29 November 2012

Joe Louis (Farr Three-Quarter Tonner)

Following changes to the IOR that had penalised the wide sterns of the previous generation, Farr drew the first of his 1977 boats. This was a Three-Quarter Tonner named Joe Louis (Design 56), owned by French boxing champion Eric Simian and helmed by Flying Dutchman legend Yves Pajot.

Joe Louis was a fixed keeler, as at the time of her design it was expected that the centreboard loophole would be closed. There was also limited time available to design and build the yacht for the French Three-Quarter Ton trials. The design aimed to produce better all round performance than Farr's earlier designs, with length traded for sail area (similar to the Whiting response). With more changes to the IOR in the measurement of the stern area Farr sought to design cleaner aft end shapes by cleaning up the after girth stations and coupled this with narrower sections. A more upright transom allowed for more deck space. The yachts' concept was a forerunner of Farr's champion centreboard designs that would soon follow.

Joe Louis was an important transitional design as the first of a line of evolutionary designs tht were to follow, and because it was one of the earliest Farr yachts to be built in Kevlar and foam sandwich. This allowed a lower hull weight and for a high ballast ratio to be achieved (52%), although some internal ballast was removed to get the boat to the correct displacement. A small amount of ballast was also removed from the bottom of the keel to obtain the correct centre of gravity measurement.

Joe Louis made her debut at the La Rochelle Week regatta in May 1977 where she finished as overall winner.  At the Three-Quarter Ton Cup in August 1977, also held in La Rochelle, she came up against the lightweight Oesophage Boogie, designed by Jean Berret, and Drakkar, a centreboarder designed by Joubert & Nivelt, both very light and of wide beam. Drakkar was fast but lost its rig in the third race. Oesophage Boogie was also fast but lost out by doing poorly in the final light airs race. Joe Louis put in a more consistent performance, and although she won just one race she won the Three-Quarter Ton Cup comfortably. She was at least competitive in light weather, and demonstrated superior speed in windy conditions.

A production version of Joe Louis was to have been manufactured in England, but these plans had to be abandoned when the changes to the IOR took effect in 1978, raising Joe Louis' rating beyond the 24.5ft limit of the Three-Quarter Ton class (by a full 1.5ft). Staying in class was impossible to achieve while still maintaining good all round performance.

26 November 2012

Newspaper Taxi (Whiting Half Tonner)

Newspaper Taxi was designed by Paul Whiting in 1976 with an eye towards a challenge for the Half Ton Cup, to be sailed out of Sydney in December 1977. Newspaper Taxi was a development of Whiting's earlier Half Tonner Candu II, and was designed to take account of  the November 1976 changes to the IOR, the first in a tranche of rule amendments that sought to check the emerging trends in the New Zealand-style of yacht of light displacement and wider sterns. 
Newspaper Taxi on launching day - Westhaven, Auckland
 The broad aft sections of Newspaper Taxi were therefore designed to mitigate the new penalties in this area, and were offset in part by a shortening of the yachts' length between girths, and the forward depth measurement was pushed to the limit. A shortening of measured length allowed for an increase in sail area, yielding a better all-round yacht than Candu II.

The most obvious difference from Candu II was that Newspaper Taxi was a centreboarder. The advantages of this concept had been demonstrated by Resolute Salmon in the 1976 One Ton Cup, and Fun had provided more evidence of this at the Quarter Ton Cup as well.  The centreboard weighed only 92kg, and the boat otherwise relied on internal ballast and crew weight for stability. 

The engine was also designed for rating advantage - the 12hp diesel was positioned for'ard of the mast and slightly to port so that the shaft could clear the centrecase.

While Whiting chased everything possible regarding hull shape and appendages, Murray Ross pursued rig developments and new handling techniques and gear, with the same careful attention to detail that Ross had employed so successfully on the Quarter Tonner Magic Bus.
Showing her windward form in light airs, Half Ton Championship, Auckland 1977 (J Malitte)
The Whiting/Ross led team aboard Newspaper Taxi went on to produce a near flawless performance in the South Pacific Half Ton Championships held in April 1977 and hosted by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club. The series featured a wide cross-section of Half Ton designs, with 20 boats entered, the product of ten different designers, and only three boats had competed in the previous year's contest. 

