28 June 2013

Police Car (Dubois 42)

Admiral's Cup 1979
Police Car was a 42 footer, designed by Ed Dubois for Western Australian yachtsman Peter Cantwell who wanted a downwind flyer to the Two Ton class limit of 32ft IOR, and to campaign for the 1979 Admiral's Cup. Police Car was built in aluminium with medium displacement and sported a lofty fractional rig which was unusual for a yacht of this size at this time. She also sported one of the earliest examples of the 'Double German' mainsheet system.

Police Car proved to be everything Cantwell could have wanted - the wind in Melbourne for the Australian Admiral's Cup trials gave the yacht the opportunity to extend herself, particularly in anything over 20 knots downwind. She won the trials and qualified for the Australian team, alongside Gerald Lambert's Impetuous and Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin. Police Car then went to Poole for the 1979 Two Ton Cup, held a month before the Admiral's Cup in Cowes, where she found the conditions there an anathema - the light and shifting winds for that regatta were far from her forte. As with many of the other Two Tonners in Poole, Police Car had optimised her rating for the Admiral's Cup and so gave away about half a foot of rating in the series.
Police Car in close company with Vanguard (to weather), Morning Cloud (to leeward) and Rrose Selavay (bottom)
What Police Car needed, and what she got at the Admiral's Cup that year, were the strongest ever winds for that event. Police Car loved the Solent races with the reaches and runs against strong spring tides multiplying her advantage. 
Police Car sails downwind in fresh conditions during the 1979 Admiral's Cup, above and below (photo Jonathan Eastland photo archives)
Police Car to leeward of Argentinian yacht Red Rock IV
Police Car scored a fifth and a third in the first two inshore races, and an eighth in the Channel Race.  Meanwhile, ashore, the crew got endless mirth out of the yacht's name, wearing fake police uniforms when the occasion permitted and the crew bus was a black London cab with a blue light on the roof. 
Shipping water over the bow in fresh conditions during the 1979 Admiral's Cup

In the third inshore race it should have been Police Car's day to show off her much-vaunted downwind speed - the wind was blowing a full gale and the tides were running fast in the opposite direction.  The crew were pumping the spinnaker sheet and guy like crazy as the blue boat hurtled down the Solent in a flurry of spray. However, Police Car had been involved in a startline collision with Brazil's Indigo, and later faced two protests, one of which she acknowledged and took a 20 percent penalty to drop from fifth to 17th. She survived the second protest. 

Police Car surges downwind with spinnaker and blooper set during the 1979 Admiral's Cup
Police Car thunders down the Solent, chasing Italian yacht Vanina who appears to have lost control of their blooper sail (photo Beken)
In the infamous gale-tossed Fastnet Race Police Car had a wild and wet ride under boomed out staysail, reefed main and storm jib for a while, then piled on the canvas as the wind lightened to finish in fourth place. The Australian boats all finished the race strongly and unscathed, with Impetuous third and Ragamuffin 13th being enough to win the Admiral's Cup for the first time since 1967.
Police Car arriving in Plymouth after the finish of the 1979 Fastnet race (photo Jonathan Eastland photo archives)
Police Car finished as second yacht in the individual standings (409 points), some 17 points adrift of Jeremy Rogers' Eclipse, which had sailed consistently well to finish as the top yacht of the series following her win in the Fastnet race. 
Police Car competing in the Clipper Cup, possibly during the 1980 series
Jim Hardy, who was aboard Impetuous for the series, was much impressed by Police Car and bought her to race mainly in Australian waters. Twice, in 1980 and 1982, he skippered her to wins in Division B in the Sydney Hobart race.  Police Car was also chartered by Mike 'Zappa' Bell for the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials, but she missed selection. 

Police Car during the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Chris Furey)
He also took Police Car to the 1982 Clipper Cup in Hawaii where the boat lost her mast when it folded at the gooseneck. There was a spare bottom secton and, after it was clear that the boat would be back in the water for the next race, the newly knighted Sir James remarked that the new bottom piece would have to be painted. "What colour?" came the question. "Oh, pink'll do" was the reply, and so it remained at least until the following year, as seen in the photo below.
Police Car seen here in Mooloolaba in 1983, still sporting her 'pink section' mast repair (photo Chris Furey)

Showing her longevity in the Australian IOR scene, Police Car also sailed in the 1985 Australian Admiral's Cup trials, seen here to windward of the Dubois One Tonner Black Magic (photo Chris Furey)
Police Car during the 1984 Sydney-Hobart race, and still sporting the pink mast (photo Police Car Facebook page)
Police Car was subsequently owned by Michael Purtell of Tasmania who sailed the yacht in two Sydney-Hobart's. She raced as part of the eighth-placed Tasmanian team in the 1985 Southern Cross Cup, finishing 30th yacht overall following placings of RET/32/33/24/23. Her next owner, Mike Prendergast, sailed her in the 50th edition of the Sydney-Hobart in 1994, placing seventh in Division E. 
Police Car after the Sydney Hobart race in 1994, with a different livery (from the Police Car Facebook page)
Police Car at the CYCA marina before the 2002 Sydney-Hobart race, and after her refit by Alan Duffy and return to her original paint scheme
She was then sold to Alan Duffy in or about 1996 who raced her in short offshore races out of Broken Bay. He carried out a restoration before the 408 mile Gosford to Lord Howe race, as a shakedown for the 2002 Sydney-Hobart race. The restoration involved extensive fairing of the alloy hull and repainting the boat in her original colours, after which she looked better than new (see above). 

