28 September 2012

Featured Blog - Chevalier Taglang

This is an great blog by Fran├žois Chevalier and Jacques Taglang for those interested in yacht design.  While the blog is set up in French, my understanding is that Francois and Jacques create design drawings of various yachts from their observations of photos or other media, and also come up with their own concept drawings. 

Current featured designs include the ETNZ catamaran, and comparisons with Artemis' contender.

Other interesting designs include the Volvo 70s from the recent edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the famous Australia II, and an interesting maxiscow (100ft) concept based on the recent Mini-Transat winning scow design by David Raison.  The advantages of this design approach may be compelling, but the aesthetic result may take some time to get used to!

Visit the Chevalier Taglang blog at:


Foiling Fantastic

Here's some more footage of ETNZ's first catamaran up and foiling from 6 September. Hopefully if NZ wins the Cup back these boats might get unleashed on a bigger course than will be possible in San Francisco, like to Little Barrier and back!

22 September 2012

RAYC Gold Cup

The first race of the 2012-13 RAYC Gold Cup series was held on Saturday 22 September. The race was a 30 miler, starting off Orakei Wharf and taking the 25 boat fleet around Rangitoto and Motutapu, to Motuihe and eastwards to Passage Rock, and then back to the finish at Orakei.  Conditions were great, with a 15knot easterly, occasionally tending nor'east, and sunny skies. 

Power Play (Farr 40) on the tight reach to Rangitoto Light

The new Elliott 13.55 Crusader made her maiden race appearance, sporting black sails with square-top mainsail and a long prod. She made quite a sight under a big gennaker on the broad reach home from Passage Rock.

Mercenary (SR26)
The fleet made their way out the Rangitoto Channel with sheets started, before a beat up to Billy Goat Point at the northern tip of Motutapu.  May boats hoisted gennakers for the short run down to Motuihe, finding themselves have to extend the range of these sails as the wind came further aft as they headed further west to round Motuihe Red buoy.  The beat up the Waiheke Channel was shifty, but boats that set themselves up near the Waiheke shoreline made the most gains from the lifts coming off that shore. 

Overload and Mercenary
River Rebel, Starlight Express (Davidson 55) and Power Play
Mr Roosevelt on the beat to Passage Rock
Overload lights up on the reach down to Motuihe Channel
Urban Cowboy - when good gybes go bad

The spinnaker ride home was fairly easy for most boats, and made for a great end to the day.  An increase in wind strength at the finish led to a few issues for crews, with a couple of gybes being necessary to lay the finish from Bean Rock lighthouse, and Urban Cowboy lost some valuable minutes and placings with a gybe that didn't quite come off....

The Carkeek 50 Equilibrium led the fleet home by a large margin, and River Rebel took PHRF honours, followed by the White 40 WhitebaitCrusader finished about 25 minutes after Equilibrium, but with an initial PHRF of 0.975 finished well down the results sheet with a 19th.

Full results are here: http://rayc.org.nz/gold-cup/#results, and more photos here: http://www.facebook.com/RichmondYachtClub

20 September 2012

RNZYS Club Marine Winter Series - Windy Final Day

Mojo, Elliott 40, 4th overall A Division (PHRF)
The final day in the ten race series for the RNZYS Club Marine Winter Series was held in fresh conditions on 15 September, with the wind reported to be blowing up to 40 knots. Small jibs and reefs were the order of the day, and plenty of thrills and spills were had for those who carried extras. Here are a few shots taken by intrepid roving cameraman Stephen Craig.

Pacific Sundance, Farr 40 One Tonner, 3rd overall B Division (PHRF)

Revolution, Farr 1104, 3rd overall C Division (Gen H'cap)

Playbuoy, 1st overall line, 2nd overall Gen H'cap (Stewart 34 Division) 

Featured Blog - shockwave40

Juno (GBR), Admiral's Cup 1991
This blog provides an interesting collection of photographs of IOR racing yachts from the late 1980s and early 1990s, compiled by a keen English yachtsman who has been busy converting his original print archives to electronic files. There is a particular focus on a range of international yachts that competed in the 1989 and 1991 Admiral's Cup, the prestigious offshore team's racing trophy sailed from Cowes and which was once acknowledged as the unofficial world championship of offshore racing (won by New Zealand just once, in 1987).  The collection includes a couple of the New Zealand champion One Tonner, Propaganda, which had been a member of the 1987 NZ team that finally took the trophy in 1987.

