30 May 2013

Diva (Judel/Vrolijk 44)

The German yachts known as Diva came onto the Admiral's Cup scene in 1985, but not to be confused with the French One Tonner Diva, the wunderboot that took individual honours in the Cup in 1983.

The 1985 yacht, Diva G, was designed by Freidrich Judel and Rolf Vrolijk for her owners Peter Westphal-Langloh and Freddy Diekell. The 44 footer, rating 33.6ft IOR, was designed in response to the moves by the RORC to introduce a minimum aggregate rating for teams in the Admiral's Cup from 1985 onwards, and thereby put an end to three boat teams made up of minimum (30.0ft IOR) raters. Diva G was built by Yachtwerf Wedel in Kevlar and glass on a foam sandwich core. She represented the arrival of a new style of fractionally-rigged yacht, with laminated sails and improved spar technology making rig control a better proposition at this size. 

Diva G was part of the winning German team in the 1985 Admiral's Cup. While she did not quite match the results of her smaller team-mates (Outsider and Rubin G VIII), she held her own against another small boat onslaught and recorded a respectable 11th place overall. Much of her success was due to the way in which she was handled, with near immaculate crew-work, and because she was skippered by Berend Beilken, who had been in almost every German Admiral's Cup team since 1973.

Diva G powers downwind during the 1985 Admiral's Cup
Diva G during the 1985 Admiral's Cup (photo Beken)
Diva G seen here at the beginning of a race during the 1986 Sardinia Cup
A new Diva was commissioned by Westphal-Langloh for the 1987 Admiral's Cup. The new boat was another Judel/Vrolijk 44 footer, rating 34.4ft IOR. Westphal-Langloh was again successful in making the German team, alongside Container and Saudade, even though Diva had been in the water for just a few weeks before the trials. However, the yacht then picked up debris in her propeller while passing through a narrow channel en-route to England, ran aground, and spent a night on the sands off Helgoland as a consequence. Diva's keel was straightened back to true with hydraulic jacks, but she was not 100% right.

Diva surges along on a reaching leg, with team-mate Container visible just ahead on the opposite gybe
The chances of a successful defence of the Cup looked in doubt after Diva's problems, and team-mate Container suffered from a lack of tune in moderate conditions. The German effort was further undone at the fourth windward mark in the third inshore race, when Diva found the path to the layline blocked by Austria's Pinta and Original Beckmann, and Italy's Marisa Konica. Beilken tried to tack underneath and squeeze up to the mark attempting to extract height out of a low-area/high-lift keel before it was working efficiently. He failed. A few minutes later team-mate Saudade under-estimated the tide and hit the mark.

Diva's error dropped her from 16th to 24th in the race, and she went on to finish in 26th place in the individual standings, as part of a fifth place overall by the German team.

Above and below - deck and cockpit detail on Diva (photo Ian Watson)

The photograph below shows Diva G now on display at the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhafen.

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