Police Car is currently understood to be located in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, and as of the start of 2016 was undergoing another extensive restoration (see the Facebook page here).

26 June 2013

Dutch Quarter Ton Cup 2013

The inaugural Dutch Quarter Ton Cup championship was recently sailed on 22-23 June in Lelystad, located to the north-east of Amsterdam and within the inland sea of Markermeer. A total of 25 classic Quarter Ton boats were entered but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate, with plenty of rain and strong winds with gusts up to 29 knots. This kept some boats in the harbour, and a total of 18 boats ended up sailing. 

The fastest boats were the immaculate Pinguin Playboy (skippered by Pierre Paris) from France and the bright orange Foolproof (Roel Foolen). Pinguin Playboy took line honours in all three of the short races on the first day. 

Pinguin Playboy has a strong start in one of the races of the 2013 Dutch Quarter Ton Cup
However, reinvigorated by the oversized case of golden brew that they consumed on Saturday night, Foolproof's crew managed to beat Pinguin Playboy in the single long race on Sunday. On corrected time, the winner of the 2013 Dutch Quarter Ton Cup was Sylvia ter Meulen with her well-tuned GK24 Racycaltrant. Sylvia and her crew sailed a very consistent regatta with excellent boathandling and tactics.

Foolproof sailing upwind in fresh conditions

The crew from Freres-sur-Mer reaffirmed their reputation for breaking things by blowing their spinnaker to such small threads during a gust that no amount of Gorilla tape could fix it.

The event was declared a great success, the atmosphere was great and the sailors and organisers unanimously agreed that they would be holding this event again next year.

Pinguin Playboy with a small lead over Foolproof nearing a windward mark
Thanks to Hylke Steensma for the regatta report, and to the event photographer Klaas Wiersma for permission to reproduce some of his images, and more can be seen here.

22 June 2013

45 South and the Farr 727 (Farr Quarter Tonner)

Farr 727 profile (Farr Yacht Design)
To mark my 100th post on this blog I decided to feature a very special yacht from the IOR days, the Farr 727, and the most famous from that class, 45 South, the winner of the 1975 Quarter Ton Cup - a significant win as the first in international competition by a New Zealand designer.

The 727 was a development of Bruce Farr's earlier Quarter Ton prototype, Fantzipantz (1972), which itself was a progression of Farr's Half Tonner Titus Canby. Fantzipantz had displayed such superiority in boat speed and comfort for a boat of 24ft that Alpha Marine was formed to build a production version that would be capable of winning the Quarter Ton Cup, and the result was the Farr 727. 

45 South 2402) in gybe mark action during the 1975 New Zealand Quarter Ton championship (photo Jenny Green/Sea Spray)
The boat had a more raked stem and transom profile for improved aesthetics, a well as improving her rated length measurement while also allowing for more width in her aft sections. The 727's longer length was offset by less sail area, supported on a dinghy-like fractional rig with fixed swept spreaders.
Bruce Farr sailing 727 to victory in the 1975 New Zealand Quarter Ton championships (photo Sea Spray)
The first boat to the design, Genie, was instantly successful, winning the 1974 Feltex regatta, and was soon joined by 727, the latter sailed by Farr himself and which won the 1975 New Zealand Quarter Ton championship against a fleet of 31 boats. The yacht was seen to have great potential and a decision was made by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club to challenge for the Quarter Ton Cup (to be held in Deauville, France), with 727 nominated as the challenging yacht.  A new crew had to be brought together as Farr was committed to the Gerontius campaign for the 1975 Admiral's Cup, with Roy Dickson and Graeme Woodroffe joining Rob Martin and the yacht's builder Murray Crockett. The owner of Genie decided that he too would join the challenge.
45 South and Genie in the marina at Deauville for the 1975 Quarter Ton Cup
45 South in France 1975 - note the bumpkin strut which was added after the boom was lengthened to add more sail
727 was renamed 45 South before she was shipped to France, and some rating optimisation was carried out in response to the expectation of light winds and choppy sea conditions at the Cup venue (well founded as it turned out), with increased bow down trim and more sail area. 45 South still had the smallest sail plan in Deauville, at just 246 square feet, the consequence of having the longest rated length 21.8ft, and almost the lightest rated displacement at 2,600lbs. By way of comparison, the pre-contest favourite, the Peterson design Hobnail, with a shorter measured length and 4,500lbs displacement, was able to carry some 347 square feet of sail.
45 South reaches through the fleet to win the first race of the 1975 Quarter Ton Cup (photo Farr Yacht Design)
The small size and basic fitout of 45 South was met with some mirth in France, but the boat soon showed her abilities on the race track, with 45 South winning the pre-contest event, the Coupe de France, with Genie finishing fourth. 