Propaganda, Admiral's Cup 1989
Visit at www.shockwave40.blogspot.com
Larouge, Farr Two Tonner (ITA), Admiral's Cup 1991

Farr 920 (Half Tonner)

Gitchy Goomy (photo Farr Yacht Design)
This is the first of a series that profiles the yachts featured in my book 'A Lighter Ton', and other interesting yachts. The Farr 920 was designed by Bruce Farr in 1975 (Design no.54) as a Half Tonner under the International Offshore Rule (IOR), with a rating of 21.7ft. It achieved great popularity, with over 50 boats built, in both racing/cruising production versions, and as with its bigger sister the One Ton class Farr 1104 (Design no.51), it is a nice racer-cruiser that still looks fast today. It was detailed for fibreglass construction in New Zealand and Japan, and in wood in Germany.


The design was the first Half Tonner by Farr since his breakthrough boat Titus Canby (1972). Farr described the improvements over his earlier design in an interview in 1976 - "She is nearly a metre longer and ten percent lighter than Titus Canby. That means she can have more sail area. She will be more powerful with a higher ballast ratio, but less wetted surface, and that means she will go a whole lot faster." Its hull shape was a development of the bigger 1104, being finer forward, slightly beamier in the mid-section and flatter aft, with a displacement of 2,220kg.  The keel was of a high aspect ratio, and the rudder a new design aimed at improved control.

Farcical (photo Greg Paul)
The design quickly established its pedigree on its debut in 1976 and accumulated a long string of good performances in New Zealand regattas. The New Zealand Half Ton Nationals in early 1977 saw a number of the boats competing, but the top performer, Cotton Blossom, had to be content with second place behind the more radical Paul Whiting centreboarder Newspaper Taxi. Two boats competed in the New Zealand Half Ton trials in October 1977 for the Half Ton Cup in Sydney - the Paul brothers' Farcical and Roy Dickson's Instinct, the latter having been converted to a centreboarder.

However, in a short space of time before the trials, the design had been affected by changes to the IOR that penalised broad sterns, and was outclassed by the new centreboard designs by Farr (Gunboat Rangiriri and Swuzzlebubble) and Laurie Davidson (Waverider) that had arrived on the scene in mid-1977.

Cotton Blossom during the 1977 New Zealand Half Ton national championships
Australian Farr 920 Vitamin C at speed (photo Chris Furey)
Vitamin C mixing it up with Three-Quarter Tonners circa-1976 (photo Chris Furey)
Farrgo, GBR (photo www.shockwave40.blogspot.com), below Cotton Blossom in recent times

Farr 920, USA, sporting a cut-down Mumm 30 main

17 September 2012

ETNZ America's Cup Challenger - Up and Foiling

Spotted around Auckland recently, ETNZ's powerful and impressive America's Cup catamaran, sporting a huge articulated wing, and, we have recently learned, foils on her appendages.  The cat seems able to foil on just one centreboard and rudder, and it is hard to imagine how they are able to support the weight and load of the hulls and rig above.

The TV3 news crew got a first hand look recently:

And ETNZ posted some footage too:

and the crew bought the monster through the Friday Night Rum Race fleet last Friday, demonstrating the obvious confidence the crew have in manouevring the boat in close quarters, and the confined spaces of the Waitemata Harbour (see more at http://www.sail-world.com/NZ/Americas-Cup:-Emirates-Team-NZs-Foiling-Flypast-on-the-Waitemata/102022).

As exciting as it all looks, apparently it's not yet certain that teams will use foils in the Cup itself, and the trick will be to determine if the extra speed downwind will offset the drag when sailing upwind when the boat is not foiling.


Rum racers got a close up view of the Red Rocket on Friday

14 September 2012

SSANZ Two handed series 2012

Andar (Longhaul Division) returning home
The SSANZ (Shorthanded Sailing Association of New Zealand) B&G Triple Series just completed with the third race on 8 September (the 100 miler).  The forecast was for very fresh conditions from the nor-west, and for the 'Longhaul' fleet the trip out to Channel Island encountered extreme conditions, forcing the retirement of many of the boats, and all of the multihulls.  Mike Elly, sailing his White 40 Nosaka in the Longhaul 1 Division, described the conditions on their attempted approach to the Channel Island turning point: "Wind was mid 30's and we were getting laid over but still hanging in there until we got to the mounting sea state. Wave sets were about half the boat length and breaking sets were fully vertical. We were pulling off hard at the tops to soften the blow and landing on our side, full rail and stanchions under. The keel bulb was flexing torsionally so much from the impacts that it sent a second shudder up through the fin and shocked the boat each landing. We then started to encounter more breaking sets. Several of them were so vertical that they knocked us down then the whole wave broke over the whole length of the boat at one time."

