29 August 2013

The Admiral's Cup - Through the Photographer's Lens

Followers of this blog will have seen the recent inclusion of many photos from the archives of famous yachting photographer Jonathan Eastland, who has been generous and unhesitating in providing copies of images from his online archives. While discussing some of the photos from his collection that covers the Admiral’s Cup series in 1979, I asked Eastland if he could explain the background to some of his most notable photographs, particularly the one of Midnight Sun that graces the pages of several of my favourite sailing books.
Sweden's Midnight Sun during the second race of the 1979 Admiral's Cup - the spinnaker takes charge as the crew prepare to gybe in front of Australian yacht Apollo IV 
Eastland came to marine photography after serving apprenticeships in the Merchant Navy that exposed him to the unrelenting power of the sea. The beginning of new sailing adventures across the great oceans and around the globe saw Eastland gravitate to press photography and report on national and international sailing competitions. Although he travelled far and wide as part of his news and feature agency, Eastland felt most at home covering events on his backyard, the Solent, having learnt the vicissitudes of its silent brooding and its pent up fury.

Eastland also had the privilege in those early years of meeting Frank Beken (Beken of Cowes), where he learnt a lot of his visual thinking, but Jonathan became more interested in how ‘man and machine’ interacted with the elements.

US yacht Acadia in the heavy running conditions during the second race of the 1979 Admiral's Cup
In the years that had elapsed since Eastland had started out in the mid-1960s, the number of professional photographers arriving on the scene to cover sailing events had increased from a mere handful to several dozen. Internationally, the sport was popular and demands for 'action' photos from newspapers in particular were high.

Eastland recalls that the 1979 Admiral's Cup saw a record entry list of 19 teams and 57 yachts, and it was to provide all the natural drama a photographer hell bent on outwitting the opposition could have wished for. “In the boisterous conditions that came to pass for the first inshore race, my problem centred on how to make a picture that would convey some of the drama of yachts jostling for position at the start. There was only one place to be and it was not at the leeward end of the line.”

La Pantera and Impetuous 
Arriving off East Cowes, Eastland and his skipper John Foulkes readied their photographic platform – on this day a 70ft torpedo launch – and waited for the start of the first race. Noting how the wind was piling up every minute, Eastland decided that he wanted the windward end of the startline. Looking across to the Royal Yacht Squadron, Foulkes mused that it could be tricky. Nevertheless, a plan was hatched. "We'll use the dory. You two can hide under the tarp and I'll stand off until the last minute. We'll probably get yelled at and there's only going to be one go, even if they do a recall."

As time for the first gun approached, it was clear there would be a massive run in toward the RYS. Foulkes knew exactly where they needed to be to get the shot, while Eastland left him to it and concentrated on figuring out how to manipulate a 400mm telephoto lens from under a tarpaulin while squatting in the bottom of the dory. It seemed to Eastland that no time at all elapsed from the five minute gun going off to the point at which bedlam seemed to break out on the start line. He never heard the start gun, and just remembers a cacophony of sail banging, rigging, gear, the noise of churning water as 57 yachts came straight at them and the motor drive on his Nikon cranked away. 

A Jonathan Eastland photographic classic - startline action in the first race of the 1979 Admiral's Cup 
Eastland was elated. He was sure that he had shot at least one frame that said everything he wanted to say about the excitement of yacht racing - an image that might perhaps dispel forever the public notion of it being a sedentary sport closer to bowls on a green than an organised cattle stampede. However, in those days, film processing meant that it wasn't until much later that day Eastland found that he had a string of photos that were sharp and one was what he wanted. 

By comparison, and notwithstanding the ever present strong winds throughout the regatta, the following days seemed fairly tame. The dory was again used to scoot around the Solent during the second inshore race - a very windy affair that brought with it Vanguard’s classic broach series and Midnight Sun's near knockdown (above). 

