27 September 2013

Imp (Holland 40)

The US yacht Imp was one of the most famous Admiral's Cup racing yachts of the late 1970s. Commissioned by David Allen, a San Francisco property developer, the boat was something of a breakthrough for her designer, Ron Holland. She was built by Kiwi Boats, a company headed by Gary Carlin, Holland's then brother-in-law, and based in Plant City, Florida. 
The framing of the mould for Imp
The space frame prior to being added into the completed hull of Imp, at Kiwi Boats, Florida (photo courtesy Tad Belknap)
Imp as she was about to leave the Kiwi Boats yard (photo courtesy Tad Belknap)
Holland and Carlin had been involved in Allen's previous and bigger offshore yacht, Improbable, designed by Gary Mull. Improbable was a good boat, but too light, long and narrow to be a true all rounder under the IOR, and Imp incorporated some lessons learnt from experiences with Improbable
Imp being launched at Snead Island Boat Works in Florida (photo courtesy Tad Belknap)

The concept of the design for Imp was not to worry greatly over the yacht's eventual IOR rating but to concentrate on a high-speed hull form with greater than usual stability and powerful stern sections, as a move away from the then-popular 'pintails' symmetrical hull forms which Holland and Doug Peterson had been producing at that time, to give the boat good performance when reaching in fresh winds. 
The lines of Imp
Notwithstanding the emphasis on a fast hull-shape, Imp still managed to measure in with a modest and competitive IOR rating of 30.9ft, and the performance of the boat was such that she could race alongside Two Tonners (32.0ft IOR), while rating more than a foot less.

One of the main features of Imp was her construction, which utilised a tubular aluminium geodesic structure that took all the loads and stresses of the keel and rig, with the hull itself being a lightweight layup of glass fibre with a balsa core and some carbon fibre reinforcement. This approach dispensed with the usual requirement for bulkheads and allowed plenty of space for sail stowage, pipe cots, the galley and the chart table, although in some ways it was an impractical set-up for anything other than an all-out racing boat. The space-frame was based on concepts tried on Holland and Carlin's earlier Quarter Tonner, Business Machine, which had finished second in the 1976 Quarter Ton Cup (behind New Zealand's Magic Bus). Imp carried a Stearn twin spreader masthead rig, adjusted with four hydraulic pumps (forestay, babystay, vang and backstay), and flew North sails, some of which incorporated experimental concepts, such as a tight leeched 'frisbee' shape for her mainsail. 
Imp demonstrating her downwind form during the 1977 Nassau Cup race with spinnaker and two staysails set (photo Eric Schweikardt)
Imp was launched just before the start of the 1977 SORC series - the optimisation of Imp for reaching and running meant that it was not a surprise to her designer to see her leading her class out of Tampa Bay at the start of the regatta. What was a surprise was seeing her still leading the fleet at the end of the race at the end of a 50 mile beat. The apparent compromises made to windward speed were not noticeable and so Imp went on to win five of the six races of the SORC, and the series overall, which ensured her selection for the US team for the 1977 Admiral's Cup, joining the larger Bay Bea and Scaramouche.
Imp during the 1977 Admiral's Cup
In Cowes Imp put on a dominant display, finishing third in the Channel Race, and going on for a decisive win in the third inshore race - Imp was one of the smallest boats in the 57 boat fleet, but only three others crossed the finish line ahead of her that day, and the smallest of those rated a massive 4.6ft higher. Imp made another impressive showing in the final race, the Fastnet classic, keeping up with bigger yachts and even managing to finish ahead of her team-mate Scaramouche, 6ft longer, to take a memorable victory from the English yacht Moonshine by six minutes, to complete the series as top scoring yacht overall (with results of 4/3/10/1/1), although the US team finished second.
Imp powers upwind during the 1979 Admiral's Cup (photo courtesy Jonathan Eastland archives)
Imp went on to win the Big Boat Series in San Francisco later in 1977 and two years later she again qualified for the US team for the 1979 Admiral's Cup. Although she did not quite repeat her earlier standout performance from 1977 she still managed to finish as third placed yacht overall, including fifth in the storm-tosssed Fastnet (series results of 11/13/3/17/5)
Imp in more recent times
Imp at the end of the 1987 Fastnet race (photo Shockwave40 blogspot)
Imp is understood to now be owned by an Irish enthusiast, and is located in Kinsale. She participated in the 1987 Fastnet race.

The Imp story has been immortalised in the Bill Barton's book The Legend of Imp (2010), above, which is available here, and a promotional image film can be seen below.  Ron Holland's new book All the Oceans also includes some of Ron's own recollections of this famous boat.

