28 August 2014

One Ton Cup 1988

The 1988 One Ton Cup was hosted by the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco during 3-15 September. The One Ton fleet (30.5ft IOR) had over the preceding years been the most competitive and best supported class in ocean racing, and the Cup was attracting the most sophisticated boats and best crews around. 

The fleet in San Francisco numbered 25, with the Farr office responsible for the design of ten of the boats. The defending champion, the Crown Prince Harold of Norway, arrived in San Francisco early with his yacht Fram X which had won the 1987 even held in Kiel, Germany, and remained a serious contender a year later. Other top boats included Bravura, a new 1988 Farr design under the direction of Geoff Stagg and a Farr works team. Bravura had taken top honours at the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii a month earlier. Another entrant that arrived from Hawaii was Australian Gary Appleby's Sagacious V, a veteran of the 1986 Southern Cross Cup and 1987 Admiral's Cup.
Propaganda - 1988 One Ton Cup winner
The New Zealand challenge was spearheaded by Propaganda, the top scoring boat in the 1987 Admiral's Cup which was by this time owned by a syndicate of Tim Bailey, Michael Fay and David Richwhite. Propaganda had not raced since the Admiral's Cup and instead had been tuned in Auckland with sistership Fair Share, and had been given a new keel and rudder prior to the series to try to improve downwind performance. Propaganda was skippered by Rick Dodson, and included US sailor John Bertrand who provided excellent local knowledge.
Startline action during the 1988 One Ton Cup
Other notable entries included the 1983-era Pacific Sundance, skippered by Chris Dickson, and local entry Pendragon, a Davidson design skippered by Kimo Worthington.
Part of the 1988 One Ton Cup fleet - Propaganda just to the left of KA-Sm-6 has an average start but will soon be up with the leading bunch.
The first inshore race was held inside San Francisco Bay in typically perfect conditions for which the Bay is known, but working the shore of Angel Island in the adverse tide on the upwind legs was critical. By the second to last beat Pendragon and Propaganda were leading and engaging in a close duel barely feet apart and taking each other into the middle of the course and into the current. Pacific Sundance was able to take advantage and lead around the penultimate weather mark, and it wasn't until the final beat was able to move into the lead, winning by 20 seconds, with Pacific Sundance second and Pendragon third.
Challenge 88 to windward of Propaganda during the 1988 One Ton Cup

Victoria (left) and Propaganda run downwind ahead of the chasing pack
The second race, the long offshore, took the fleet under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into light and shifty coastal waters, and on a large ocean triangle course of around 150 miles (with the Farollan islands acting as a wing mark), followed by a smaller triangle of 75 miles and then back into the Bay to finish off the Yacht Club. This proved to be more a test of nerves and frustration than sailing skill. Sagacious V lead the fleet after 50 miles, from Rush (ex-Jamarella) but with Fram X and Propaganda close behind. But during the night Propaganda had played the shifts to perfection and moved up to second, and managed to round the Farollan Islands without coming to a standstill and put a large gap between Sagacious and the rest of the fleet. For the rest of the race Propaganda was on her own, managing to keep moving in the very light air and finishing just before the ebb tide became too strong - Sagacious was shut out and Propaganda finished the race 8 hours ahead. Fram X came in third, followed by Pendragon.
Propaganda heads upwind and avoids a competitor's errant spinnaker
Conditions could not have been more different for the third race, the second inshore, with 25-30 knots blowing against the tide and forming short sharp seas. Pendragon was an early casualty, breaking her boom after throwing a covering tack over Propaganda. The fleet was closely bunched at the weather mark and while Sagacious was in the leading bunch her mast failed soon afterwards. Both Bravura and Fair Share managed to blow out spinnakers on the downwind legs, while top marks for presentation went to British entry Juno for showing her entire keel during a wipe-out at the gybe mark. 
An unknown competitor grapples with its spinnaker
As in the first race, the Angel Island shore was again paying in the strong tidal conditions, forcing a line of port tackers up the first half of the weather legs. Propaganda had an immense tussle with the Takai design Victoria, just taking the lead after the final bottom mark and stretching away to win by a minute after Victoria broke her boom. Skedaddle, a Reichel-Pugh design, came in second, followed by Bravura and Fair Share.