A clear lead at the wing mark in the NZ 1977 series (J Green)
Newspaper Taxi asserted a demonstrable speed advantage in all conditions, combined with immaculate boat handling. She won four of the five races, losing first place in a close tussle with the custom Farr 920 Cotton Blossom which jumped on a rare tactical error by Ross in the fourth race.

While Newspaper Taxi had been designed and built with the Half Ton Cup in mind, the Whiting/Ross team elected to contest the One Ton Cup to be held in Auckland in November 1977. Newspaper Taxi was sold to an Australian yachtsman and is thought to have finished in ninth place in the Half Ton Cup.
At the Half Ton Cup - Sydney, Australia (December 1977)

22 November 2012

Southern Raider (Davidson 38)

Southern Raider was a Laurie Davidson design, built in Christchurch in 1981. She had a rating of 29.4ft, and was reasonably short for that rating, at 38ft, but sported a lofty fractional sail plan. She had a relatively brief but eventful career on the international offshore scene. 

Southern Raider during the 1982 Southern Cup trials (J Malitte)

Southern Raider was a member of the New Zealand team for the 1981 Southern Cross Cup, joining the Farr design Feltex Roperunner and the S&S Ngaruru, but their performance underscored something of a demise in New Zealand's offshore prowess at the time, with the team finishing sixth overall. The team's effort was not helped by Southern Raider's retirement on the first night of the Sydney-Hobart race following structural problems.

Celebrating their trials result (D Christie Collection)
Southern Raider was bought by John Stephenson shortly before the trials for the 1982 Clipper Cup, after seeing the performance of her Australian near-sistership Szechwan. She was sailed up from Lyttleton with only days to spare, and for most of the crew the first race of the trials was their first sail on the yacht.  She struggled in the first race with a torn mainsail and navigational errors, but bounced back to win the second and fifth races, to finish third overall, just one point off first placegetters the Lidgard 40 Dictator and the Frers 45 Solara.

The yacht joined the Lidgard 40s Dictator and Defiance in New Zealand's 'small boat' Green team. All three yachts were designed and moded for lighter airs than perhaps would be expected in Hawaii, but the signs looked promising when Southern Raider won the Sauza Cup warm-up regatta by one point from another Davidson design Sweet Caroline (Australia). 

Well reefed during the gale-afflicted 1982 Clipper Cup series, with US yacht Checkmate heading off downwind (photo J Malitte)
However, the New Zealand effort in the Clipper Cup itself was not helped by the fact that the series was affected by the presence of two hurricanes in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. Both New Zealand teams were significantly off the pace in these conditions, and the Green team's hopes were further dashed when the Japanese yacht Lazy Albatross managed to take out both Southern Raider and Dictator at the start of the last race.

Southern Raider on a fast reach (photo A Sefton)
The collision with Lazy Albatross split Southern Raider's foredeck across to the centreline and lifted the deck for several feet along the sheer. The crew were forced to retire from the race, which counted for triple points and saw Southern Raider slip well down in the overall standings to 35th place (following placings of 28/28/19/26/dnf), and sixth in class. Dictator also had to retire, and the Green team ended up ninth overall.

Southern Raider during the 1982 Clipper Cup series (photo J Malitte)
A year later, Southern Raider competed in the Auckland to Suva (Fiji) race - she finished in first place in both the Division A IOR and PHRF fleets, an impressive effort after breaking her tiller (and a crewman's finger) on the first day out, and steering the rest of the way with the jockey pole lashed to the tiller stump. 

Southern Raider leaving New Zealand for the last time at the start of the 1983 Auckland to Suva race (7 May 1983)
Sadly, however, Southern Raider, was abandoned on the return voyage (via Noumea) in June 1983. The yacht was caught in an un-forecasted gale that also affected several other boats in the area at the time. The yacht's skipper, Geoff Blakey, radioed that Southern Raider was taking on water and requested assistance. With conditions deteriorating and the boat starting to crack and sink further, it was later resolved to abandon the yacht, and the crew arranged to transfer to a ship, the Jumbo Stella Two. Tragically, one crewmember, Bob Whitehouse, was drowned during a difficult transfer from Southern Raider to the rescue ship. All five other crew were safely transferred and the yacht was left to sink.