Part of the Vanguard broach series
Eastland recalls that there were loads of other images that he could see happening that day as well as on day one. “But that's the other problem with marine photography. You can't be everywhere at the same time!”  There were other similar events in later years in the same location that dished up the kind of opportunities photographers like Eastland pray for, including the 1985 Admiral's Cup which again dished up very fresh conditions.
US yacht Sidewinder bashes her way out of the Solent after the start of the Channel Race in the 1985 Admiral's Cup 
A Force 7-8 sou'westerly gale had whipped up the sea off Egypt Point to an uncomfortable level. In the ensuing melee as yachts came down upon them visibility became particularly difficult. While Eastland concentrated on endeavouring not to be a ballerina focusing a long lens, Foukes shouted warnings over screaming wind and engine noise of impending doom.
The maxi yacht Drum seen her after the start of the 1985 Fastnet Race 
In one moment of racing upwards to crest a wave and then plunging almost vertically into the trough the other side, they hit with such force one hand was not enough to prevent the sharp top of a heavy Nikon loaded with a 400mm lens smacking Eastland in the face. Blood spewed as if from a hose as he swung around to shout something at Foulkes. Loading fresh film became extremely tricky as blood and sea spray splashed into the open film chamber. It took them an hour to clean up the boat when it was all over, but the London Times ran several of the pictures the next day. 

This post is based on an article 'Rough Going' by Jonathan Eastland (copyright 26 August 2013). My thanks to Jonathan for sharing these recollections, which give some idea of some of what is sometimes involved when yachting photographers set out to catch those great shots that we can all enjoy.


27 August 2013

Half Ton Classics Cup 2013

The 2013 Half Ton Classics Cup was held recently in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Nord-Pas-de-Calais (18 to 23 August). A 29 strong fleet enjoyed nine closely fought races over five days of racing. The overall winner was the British yacht Checkmate XV, with just two fourths interrupting an otherwise straight run of first placings. She was followed by Collector (France) and General Tapioca (Belgium) who just edged out Chimp (Britain) for third.

2013 Half Ton Classic Cup winner Checkmate XV
The ex-New Zealand yacht, Waverider, winner of the Half Ton Cup in 1978 and 1979, sails for Belgium these days and finished in ninth place. The photos below are from the first day of racing (more photos can be found on the Half Ton Classics Cup 2013 Facebook page).

Part of the 29 boat fleet positioning for a start on the first day
Red Cloud (BEL), 6th overall
Checkmate XV leads General Tapioca on a tight spinnaker reach
Sibelius (FRA), fifth overall
A closely packed fleet on a downwind leg
Waverider chases Red Cloud downwind
Chia Chia (GBR), 17th overall

26 August 2013

Settima Strega (Sciomachen 36)

The yacht Settima Strega is owned by an Italian sailor and follower of this blog who has provided the photos and information about his yacht which has a great race record in Mediterranean waters. Settima Strega was designed by Ernest Sciomachen in 1980, and built in cold moulded spruce timber as a custom build by Cantiere De Cesari in Cervia, Italy.

The design of Settima Strega appears to borrow much from the Quarter and Half Ton trends of the time, a reasonably light hull form (in IOR terms) to maximise downwind speed, with a pronounced bustle at the after girth station measurement coupled with a long stern overhang which provided additional unmeasured sailing length when sailing at hull speed. Sciomachen would later design the One Tonner Linda along similar lines, and she went on to win the 1983 One Ton Cup held in Brazil.

Settima Strega (the name means 'Seventh Witch') is 36 feet long, and carried a rating of 25.4ft IOR, which was somewhere between the Three-Quarter Ton and One Ton classes (and so was never able to compete in level rating regattas for those classes). Her first mast, described by her owner as a masterpiece, was built by Yachtspars in Auckland. 

Settima Strega on the wind (photo Sciomachen.com)
Settima Strega was reported in Yachting Italiano in the early 1980s as one of the fastest 'Class IV' IOR yachts in the Mediterranean at that time, after notching up wins in many regional championships, including the 1980 Triest Racing Week, 1981 Adriatic Championship and second at the Italian Championship in Punta Ala. She is maintained in excellent condition and in her original configuration.