Quarter Pint (Farr 727) on the beat from Auckland Harbour to Navy Buoy (Whangaparaoa)

Conditions closer to the land were at the limit but saw a much higher percentage of the Shorthaul and Smallboat fleets crossing the finish line late at night, many with tales of reefs, small headsails, granny gybes and hair-raising gennaker rides. I competed with my brother in the Smallboat division on our Tracker, and had a solid race coming in 4th on PHRF for second overall. 

See results at http://www.ssanz.co.nz/results.html?id=74)
Photos of the Longhaul start at http://www.oceanphotography.co.nz/lightbox/index.php?module=media&pId=100&category=gallery/Ocean-photography/Marine-events/SSANZ1002012.
Wind picking up on the two-sail reach to Gannet Rock

A Lighter Ton - Reviews

Reviews and testimonials -

Peter Montgomery (MBE):

New Zealand sailing had an unprecedented explosion of growth, development and influence during the 1970’s. Richard Blakey has compiled an extensive record and reference of that exciting era that changed World Sailing.

John Macfarlane (Boating NZ magazine, May 2012):

This excellent and overdue book, A Lighter Ton, chronicles the history of the champion New Zealand light displacement International Offshore Rule (IOR) yachts that were so dominant in the mid to late 1970s.

Blakey has carried out an excellent job of researching through the various books, magazines and reports of the period, and interviewing key players such as designers Bruce Farr and Laurie Davidson.

While A Lighter Ton goes into considerable detail about the designers, the IOR rules, the yachts, the sailors and the key regattas of the period, it remains eminently readable.

It begins with why and how the IOR rating system came into being in 1968, then goes on to tell the story of how the designs of Farr, Davidson and the late Paul Whiting came to totally dominate the various IOR Ton classes. Their light displacement designs, especially those built for the 1977 season, made other IOR yachts obsolete.

Blakey’s book also tells the somewhat unsavoury story of how the powerful European and American establishment fought back to protect the value of their superceded yachts. The 1978 IOR rules changes implemented by the Offshore Racing Council (ORC) put the brakes on significant race yacht development by a decade or more.A Lighter Ton will be of keen interest to knowledgeable mature yachties of the era and younger readers interested in the genealogy of the modern race yacht. To those people – and you know who you are – A Lighter Ton belongs on your bookshelf. It’s certainly on mine.

Kevin Dibley (Naval Architect, Dibley Marine):

…the book is out and it’s a must read for those who have an interest in the historical aspects of New Zealand yacht racing of that era. In fact it was in the late 60’s and 70’s that catapulted NZ onto the international stage as designers and sailors, and this book covers it well. We highly recommended the read. All the well known yachting characters of today that came from that famous era are there, and the book is hard to put down.

Seahorse Magazine (June 2012):

Look up Richard Blakey's (fascinating) new book, A Lighter Ton, chronicling the story of how the great Kiwi 'light' designers changed offshore racing in the 1970s and 80s.

12 September 2012

A Lighter Ton - the book

Welcome to my first post! As stated in my profile, the impetus for this blog is my book that was published in March 2012 - 'A Lighter Ton: The Champion New Zealand Yachts of the 1970s' (186 pages, and featuring 76 photographs and 15 drawings, including lines plans).

The book tells the story of how New Zealand designers, Bruce Farr, Laurie Davidson and Paul Whiting, changed the face of international racing yachts during the 1970s in the level rating offshore classes – the ‘Ton’ boats.

The book traces the origins of the International Offshore Rule (the IOR), how it worked and its development in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It then examines the emergence of a new and light displacement approach to the Rule, one that allowed for greater speed for less cost, leading to boats that were more exhilarating to sail and would point the way to a more exciting future in yacht design.

Reaction to this new breed was not universally positive, however, and this book follows the changes to the Rule that were designed to safeguard a peculiar status quo, boats that were typically wider, heavier and slower for their size. The issues raised by the new boats came to a head for the 1977 One Ton Cup series held in Auckland, and the Australian Southern Cross Cup series of the same year, and lead to rule changes that would affect the face of offshore yacht design for many years. This book is a celebration of the yachts that, although practically ruled out of the sport, showed the potential and promise of a lighter Ton…

See the reviews here.

Although the printed version of the book sold out, an Amazon Kindle version is now available here.