6 October 2012

Fun (Davidson Quarter Tonner)

Laurie Davidson had made his mark in the early 1970s with his heavy displacement Half Tonners Blitzkreig and Tramp. However, after they had been beaten by Farr's Titus Canby, Davidson, as with Paul Whiting, began looking more closely at the light displacement concept, the validity of which had been further underscored by the success of the 727 design in the 1974 Quarter Ton Cup. He felt that the 727 and Titus Canby were too long in terms of rated length and disproportionately short on sail area. 

Davidson also sought to take advantage of the loophole in the IOR that had been exposed by the Britton Chance designed centreboarder Resolute Salmon in the 1976 One Ton Cup. With stability able to be achieved with internal ballast, the boat would gain a huge advantage over conventional fixed-keel Quarter Tonners, and so a centreboard was a designed as a central component of the yacht (the centreboard was just heavy enough to sink). The centreboard also allowed the yacht to be trailerable, so long as the beam was confined to the NZ trailering limit of 2.49m. A lifting rudder and skeg was contained in a cassette slot in the cockpit.
Fun soon after her launching in mid-1976
The boat was a beautifully proportioned design, with a graceful long sloping transom and a gentle slope to her stem, and featuring what would become the Davidson trademark curved forefoot. Two boats built in the US, but modified to meet more restrictive beam requirements and moded for lighter airs. The success of these boats convinced Davidson to proceed with his own version to challenge for the 1976 Quarter Ton Cup, named Fun.
Fun finishing second in the first race of the 1976 QTC

Fun wasn't launched in time for the 1976 NZ Quarter Ton nationals, but in the brief period before being shipped to Corpus Christi (Texas) she showed her competitiveness against the Whiting Magic Bus. Fun finished 5th overall in the Quarter Ton Cup, where a lack of time for tuning and crew training proved costly and meant that Fun was not able to reach her full potential, and a disqualification in the second race did not help her cause. Observers considered that Fun was the fastest yacht overall, however, especially on broad reaching legs

Fun sails to weather of the Holland design Business Machine (photo Gary Baigent Collection)
Fun's campaign to the US proved to be another one way trip for a New Zealand yacht, with return shipping costs being too high for a campaign run on a strict budget. Fun was sold to North American Clay Bernard, who went on to win the North American Quarter Ton championship with Fun in 1977.
Featuring new 1970s graphics, Fun went on to win the 1977 North American Quarter Ton championships with a come from behind win over the Peterson design Blitz
Fun went to the 1977 Quarter Ton Cup held in Helsinki where she finished a creditable 5th in a fleet of 53 boats, with results of 1/13/9/13/1. She started and finished well, and was a pre-series favourite, but fell away in the middle part of the series. She finished 2nd in the North American Quarter Ton series, but in a reduced fleet of just nine yachts.

Fun undergoes a stability test in Helsinki (Quarter Ton Cup 1977)
Fun, circa 1997
The yacht has since been restored and sails today in San Francisco - she now has a new retractable keel, and a transom mounted rudder, and a new custom design has provided the correct balance for the yacht.
 Fun as she is today in San Francisco, US (photo courtesy of Craig aka CRM)

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