Settima Strega (right) manages to avoid trouble arriving from astern during the 1989 Barcolana Regatta
Settima Strega in light airs on the Mediterranean, above and below (photo Sciomachen.com)

Above and below - Settima Strega today (photo G Crotti)

22 August 2013

The International Offshore Rule - Part 3

In this third part of the series about the International Offshore Rule we look at the measurement of sail area (S), the engine room of any yacht and an important component of the measured rating (MR) component of the overall IOR formula.  

The assessment of sail area was subject to its complex series of measurements, although much of that complexity arose by the myriad of formulas that had to be established to equitably rate a wide range of rig types (fractional versus masthead, and single masts versus two masts). In its most simple form, the rule component S was the square root value of total rated sail area (RSAT), itself a combination of mainsail and foretriangle measurements.
The 1986 Half Ton Cup winner Cofica - the broken spinnaker pole was not a rating device!
l'Effraie (left and above)
Complex as the rated sail area formulas were, they still yielded some significant rating gains when applied to unusual rigs. Such opportunities were first exposed by Professor Jerry Milgram (US) with his 38ft cat-rigged ketch Cascade which rated just 21ft IOR (less than a Half Tonner). She was slapped with an arbitrary 10% rating penalty for the 1973 SORC, but still won three of the races in the series. The design took advantage of a loophole which rated the yacht's 800 sq ft of sail as 300 sq ft. At the April 1973 meeting of the ORC a new rating for such rigs increased her rating to around 27ft (near the One Ton limit). The loophole had not quite been closed, however, and in 1976 the French cat-rigged Mini Tonner l'Effraie ("The Owl") featured an enormous mainsail and walked off with the Mini Ton Cup that year. But Cascade still managed to maintain a reasonably favourable rating, through the addition of a small headsail (off a Star class yacht), and competed with some distinction as late as 1983 in the SORC of that year, scoring a first and second in Class F in two legs of the series. Gear failure saw her retire from the final two races, but she still finished ninth in class.   

Cascade during the 1983 SORC
Sail measurement loopholes were again demonstrated to even greater effect 13 years later by the ketch rigs employed on three Farr designed maxi yachts in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, a concept which was taken even further in the 1993-94 event where the mizzen rigs became ever larger.

The ketch rigged New Zealand Endeavour during the 1993-94 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race

The typical rig of the early IOR years
While the IOR reduced the emphasis of earlier rules on the mainsail and provided fractional rigs with some advantages, the large foretriangle and small/ribbon main arrangement remained popular in the early years of the rule. This is because only the foretriangle area for'ard of the mast was measured (i.e. ['I' x 'J] x .5), so large overlapping headsails achieved a high level of unmeasured sail area. Mainsails were measured as a function of luff length (P) and foot (E), and as leech length was unmeasured, yachts usually sported drooping booms in order to gain additional unrated sail area in the foot of the sail. The rule controlled various components of the rig such as battens, boom depth and spinnaker pole lengths by relating these to certain base dimensions, and applying 'corrections' to the primary sail dimensions should those components exceed limitations.

The J41 Dazzler dropping her spinnaker at a leeward mark during the 1984 SORC
Wai Aniwa and the infamous 'shooter'
Spinnakers were subject to normal limitations of girth, related to the J measurement. The distinctive shooter sail (or 'blooper' in US parlance) was not something contemplated by the rules, and first came on the scene aboard Chris Bouzaid's One Tonner Wai Aniwa during the 1971 Southern Cross Cup series. Bouzaid courted controvesy when he set the drifter headsail to leeward of the spinnaker and its sheets, with a loose halyard. While subject to a protest, this was dismissed by the New South Wales Yachting Association. The practice was later ratified by the International Technical Committee, to the chagrin of many, and the shooter went on to become an essential , if unloved, part of the IOR sail wardrobe before finally disappearing from the scene in the mid to late 1980s. 

The ubiquitous fractional rig first came to the fore on light displacements yachts from the mid-1970s, and had their first real success on the Farr 727 in the 1975 Quarter Ton Cup. But masthead rigs still remained popular through the 1980s, and maintained parity with fractionally rigged yachts for many years before technological advances and greater reliability saw the more flexible and adjustable fractional set up become integral with success at the top end of IOR racing in the late 1980s and 1990s.   