18 September 2013

Rubin VIII & Saudade (Judel/Vrolijk One Tonners)

Saudade was a One Ton design from the German design duo of Judel/Vrolijk, one of a series of boats of this size that developed from the success of their earlier Sudpack during the 1984 One Ton Cup, and from the bigger Container and Pinta designs. Compared to the 43 foot predecessors, the new One Ton design utilised a lower beam to length ratio for better performance in light airs. With a change to the stability factor in the IOR, the new boat retained the same stability as Sudpack, with an optimised sail to hull ratio of 16.11, near to the maximum under IOR before penalties would be incurred. The boat wass designed to rate at the One Ton limit of 30.5ft, but could be optimised for the Admiral's Cup at 30.3ft. 

The first boat to the new design was finished at the end of 1984 as the Rubin VIII the latest in a long line of boats to wear the Rubin badge for German yachtsman Hans-Otto Schumann.  In keeping with Schumann's fascination with the technology of fast boats, he fitted an elliptical keel, based on concepts tested at Heidelberg University. Rubin VIII joined the German team for the 1985 Admiral's Cup, alongside the 44ft Diva G and another new One Tonner Outsider. Rubin VIII was considered to have a smoother shape than Outsider, and to be a better all-rounder and less cranky in fresh downwind conditions.  

Both Outsider and Rubin VIII sailed a patchy series in the 1985 One Ton Cup in Poole, the month before the Admiral's Cup, but had managed a first and second between them during the five race series. However, the German team put together a solid performance in the Admiral's Cup to successfully defend their earlier win in 1983. 

In a reversal of pre-regatta form and predictions, Outsider was the top German yacht, finishing second overall, while Rubin VIII also placed strongly and together they were able to overcome the handicap of the larger Diva G in a series where the smaller boats dominated.

Outsider - second overall and the top German boat in the 1985 Admiral's Cup
Rubin VIII above and below
Rubin VIII during the 1986 Sardinia Cup
For the 1987 Admiral's Cup Schumann elected to commission a larger 43 foot sister to the new Pinta (Rubin X), while Albert Bull built a new One Tonner Saudade, as an update of the earlier Rubin VIII.  The boat was wintered in Palma, Mallorca, which allowed the crew to work up her speed in 15-20 knots, and she made the German team, alongside the new One Ton Container and the latest Diva. 
Saudade powers upwind (photo Peter Neumann)
But the German effort came adrift midway through the series, with the third race being disastrous for the team's hoped-for defence. Saudade followed Diva's error at the fourth mark, when helmsman Uwe Mares underestimated the tide and brushed the buoy. When the crew re-rounded they managed to interfere with several other yachts. Back in the jury room Saudade dropped from 26th to 42nd. The team finished fifth overall, while Saudade was 15th yacht in the individual standings.

Saudade can be seen here in the middle of a crowded startline during the 1987 Admiral's Cup
Saudade after the finish of the 1987 Fastnet Race, with team-mate Diva G in the background (photo Shockwave40 blogspot)
Saudade went on to race in the 1987 One Ton Cup, where she finished in 24th place in the 34 boat fleet.

Above and below - cockpit details of Saudade (photos courtesy of Ian Watson)

Saudade is still sailing and maintained in good condition, as seen below, and carries the Heatwave name, having been bought by the yachtsman who had owned the ex-New Zealand One Tonner featured in the previous post.

10 September 2013

Heatwave (Jim Young One Tonner)

Original profile drawing for Checkmate
Heatwave, a Jim Young designed One Tonner, started life as Checkmate, making her racing debut in the New Zealand One Ton Nationals held in early 1977. Checkmate was a fairly radical looking yacht, with a very upright bow profile and waterline sections based on Youngs' earlier NZ37 design, plus flared topsides to maximum crew leverage and some hull distortion for a favourable IOR rating. Contrary to the strong wind orientation of his earlier Half Tonner Mama Cass, Checkmate tended to be overpowered in a breeze and performed better in the light. Wile she sowed some potential, she was never an all-round threat and finished a disappointing 11th in the Nationals.

Following that performance, Young carried out some major surgery to Checkmate, to the extent that the fiberglass yacht was cut in half, retaining the bow sections while long hours were spent fitting a new after section. Also discarded was the keel which was substituted by a 800lb weighted centreboard that, originally, was able to automatically gybe three degrees to weather and gave a definite advantage when beating, particularly in a breeze. The old name was also discarded, and the yacht emerged as Heatwave.
Checkmate during the 1977 New Zealand One Ton Nationals (above and below)

The bow sections were not left completely untouched, however, with the introduction of a new sharp upward curve in sheerline, combined with a 'stepped' concave stem profile (similar to Stephen Jones’ English Quarter Tonner Odd Job) – an approach that appeared to allow the forward girth station to be moved aft while retaining maximum waterline length for’ard. Her rig utilised a swept-back spreader concept, with a small set of spreaders for the lower inboard stay, and did not appear to be as sophisticated the in-line set up used on her Farr competitors, nor, in the end, as robust.  

