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 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 a more recent photo from 2003 is shown above.

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