9 April 2021

SORC 1985

This article features some more great photographs from Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing from the 1985 SORC series, as well as commentary from a Seahorse article at the time. 

High Roler during the Boca Grand-St Petersburg race

The SORC was the premier offshore regatta in the US, and had begun to take on an international flavour, with the Germans attending in 1984 after their Admiral's Cup victory in 1983 turning up with Outsider, Container, Pinta and of course, Diva who took overall honours. For 1985 it was the turn of the Italians, who came in style following the 12m World Championships, with Brava, Gemini, Almagores, Nitissima and Templar's C. Nitissima, Gemini, and Brava all had class wins in one of the races, whilst Templar's C took an overall win in the 150 mile Ocean Triangle. It was also the year that brought the early-launched Whitbread race contenders to Miami, and was also unique in that for the first time the US would not be selecting their Admiral's Cup team from the SORC results, which would be held later in Newport, Rhode Island (and limited to yachts rating no more than 33.5ft). 

Matador crosses behind Kialoa 

The 75 boats that lined up for the 1985 SORC did not fail to impress with the high level of construction detail, finish, preparation, rigs and crew. Lightness and stiffness was pursued with high carbon fibre content for compressive and tensile strength, and US mast engineering on show with chemically etched and milled rigs with hydraulic check stays and rapid 'Farr' style tapers to 3ins diameter at the tip. Sails showed a myriad of construction techniques using the latest cloths such as warp inserted Kevlar laminates from Dimension and use of Kevlar tapes to link major load areas without the need for two-plying. 

Smiles, overall winner of the 1985 SORC

Eight different designers were represented in the top ten, with Farr and the Faroux, Finot, Berret designed Beneteau One Tonners having two apiece. Interestingly, even with all the competitive new custom boats hitting the water, production One Tonners took 1st, 2nd and 6th place, and One Tonners overall took out six of the top ten places, the other places by 42/43 footers. It had traditionally been the Europeans sailing the leading small boats, but this year the three US sailed One Tonners - Smiles a masthead J41, Glory a Beneteau 40 and Total Eclipse (ex-Geronimo) a Farr - came out on top. In the 1984 series another J41, Dazzler, placed third overall, and in 1985 Charlie Scott demonstrated the good all-round ability of the design to take the overall honours. The second-generation Beneteau One Tonners, Glory and Fair Lady (sixth) were 400kg lighter than the 1984 versions with a more hi-tech layup and attention to detail in construction of the ends to save weight. 

Total Eclipse rounds a leeward mark

While Farr had only two designs in the fleet, they took third and fourth overall, and was unlucky that Total Eclipse, the oldest boat in the fleet and skippered by sailmaker Bill Shore, did not win overall after posting 3/2/4, and then 2nd in the final race but then being let down in the Ocean Triangle (race 4) with a 52nd after sailing too long in the Gulf Stream. The other Farr boat the 43 foot Snake Oil, was leading overall after four races with two class wins. But the final Miami-Nassau race, once again, turned out to be a small boat procession with the fleet results in exactly the reverse order of size. Her 42nd in that race pushed her down to third overall.

Snake Oil tacks away from Sweden's Carat

Some of the best competition was in Class B, which was almost a Frers one design class with Morning Star, Nitissima, Fujimo, Tomahawk, Carat, Springbok and Jubilation battling it out, and John Kolius on Morning Star eventually taking the class win.

Springbok crosses behind Morning Star

In the Maxi fleet the Frers-designed Boomerang continued to dominate with five class wins although at times she was pushed by Matador (ex-Huaso). The challenge from the new Holland-designed maxi Sassy failed to materialise after she lost her rig in the Lipton Cup.

Overall winner of Class A, Boomerang

Sleeper, a Nelson/Marek 42 skippered by Lowell North, took three wins in Class D, one of the most competitive classes but finished second behind the Irwin 42 Slick

Brooke Ann

High Roler leading Sleeper and Razzle Dazzle

Lobo, helmed by Dennis Conner, third in Class D and tenth overall

Jubilation in startline action in Class B
Razzle Dazzle, an Irwin 42, showing her interesting chined stern sections while rounding a weather mark just behind Lobo

Class D boats prepare for a start during the 1985 SORC

10 October 2020

SORC 1983

This article features some great photographs by Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing from the 1983 SORC series, as well as some commentary based on a postscript article by Bruce Kelley in Seahorse magazine following the series.

