8 March 2014

One Ton Cup 1971

1971 One Ton Cup winner - Stormy Petrel
The 1971 One Ton Cup was hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland in late February and early March, 1971. New Zealand had selected its team of three yachts, and some of the unsuccessful trialists were made available for overseas entries, and these joined international arrivals from Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.

The series got underway in very strange conditions - constant and fresh easterlies had affected the pre-regatta preparation for most boats over the previous week, and even precluded any flotation and inclining measurement check. Incredibly, the wind finally ran out of puff just before the start of the first race, an Olympic course 26 miler, leaving light winds and a choppy left-over sea. Syd Fischer's S&S design Stormy Petrel started her regatta the way she would finish it, winning by a good margin over the Dick Carter design Apecist (Germany) and S&S design Young Nick (New Zealand). Curiously, a general recall that was signalled because an inner mark boat was out of position, was ignored by the entire fleet - a subsequent protest by Sweden's Kishmul was ruled invalid and so the results stood.

Germany's Apecist - started strongly but faded in later stages to finish 12th overall
Moves had been made before the series to add a further offshore race to the One Ton Cup regatta format, and for 1971 the second race was a 146-miler, sailed the day after the first race. Stormy Petrel got off to a good start and managed to escape the difficult calm that descended over the leaders towards the end of the race. 
 
Wai Aniwa powers upwind during one of the offshore races during the 1971 One Ton Cup
New Zealand's Wai Aniwa, another highly fancied Carter design, skippered by Chris Bouzaid, had shown some excellent form, lead from the first mark, but lost any trace of wind at the finish, losing out to Stormy Petrel, and with just 50 yards to go, saw Young Nick, Escapade (New Zealand), Optimist B (Germany) and Joran (Swizerland) slip through as she drifted in helplessly for sixth.

Italy's Kerkyra IV rounds the leeward mark in the third race ahead of Stormy Petrel and Escapade
Worse was to come for Wai Aniwa after she was protested by Young Nick for an alleged port-starboard incident at the first mark. The mark was to be rounded to starboard, with early leaders having to run downwind through competitors still beating to the mark. Wai Aniwa arrived first, set her spinnaker, then ran under the stern of Escapade and across the bow of Young Nick, before heading off on the run to Channel Island. The crew of Young Nick (members of the same New Zealand team) claimed that they had been forced to take action to avoid Wai Aniwa. The protest was upheld by the race committee and Wai Aniwa was disqualified. With the race counting for 150% points, it effectively ended Wai Aniwa's Cup chances.

The photograph by Jack Knights at the first mark of the second race showing Wai Aniwa well clear of team-mates Young Nick (left) and Escapade (right)
Sea Spray magazine later published an article and photograph by British yachting correspondent Jack Knights that cast some doubt on the validity of the disqualification. The photograph, not properly studied until Knights returned to England, shows Wai Aniwa shortly after rounding the mark, gybing 'all standing' onto starboard, to pass behind Escapade and to pass well clear of Young Nick.
Optimist B heads back upwind in the third race, with Wai Aniwa and the rest of the fleet still heading downwind
The third race was another 26 miler in a good north-easter of about 15 knots. This race saw Germany's Hans Beilken and Optimist B come to the fore to win by more than four minutes from the Italian yacht Kerkyra IV. A small Bob Miller design, Warri, from Australia, was the surprise result taking third. Wai Aniwa was fourth, but New Zealand's only remaining hope, Young Nick, slumped to seventh. Stormy Petrel suffered from a torn genoa to finish sixth. 
Optimist B sails upwind clear of the fleet in the third race
The double points long ocean race (270 miles) was the fourth race in the series (this was changed in later events to be the regatta finale). Young Nick headed off into an early lead, but failed to cover Stormy Petrel and later sailed into a private calm patch from which she never recovered. Stormy Petrel sailed on to win, from Wai Aniwa and Victoria (Sweden). The victory secured the Cup for Fischer before the final race, another 26 miler. 
 
Optimist B flat running on the Hauraki Gulf during one of the offshore races during the 1971 One Ton Cup

Mustang, a Cuthbertson and Cassian design, chartered by a Canadian team, had her best race in the last race, finishing fourth, but was otherwise disappointing, placing 11th overall
The 1971 One Ton Cup commemorative coin
Although the Cup had been won, there were still minor trophies at stake. The race, sailed in light airs of 8 knots, was won by Optimist B, with Joran and Kerkyra IV taking second and third. This gave Optimist B second place overall, with Young Nick the best of the New Zealand boats in third. Another New Zealand boat, but under charter to Germany, the Lidgard design Runaway, finished fourth. Wai Aniwa, never able to recover from her disqualification in the second race, finished fifth.

The next regatta was held in Sydney, Australia. It was not hosted by New Zealand again until 1977, by which time the boats would be very different. 

More photos from the 1971 Cup can be seen here.

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