23 December 2013

One Ton Cup 1980

Filo da Torcere - 1980 One Ton Cup winner
With recent focus on the 'revisiting' of the One Ton Cup scheduled for 2015, it seemed timely to look back some 34 years to one of the original versions of the event, being the 1980 series held in Naples, Italy.  

Italy deployed no less than 26 yachts in the selection trials and was thus regarded as the strongest country in the One Ton Cup itself. Those boats which missed selection went on to sail for other countries, which lead to a big fleet of 27 yachts representing 12 nations.

One of the best boats, which didn't enter the trials, was Exelsior Yacht Club, skippered by Paul Elvstrom, went on to sail for his home country of Denmark. With his success in the 1978 series, Ron Holland was the best represented designer, and particular interest focused on Two new boats,Todahesa, skippered by John Kolius, and Sharkey, with Tim Stearn, Lowell North and Butch Dalrymple-Smith in her crew, and were possibly the fastest boats in the regatta. The earlier Holland design Indulgence was unsuccessful in Newport in 1979, but made the journey to the Mediterranean for the 1980 series. 
Filo da Torcere

Garibaldi finished seventh overall (note the carbon fibre staunchions)
Sharkey in good spinnaker reaching conditions, just ahead of Filo da Torcere
The top boats sported fractional rigs, and were generously canvassed in anticipation of the light airs expected in Naples, and exotic construction was becoming commonplace, with a high proportion of internal ballast - normal for the earlier centreboarders but also favoured by the keelers. At the extreme, Sharkey's keel was made of wood. 
Sharkey sets off on a light air reach

There were no new boats from Bruce Farr, Doug Peterson or German Frers, while Laurie Davidson's new boat Alerted was under-canvassed for the conditions.
Filo da Torcere rounds a leeward mark during the Italian One Ton Cup selection trials
The Italian yacht Cuordileone - finished strongly with two seconds in the final two races to finish fourth overall
Light winds prevailed throughout, and it was stop go racing in Naples Bay for the short offshore race, in which Indulgence was leading 20 miles from the finish only to be left behind when the wind died and filled in from the opposite direction. Her 24th place in that race eliminated her Cup hopes, notwithstanding the attention to detail applied by Harold Cudmore and Phil Crebbin, the two main members of her afterguard.
Nat - a US charter entry finished ninth overall

The Holland design Indulgence
Filo da Torcere
It was the Italian yacht Filo da Torcere, designed by Andrea Vallicelli, that proved to be the most consistent in the tricky conditions. Filo da Torcere was never one of the favourites, despite her good placings throughout the regatta (10/5/6/3/4). She was built early in 1980 of moulded ply, and was skippered by dinghy champion Stephano Roberti, with an Italian crew. They won the series thanks to good placings in each race, no matter what the conditions, except in the first inshore race when they chose the wrong side of the course on the first beat - even then her placing of tenth compared favourably with the worst results of her closest competition.
Indulgence on a light air reach
The striking paintjob of the Fontana/Maletto/Navone design Buonalena (above and below)

Scott Rohrer aboard the Fontana/Maletto/Navone-designed Buonalena, which sported a striking angled green colour scheme, finished in second place, with placings of 2/3/11/4/7. She had lead the series going into the final long offshore but finished out of the running in the high points race, and finished just ahead of Sharkey in third (4/18/1/11/3), and Courdileone. Todahesa finished fifth. Indulgence won the final race, giving her the White Horse Trophy (which was awarded to the winner of the long offshore race during the One Ton Cup events) for the second year in a row. Exelsior Yacht Club finished a disappointing eighth.
Filo da Torcere sails upwind in light to medium conditions on her way to winning the 1980 One Ton Cup
Filo da Torcere as seen in 2013
Filo da Torcere is currently for sale in Palermo, and would make an excellent prospect for the 2015 One Ton Revisited regatta! 