A fleet of IOR 50s displaying a mix of fractional and masthead rigs

17 August 2013

I-Punkt (Admiral's Cup 1985 and 1987)

I-Punkt during the 1985 Admiral's Cup (photo Peter Neumann)
Recent media attention regarding allegations of 'improper conduct' around modifications to the Oracle AC45 catamaran have drawn comparisons with the high profile disqualification of Thomas Friese and a number of his crew from the Admiral's Cup and One Ton Cup in 1987, after revelations of cheating on Friese's One Tonner I-Punkt.

Friese, of Japanese/German extraction,had started his major offshore campaigns with his Peterson 42 Tina, which formed part of the German Admiral's Cup team in 1979. Tina and one of her team-mates Jan Pott  had to retire from the storm-tossed Fastnet Race of that year, and the German team finished in a lowly 11th place.
Tina from the 1979 Admiral's Cup

Friese came back in 1985 with the commissioning of a sistership to the Judel/Vrolijk 42's Container and Pinta, which were big high-freeboard IOR yachts sporting large fractional rigs. The new yacht, I-Punkt, was considered as as a 'Mk III' of the original Judel/Vrolijk 42 mould that had first been developed for the 1983 Admiral's Cup, being lighter than her sisters with reduced freeboard and sail area, and rated 32.0ft IOR (incidentally, the name I-Punkt translates in German as "the dot on the i", as in being 'on point').

I-Punkt was built in just four weeks by Udo Schutz and Yachtwerf Wedel and was launched on the eve of the German trials. The lack of tuning and preparation was evident, and, along with her sisterships, I-Punkt failed to make the German team and instead the trio sailed for Austria in the 1985 Admiral's Cup. Pinta was the only one of the team to really fire, finishing 12th overall. Both Container and I-Punkt retired from the windy Fastnet race which dragged the Austrian team to eighth overall in the final standings.

