31 May 2014

Howzat - nearing completion

Howzat, a Paul Whiting-designed Half Tonner from 1976, is nearing the end of a major restoration by her original owner. She recently emerged from her temporary shed at The Landings in Okahu Bay, Auckland, sporting a gleaming hull finish that reinstates her original red topsides and white stripes. 

Above and below - Howzat is picked up ready to be attached to her new keel (photos by Giles Grigg)

The original long sloping transom has been straightened up a little, providing more cockpit space, and a new bulb keel and deeper rudder have been fitted. A new rig is also expected to be fitted soon, and will be taller than her original.

Keel and rudder fitted - the transom has been straightened but the original IOR lines of this Whiting classic still remain evident, including the knuckle bow and pronounced 'chines' around the for'ard depth measurement points (photo RB Sailing)
The history of Howzat can be seen here.

23 May 2014

Half Ton Classics Cup 2014 - Press Release

The entry list is expanding rapidly for the Half Ton Classics Cup which will be held at Saint Quay Portreiux in Northern Brittany from 7 to 11 July 2014. More than 30 teams are expected to attend, and this 7th edition of the regatta is anticipating a bumper turnout including many of the best known boats and sailors in the class. 

Launched in 2003, the Half Ton Classics Cup led the way for the revival of the IOR Classes and its philosophy has helped to ensure that most boats remain as close to their original designs as possible. This gathering of veteran race boats and veteran sailors brings together a fascinating mix of people and vessels, and whilst the racing is always fiercely competitive the ultimate prize in the competition remains the "Half Ton True Spirit Trophy" which is awarded to the boat and team who best represent the ideals and camaraderie of the class.
Action from the 2011 Half Ton Classics Cup

This year the HTCC regatta will be a true European championship for the small IRC rated boats, with all the top French and UK half tonners on the starting line. Insiders confirm that at least a dozen of them are potential event winners. The event's top boat, France's Brittany Drizzle, is a good example of the modern half tonner: in the same ownership since the early 1980s, and constantly maintained and improved by her meticulous owner, who is not afraid of sharing his knowledge with fellow competitors. With her unrivalled series of class wins, Brittany Drizzle is the record boat at Spi Ouest France regatta, the annual Easter sailing event in Southern Brittany's La-Trinité sur-Mer. More, with Concorde, Superhero and Half Red, the last three half tonners ever built, will be present in St-Quay. Surprising detail: Bernard Fournier Le Ray, owner of Brittany Drizzle, built two of them.

Close racing in the 2013 event
With two weeks to go until the initial entry closing date of 31st May 2014, the Entry List already includes some 25 boats with additional entries being added regularly. Among the well known names competing this year are past HTCC winners General Tapioca, Chimp and Checkmate XV. There will also be several new faces at the event including Peter Morton, better known to many as the man behind the Quarter Ton Cup revival, who will be racing his IRC optimised Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble.

The 2013 champion, Checkmate XV
Alongside the excellent turnout for this event the Half Ton Class Europe is delighted to confirm two new class sponsors for the regatta, Euro Car Parks and Whitfield & Brown. Mr David Cullen, CEO of Euro Car Parks, comments as follows: "We are delighted to be able to support such a fantastic class which, like our own business, has a true spirit of camaraderie and friendship in this growing and vibrant fleet. We wish all competitors a fantastic season and look forward to seeing everyone in Saint Quay Portrieux in July, which promises to be the biggest fleet yet. We would also like to express our thanks to Bert Janssen and Philippe Pilate who behind the scenes put in huge efforts to make the class the success it is!"

Also confirmed as a sponsor for the Half Ton Classics Cup is Whitfield & Brown, a reputable forward thinking construction and development company established in 1972, which provides a reliable professional service to clients in both the public and private sectors.

Some of the fleet during the 2013 Half Ton Classics Cup
The regatta will be hosted by the Sport Nautique de Saint Quay Portrieux in collaboration with the Bruxelles Royal Yacht Club and the Half Ton Class Europe. Registration will open on Sunday 6 July, there will be practice racing on Monday 7 July and Championship racing will take place from Tuesday 8 to Friday 11 July.  The regatta will also feature a fun apres sailing programme to keep the competitors entertained from dawn to dusk and beyond.

Further information, the Notice of Race and Entry Form can all be found at the Half Ton Classics Class website. Members of the press wishing to accredit to attend the event or requiring additional information should contact Half Ton Classics Cup Press Officer Fiona Brown on fiona.brown@fionabrown.com, Tel +44 7711 718470 or Skype fpbrown.

- Ends -

22 May 2014

Terrorist - sailing again

Forty years on from her debut in the 1974 One Ton Cup, the radical Bruce King-designed twin centreboard One Tonner Terrorist is sailing again. Salvaged from a boatyard several years ago, Terrorist has been expertly rebuilt and refurbished by her new owner US yachtsman Paul Tullos. Her history and rebuild is documented in an earlier post here.  

