4 November 2012

The Red Lion (Farr One Tonner)

The Red Lion was commissioned by NZ sailor Stu Brentnall who was keen to have another crack at the One Ton Cup after his efforts with Jiminy Cricket in the 1976 series held in Marseilles. The yacht was one of a number of new centreboarders to emerge from the board of Bruce Farr in 1977, and she joined sisterships Jenny HSmir-Noff-Agen and Mr Jumpa for the New Zealand One Ton Cup trials, for the regatta held in Auckland later that year. 

These new generation One Tonners were a significant development of Farr's earlier keelboats from 1975/76 - after the rulemakers failed to close the centreboard loophole exposed to great effect by the Britton Chance design Resolute Salmon in 1976, a centreboard was used for the new boats, although the fins on the Farr yachts weighed about 360kg, despite the fact that this was discouraged by the IOR.  The need for a large amount of internal ballast meant that a higher displacement was necessary to achieve a higher ballast ratio, but this in turn allowed for more sail area, and better light air performance. 
The Red Lion on launching day, sporting her original Lion Breweries-influenced signwriting which was removed before long after a protest under Rule 26 from the Royal Akarana Yacht Club sailing committee
Although narrower in the stern than their 1976 counterparts, clever design of the after girth stations allowed for undistorted stern sections and a more upright transom. The design was able to reach high speeds very easily, and they were particularly fast in reaching conditions.
The Red Lion shows the clean and narrower stern shape of the 1977 generation of Farr One Tonners
The sharp end of The Red Lion
Joining the Farr boats for the One Ton Cup trials was another centreboard design by Paul Whiting, Smackwater Jack and the redesigned Jim Young yacht Heatwave. The Red Lion faced an early challenge over sponsorship advertising, and changes were made to the yacht's signwriting before the trials began (including the removal of a Lion emblem from the bow).

The centreboarders took out the top places and thus filled all the places for the New Zealand team, with Smackwater Jack taking out overall honours (some of the out-moded keelboats went on to compete in the Cup proper as overseas charter entries). The Red Lion failed to fire in the trials, but nevertheless qualified for the team with a fifth placing. She also competed soon afterwards in the Southern Cross Cup trials, but missed out, finishing behind the Half Tonner SwuzzelebubbleSmir-Noff-Agen and Jenny H. 

The Red Lion during the 1977 One Ton Cup and sporting her new Ross&Jones mainsail
Efforts were made to find another gear in the yacht's performance for the One Ton Cup. A new mainsail and no.2 genoa from Murray Ross' sail loft yielded significant improvements. Roy Dickson joined the crew from his failed Half Ton campaign, and this gave added depth in the afterguard. The Red Lion went on to put in a much improved and consistent performance (with places of 2/1/1/4/3) to hold out challenges from Mr Jumpa, Smir-Noff-Agen, and the Australian Peterson centreboarder B195, to win the coveted trophy.

The Red Lion in light airs during the start of the middle distance race of the 1977 One Ton Cup
Spinnaker and shooter set on a downwind leg in the 1977 One Ton Cup
The Red Lion powers upwind during the 1977 One Ton Cup series
The Red Lion was soon sold to an Italian sailor, and she went on to compete in the 1978 One Ton Cup in Flensburg, Germany. 
The Red Lion under her new Italian ownership at the 1978 One Ton Cup
Brentnall commissioned a new One Tonner from Farr, Export Lion, for this series which was designed with lighter conditions in mind.  The regatta proved to be windier than expected, and although this should have suited The Red Lion, she finished a disappointing ninth overall.  She was later fitted with a fixed keel following changes to the IOR that had removed the rating benefits of centreboards. More difficult to overcome were the rule changes that dictated much greater displacement and The Red Lion and her light displacement sisters were effectively ruled out of the game, at least in level rating terms. 

The Red Lion was bought in 1980 by her current owner, where she is maintained to an impeccable standard, and regularly updated. She is kept in Salerno, Italy, and is still racing.  Photos here.

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