For the 1987 Admiral's Cup it was evident that I-Punkt was too small to have a chance to claim the 'big boat' slot in the German team. So Friese chartered the Japanese owned but German built Judel/Vrolijk One Tonner Dame Und Herr, and renamed her I-Punkt for the 1987 effort. I-Punkt missed selection and so again Friese sailed for Austria, alongside a new Pinta and the Dutch yacht Ritec Poinciana (a development of 1984 One Ton Cup winner Passion 2 by Phillipe Briand). I-Punkt sailed an inconsistent series but showed flashes of speed at times, with placings of 29/3/2/37/33 to finish as 21st yacht overall (and after suffering a delaminated rudder in the Fastnet Race finale). After a very weak performance by the outclassed Ritec Poinciana (40th place), and 12th by Pinta, the team finished in ninth place overall. 
I-Punkt during the Admiral's Cup
Events began to unfold at the 1987 One Ton Cup which was sailed in Kiel, Germany, a few weeks after the Admiral's Cup. Claims of cheating by an (initially) anonymous Australian yachtsman soon began to surface - not the usual accusations of moving sail bags to the weather side, but pointing to much more sophisticated forms of shifting ballast. The crew of I-Punkt were accused of moving up to 200 litres of water ballast during the preceding Admiral's Cup to boost her stability upwind, and was doing the same at Kiel. For yachts designed to a certain minimum level of stability under the centre of gravity factor component of the IOR rating formula, and which were limited to nine crew with water limited to 150 litres in secured tanks, this was a serious issue. The story was first reported on the front page of 'The Times' newspaper and over the airwaves of New Zealand's Radio Pacific while I-Punkt and the rest of the One Ton fleet were out in the Baltic competing in the 380 mile offshore race of the series. On their return to Kiel, two further crewmembers confirmed that the boat had been loaded up with 250 litres of water on the return leg from Sweden and had passed 11 boats, and that the extra loadings had twisted the mast at the gooseneck.
I-Punkt seen here after the 1987 Fastnet Race with her delaminated rudder visible - this no doubt contributed to her lowly 33rd place in that race (photo shockwave40 blog)
The International Jury at the One Ton Cup boarded I-Punkt to investigate and discovered a two-way bilge pump. I-Punkt's water tanks were removed to have their contents checked for salt traces but none was found. No evidence was forthcoming from her crew either, despite being questioned one by one. But without the promise of immunity, none of the crew were prepared to admit anything. The jury even tried to catch out any suspect activity by calling for a last-minute postponement of the short offshore race and sending inspectors aboard a number of suspected yachts. But again, no proof of improper behaviour was found, although the official results show that the English yacht Jamarella, which had finished second in the Admiral's Cup, was penalised '2x30 points' because of the discovery on two occasions of an unsecured five gallon fuel tank, which the crew insisted was spare fuel carried for seamanship reasons - this became an issue of whether it was a tank under rule 202.2 of the IOR, or 'ship stores' under rule 109.4. Jamarella dropped from third overall to sixth. Meanwhile, I-Punkt was initially recorded as finishing the series in ninth place, with race results of 5/8/10/20/20. 
I-Punkt in the marina during the 1987 Admiral's Cup (photo Ian W)
Sometime soon after the One Ton Cup, Australian crewmember and sailmaker Andrew Cape, who was tactician aboard I-Punkt (and is currently a top Volvo race navigator), brought some daylight to the water ballasting suspicions, confirming that the electric pump aboard I-Punkt, installed by Tom Swift, the yacht's paid hand, could draw in water as well as expel it. This was done by tapping into the engine water intake and installing a Y-valve and two-way bilge pump. As both the Admiral's Cup and One Ton Cup regattas had thrown up so many questions about cheating, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), as organising body of the Admiral's Cup, and in conjunction with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), took action to have the Admiral's Cup jury reconvened. Cape's evidence was that the pump system allowed water to be pumped into ten or more collapsible water containers (rather than the fixed tanks) which were then stacked on bunks on the weather side - these containers could then be emptied on the downwind legs through the cockpit drains, and later cut and disposed of before the finish and before possible inspection. 
I-Punkt rounds a weather mark with German yacht Container seen to the right
The system was capable of creating 250kg of water ballast which was equivalent to three extra crew on the rail, and it was admitted that this additional ballast had been used in the Channel and Fastnet races during the Admiral's Cup, and in the first race of the One Ton Cup (where I-Punkt had finished fifth). Cape advised that he first realised what was happening when he heard the pump running at the leeward mark in the Channel Race. The effect of this action on the boat's performance was devastating. A hitherto mediocre boat gained nearly half a knot of extra speed. "We came from pretty much last One Tonner to second in one leg" said Cape, and indeed the boat went on to finish third in that race, behind the form One Tonners, Propaganda and Jamarella. Rick Dodson, skipper of Goldcorp, a member of the winning New Zealand team, remembers being passed: "There were times when we did not appear to be racing the same boats. On the fetch out to EC1 (the mid-channel mark during the Channel Race) I-Punkt came up behind us from nowhere. We pinched up as high as possible to stop them sailing over us, but they just bore off and sailed through our lee. It was extraordinary. She must have been going at least 2/10ths of a not faster, and once passed, quickly pulled away - a performance we never saw repeated during the inshore races!"