Flyer - finish of Whitbread Race 1977-78

The legendary Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race skipper Cornelius van Rietschoten passed away recently - van Rietschoten won the Whitbread race in 1977-78 on his first Flyer, and again in 1981-82 on his second Flyer. This video has some classic footage of Flyer finishing the 1977-78 race - the race was won the race but there was no let up by van Rietschoten and his crew as Flyer came rolling down the Solent, first blowing out a spinnaker, and then hoisting their shooter with a poled-out headsail.

19 December 2013

One Ton Cup 2015 - Advisory

20 December, 2013 - The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has started formalised planning for a One Ton Cup Revisited regatta in Auckland, in February/March 2015.
Its decision to proceed with the event is based on a strong international expression of interest in competing. That response includes 16 would-be entries and 4 would-be charterers, from NZ (9), Australia (4), Sweden (2), UK (2), Canada (2) and the USA (1).
“That is a highly promising outcome,” says RNZYS commodore Steve Burrett “good enough for us to start planning in earnest. 

“We set ourselves a conservative target of a minimum 10-boat fleet if we were to stage the event. Based on the reaction to date, we are confident enough to proceed with formal planning, convinced there will be an even stronger uptake as word of the regatta spreads further”. 

An interesting element of the response so far has been has been the goodwill factor from owners, designers and crew alike who are keen to see a revival of what used to be the Formula 1 class of offshore racing, much like that being experienced by the Half and Quarter Ton fleets in England and Europe. 

The man who came up with the idea of a One Ton Cup Revisited, Rainbow II and Wai-Aniwa skipper Chris Bouzaid observed: “Who knows, this could well be the start of a revival of One Tonner racing, not just in New Zealand but around the world. We just have to be sure that there is no scope for anyone to get cute and start equipping boats with canting keels, water ballasting, foils or other go-fasts because that would defeat what we are trying to achieve. That should be easy enough”. 

The immediate next steps for the Squadron will be to identify the most appropriate February/March 2015 window for the regatta. It will be a busy season for Auckland, on and off the water, including the arrival and departure of the 2014-15 Volvo Round the World race fleet and the 2015 World Cup of Cricket. 

Once that window is clear, the Squadron will then produce and disseminate a Notice of Race for the One Ton Revisited. The target timing for that is early March 2014 – a year out from the proposed regatta. 

The Squadron reconfirmed today that the event would be open to the full range of “modern” One Tonners (1965 to 1994* inclusive). The event will use the IRC Rating Rule with the eventual fleet racing as one, but also in three divisions - possibly “Division One” (boats built post 1983), “Division Two” (boats built 1973 to 1983 inclusive) and the “Classic Division” (boats built 1965 to 1972 inclusive).  

Bouzaid reconfirmed: “We will do everything possible to ensure everyone has an equitable chance of success on the race course, regardless of the vintage or size of their boat. We are seeking expert advice on how to divide the potential fleet into divisions to ensure best-possible competition. The objective will be that everyone will enjoy the experience of racing these boats as a class again. A lot of us will have been lucky enough to have experienced that already, when One Tonners were the hottest offshore racers around”. 

NB: * 1994 was the year of the last One Ton Cup regatta that we have been able to identify. In 2001, the Cup was presented to the winner of a Farr IC45 regatta in Pwllheli (North Wales) but we have not seen this event recognised as a One Ton Cup regatta and nor is the Farr IC45 considered an appropriate contender for the proposed “Revisited” regatta in Auckland.

For further information or to lodge expressions of interest, please contact Alan Sefton at alansefton@xtra.co.nz. 

See March 2014 update here.

16 December 2013

Featured Boatbuilders - McConaghy Boats

McConaghy Boats is an Australian boatbuilding company, founded in 1967 and went on to engineer yachts in vacuum formed foam sandwich, fibreglass and Kevlar construction synonymous with high-tech yachts of the IOR days in the 1980s and early 1990s. The company became well known in the field of very competitive large yachts, and for many Australian challengers in the Admiral's Cup, Kenwood Cup and Southern Cross Cup arenas. McConaghy Boats has done a great job of documenting its history on its website, and a number of its top IOR yachts are featured here with links to the photo library which include construction, launching and sailing photos.

