22 January 2015

One Ton Cup 1975

The 1975 One Ton Cup was sailed off Newport, Rhode Island, under the sponsorship of Ida Lewis Yacht Club, in early September of that year, and contested by 20 yachts from eight countries.
Pied Piper - North American and World One Ton Champion 1975 (photo histoiredeshalfs)
The series was taken convincingly by Lowell North and Dick Jennings sailing a new Doug Peterson design, Pied Piper. The pair had sailed a near flawless series in the North American championship two weeks prior, which had also been attended by nine of the One Ton Cup fleet, and went on to post a 1/5/1/1/2 series in the Cup to beat second placed Peterson design Gumboots (Germany), the defending champion, by just under 8 points, with another US yacht America Jane III (Scott Kaufman design) third.

Gumboots - 1974 One Ton Cup winner (photo Robert Foley/Yacht Racing)
Although there were several other contenders, including the new Holland design Silver Apple (Ireland), the real battle lines were among the top three as the series wore on. There was almost always a first division and then the rest of the fleet - the difference was small but difficult to break, with ten yachts rounding a mark in the offshore races after 50 miles just three minutes apart. Racing was also a complete test for the fleet, with light to moderate airs predominating, but a real New England blow featuring in the final race to expose those less prepared.

Gumboots and America Jane III in light conditions in the 1975 One Ton Cup
The 1974 One Ton Cup held in Tourquay had been won by Gumboots, a development of his previous breakthrough design Ganbare that had finished second in 1973. The success of Ganbare paved the way for One Ton design to settle on a smaller and lighter type of yacht (but still of relatively heavy displacement in today's terms), with reasonably pronounced forefoots, flat-ish garboards and narrow sterns. America Jane III was perhaps the most different of the new boats, as it was heavier, very broad aft and deeper, and seemed able to carry more sail as the breeze increased. It was evident at this stage that the future of S&S types such as Mach II, and the earlier America Jane II, were really in doubt, given their lack of speed in the series. Masthead rigs remained universal, with many sporting hydraulic backstays and forestays, as well as vangs and other items of gear.

The new Kaufman America Jane III (right) alongside the smaller S&S America Jane II (photo histoiredeshalfs)
Earlier in the summer, East Coast One Tonners had also competed in both the Block Island and Larchmont Race Weeks. This provided time for changes in sails, tuning, ballast arrangements and rating in the pursuit for improved performance. Later, and between the North American championships and the Cup, America Jane III, Silver Apple and another Peterson design Kindred Spirit (US) all put chainsaws to their keels to remove lead. America Jane III, which had removed about 460lbs of lead, and Kindred Spirit increased their sail area, and Silver Apple removed their solid propeller in favour of a folding one.  
America Jane III in power reaching conditions (photo histoiredeshalfs)
America Jane III
became more tender and reduced her rating by about .35ft - she raised it back to the One Ton limit of 27.5ft by adding length to her spinnaker pole and girth to her spinnaker, and about 2 feet to her LP (genoa overlap). Before she made these changes she had performed so poorly in the North American championship that she was almost dropped from the invitation list for the Cup. Her subsequent results in the Cup series, at least after her disastrous first race where she placed 15th, proved that the changes were successful.

The US yacht Artemis, designed by Ron Holland, finished fifth overall (placings 5/6/5/9/9) (photo histoiredeshalfs)
Silver Apple also benefited from changes to her keel and ballast, but not by as much. Kindred Spirit ran out of time to add sail in response to her lightened keel, but did not suffer significantly as a result, even though she sailed with a sub-optimal rating of 27.4ft.
The first race was an Olympic course sailed in light to moderate airs, and the shift off the Point Judith shore determined the preferred side of the course. However, tactics played second fiddle to boat speed, and in this regard Pied Piper asserted herself early. The second race was a little windier and sailed on a windward-leeward track. There were no real surprises, other than Pied Piper finishing fifth and the race being won by Kindred Spirit, which after a second in the first race was leading the series at this stage. America Jane III bounced back from her poor placing in the first race with a second placing.

US yacht Kindred Spirit challenged early but finished fourth overall (photo Robert Foley/Yacht Racing magazine)
The middle distance offshore event started in light airs and conditions remained shifty throughout. Fog closed in on the second day's dawn and rounding marks became a real test for the navigators. The fleet assumed their normal order, with Pied Piper winning, ahead of America Jane III and Gumboots.

Pied Piper (left) and America Jane III 'bloop' their way downwind (photo Robert Foley/Yacht Racing)
The third inshore race, race four, started in a dying breeze, which eventually gave out as the entire fleet reached the 'windward' mark with spinnakers up. A new breeze then arrived with force, building to 30 knots by the finish. America Jane III managed a second, behind Pied Piper, despite a port-starboard incident with Silver Apple - the force of the collision was such that Silver Apple's stem fitting was damaged beyond repair, and she was unable to start in the final race. America Jane III was holed, but she was able to be repaired.

Ted Turner's Vamp, chasing Mach II (middle) and Pied Piper (yellow, to the right) (photo histoiredeshalfs)
The final long offshore was held in strong winds, with seas up to 8 feet and 35 knot winds and fronts crossing the fleet on three occasions. Damage was relatively light, however, with Natael II (Italy) breaking a forestay fitting and Fortune Hunter (Australia) losing part of her rudder. America Jane III powered through for the win (for series places of 15/2/2/2/1), with Pied Piper second, and Gumboots finishing in her customary third place (with series placings of five thirds).

Pied Piper was the most consistent boat in the fleet, benefiting from excellent helmsmen and an experienced crew which included Tim Stern and Rod Davis, and she was quickly bought after the series by Ted Turner (who owned and sailed the Peterson designed Vamp to sixth place in the series). She featured a very effective rig, designed by Lowell North who worked closely with Stern on its development. Her genoas appeared to marry well with her forestay curve, and could bend her mast with great control. This allowed her to carry a mainsail with more shape for lighter air and reaching, while still permitting her to flatten the sail for stronger winds. The control over her mast bend was such that the crew rarely needed more than a flattening reef to depower the rig in heavier air. Turner planned to contest the SORC with Pied Piper the following year, but in the meantime took the boat to Australia for the 1975 Southern Cross Cup where she lined up for a close contest with the new Farr design Prospect of Ponsonby.  She later competed in the 1979 One Ton Cup, which was again raced in Rhode Island, but by which time she was well off the pace.

The crew of America Jane III sheet on after rounding a leeward mark (designer Kaufman grinding) (photo Robert Foley/Yacht Racing magazine)
The early threat posed by Kindred Spirit faded after the second race, and although leading the series at this stage she faded to fourth after posting 6/8/7 in the final three races. Ganbare (Italy) contested the series with a largely Italian crew. She was competitive in the light going but otherwise outclassed and finished 16th overall (from a 16/16/8/15/DNF series), which indicated the level of progress that the One Ton fleet had made in the previous two years.

The fleet start one of the races in light airs during the 1975 One Ton Cup


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