3 October 2012

Magic Bus (Whiting Quarter Tonner)

Today's featured yacht is Magic Bus, a Quarter Tonner by the late Paul Whiting. Having seen the success of the light displacement approach by Bruce Farr with his breakthrough Quarter Ton design the 727, an optimised version of which won the Quarter Ton Cup in 1975 (45 South), Murray Ross approached Paul Whiting for a boat that took a more aggressive approach to the IOR, taking advantage of the light displacement concept but pushing her light air performance through a more optimised hull form to provide greater sail area. 

Paul Whiting delivered a very fast Quarter Tonner, that was slightly longer than the 727, with a much more pronounced maximum beam, hollow waterline for'ard and a long flat transom. Murray Ross applied his dinghy sailing prowess to the design of the rig and sails, incorporating many small boat tricks into the overall set up. These included headsails flown from their own wire luffs and spinnaker launching tubes which allowed sail changes to be largely managed from the cockpit.  

Magic Bus was launched in early 1976 in time to contest the Balokovic Cup, and easily won her division and would have won the overall fleet title had one been declared. She went on to contest the 1976 South Pacific Quarter Ton Cup, hosted by Panmure Yachting and Boating Club. The new boat put in a commanding performance, winning all but one race and against a large number of 727s and other top boats of the day. Her single loss was in a race that exposed her small Archilles heel - tight reaching. This was a result of excessive bow down trim which was rectified before she went on a one way trip to compete in the 1976 Quarter Ton Cup in Corpus Christi, Texas.  

Magic Bus during the 1976 South Pacific Quarter Ton Cup

Magic Bus and Potent Star
Magic Bus on her way to winning the 1976 Quarter Ton Cup
Magic Bus held out the Holland design Business Machine in the final ocean race by just over a minute to secure the narrowest of victories (with Business Machine finishing second overall), and thus defended the Quarter Ton Cup title won by 45 South the previous year. Magic Bus, and her fellow NZ competitor, the Davidson designed centreboarder Fun, were easily the best of the non-North American entries, and their respective placings prevented a clean sweep by US and Canadian yachts. Magic Bus was the outstanding boat of the series, and there was little doubt that her crew was one of the best as well. She was the only light displacement boat able to stay with the masthead yachts in winds under 5 knots. At the same time she was able to foot it upwind with the best moderate to heavy displacement boats, but was able to stretch away easily on the offwind legs.
Magic Bus in a close tussle with Business Machine
Magic Bus and the Farr One Tonner Sweet Okole seen here in San Francisco circa 1979 (photo CRM)

Magic Bus was sold in the US and never returned to New Zealand. She is now reportedly in Alameda, San Francisco, and will hopefully be restored one day. She was a very innovative design and an important boat for her designer. 
Magic Bus, now located in Alameda, California (photo Patrick Kohlman/Half Ton History website)
Update June 2015 - Magic Bus has returned to New Zealand - follow her restoration here.

1 comment:

  1. What a great effort to restore this famous yacht. Good to see she has returned to NZ.
    Jack Brinkman