Bondi Tram (1982) - a 41ft German Frers design, and the top Australian yacht in the 1983 Admiral's Cup (currently for sale in Hawaii)
Drake's Prayer (1984) - Farr 43, sistership to Snake Oil and member of the fourth placed Australian Admiral's Cup team in 1985
Madelines Daughter (1986) - an updated Farr 43 and part of the 1989 Australian Admiral's Cup team

Sagacious (1987) - a Farr One Tonner, seen here in 1989 with a modified stern

Beyond Thunderdome (1988) - a Davidson One Tonner, later chartered by Ian Gibbs for the Sydney Hobart race in 1994 and renamed Swuzzlebubble VIII
By the late 1980s and early 1990s the IOR 50 class had become well established, and McConaghy Boats were involved in building a number of these racers from the US design office of Reichel/Pugh. Although this was some time ago now, the yachts featured the very latest in carbon fibre technology, and interior fitouts that are not very different to current racing yachts.

Abracadabra (1990) - a Reichel/Pugh 50 footer
Fujimo (1990) - another Reichel/Pugh 50 footer

Champosa VII (1990) - another Reichel/Pugh 50 footer, now based in Auckland, New Zealand

14 December 2013

Fastnet Race 1979

Here's a short documentary on the 1979 Fastnet Race - this one is a tribute to the Royal Navy rescue crews and has a focus on Nick Ward's experience on the Holland Half Tonner Grimalken, and which is recounted in his book "Left for Dead". 

The documentary includes some footage from the start of the infamous race, and look out for a shot of the top boat of the Admiral's Cup that year (of which the Fastnet Race was the series finale), the Peterson 39 Eclipse, just to windward of the star performer from the 1977 series, Imp. You can also see the Irish yacht Golden Apple of the Sun being towed into Plymouth after she had lost her rudder in the storm. Her crew were airlifted off the boat and she was recovered by the Royal Navy 20 hours after the storm's height.

Update July 2015 - here's another film, from the ESPN website, a feature on Ted Turner's winning effort with Tenacious.

8 December 2013

The New Zealand Farr 43s

Switchblade - Southern Cross Cup trials (A Sefton)
This article is about the three Farr 43s that formed the basis of New Zealand offshore campaigns during 1985-87. They were an evolution of Farr's Design #151 that first showed its form through the US yacht Snake Oil at the 1985 SORC, and later that year with Australia's Admiral's Cup yacht Drake's Prayer

The 43 footer was conceived in the wake of Farr's very successful One Tonners which had dominated the 1983 Southern Cross Cup in Australia, the 1984 Clipper Cup and European contests throughout the year. According to the Farr design notes, the goal was to produce a larger boat that had the same outstanding upwind and reaching qualities of the Farr's One Tonners in moderate and strong wind conditions, and dramatically strengthen the performance in light running conditions where the One Tonners were consciously trading off in their performance. Tom McCall was quick to see the potential of the design, as he had been with this earlier Farr 40 Exador, and was the first New Zealand yachtsman to commission a new 43 footer, Switchblade.
Switchblade during the 1985 Southern Cross Cup trials (above and below, left)
Switchblade was soon joined by Don St Clair Brown's sistership Thunderbird (below right) as part of an impressive line up to contest the 1985 Southern Cross Cup trials. McCall brought Ray Haslar on to skipper the boat, and stacked the boat with crew from his earlier Exador days, while St Clair Brown's crew included some familiar faces from his older yacht Anticipation. Both yachts used the Feltex Regatta as an initial opportunity for tuning, although Switchblade didn't have an IOR rating until the final race. This was later confirmed at 33.8ft, slightly lower than her predecessor Snake Oil, but half a foot higher than Thunderbird. McCall and Haslar didn't want to do anything drastic to reach parity, McCall opting instead "to work away to get down to 33.6 or 33.5 and then concentrate on sailing to it."