Scarlett O'Hara leads Brooke Ann and Glory during the 1983 SORC

The 1983 edition of the SORC was given added significance being in an Admiral's Cup year. Amongst the US Admiral's Cup team hopefuls, the Soverel-designed Locura and Peterson 43 Scarlett O'Hara were the outstanding performers. The pair led the SORC from start to finish both overall and in Class D, with Locura leading up until the last race, the 26-mile Nassau Cup final off the Bahamanian capital. 

Scarlett starts ahead and to weather of Thunderbolt (Nelson/Marek 40, fifth Class D and sixth overall)

Before the first gun for the Nassau Cup race, Locura and Scarlett circled each other each looking for an opening that would give an important jump at the start. A general recall brought the fleet back for a re-start, where Scarlett manoeuvred herself crisply to break out of the pack into clean air. Locura found herself in front of Thunderbolt, who was coming in on starboard, and had to gybe twice, first to keep clear and then to get back on course. Scarlett went on to sail a flawless race to take first in Class D and third in fleet, while Locura, starting virtually last, did come back up the through the class but could only manage fifth, and 12th in fleet, by far her worst race of the series. This was however enough to take the win in Class D, while Scarlett finished second in class but first overall, and winner of the Governor's Cup. The share of the class and overall fleet wins by these two yachts was just the way to end a great series between these two yachts who proved themselves to be a notch above the rest of the fleet in every area that counts: boatspeed, crew-work, preparation, strategy and tactics.

Scarlett O'Hara getting a strong start in one of the races in Class D

Locura was genuinely quick and her crew had both the talent and depth to put her speed to good use. Scarlett was an interesting winner. She and her near sisterships (Louisiana Crude amongst others) started life as a stock, five-year old Serendipity 43, built by New Orleans Marine with a relatively unsophisticated hull layup, but despite a minor disadvantage in terms of weight distribution she was extremely well sailed by Chris Corlett and Dee Smith (of Horizon Sails at the time).

Celebration (Cook 40), fifth in Class E and 29th overall

Mea Culpa, a Frers 41 and skippered by Tom Blackaller, had a strong series to finish third in Class D, and third overall

Carat (ex-Retaliation), a Frers 51, took out overall honours in Class B (22nd overall)

A tightly packed bunch in Class D

Locura (right) chases two unknown yachts (left and middle)

The fleet corrected out very evenly in the Nassau Cup, with five of the six classes represented in the top ten. Razzle Dazzle beat out Morning Star for top honours in the race by a mere two seconds. Scarlett had secured third by just one second over John Buchan's new Peterson 42 Glory. Further back, just three minutes and 22 seconds separated Migizi in fifth from Fiji Warrior in 22nd. 

Artemis (Peterson 51) chases Carat on a tight reach in Class B racing

By winning their respective classes in this race, Morning Star sealed up Class C, Carat locked up Class B, and Kialoa IV secured Class A, while Migizi finally moved into first in Class F. Shenandoah finished fifth in Class E, beating her closest rival Evelution, by two places to win that class for the series. 

The stampede at a Class A start, with Running Tide ahead of Windward Passage, Boomerang and Condor

The win in Class A by Kialoa IV was achieved through a combination of good speed and tactics and few gear failures, and she prevailed over Windward Passage after two years of disappointment. The Pedrick-designed Nirvana, while less well placed in the results, nevertheless showed comparable speed upwind and down with perhaps a touch less ability upwind in a breeze. The two boats were closely matched with Jim Kilroy's experience and determination being the deciding factor.

The new Midnight Sun scored a third and fifth in the two races she sailed or completed.

Midnight Sun made an impressive showing in the two races that she completed particularly in light of her newness. Her performance and numbers made sense: she was by far the stiffest of the Maxis and carried the smallest rig relative to her displacement, and as might be expected she shone particularly in a breeze with the wind forward of the beam. Downwind Kialoa IV and Nirvana had an edge, but upwind, even in the light, the Peterson design had an advantage. 

