10 April 2013

Caiman (Judel/Vroljk 44)

Profile drawing of the second Caiman
The 1987 Dutch yacht Caiman probably falls into the 'not so famous' category.  This was owner Gerry Jeelof's second yacht, following the original (although confusingly named in retrospect) Caiman II, a Peterson 43. Caiman II was an evergreen campaigner that contested three Admiral's Cups - she was chartered to the Bermudan team in 1981, where she managed to run aground during the third inshore race, but was the top trialist for the Jeelof's home Netherlands team and again in 1985. While she was the top Dutch yacht in 1985, she was starting to show her age and it was time for a newer boat.

The new Caiman was the latest from the Judel/Vrolijk design office, at 44ft overall and featuring twin wheel steering, which was something of a contrast to developments on their German-built 43 footers Container and Pinta, which had adopted tiller steering.

Caiman powers along upwind
The design also included what had become a common feature in IOR yachts at this time, with a long extension of maximum beam towards the stern before a hard turn to the stern, as a method to increase the righting moment of the crew while still minimising the after girth measurements. Caiman had a displacement of 17,400lbs and a rated sail area of 1,096sq ft, and sailed with a rating of 34.2ft.
Deck and interior arrangement plans, note the aftwards extension of maximum beam
Caiman viewed here at her berth during the 1987 Admiral's Cup (photo Ian Watson)
Although Caiman benefited from a reasonably experienced crew from earlier campaigns the yacht never quite featured - her first regatta was the 1986 Sardinia Cup where her best performance was a seventh in a windy first inshore race, but thereafter she didn't enjoy the prevailing light air conditions. Caiman was selected for the Dutch team for the 1987 Admiral's Cup. Her best result was a tenth in one of the inshore races, but she was otherwise outclassed and finished as 33rd yacht overall, with the Dutch team finishing in 11th place.

The cockpit layout on Caiman, twin wheels with mainsheet behind (photo Ian Watson)
Caiman can be seen here alongside her team-mate, the 50ft Pro-motion V at Queen Anne's Battery Marina after the 1987 Fastnet Race and conclusion of the Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40 blog)

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