|I-Punkt during the 1985 Admiral's Cup (photo Peter Neumann)|
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.
|I-Punkt during the Admiral's Cup|
|I-Punkt seen here after the 1987 Fastnet Race - damage is evident to her rudder but how this occurred is not recorded - in any event I-Punkt completed the Fastnet although she finished in a lowly 32nd place (photo shockwave40 blog)|
Sometime shortly afterwards Australian crewmember and sailmaker Andrew Cape, who was tactician aboard I-Punkt (and is currently a top Volvo 70 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. 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 collapsible water containers (rather than the fixed tanks) which were then stacked on bunks on the weather side - these containers could then be 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|
|Above and below: I-Punkt in a downwind leg during the Admiral's Cup (photos Peter Neumann)|
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)|
|I-Punkt seen here alongside Jamarella (centre) at Plymouth Marina after the 1987 Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)|
|Thomas Friese and crew sailing the Mumm 36 World Champion Thomas I-Punkt - this photo from the Summer 1994 issue of North News|
|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 inconsistencies between these various accounts.