The moment of impact between Southern Raider and the rescue ship which trapped one of the crewmembers (photo RNZAF Orion)
The last photo of Southern Raider - abandoned and sinking by the bow (photo RNZAF Orion)

17 November 2012

Blackfun (Davidson Quarter Tonner)

Blackfun was a Laurie Davidson Quarter Ton design, a development of his earlier centreboarder Fun that had impressed so much in Corpus Christi in 1976. The hull was the first of a production line version (in fibreglass) of Fun, but her lines had been modified to address changes to the IOR in 1976 (IOR Mk IIIA), which included a more pronounced step in the bustle, and slightly less sail area than Fun. She also sported a larger centreboard, which seemed to further improve her windward performance.

Blackfun was launched just in time for the 1977 Quarter Ton national championships, leaving little time before the regatta for tuning. In fact, 20 minutes before the start of the first race the crew (lead by Roy Dickson and including Barry Thom, Herb Tremaine, the yacht's builder, and Peter Jordan) were still screwing down fittings, and the boat featured a white 'primer only' paintjob. Nevertheless, the boat finished that race with a third place, and then went on to win the remaining four races to take the New Zealand title in emphatic fashion. Although she displayed better boat speed than her competitors, it was only on the final race that the crew felt that the boat was finally ready to race.

Blackfun competing in the 1977 New Zealand Quarter Ton series (DB Yachting Annual 1977)
 While the result was a triumph for the Blackfun crew and her designer, this was tempered by the fact that the necessary funds couldn't be raised to send Blackfun to the Quarter Ton Cup in Finland to defend the title for New Zealand, following the win by Magic Bus in 1976, and  by 45 South in 1975.

Sailing downwind in the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup (Sea Spray)
Blackfun did, however, go on compete in a Quarter Ton Cup, when it was hosted by the Panmure Yacht and Boating Club in 1980. By this stage she had in turn been outclassed by the newer yachts that were designed for this series, including Davidson's new design Hellaby and Farr's Anchor Challenge and Hot Number. However, all the local yachts were eclipsed by the French flyer, the Faroux design Bullit, and Blackfun finished ninth overall.
In PHRF mode
She went on to sail in local races, and was given some modifications by Peter Loughlin to increase her overall speed, once IOR considerations were no longer relevant, including a masthead spinnaker and bulb keel.

Blackfun was eventually bought by a Wellington group, headed by Brett Linton and Jamie McDowell, who were keen to have a crack at the Quarter Ton Cup that had seen something of a revival in Europe. Davidson guided the new modifications, with the stern sections faired out, a new rig with non-overlapping headsail, and a bulb keel. The yacht was optimised to sail at the maximum IRC rating under which the regatta is now sailed (TCF of 0.920). So the yacht finally made her European debut 34 years on for the 2011 Quarter Ton Cup where she finished in tenth place against a fleet of highly competitive Quarter Tonners.

Blackfun in her new IRC configuration before being shipped to England for the 2011 Quarter Ton Cup
After the 2011 series she was sold to an English yachtsman Rob Gray, who carried out some further modifications that made Blackfun a bit faster relative to her rating, including a new keel, movement of the rudder aft and some rig changes, and which also slightly reduced her rating to 0.912. She demonstrated some improved performance in the 2012 Quarter Ton Cup, winning the third race, but being ruled over the line in the last race scuttled any chance of a high placing, finishing the series in fifth place overall (with Bullit reprising her 1980 victory to take the Cup). 
Blackfun rounding a weather mark during the 2011 Quarter Ton Cup
Changes in 2012 included a new keel and a rudder placed well aft (photo Fiona Brown)
Blackfun recently competed in the 2013 Quarter Ton Cup but while showing flashes of brilliance, startline infringements and a top mark collision saw her finish in ninth place overall.

Blackfun on her way to second place in the last race of the 2013 Quarter Ton Cup (photo Jonathan Hoare)

15 November 2012

Flirt of Paget (Holland 40)

Flirt of Paget is a 40ft Ron Holland design built in New Zealand by Brin Wilson Yachts in 1981 for the Admiral's Cup of that year, and featured a kauri planked hull (around an aluminium space frame) and her varnished finish made her instantly recognisable. 

The yacht was designed as a 'minimum rater', coming in at 30.1ft on IOR, to meet the 30.0ft minimum set by the rules for the Admiral's Cup. Unusually for a racing yacht at this size she was fitted with a masthead rig, and this was expected to make her more competitive in lighter airs.  

