7 March 2013

Anchor Challenge (Farr Quarter Tonner)

Anchor Challenge was one of several boats built to Bruce Farr's 1978 Quarter Ton design, the first of his boats in this class since the 727 and aimed specifically at the 1979 Quarter Ton Cup in Italy. It was also the first Farr design to emerge after the changes to the IOR in November 1978 -  Farr commented at the time that the earlier light displacement Quarter Tonners were penalised less by the new displacement-length factor included in the rule changes than larger yachts, but even so, his previous style of yacht would have incurred too great a penalty to be competitive. 

As a result, Design 82 was slightly heavier than the 727, with slightly more beam and considerably more sail area. The longer overhang made her a longer yacht overall as well.
Anchor Challenge undergoes some early surgery on the hull around the after girth station measurement area (photo Sea Spray)
Anchor Challenge was built in New Zealand by Cookson Boats (along with sistership Hot Number) for Max Tremaine to contest the 1980 edition of the Quarter Ton Cup, hosted by the Panmure Yacht and Boating Club in Auckland. Anchor Challenge was the second yacht built by Cookson's, and was built in Kevlar composite (the hull and deck were some 350lbs lighter than her European sistership Espada). 
Anchor Challenge in reaching conditions off Westhaven, Auckland (photo Alan Sefton/Seahorse)
Anchor Challenge proved to be one of the fastest of the new Quarter Tonners launched for the series, which included a new Laurie Davidson design Hellaby (skippered by Tony Bouzaid). She started off by winning the 1980 Feltex Regatta by a large margin, and then went on to win the New Zealand Quarter Ton Cup trials, held mostly in light airs, with five straight guns. The new boats were joined by a number of revamped yachts from the local fleet, including earlier Davidson yachts such as Blackfun, Hi Flyer and Bashful and other Whiting Quarter Tonners Strawberry Letter, Smokey Joe and Hatchway Hummer.

Hull profile and deck layout for Design 82 (Farr Yacht Design)
Roy Dickson guides Anchor Challenge to windward during the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup

But the local fleet were comprehensively beaten by the Jacques Faroux-designed Bullit, which at the time demonstrated that European design thinking had overtaken the New Zealand style of boat, with more of a dish shape, with less depth and more beam, a longer stern overhang and an ability to surf downwind much more easily than her rivals. A displacement of some 50kg less than Anchor Challenge also helped. 

The long stern overhang, that gave the yacht some 2ft of extra length, would incur a rating penalty the following year, but the boat was designed only to win the 1980 series.  

Anchor Challenge is well reefed down during the long offshore race in the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup (photo Farr Yacht Design)
Anchor Challenge, skippered by Roy Dickson, found herself off the pace in the moderate conditions in the first race  but bounced back in the second to lead around the first mark, but fell back to third by the finish. She finished the medium distance race in fourth. This was followed by a third in the fourth race. A depleted fleet faced atrocious conditions for the long ocean race finale, which involved two roundings of Channel Island - the race was again won by Bullit, despite rig damage, while Anchor Challenge finished second. A knockdown on the downwind leg saw Dickson and crewman Barry Thom part company with the boat, but fortunately the now horizontal yacht drifted down onto them. Anchor Challenge finished the series in third place, behind Bullit and Hellaby, with Hot Number in fourth. 

Drawing from a 1981 advertisement for Anchor Challenge
Anchor Challenge stayed in Auckland for a short time after the Cup, and went on to win the 1981 Balokovic Cup on IOR, beating such yachts as Ceramco New Zealand, Cotton Blossom and Outward Bound, and then won other local regattas including the Sarney Memorial Cup, the 1981 John Player Memorial and the 1981 Lucas Series.
Anchor Challenge was sold after the Cup to the US and spent the next 15 years around the New York area. She was then found in Key West by English yachtsman Peter Morton who took the boat to England to join the recent revival of the European Quarter Ton fleet. She was still in original condition at her first Quarter Ton Cup in nearly thirty years, and the race report at the time noted that the crew were reliant on spare parts and equipment they already own or could beg, borrow or steal from other members of the fleet. As a result the boat was sailed with three different sail numbers, a spare rig, and more duct tape and emergency bits of string than one would have thought possible. They also brought out a secret weapon not seen in the Quarter Ton fleet since the 1980s - a blooper, and after a bit of practice the crew made good use of the sail on the downwind legs of the regatta (photo left). 

Anchor Challenge during the 2010 Quarter Ton Cup (photo Fiona Brown)
Anchor Challenge was later revamped with an extension to her aft deck (to help keep the bow up downwind) and optimised under IRC and went on to win the Quarter Ton Cup in 2009. The Cup was won in 2010 by Cote and then Morton's wife Louise won with Espada in 2011. Morton went on to carry out a similar upgrade to Bullit, with which he won the Cup in 2012.
Rounding a windward mark, Quarter Ton Cup 2010 (photo Fiona Brown)
The spray flies and its time for the bowman to get aft! (photo Paul Wyeth)

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