After three races Propaganda was the clear leader going into the fourth race, the 150 mile short offshore. Given the light conditions for the long offshore, the race committee elected to reduced the length of the race to 139 miles, but with just 70 miles outside the Bay, and the remainder within the Bay, taking the competitors right up into the container areas and the eastern end of the Harbour, where there were still light and shifty breezes, and periods of total calm. In fickle conditions Fram X (left and below) and Propaganda finished 11 and 12th respectively, although Propaganda had been lying in 15th for a time.
Fram X on a downwind run and to leeward of Pacific Sundance (photo One Ton Class Facebook page)
Sagacious loses her mast in the third race
Despite the trials of the offshore races, most competitors were happy to this point with the organisation of the regatta. The checking of yachts was conducted on a random basis both before and after races, and involving checks of sails, freeboards and the internal positioning of gear by very thorough measurers - the race committee working hard to prevent a repeat of issues in Kiel the year before. However, most thought this thoroughness went too far when both Sagacious and Black Jack were precluded from installing their spare rigs following their breakages, and forcing the crews to repair the broken ones. Pendragon was unable to fix their boom in time for the short offshore and so had to miss the race.

The final race was again held in 18-20 knots, and saw Fair Share jump out to an early lead. Skippered by Russell Coutts, Fair Share was improving throughout the series and was clearly on form by the closing stages. She ended up covering Bravura and Pacific Sundance which let Propaganda sail her own race and go on to win by over a minute. With a 1/1/1/12/1 record, Propaganda won the series by a comfortable margin on 142.25 points, with Bravura second on 121.5, Fram X third (118.5), followed by Team Cirkeline, Sagacious and Fair Share. The first non-Farr boat was Challenge 88 in seventh place, a Bruce Nelson design.
Fair Share sails past Alcatraz
Propaganda's dominance was due to a number of factors. Much care was taken to develop her keel and rudder shapes to provide better all round performance to balance out the blistering upwind speed that she had at the Admiral's Cup. The boat and crew arrived early in San Francisco and spent a full ten days fine tuning the mast and rigging for the conditions and sail testing against Fair Share. Significantly, the crew found that their Sparcraft mast was flexing too much in San Francisco's 25 knot winds, and so extended the jumper struts and replaced the rigging with cobalt rod to limit stretch - the resulting more powerful and stiffer rig showed its worth from the first race onwards. 
Missing the Kenwood Cup series allowed the Propaganda crew to focus on the One Ton Cup, and avoided issues such as those that beset Juno which suffered a collision at the earlier regatta, and winners of the regatta Bravura were perhaps left with a false sense of security. Challenge 88 had had to scramble to make it to San Francisco after winning their victory at the Canada's Cup. 
Juno has a spectacular wipe out during one of the windy inshore races during the 1988 One Ton Cup (photo One Ton Class Facebook page)
Sagacious (left) follows Victoria into a gybe mark
The crew work was excellent and all of them had raced with skipper Rick Dodson which allowed fine tuning of the yacht to take precedence over crew work. The combination of John Bertrand as tactician and John Newton as navigator was also a great asset, with the boat sailed on a consistent and percentage basis, with no protests and no close incidents which allowed the crew to keep sailing the boat at its fastest. 

Bodacious (US Farr 40) - under control above, but less so below (with Brazil's Black Jack to the left)

It was, overall, a remarkable performance, equaling the four-win record set by Chris Bouzaid in another famous New Zealand yacht, Rainbow II, which won the Cup in 1969. Afterwards, Propaganda co-owners Fay and Richwhite announced their intention to build a second, larger Farr design to campaign alongside Propaganda in the New Zealand team for the defence of the Admiral's Cup in 1989 - that boat would be known as Librah. Propaganda and Fair Share stayed in San Francisco for the 1988 Big Boat Series, where the ever improving Fair Share turned the tables on the One Ton Cup winner to take second place behind Pendragon, with Propaganda third.
The One Ton Cup

Results (top 10)

1. Propaganda (NZL) - Farr - 142.25pts
2. Bravura (USA) - Farr - 121.50
3. Fram X (NOR) - Farr - 118.50
4. Team Cirkeline - Farr - 114.50
5. Sagacious V (AUS) - Farr - 112
6. Fair Share (NZL) - Farr - 106
7. Challenge 88 (USA) - Nelson - 103
8. Pacific Sundance (NZL) - Farr - 98
9. The Esanda Way - Davidson - 90
10. Skedaddle - Reichel-Pugh - 84

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