Spritzer, as she was originally known, competed against other seven other yachts in the New Zealand trials, and finished in fifth place, with individual placings of 5/4=/4/5/3=/5. The line up for the series was notable for the resurgence of Holland designs (such as Ian Gibbs' Swuzzlebubble III) which had gained some ascendancy since the changes to the IOR that had severely penalised the light displacement designs of the likes of Bruce Farr and Laurie Davidson. There was little of the light airs which was expected to be her forte, but as it turned out her best results were in the fresher winds. Crucially, however, Spritzer couldn't foot it with the fractional-rigged yachts on a two-sail reach and although she was well sailed tactically, and often made up places by going the right way, she didn't have the boat speed of the others. 

Spritzer during the 1981 New Zealand Admiral's Cup trials
Spritzer crosses behind the larger Inca in the New Zealand Admiral's Cup trials 1981 (photo Sea Spray)
Spritzer in close company with Feltex Roperunner (4499) and Swuzzlebubble III in the NZ Admiral's Cup trials, and below, as Flirt of Paget during the 1981 Admiral's Cup

Flirt of Paget competing for Japan in the 1983 AC

Spritzer went on to compete for the Bermudan team in the 1981 Admiral's Cup, having been bought by a Mr Trimingham (of Paget) and renamed Flirt of Paget.  She generally failed to fire, although it was a year when Swuzzlebubble III was the top yacht of the series, and the Bermudan team finished last of 16 teams. Her result was not helped by losing her mast in the Channel Race. She went on to compete for Japan in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, although that team also finished last (from 15).
Being lifted for transport to the shed (L Klingstrom, 2007)

The yacht went on to compete in other regattas overseas, including the 1983 SORC where she finished third in Class E with placings of 11/9/3/3/2/4, and 27th overall. She also raced in the 1984 series, where she finished sixth in Class F, and 54th overall. 

Competing in the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
In 2007 she was bought by Swedish yachtsman Lars Klingstrom. Lars has embarked on an incredible restoration of Flirt of Paget, and has applied a level of perfectionism and attention to detail that has drawn many admirers through his regular posts and updates in the Sailing Anarchy forums. She was shown to the public at the Gothenburg Boat Show (Sweden) in 2013, and more photographs from that and her restoration can be seen here. She was  relaunched in July 2014.

Flirt of Paget's kauri hull gets the high gloss treatment (photo L Klingstrom, 2012)

 Rudder fitted and nearing completion, January 2013 (photo Claus Axtal)

Launched! July 2014

10 November 2012

Corum Rubis and Corum Saphir

This post features a classic photo of the French yacht Corum Rubis, which was the Two Ton yacht of the French team which won the 1991 Admiral's Cup. Corum Rubis is seen here racing in the 1991 Two Ton Cup in boisterous conditions in Kiel. Corum was a principal sponsor of the French team for the 1991 and 1993 Admiral's Cup, and all three team yachts (which included the 50 footer Corum Saphir and the smaller One Tonner Corum Diamante) were turned out in immaculate matching livery, and this was complemented by highly cohesive team work. 

Patchy boatspeed was offset by excellent navigation, and in the light airs Fastnet race finale the French Corum team mounted one of the best ambushes ever seen in offshore sailing, coming from fourth  to take overall victory by just 0.62 of a point from the Italian team. To add to the spoils, Corum Saphir rounded out as top yacht of the series.

Corum Saphir approaches a top mark during the 1993 Admiral's Cup
Above and below: Corum Saphir during the 1993 series (photos by shockwave40 blog)

The team sought to defend their victory in the 1993 edition, but were not as successful and finished in third place overall.

8 November 2012

Swuzzlebubble (Farr Half Tonner)

This article is something of a tribute to a famous New Zealand offshore yachtsman, Ian Gibbs, who had become a well known offshore yachtsman in the 1970s, after overseas forays in the One Ton and Half Ton Cups. He had campaigned the first Bruce Farr Half Tonner Tohe Candu, placing 8th in the 1974 Half Ton Cup in La Rochelle, before moving to a Ron Holland design Measure for Measure for the 1975 series in Chicago (10th). In 1977 he commissioned one of the new Farr centreboard Half Tonners (Design 65) - and she was christened Swuzzlebubble, the first of many of Gibbs' yachts to wear the distinctive moniker.