The first race of the Quarter Ton Cup was a nerve-wracking affair, with a dropping wind seeing the New Zealand yachts fall back through the fleet. But the arrival of the breeze for the final reach home saw them rocket around their competitors to take first and second. 45 South went on to post consistent places at the top of the fleet, apart from a 13th in the medium distance race, but she proved herself as a worthy champion when she won the final long distance race by 26 minutes, and with it the Cup. 
Quarter Ton racing in Cowes Week circa 1976, with what is thought to be Genie in the foreground
Interest was riveted on 45 South after her first two wins, and it had been sold to a French yachtsman before the final race. She is understood to still have a French owner and has competed in the re-established Quarter Ton Cup since 2005 (sailed under IRC). Genie was also sold in England where the boat went on to record 27 firsts from 37 starts in the English season, with series wins including the Solent points championship, the English level rating open national championship and Cowes Week. Further export opportunities were pursued - the style of the 727 was attractive from a production point of view, being about as simple in layout, rig and handling as anything one could devise. 

Hull profile and interior layout of the Farr 727 (Farr Yacht Design)
45 South in more recent times
In the end, more 727s were sold overseas than in New Zealand, with 60 sold in France, 40 in Canada, 15 in Japan, and six in Western Australia, with impressive results in the respective national Quarter Ton championships of various countries (including Why Why, winner of the North American Quarter Ton championship in 1976). Still, it should have been a bigger success from a production perspective, being fast, easy and exciting to sail and able to plane downwind in fresh breezes, and arguably a better boat than the hugely successful J24 class. But the J24 enjoyed better marketing and promotion and became 'the' international class in this size of boat.
Waikikamukau being prepared for transport to the 1975 Australian Quarter Ton championships (photo Chris Furey)
Another notable 727 yacht, the Australian Waikikamukau (her name a play on her New Zealand origins) was the Australian national champion Quarter Tonner after a runaway win in the 1975 series held on Port Phillip Bay (Melbourne). The boat was crewed by Hugh and Ian Trehane, Bill Lawler and Rob Mundle. Hugh Treharne made the sails and so fast was the boat that they often finished their races half way through the fleet of Half Tonners that had started ten minutes earlier. She was built at Performance Sailcraft Australia and finished with Laser beige gelcoat, and was towed to Melbourne from Sydney using the truck and trailer unit usually used to tow shipments of Lasers. Waikikamukau was also successful as a JOG racer but years after her Quarter Ton days and with a different crew) she met an untimely end in a gale of Sydney Heads when she went down with a tragic loss of life due to the crew being harnessed on with old fashioned harnesses that only had a release clip at the boat end of the tethers. 

Waikikamukau, an Australian Quarter Ton champion (photo Chris Furey)
45 South - Quarter Ton Cup 2005
Close quarter racing in Auckland (photo Sail-world)

A French 727 Farr Niente racing in European Quarter Ton events
Glass Slipper during the 1982 Feltex Regatta
The class is still active in New Zealand (see 727 website), although class national championship numbers have dwindled of late, and one or two yachts are now sporting some modifications such as spinnaker prods for mixed fleet sailing. Nevertheless, the yacht remains one of the fastest racer-cruisers on the water for its size, and a very capable cruiser. 
Overdraft during the 2011 SSANZ Two-handed series off Auckland (photo Scott Blakey)
Quarter Pint on a slog to Navy Buoy off Whangaparaoa during the 2012 SSANZ series (photo rbsailing)

20 June 2013

Italian Half Ton Nationals 2013

The Italian Half Ton Nationals were recently held in Anzio on the west coast and south of Rome, with 11 classic Half Tonners competing. The series was held in challenging conditions over the first two days of round-the-buoys racing, with very rough sea and 25 knot winds, with the race course often swept by violent squalls.

Loucura - Italian Half Ton champion for 2013 (photo Anzio360Photo)
Prydwen, fourth overall, gets a roll on downwind
Two boats were vying for top honours after five races, Fabrizio Gagliardi's Farr 31 Loucura and Massimo Morasca's Elena Celeste. In the spirit of racing from the heyday of level rating Ton cups, the sixth and final race was the long one (and counted for 150% points), the 115 mile Asteria Cup race, sailed off Anzio and taking in the islands of Ventotene to the south, and Ponza. 

The close racing between Loucura and Elena Celeste continued, but Peter Fois' Eulimene was first to the gate off Ventotene. In the second part of the race the upwind speed of Loucura came to the fore to win the race and the series overall from Elena Celeste. The Half Ton class yachts in fact had five boats in the first six places in the Asteria Cup.
Startline action in the 2013 Italian Half Ton Nationals, Loucura gets a good start by the committee boat, with Rangiriri mid-line
The ex-New Zealand yacht and 1977 Half Ton Cup winner, Claudio Massucci's Rangiriri had a disappointing result in the final race, finishing eighth, and fifth overall.

Rangiriri sails downwind during the windy 2013 Italian Half Ton Cup series

Loucura (photo Anzio360Photo)