to continue the tradition of beautiful model sailboats. Will says that “It has been in memory of those many happy hours [on Lake Tippecanoe] that I have brought these beautiful toy sailboats back to life.” Tippecanoe Boats is the only remaining company producing wooden model sailboats that really sail.
Will sailing his 24-foot sailboat, Gimble, across the Atlantic
The company initially offered our beautiful 18 inch T-Class or T18 Racing Sloop, of which there are now over 18,000 sailing around the world. Next, we added our 15 inch boat originally called the T-Class Junior, but now know as our T15 Racing Sloop. This wonderful model yacht received the Parent’s Choice Award in 1998 due to its high-quality material and instructions, as well as its sailing performance and inability to capsize. The last of the Free Sailing model boats to join our fleet was the T12 Racing Sloop, which has now become a favorite.
Will working at our studio in Everson, WA
In 1990, when radio gear became more affordable and reliable, we began experimenting with early Radio Controlled model yachts. Our first radio controlled model was the T32 which was a hollow, hand-carved cedar hull. Sony Records purchased one of these beautiful sailing models to present to Shania Twain in 1995 to celebrate her winning the Grammy Awards. After the T32, we moved on to high-grade plywood hulls as seen in our T27 and T37 Racing Sloops. Will also developed the cedar planked hull of the T50 and T65 Racing Sloops, and recently added a carbon fiber hull to the fleet. Over the years we have developed some of the most sophisticated radio control yachts in the world, however, the winner in our Radio Controlled fleet has always been our 37 inch T37 Racing Sloop. With over 3000 now sailing, the T37 ranks as one of the largest radio control classes in the world.
Our mission is to continue the wonderful tradition of model sailboats, especially wooden model sailboats, that really sail. Our boats have provided thousands of hours of happy outdoors experiences for countless adults and youngsters. We hear back from owners almost every day about how much they enjoy their boats and how pleased they are that we are doing what we do. In their small way, model sailing boats make the world a better place for all of us.
Thanks for visiting Tippecanoe Boats!