Heatwave featured the longest rated length and widest beam aft of all the top boats that entered the 1977 One Ton Cup trials, which suggested high theoretical speed. However, in a fixed rating class length had to be paid for, and was offset in Heatwave's case through a more voluminous underbody and significantly greater displacement, and a relatively modest sail plan. 

Heatwave did go on to be the surprise performer of the New Zealand trials for the team to contest the 1977 One Ton Cup. While she was generally considered to be the fastest boat on a tight reach, she suffered a broken mast in the first race, and had to scramble to put a new rig in the boat in time for the second race, in which she finished a lowly tenth. However, Heatwave recovered to finish in third place In the medium offshore race - she was the only boat to head Smackwater Jack in the outer Gulf, leading from Groper Rock to Channel Island, but she was headed by the superior capabilities of Smackwater Jack and Jenny H to windward, and suffered from damage to her cockpit instrumentation. She then backed that up with a second in the fourth race and a modest sixth in the final race.
Heatwave during the first race of the 1977 One Ton Cup, behind Result (KC2998) and Rockie (US2900)
Heatwave opened her One Ton Cup scorecard with an eighth place, last of the centreboarders and edged out for sixth and seventh by the Farr keelboats Country Boy and Rockie. However, Heatwave bounced back strongly in the second race to lead at the first mark, after working the favoured left hand side of the course, but gear problems caused her to fall back. A mainsail slide jammed as the crew went to reef the sail for the second beat while closing on the bottom mark. The crew ended up late getting the spinnaker down and by the time everything was sorted out they had dropped to third place.  

Heatwave then had a disappointing 11th in the medium distance offshore race, which got underway in light airs, but recovered in the stronger conditions in the fourth race with another third.
Heatwave leads Mr Jumpa and The Red Lion around the first mark in the second race of the One Ton Cup
Heatwave on a downwind leg during the 1977 One Ton Cup
With near gale conditions for the start of the long offshore finale, there were hopes that Heatwave may be able to put in a strong performance to lift her up in the overall standings.  However, trouble started before the race even got underway when Heatwave suffered a collapsed spreader. She ended up starting half an hour behind the fleet after tying up to Orakei Wharf to effect repairs. Heatwave finished the long race in fifth place, and she finished the series in sixth place overall.
Heatwave arrives back at Westhaven after a race in the 1977 One Ton Cup
Heatwave leads Export Lion around a gybe mark during one of the inshore races during the 1978 One Ton Cup
Heatwave during the 1978 One Ton Cup
Heatwave was bought by a Danish sailor in time to compete in the 1978 One Ton Cup, which was sailed in Flensburg, Germany. With her long length, heavier displacement and moderate sail area, was in her element upwind in a breeze, which was in good supply for the series, and she benefited from some new sails from the Fogh loft. While Heatwave was sailed at least 8 to 10 degrees lower than anyone else, her boatspeed was so good she more than made up for this lack of height. But she was not endowed with particularly good speed downwind, mainly managing to live off whatever buffer she had earned on the upwind legs. 

Heatwave may well have won the series had she not met such light airs in the first race. In that race, and although she was faster in light airs than she had been a year earlier, she finished a calamitous 16th. But Heatwave followed this with a second, sixth and a first, for fourth overall, and in three of the four races, including both offshore races, she led around the first weather mark.  

Heatwave has since been based in Europe, and more recent photos from circa-2003 is shown above and below.

4 September 2013

The Red Lion (Farr 37)

The Red Lion, the Bruce Farr centreboarder that won the 1977 One Ton Cup, is still going strong! I recently heard from the current owner of The Red Lion, an Italian yachtsman (Marco) who bought the champion yacht in 1980 from her previous owner in Punta Ala. This was a couple of years after the 1978 One Ton Cup series in Flensburg, Germany, where she finished in ninth place.

The Red Lion has been maintained by Marco in excellent condition in her current home port of Salerno, Italy. She undergoes a complete refit every ten years to ensure her wooden hull remains sound. After experiencing some problems with the centreboard, The Red Lion was fitted with a Farr-designed fixed keel in 1984. The new keel and added stability has also allowed for a new and taller mast. For her most recent upgrade the owners made use of the photos attached on an earlier article on the history of The Red Lion, and the name and lettering is now faithful to her original appearance. 

I am grateful to the Marco and his family for providing these more recent photographs of The Red Lion, showing her competing in many regattas in the Mediterranean seas of Italy over the years, including the Italian Championship off Capri in 1986 (where the stunning Bert Richner photograph at the top of this article was taken). Photos like this shows that the fears of yachting officialdom in the late 1970s that boats like The Red Lion would fly to pieces were unfounded.

The Red Lion racing in Capri, 2000 (above and below)

The Red Lion racing in Gaeta, 2002 (above and below)

The Red Lion following her most recent 19-month long refit