When re-launched in 2013 she was fitted with twin rudders, and while these worked well when sailing, they proved to be of limited assistance when manouevring within the marina. Tullos has since reverted back to a single rudder. Although still reliant on internal ballast, Terrorist carries plenty of beam and Tullos reports that the boat loves sailing to windward in a good breeze, and this is leading to some good results in local racing. Tullos comments that it is hard to overpower the boat - "the boat's old mast was 2 feet longer than on the drawings - I now see why". The new carbon spars and stiff new sails are also helping with her upwind performance. 

Terrorist sailing again recently (and still sporting her original sail number - US 7150)

20 May 2014

Rainbow II

Top New Zealand yachtsman, Chris Bouzaid, updates on the restoration of Rainbow II, currently underway at Silverdale, north of Auckland. Rainbow II was the iconic yacht of New Zealand sailing in the 1960's, leading the way for the many successful international campaigns that followed. She started the model of using international race competition to spearhead the products and expertise of the NZ marine industry.  Bouzaid writes:

"The restoration of Rainbow II is progressing well at Wayne Olsen’s Horizon Boats Ltd in Silverdale, just north of Auckland, but our fundraising is lagging. If you feel like helping to put Rainbow II back in the water in full racing trim, no contribution is too big, or too small, and your donation will be fully tax-deductable.

Chris Bouzaid with Rainbow II
The idea to resurrect Rainbow II was born in 2009. I was passing through Bermuda and took the time to visit the yacht that I sold to local sailor Charlie Berry immediately after she’d won the One Ton Cup in 1969 and done so well in England in the Channel Race and the Fastnet Classic. 

I found the old girl in bad shape and not all that far from the scrap heap. With a couple of friends, I took her for a sail and was amazed how well she still slid along, especially in the light air. Unfortunately, the breeze increased during the day, and so did the volume of water coming in through the garboard planks. We were pretty lucky to get back to the mooring without drowning the engine.

I made the decision there and then that this was not a fitting end for a yacht that had inspired so much and so many. She had to be brought home to Auckland. A few quick phone calls to friends in New Zealand and Monaco produced some very generous offers of both financial and physical help. So, I bought back Rainbow II from Jeremy Brasier and pretty soon, with the help of the Maersk Line, she was on her way home to the Waitemata Harbour. 

Rainbow II arrives in Auckland (above and below)
The original concept was to put Rainbow II back into presentable shape and donate her for public display in the Voyager National Maritime Museum. That idea was modified in June last year when it emerged that there was a lot of interest in Rainbow II having another romp around the harbour with as many of the original crew as could still come sailing, before she was retired to a museum. So, what was going to be a quick lick became a tad more complicated.

Last October this all changed again. Over a few beers at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, it was suggested by Alan Sefton that we should see if there is any interest in having a rerun of the old One Ton Cup's in Auckland around the time of the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover in 2015.

An announcement was made seeking 'Expressions of Interest'. The international response – 28 from 9 different countries – was good enough for the Squadron to commit to formal planning, and a Notice of Race for a 'One Ton Revisited' regatta was published and disseminated the in March this year. Rainbow II’s 'quick lick' now became a full restoration to enable her to go racing again.

The goal is to raise enough money to complete the restoration and have a small endowment to cover on-going maintenance when Rainbow II goes on permanent public display, possibly as part of the marine heritage centre that is proposed for the iconic Percy Vos Boatshed in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

Whangarei to Noumea race, 1967 (George Layton)
The target is to have all work completed by the end of August 2014, with Rainbow II re-launched at the Squadron’s Westhaven clubrooms in mid-September 2014.

The works team on the job are Wayne Olsen himself and the amazingly resourceful Mike Smith. The invaluable volunteer helpers include Max Carter, the man who built Rainbow II back in 1966, John 'Bulldog' Street, Tony 'Womble' Barclay, and Roy 'Rocket' Dickson. 

A growing list of equipment is being donated, to ensure that Rainbow II lacks for nothing when she goes to the race start line again in the One Ton Revisited regatta next year. I will include a full list of these suppliers in my next update, along with a similar list of all donors that allow us to publicly acknowledge their generosity.

Remember, all donations will be tax deductible and will only be applied to the restoration and maintenance of Rainbow II, and can be made to:

In the US:  The Presumpscot Foundation,
100 Middle Road, Cumberland, ME 04021, USA;
In NZ: The Classic Yacht Charitable Trust, PO Box 1951, Shortland Street, Auckland 1141. 

When we set out to build Rainbow II in 1966, for weight purposes we opted for a single skin of kauri with glued splines between the planks (instead of caulking). It is amazing how well she has stood the test of time, considering that the S&S 36-footer was raced very hard in the first three years of her life (she won the Whangarei-Noumea race in April 1967, the Sydney-Hobart classic in December 1967, finished second (1968) and then first (1969) in the One Ton Cup in Heligoland, and then, in August 1969, won the 245-mile Channel Race and finished first in her class in the 605-mile Fastnet Classic.

Once Horizon Boats had water blasted Rainbow’s exterior, they found a very small amount of rot in the marine ply deck but none at all in the hull – testimony to the qualities of the wonderful Kauri and to the boatbuilding skills of Max Carter.