Midnight Sun

The US team of Secret Love, Thunderbolt and Scaramouche, which was selected in a two-day series prior to the Boca Grande Race, beat the Canadian and Swedish teams to win the SORC team racing championship.This performance also gave the US the lead in the inaugural World Cup competition sponsored by Champagne Mumm. That series, which included the 1981 Southern Cross Cup, the 1982 Sardinia Cup and the 1983 SORC, would conclude with the 1983 Admiral's Cup, with the US and British teams in the front running. Locura and Scarlett practically selected themselves, and Shenandoah was picked as the third boat. They went on to finish third in the Admiral's Cup that year, but were well ahead of Britain in eighth, and so won the inaugural World Cup.

One of the US team yachts for the 1983 SORC, Bright Finish (Peterson 42) finished fourth in Class D and fourth overall

Morning Star (Frers 46), winner of Class C and fifth overall

Zero (Frers 51), finished third in Class B and 31st overall

Nice graphics, but boat name unknown (can anyone assist?)

Start of the Miami-Nassau race, Thunderbolt to weather and Scarlett can be seen half way down the line

A light air moment during the series, Shenandoah to the left

Canada's Amazing Grace VI (C&C 45) finished fifth in Class C and 19th overall

Evergreen (Frers 45) finished third in Class C and ninth overall

Stars & Stripes (Nelson/Marek 39), 16th in Class E and 58th overall

12 September 2020

Admiral's Cup 1979 - Part 3

This selection of photographs by renowned photographer Sharon Green were taken during the 1979 edition of the Admiral's Cup and featured recently on the Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing Facebook page. Sharon has kindly allowed me to reproduce her photos here - this second set are those that appear to be in the fresher conditions experienced in the second race of the series (2 August 1979), an inshore 28.5-miler. The breeze was up from the first race with the official results recording winds of force 4-6 gusting to 7, and the spring tides running with more vigour. The wind angle enabled use of the Royal Yacht Squadron's line for the start of a long uphill climb to the Delta buoy off Lymington. Ireland had a strong showing in this race, with the Holland 40 Regardless taking first place and her bigger Holland team-mate Golden Apple of the Sun taking second, but overall honours for the day went to Australia, with Police CarImpetuous and Ragamuffin taking third, fourth and ninth. 

Startline action with Argentina's Red Rock IV to leeward of Germany's Rubin, with Williwaw (blue bow) appearing to tack away

Rubin leads Eclipse and Imp (US-8990) with spinnakers and bloopers set

Australia's Ragamuffin thunders down the Solent with a fully powered spinnaker and blooper

Britain's Blizzard which is remembered in this race for a catastrophic navigation error when she headed off to the wrong mark halfway through the race, giving up a winning position and plummeting to a lowly 42nd place

Sweden's Midnight Sun, a Holland 50 rolls downwind, on her way to 28th in this race

Midnight Sun continues her roll as she passes by the photographer's boat - this may be shortly before another famous photograph of this yacht which can be seen here

Belgium's Indigo sailing upwind and on her way to 24th place

Above and below: Rubin (26th in this race) follows Canada's Magistri (52nd) and Australia's Impetuous (fourth)

A close up of the Evergreen crew as they work their way to windward (46th in this race) - note the bank of hydraulic switches used to control the complex rig

The Dubois Two Tonner design Winsome Gold (British yacht sailing for Brazil) begins a calamitous broach on the flat run - Evergreen can be seen in the distance in the process of dousing her blooper
Things start to get worse for Winsome Gold....
Just before the crash gybe...
Note the S-bend in the rig just after the gybe
Endgame for Winsome Gold, with quite a mess to be sorted - the broach and resulting damage to her rig forced her retirement from the race and the rest of the series
Midnight Sun sails upwind
Spanish yacht Campsa (the earlier Midnight Sun) puts her bow down on her way to finishing 14th in this race, with Golden Apple of the Sun (right, 2nd) and Jan Pott (20th) alongside
Holland's Formidable (18th) sails downwind with spinnaker and blooper in perfect trim

Other photographs from the second race can be seen in 'Part 1' here with other photos of the series available by clicking the 'Admiral's Cup 1979' label below.