Switchblade made it into the New Zealand 'A' team to spearhead the defence of the Southern Cross Cup, while Thunderbird made it into the 'B' team - this second team made possible by sponsors Fay Richwhite who saw value in exposing three more crews to international competition. Switchblade joined Exador, the two obvious form boats, with Switchblade never finishing out of the top three. Switchblade opened her campaign strongly by taking line and handicap honours in the invitation race, helped by a rating that had been trimmed down to 33.4ft. She went on to enjoy a series-long match race against Thunderbird and Australia's Drakes Prayer. 

In a reversal from the trials series, Thunderbird had the measure of Switchblade, and finished in sixth place overall (2/9/12/2/17) against Switchblade's 13th (3/12/13/7/22). 
Thunderbird (left) and Switchblade arrive at a windward mark during the 1985 Southern Cross Cup

Thunderbird prepares to gybe during the 1985 Southern Cross Cup (photo Alan Sefton)
Switchblade tacks just ahead of New Zealand One Tonner Fair Share at a windward mark
Unfortunately, however, the selectors had chosen Swuzzlebubble V over Mad Max for the A team, and this proved to be a huge error as Mad Max was the star boat of the series and took out the top individual yacht honours, while Swuzzlebubble V was a disappointing 20th. Thunderbird's performance over Switchblade also contributed to the New Zealand B team finishing second, ahead of the New Zealand A team (fourth).
Thunderbird surges down a wave off Sydney during the 1985 Southern Cross Cup (photo Alan Sefton/NZ Yachting)
The unveiling of the modified keel design on Equity
Following the disappointment of New Zealand's Southern Cross Cup effort, attention turned to the 1986 Kenwood Cup. Del Hogg, who had campaigned Pacific Sundance, the fastest of the New Zealand Farr 40's in the 1983 Southern Cross Cup, and the top individual yacht of the series, also commissioned a new Farr 43, named Dollar Equity, for this series. Dollar Equity came off the same Cookson mould as Switchblade and Thunderbird but featured a completely different keel. After feedback from key crew members Peter Lester, Fraser Beer and Richard Macalister, following the 1985 Admiral's Cup, Hogg had Farr review the keel situation. The outcome was a keel that was slightly elliptical in its leading and trailing edges and sported a refined bulb effect at the tip. Dollar Equity was based in Wellington, but moved up to Auckland in February 1986 to begin her build-up again the top IOR yachts of the country, Mad Max, Exador and Thunderbird. McCall meanwhile had elected to put Switchblade up for sale before the Kenwood Cup trials.

Thunderbird during the Southern Cross Cup 1985
The ever consistent Exador was able to shut out Mad Max and the Farr 43s in light airs and flat water during the trials, but Dollar Equity, helmed by Peter Lester, and Thunderbird improved significantly in rougher water and more breeze. Their dominance of the final two evaluation races was a measure of that improvement, and in the end both Farr 43s were selected, along with Exador, for the Hawaiian series. 

After a number of efforts since 1978 to win the regatta, formerly known as the Clipper Cup, this New Zealand team were finally victorious, holding onto its points lead through the last and longest race. It was a close result, and their pre-race lead of 82 points was whittled down to just 12 points, after Exador just managed to wriggle home after joining other smaller yachts in running out of wind before the finish.
Dollar Equity during the 1986 Kenwood Cup
Thunderbird and Dollar Equity are thought to have been sold overseas following the Kenwood Cup, as they did not appear to feature in any New Zealand regatta after this time. Switchblade remained unsold by the time of the New Zealand 1987 Admiral's Cup trials, and McCall contemplated contesting the series with Switchblade. In late 1986 she was revamped to boost her rating by a foot to try to make the 34.2ft minimum for the 'big boat' slot in the team. However, following disappointing results with the new set-up it was decided not to carry on with the campaign, as it was felt that a lot more time and money was needed to make the boat competitive at that rating, and even then it could only hope to compete in a narrow range of conditions.  In the end, the big-boat slot was taken by a new generation Farr 43, Kiwi.
Thunderbird during the 1986 Kenwood Cup
Switchblade was eventually sold to Hong Kong yachtsman Peter Whyte. She formed part of Hong Kong's team for the 1987 Southern Cross Cup series and was changed back to a more competitive rating of 33.84ft, and fitted with a modified keel, new rudder and a new sail wardrobe. Despite these changes she did not have the speed to save her time on the top One Tonners, even in the two inshore races which favoured the bigger yachts. Her series was not helped when officials boarded yachts after the second race and cited Switchblade and US yacht Sidewinder for incorrect measurement figures. Switchblade accepted a 10 percent-of-placings penalty, and went on to finish with a respectable ninth place overall following placings of 14/10/19/9 and a sixth in the Sydney-Hobart finale, helping the Hong Kong team to fourth place overall in the eleven team regatta.
Switchblade comes ashore in a storm in Phuket, November 2013
It is believed that Switchblade stayed in her new home of Hong Kong, going on to contest regattas in Phuket and the like. Unfortunately, she was washed ashore from her mooring on the south coast of Phuket in a storm in late November 2013, and just before the Kings Cup Regatta, and from the photos it would appear that she is likely to be a write-off.   

