26 November 2013

Agnes (Norlin One Tonner)

I was pleased to hear recently from the son of the famous Swedish yacht designer Peter Norlin, who has recently bought one of his father's early designs, Agnes, designed and built in 1975 to rate as a One Tonner (27.5ft IOR at that time). This design was a re-invention of a theme used in Norlin's debut design and 1969 Half Ton Cup winner Scampi, and a larger development of his 1974 Quarter Tonner Accent, featuring relatively short measured waterlines and relatively full overhangs that translated into longer sailing length as the wind increased, and allowed the immersed hull length to become a primary performance factor.

Agnes was described by Norlin at the time as a beamy boat at deck level but narrow at the waterline, considered a classic combination for progressive stability. Norlin built Agnes from 25mm carvel-planked mahogany on bent oak frames and, as a nod to the particular conditions of her home port, jokingly remarked that her bow would withstand moderate ice encounters. Agnes was probably the last yacht ever built in Sweden in a traditional and professional wooden yacht building yard (the Plym yard, with roots going back to the 19th century). The yacht builders were mainly seasoned veterans who knew that Agnes would effectively close Sweden's great wooden yacht building tradition.

It was originally intended to enter Agnes in the 1975 One Ton Cup to be held in Newport, US, but construction took longer than expected and so Agnes (after just  a couple of hours of sailing in home waters with borrowed sails) was taken to the 1976 SORC, where she raced in the One Ton division, alongside 19 other yachts. On arrival in Florida the boat proved to be fast, especially in a breeze and when power reaching, but with a flat spot in light airs and choppy seas.

Agnes achieved some fame for her designer when she went on to win her class at the 1976 SORC, with placings of 1/4/1/2/9/1 (the ninth being the result of a premature start), beating the Holland 36 Silver Apple, and America Jane III (which would go on to finish second in the 1976 One Ton Cup) and more remarkably finishing third overall. The division win came in the final race, the Nassau Cup race, when the owner of Silver Apple hired Dennis Conner, whose yacht Charisma had been dismasted earlier in the series, to try to claim the title from Agnes. After a poor start, Agnes managed to pass all her competitors on a tight reaching leg and secured victory in the race, and the series. This was the second SORC class victory of a Norlin-designed yacht, following Bengt Jornstedt's 1971 Class E win with the Scampi Smuggler.
Agnes is hauled out for a hull scrub before the 1976 SORC - Peter Norlin is seen bending towards the keel
Agnes sailing off Florida in her favourite conditions during the 1976 SORC
Norlin sold Agnes soon after the SORC to Bob Barton who raced her successfully across the US for a couple of years. In the 1977 SORC she was beaten only by the Farr One Tonner Sweet Okole.


The Agnes design concept was part of what Norlin described as his 'A-series' of yachts, and she had a number of successful cousins druing the 1974-77 era. The cold-moulded Accent won the Quarter Ton Cup in Malmo in 1974, and a Half Tonner Zett (Finland) proved fast in the Half Ton Cup in La Rochelle in that same year, but suffered from gear failure in both long races, which were very windy affairs. Instead, Norlin himself managed to take third place with the five year old Scampi. The larger Amoress II contested the Three-quarter Ton Cup in 1975 in Norway, and could have won the series had the crew not made a serious navigation error in one of the long races, losing the entire fleet from a clear leading position. As a result she finished third overall. 
Amoress I, sistership to Amoress II (seen to windward), suffered several gear failures in the 1975 Three-Quarter Ton Cup, but finished second in two of the races

The Swedish One Tonner Stress was the last notable Norlin design in his A-series, and won Cowes Week in 1977. In the 1978 One Ton Cup held in Flensburg, Germany, she was the top masthead yacht, finishing seventh overall.

Norlin's son Markus bought Agnes recently together with a couple of friends after finding her in Western Canada. She is still in fairly original configuration, with some cruising amenities added. Markus is aiming to bring the yacht up to club racing standard, with some new sails, improved deck hardware, running rigging and attending to some of the inevitable structural repairs inherent in a wooden yacht of this age. My thanks to Markus for providing some of this interesting history about Agnes and other Norlin yachts.
Agnes as she is today (photo Markus Norlin)

1 comment:

  1. Really a cute boat !
    Would have been please to design a half hull for the norlin's Son.
    Would it be possible to get a better longitudinal plan quality to do so :) ?