20 February 2013

Acadia (Peterson 43)

Acadia was launched in 1980 as a replacement for owner Burt Keenan's original Acadia, a Frers 51 footer in which Keenan had narrowly lost the 1979 SORC to Dennis Conner's Williwaw. Somehow the original Acadia was passed over for the US Admiral's Cup team that year, and Keenan sailed instead for the Argentinian team. Afterwards, Keenan sold the 51-footer to a Swedish yachtsman, who renamed her Bla Carat

The new Acadia was a Doug Peterson designed 43 footer (known as the Serendipity 43), being a development of Peterson's earlier yachts that exemplified a masthead rig, heavy displacement (by today's standards), narrow stern and deep forefoot. The Serendipity 43 was a more moderate approach, designed to be a solid all-round performer, with wider stern sections for better reaching performance with a shallower forefoot and more rocker. 
Acadia during the 1980 SORC
The Serendipity 43s were built by Tom Dreyfus's New Orleans Marine - although a semi-production boat, with hulls of unidirectional fibreglass from a female mould, Keenan opted for the IOR custom package for Acadia, with a flush balsa-cored deck, Stearn triple-spreader rig and the obligatory stripped out interior. Acadia (the name reflected the way some people from Louisiana refer to that part of the country) measured in at a competitive 32.6ft IOR, and benefited from an experienced crew that included her builder Dreyfus, Olympic sailor John Kolius and designer Bruce Kirby. 

Acadia went out and won her class in the 1980 Sugar Bowl Regatta. She then headed for Florida for the 1980 SORC where she put in an equally dominant performance. Keenan and his crew amassed a 37 point advantage over her closest competitor, Tatoosh (Frers 46) before the 27 mile Nassau Cup finale, making the race something of an anticlimax - Tatoosh had to win with Acadia no better than 39th. Tatoosh did her best, taking first place in class B and fleet, but Acadia held on to finish 16th in fleet to win class C and overall circuit honours. 

Although the win was a victory for those who thought that a production yacht might still have a life in top level IOR competition, Keenan himself saw Acadia as only an interim prospect, and already had plans for her replacement, a Frers 41 minimum rater, in which to contest the Admiral's Cup trials the following year. Acadia did, however, go on to form part of a triumphant US team at the 1980 Sardinia Cup, held in Porto Cervo. 
Acadia and her owner Burt Keenan in 1980
Despite being a production yacht, the Serendipity 43 design did prove to have some  impressive longevity. Another version, Louisiana Crude, contested the 1981 SORC and US Admiral's Cup trials, owned by builder Tom Dreyfus and skippered by Tom Blackaller. The new Acadia also performed strongly. However, what would have otherwise been a straightforward selection for the US Admiral's Cup team was turned on its ear when Louisiana Crude was sold to Sweden from under the selector's noses, and was then found to have a suspect rating (and was later declared void). Bill Martin, the owner of one of the Admiral's Cup hopefuls, Stars & Stripes, also protested the rating of the new Acadia. After remeasurement the rating of Acadia went up from 30.0ft to 31.1ft, and so failed to make the team (the rating of another hopeful, Williwaw, was also found to have significant errors). 

The design came bouncing back in 1983 in the shape of Scarlett O'Hara, which finished first overall in the 1983 SORC (and second in class D) and joined the US Admiral's Cup team that year, finishing as the top inshore yacht of the series in a regatta which favoured the minimum raters, and helped the US team to third place overall. 
Scarlett O'Hara during the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Acadia is now located in Conneticut and is maintained in great condition by her present owner.   

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog because we've landed in a marina in Malaysia with Scarlett O'Hara, so I went looking for old photos of her. Just posted one to our boats facebook page, www.facebook.com/sailingtotem. For sale and in need of a rig!