The exterior of the hull has since been fibreglassed and will now be prepped, undercoated and brought up to finish-coat standard. All deck hardware has been removed, for refurbishment or if needs be, replacement, while the deck and cockpit are fibreglassed and repainted with anti-skid. The cabin top and teak toe rail are being reinstated and the coamings scraped right back and re-varnished. The interior, meanwhile, has been sand-blasted prior to prep and repaint. New floors are in, as is a new mast step. The original bunks will be restored while galley and navigatorium have been refurbished.

John Street, Wayne Olsen and Chris Bouzaid
Still to come is a new engine box (the engine itself has been fully reconditioned and repainted) and new toilet. All wiring will be renewed, as will the two batteries and engine start panel. There will also be new deck and navigation lights and a new performance electronics package.

When all the work is done, Rainbow II will be as close to original as we can make her with boatbuilder Olsen confident that she will stronger than she’s ever been.

It’s now approaching 50 years since Rainbow II’s ocean race win in the 1969 One Ton Cup shared equal front page billing in the Auckland Star evening newspaper with Neil Armstrong landing on the moon ('One Small Step For Man' on the left and 'Rainbow Wins Battle Of Jutland' on the right) so it is easy to forget the impact she made on the New Zealand public.

Heck – she even had her picture on the lid of the Arnotts Biscuits tin - a distinction usually reserved for racehorses in those days. 

I take a lot of pride in the fact that people in a position to judge these things claim that Rainbow II’s feats in the late 1960s, backing up Jim Davern’s 1966 line honours win, in Fidelis, in the Sydney-Hobart, are credited with launching the New Zealand invasion of ocean racing which, in the next 40 years, resulted in Kiwi designed boats and crews winning every major event in world offshore racing, most of them more than once. 

Rainbow II in action soon after the start of the fourth race during the 1969 One Ton Cup
That includes the Whitbread Round the World race, the Trophee Jules Verne and the America’s Cup, all three Ton Cups (Quarter, Half and One), plus the Admiral’s Cup, Southern Cross Cup and Kenwood (nee Clipper) Cups. That domination of the sport extended to yacht design, boatbuilding, and the design and construction of rigs and sails.

Quite astonishing when you consider: New Zealand’s population was only 2.8 million when Rainbow II won the One Ton Cup in 1969; 2.89 million when Pathfinder, Runaway and Wai-Aniwa finished first, second and third in the Sydney-Hobart classic to clinch the 1971 Southern Cross Cup; just 3.3 million when, in 1987, Propaganda, Kiwi and Goldcorp won the 1987 Admiral’s Cup; 3.36 million when Steinlager 2 won all six legs of the Whitbread Round the World race (on line and on handicap); and just 3.6 million when, in 1995, 'Black Magic' (NZL 32) won the America’s Cup.

Now – is that punching ‘way above your weight??

The Squadron and its members have been integral to most of that phenomenal success (and one should never forget either the important part played by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club).

Rainbow II’s 1968 challenge for the One Ton Cup in Heligoland was a first for the Squadron that, for the most part, in those days was content to organise racing for its magnificent fleet of harbour and gulf racers. The challenge in Germany was championed by Commodore Bruce Marler and senior club member Arnold Baldwin. What visionaries they proved to be. 

Rainbow II crosses the line of the fifth and final race to win the One Ton Cup, 1969
We managed to raise, mostly from club members, almost £20,000 – an awful lot of money in those days. From the acorn of those small beginnings, a very large oak tree sprouted, and - look where look where it has led the Squadron. There is no yacht club in the world that has as much recognition for its successful campaigns, and no other yacht club has won as many international regattas.

I want to thank all of you who have helped us get this far. It has been a journey with lots of memories and old friends coming out of the woodwork in all parts of the world. And, it would appear that the old Rainbow magic is still a factor. Even though we have kept fairly quiet about the Rainbow II restoration, a steady flow of interested parties find their way to Horizon Boats to check on progress - no easy task because the yard is well tucked away in a district north of Auckland that is only now beginning to make its way on to the GPS maps.

The original crew of Rainbow II
The modern era of the One Ton Cup started with yachts designed to the RORC Rule (1964 to 1969 - the Rainbow II era). Then the newly formulated International Offshore Rule (IOR) was introduced and, from 1970 to 1980, all competitors were designed and built to that rule. (the Wai-Aniwa era). During those two periods, the average Joe could afford to build, own and campaign a One Tonner. Then costs began to spiral and today you would not get much for the money you managed to scrape together for a whole campaign in days gone by, and this has had a serious impact on international competition. Maybe the old days weren’t so bad and maybe that’s why the idea for a One Ton Revisited regatta next year is proving so popular.

To all overseas yachties reading this – come join us for One Ton Revisited 2015 and enjoy the racing and hospitality of a country in which offshore racing looms so large in the national psyche.

Good and happy sailing,



Update - Rainbow II was re-launched on 2 February 2015