5 March 2013

Container (Judel/Vrolijk 42)

Container was the third in a line of offshore racing yachts owned by German sailor Udo Schutz, and all named after his industrial container business. The first Container was a masthead rigged Peterson design that was significantly modified by the Judel/Vrolijk design team and went on to be the top German yacht in the team's third place effort in the 1981 Admiral's Cup series. The second Container was built by the new boatbuilding arm of Schutz' company, Schutzwerke - the company built two new 42ft sisterships (Pinta was the other) to a new Judel/Vrolijk design. 

These were reasonably high-wooded and had a relatively symmetrical waterplane, which was not unusual, but they sported large fractional rigs that were considered at the time to be a somewhat pioneering use of such rigs at this size. Pinta made it into the German team, but Container did not, and went on to sail for the ninth placed Austrian team, in the year that Germany won. 

The new Container was commissioned to contest the 1984 Sardinia Cup and the 1985 Admiral's Cup, and this time was one of three new boats designed basically to the same Judel/Vrolijk design as their 1983 predecessors, but with much more attention given to weight saving through improved construction, and a switch from wheel to tiller steering. All aspects were critiqued by all involved, with the number of winches reduced to six, and deletion of floorboard from the interior, resulting in yachts that were about 1,500lbs lighter than the original versions. All yachts were rigged with Reckmann spars and North sails from the German loft. The new Container and Pinta were considered Mk II versions of the J/V 42, while the third boat, I-Punkt, was a Mk III version, lighter still with reduced freeboard and sail area. The yachts carried a rating of around 32.3ft IOR.

Container - top yacht in the 1984 Sardinia Cup
Container spearheaded a victory for Germany in the 1984 Sardinia Cup (as top individual yacht with placings of 5/9/4/4/10), beating the second placed Italian team by just half a point. Container and Pinta also raced in the 1984 SORC, Container with great success finishing second in Class D and sixth overall. 

Remarkably, however, all three new boats including Container failed to make the German Admiral's Cup team in 1985, and became the Austrian, or Germany B, team. This Austrian effort was let down by the retirements of Container and I-Punkt with gear failure in a windy Fastnet race that claimed many victims (Container blew out their kevlar mainsail). The German team managed to get all its boats home and successfully defended the Cup - cementing Germany's position at the top of the ocean racing world during the mid-1980s.

Container - Admiral's Cup 1985
I have recently heard from the current owner of Container, Hannu Hiillos from Finland, who advises the boat is now sailed in their local IRC ranking series. Container was bought in a very run-down condition in 2001 from its previous Belgian owner who had owned her since 1993 - she has been renamed Touch Down, and has been extensively upgraded and was repainted about four years ago with dark blue topsides (so no longer carries her distinctive 'Container' stripes). The mast, winches and hydraulics are original, and a full overhaul of the hydraulic systems (boom vang, outhaul and checkstays) is scheduled for this spring (northern hemisphere). The interior is modified with light teak plywood including saloon, galley, head, V-berth in front and two double berths in transom. There is added weight of about 350kg and the displacement is now 7,650kg. Hiillos has kindly provided the recent photographs below.

Touch Down (ex-Container) more recently
Touch Down sailing in the Finnish IRC ranking series, with her new blue paint scheme

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