Above and below: I-Punkt in a downwind leg during the Admiral's Cup (photos Peter Neumann)
After a hearing of the matter by RYA councillors in November 1987, a ten year ban was imposed on Friese, the yacht's skipper Hubert Raudaschl, Cape and Swift on the basis of a clear violation of the International Yacht Racing Rule 75 for a "gross breach of sportsmanship", although other than for Friese, the sentences were "suspended" for up to six years. I-Punkt was subsequently disqualified from the Admiral's Cup, and disqualification from the One Ton Cup followed soon afterwards. The German national authority, the DSV, banned Friese from racing in West German waters for 18 months. 
Cockpit detail of I-Punkt (photo Ian W)
Twenty months after this ruling, Friese retained a Liverpool solicitor to commence civil proceedings against the RYA to take the club to the High Court. His case was that the RYA's hearing did not comply with the required standards of natural justice, in that he had been called to the hearing at short notice and had insufficient time to prepare his defence; that the offending pump had been installed by the builders of the yacht (the point being that this was not under his direction); and that the RYA's ten year ban was plainly at odds with the 18 month ban imposed by the DSV. The appeal sought costs in respect of the damage the ban had done to Friese's business and sporting reputation. In their revised ruling, issued sometime in mid-1989, the new panel of RYA councillors said the original sentence had been entirely appropriate, but decided unanimously to suspend the disqualification from March 1990.
iPunkt sailing upwind in fresh conditions (photo One Ton Facebook page)
Meanwhile, and while Cape did sailing an important service by exposing a serious malpractice, he was offered no immunity from prosecution. It cost him a great deal in legal fees to prevent the RYA from slapping a ten-year ban on him, as well as in potential earnings, and it is understood that Cape and other crew members were, in the end, subject to a three year ban only. It was reported that the RORC had left the Australian Yachting Federation to deal with Cape and the ban may have been amended by that organisation. The penalty on Cape was certainly not conducive to encouraging other crew from coming forward in respect of identifying similar or other dubious practices on other boats.
I-Punkt seen here alongside Jamarella (centre) at Plymouth Marina after the 1987 Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)
The I-Punkt affair and issues around cheating during the 1987 One Ton Cup came up later that year at the 1987 Southern Cross Cup. The British team were absent from the series for the first time in its history. The cheating scandal, and insinuations that the British team had "bent", but certainly not broken, the IYRU rules on water ballast cost the team their sponsors. The sponsors had promised to meet the costs of shipping the boats and crews to the regatta, and in the end none of the individual owners were willing to meet the costs personally. Cheating again came up when officials boarded yachts after the second race and cited the Hong Kong yacht Switchblade and US yacht Sidewinder for incorrect measurement figures. Switchblade accepted a 10 percent-of-placings penalty, but the US team, incensed by the citing that related Sidewinder's measurement discrepancies (what skipper John Bertrand called "nitpicking") to the blatant cheating in the I-Punkt scandal, threatened to withdraw from the series. Fortunately, after a flurry of talks, postponements, press conferences, and a public apology from the host Cruising Club of Australia, the matter was dropped and the US team returned to the racing.
Another view of I-Punkt at the Admiral's Cup 1987 (photo Ian W)
The I-Punkt case demonstrated to the then International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) that, if violation of its rules were proven, it did not have a mechanism in place to impose a binding worldwide ban on offenders. This drove the IYRU to create such a body, although this took some time to determine questions of liability should a sailor bring civil proceedings against the IYRU. However, a tribunal was established to enforce the previously unwritten contract: if sailors competed in yachting under the IYRU rules, then they agreed to be bound by those rules, with transgressions open to agreed review and sanctioning procedures. This system can now be seen through the International Sailing Federation 'Suspended Sailors' process, which presently features sailors that are banned from competition for periods ranging from one year to five years.
Thomas Friese and crew sailing the Mumm 36 World Champion Thomas I-Punkt - this photo from the Summer 1994 issue of North News
Friese came back to the top of the world sailing in or about 1994 in the new Mumm 36 class, and won the 1996 event in San Francisco with his yacht Thomas I-Punkt, and went on to win the event again in 1997 in Punta Ala, Italy, without having to sail the last race. He also campaigned an ILC40 yacht Omen in international competition in the mid-to-late 1990s - for the 1995 Admiral's Cup he courted further controversy by questioning the validity of the rating certificate of Italy's Brava Q8. 

I-Punkt in more recent times (above and below), now named Go

Reference sources for this article include The Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup - An Official History, by Timothy Jeffery (1994), The International Yacht Racing Annual 1987-88, Seahorse magazine, New Zealand Yachting magazine and an article from the Sydney Morning Herald (Dec 27 1987). All effort has been made to resolve any inconsistencies between these various accounts.