18 October 2013

Canterbury (Davidson 40)


Canterbury started life as Canterbury Export, a new export venture by Canterbury Marine Exports, based in the South Island of New Zealand, to contest the 1985 Admiral's Cup trials. The new yacht was designed by Laurie Davidson, his first properly campaigned IOR boat from his board to be seen in New Zealand for some time. The boat was a stripped-out Kevlar hulled version of Canterbury Marine Export's standard production racer/cruiser which were being sold in the Seattle area of the US, following an earlier boat called Night Rider, and was designed to perform well in Seattle's predominantly light airs.

Although optimised and equipped for top level IOR racing, Davidson commented at the time that Canterbury Export was not designed as an Admiral's Cup contender, rather "she was designed as an IOR hull that would make a nice racer/cruiser. The boat was originally envisaged as a One Tonner to the new One Ton rating (30.5ft), and was 39ft and 3in long. Then it was stretched to 40ft, so the sail area went down a bit. Then we put a big rig on when they said they wanted to try for the Admiral's Cup team. It has all the attributes for light weather."  
 
Canterbury Export at the start of the 1985 Auckland to Tauranga Race

Canterbury Export arrived in Auckland at the last minute, to join a small group of other team hopefuls, the veteran performer Exador, Farr 40 sisterships Epic Lass and Swuzzlebubble V, and the Peterson 43, Barnstorm.   
Canterbury Export during the early stages of the 1985 Admiral's Cup trials, with Barnstorm astern

She was skippered by Roy Dickson for the series, with Tom Dodson calling the shots, and by the sixth race of the nine race series looked to have cracked the Farr stranglehold, with excellent light air speed, as her designer had predicted. But the selectors remained unconvinced.


The trials series was closely fought, but Canterbury Export, with her light air speed and general all round ability, and Exador selected themselves, Although Canterbury Export looked strong in light airs, selectors had some doubts about her ability in stronger winds and so called for another three races before making their decision about the team, while two more races had to be added to the evaluation schedule to determine whether Epic Lass or Swuzzlebubble V would be selected. Epic Lass made the cut, and all three yachts were subsequently repainted in matching livery for their European campaign, which was to include the 1985 One Ton Cup, held in Poole which would provide an excellent shakedown before the Admiral's Cup. Canterbury Export was changed to Canterbury to remove any potential for Rule 26 sponsorship-related protests.
Canterbury Export works her way to windward during the 1985 Admiral's Cup trials
Canterbury joins Epic and Exador (beyond photo) aboard New Zealand Pacific for the journey to Britain (photo Tony Bishop/Sea Spray)
With so many Admiral's Cup teams fielding One Tonners, the series was well attended with 38 boats from 16 countries, and was very close as a result. Canterbury allayed any fears that she might be off the pace in fresher breezes by proving to be absolutely competitive as her crew warmed to the challenge. Unlike Exador and Epic she kept her nose clean and was tenth on overall points going into the final race - and had her moment of the regatta when she briefly lead the fleet midway through the third race. 
Canterbury races downwind during the 1985 One Ton Cup (photo Roger Lean-Vercoe/Sea Spray)
The final race was held in very fresh conditions, which kept some boats at their moorings and saw others return after venturing out of Poole Harbour. Ten minutes before the start, Canterbury's mast buckled under compression while she was manoeuvring under mainsail only. Dickson managed to get the boat across the line for starting points but then brought Canterbury back to the dock. So Canterbury finished the lowest of the New Zealand contingent, at 15th overall after a 6/11/22/13/RTD series. The mast, which had collapsed about three feet above the gooseneck, proved unrepairable. Dickson had to make hasty arrangements for a replacement with the start of the Admiral's Cup only eight days away. 

After the One Ton Cup the New Zealand team looked good to be one of the frontrunners, along with the powerful British and German teams. The series started well enough for the team, with Canterbury holding her own in the mid-fleet scramble of One Tonners, finishing 17th. Canterbury posted a solid eighth In the fresher but highly variable conditions of the second race, but later came unstuck in the protest room. Canterbury had protested Australia's Intrigue for a mark-rounding incident, but was herself penalised 30%, dropping her to 23rd, although the team retained second place overall behind the new leaders Germany.
Canterbury in the thick of the action at a wing mark during the Christchurch Bay race
The third race, the Channel Race, was held in gale conditions with a strong ebbing tide that kicked up a short, vicious sea, and led to many retirements from the fleet. Canterbury finished in 18th place, and the New Zealand team were humbled somewhat by the reaching speed of the British boats in particular, and dropped back to third overall, although British team yacht and One Ton Cup winner Jade lost some points after one of her leeward runner blocks clouted two of Canterbury's crew. Exador had done well to finish tenth after experiencing some mast compression problems. But Canterbury had a disastrous race n the third inshore race, held in Christchurch Bay, finishing 43rd. She made amends somewhat in the Fastnet Race finale, with a 16th, and helping New Zealand to third place overall.
Canterbury crossing the Shingles Bank during the 1991 Fastnet Race
The speed of the European boats was something of a revelation to the New Zealanders, but the team manager Rob Green was impressed with the overall efforts of his team's efforts, saying that all three crews "sailed beyond the capability of their yachts".

Canterbury rounding Fastnet Rock during the 1991 Fastnet race
Canterbury was later sold and enjoyed a second career in Irish hands and campaigning with the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association, and winning overall honours in the Association's 1987 season. At around this time she may have been fitted with a new keel of highly elliptical in shape and which was very much in vogue by the time of the 1987 Admiral's Cup, as well as a new elliptical rudder.  She is presently located in the port of Andijk in the Netherlands, and is presently for sale.

Canterbury crossing the Shingles Bank during the 1991 Fastnet Race
Canterbury as seen recently (May 2017) in Andijk, Netherlands (photos courtesy @sailingstyle)

A video of Canterbury sailing from 2009:

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