A sad end for Switchblade - November 2013

4 December 2013

One Ton Revisited 2015 - Press Release 5 December 2013

(5 December 2013) This just through, extending the One Ton Cup Revisited regatta to encompass the whole of the One Ton era (through to 1994) which is great news....

Due to popular demand (as they say in show business), we have decided to open up the proposed “One Ton Cup Revisited” regatta to include all One Tonners that contested the Cup in the “modern era” (1965 to 1994*). 

On 27 November, Chris Bouzaid and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron announced that they were seeking an indication of potential interest in a proposed “One Ton Cup Revisited” regatta, in Auckland, New Zealand, in February/March 2015. 

Filo da Torcere - winner 1980
 The initial thinking was to cater for RORC and IOR One Tonners that were eligible for Cup competition between (and including) the years 1965 to 1983 inclusive. The immediate response was 10 serious intentions, including former winners Rainbow II and Wai-Aniwa.

Jade - winner 1985
That response, however, was accompanied by an even larger number of potentials from outside of the original year constraints. We have checked with several of the world’s leading offshore racing designers who have advised that, should we open up the proposed event, the IRC Rule, under normal circumstances, would do a more-than-satisfactory job of rating the performances of what, after all, would be a fairly narrow range of race boats.

We have, therefore, decided to re-launch the initiative and seek expressions of intended entry from the full range of “modern” One Tonners (1965 to 1994* inclusive).

The time frame and venue for the proposed regatta remain the same – February/March 2015, in Auckland, New Zealand.

“We will do everything possible to ensure everyone has an equitable chance of success on the race course, regardless of the vintage or size of their boat,” Bouzaid said today “so we will be seeking expert advice on how to divide the potential fleet into divisions to ensure best-possible racing - maybe the Classic Division (1965 to 1972 inclusive), Division Two (1973 to 1983 inclusive) and Division 3 (post 1983).

Propaganda - winner 1988

“The objective will be that everyone will enjoy the experience of racing these boats as a class again. A lot of us will have been lucky enough to have experienced that already, when One Tonners were the hottest offshore racers around.

“We know everyone will have a great time ashore in the City of Sails. It will be our job to ensure a similar experience racing in the Hauraki Gulf”.

Could those interested in the above please communicate, by email, that interest, with detail (name, owner, design, LOA, year built, builder and construction) of the One Tonner that might/would be involved) to: Alan Sefton: alansefton@xtra.co.nz

NB: * 1994 was the year of the last One Ton Cup regatta that we have been able to identify. In 2001, the Cup was presented to the winner of a Farr IC45 regatta in Pwllheli (North Wales) but we have not seen this event recognised as a One Ton Cup regatta and nor is the Farr IC45 considered an appropriate contender for the proposed “Revisited” regatta in Auckland. 

Latest March 2015 update here.

3 December 2013

Admiral's Cup 1987

A recent and very welcome addition to the IOR film archives, this is a well shot film of the 1987 Admiral's Cup series, which was won by New Zealand. Enjoy.