NZ Half Ton Trials 1977

Like her bigger One Ton sisters The Red Lion and Jenny H, Swuzzlebubble was as sleek as they come. She enjoyed extremely close racing with sistership Gunboat Rangiriri and the Laurie Davidson-designed speedster Waverider in the New Zealand Half Ton Cup trials, and all three were a step ahead of their fixed keel competitors. She won the series by the narrowest of margins, and then went on to dominate the Southern Cross Cup trials against mostly bigger yachts - even the One Tonners were unable to break clear of Swuzzlebubble on corrected time.

Undergoing a pull-down test

The Half Ton Cup, held in Sydney in December 1977, was not as happy a regatta for Gibbs and his team, where they finished 5th overall - although in contention for the Cup in the final race, they missed a crucial windshift and, along with Waverider, found themselves well behind the other contenders.
NZ Half Ton Trials 1977 (photo Sea Spray)
Swuzzlebubble being loaded aboard a ship for her 1977 Australian campaigns (photo Gibbs Family Collection)
But the crew picked themselves up again to put in a strong effort as part of the crack New Zealand team in the Southern Cross Cup - alongside the Farr One Tonners Jenny H and Smir-Noff-Agen they amassed a huge points advantage before the final race, the Sydney-Hobart. The series mixed yachts from Half Ton to Maxi size - Swuzzlebubble was involved in an incident with Kialoa III and it is reported that afterwards one of the Kialoa crew remarked, while pointing to a large hole, "We had a collision with Swuzzlebubble and she's still in there somewhere". 

Swuzzlebubble during the 1977 Southern Cross Cup (photo NZ Yachting/Sail-world)

Swuzzlebubble during the 1977 Southern Cross Cup
As it turned out, their points advantage became an important buffer in the storm-affected race. The for'ard frames on Smir-Noff-Agen failed and they had to withdraw. Swuzzlebubble withdrew late on the second night, as Gibbs considered the conditions in Bass Strait were just too extreme for the 31 footer, although they had not broken any gear and the Kevlar-reinforced hull had withstood the pounding with no difficulties.

Gibbs sat out the 1978 Half Ton Cup, but re-entered the fray for the 1979 series, held in Scheveningen, Holland. By then the changes to the IOR, brought on as a reaction to the light displacement revolution spearheaded by designers Farr, Davidson and Paul Whiting, had taken effect, and like Waverider, Swuzzlebubble required urgent surgery to bring her into class for the series (later known as Swuzzlebubble II for the 1979 campaign). This involved much padding and filling out of the hull and more ballast to increase her displacement, and significant changes to her rear sections, including bringing the transom line for'ard. The centreboard was removed and replaced with a fixed keel. The advantage for the lightweights had been removed, but they were still some of the quickest yachts that year. Waverider won (following her victory in 1978) and Swuzzlebubble finished a close third.

Swuzzlebubble following her revamp in 1979 and before being shipped to Holland (photo Gibbs Family Collection)
Swuzzlebubble (KZ-3494) has a poor start during the 1979 Half Ton Cup (photo courtesy of Jonathan Eastland's archives)
Swuzzlebubble during the 1979 Half Ton Cup (photo courtesy of Jonathan Eastland's archives)
Gibbs moved on to a bigger 40 footer for the 1981 Admiral's Cup with Swuzzlebubble III. The history of the original Swuzzlebubble since then is something of an unknown, although she is understood to have been raced in Ireland for a while, and had enjoyed success in Cowes Week before being sold to a Swiss owner. She was found in 2012 by Peter Morton (of Anchor Challenge and Bullit fame) in a very sorry state in Rhodes, Greece. Her hull was largely intact, although the bow was damaged and her keel was in very bad shape and she had been stripped of all gear. Morton has gone about rescuing Swuzzlebubble from what might have otherwise been her final resting place, and is currently refurbishing her so that she can join the strong European Half Ton fleet. As a 'long' Half Tonner and with an impeccable racing pedigree and experienced new owner she is bound to be a serious campaigner on the Half Ton circuit. You can follow the transformation of Swuzzlebubble here.
Swuzzlebubble as found in November 2012 in Greece (photo Peter Morton)