10 February 2015

Bondi Tram - Frers 41

Bondi Tram, an update of Frers' earlier Hitchhiker design, was built for Denis O'Neil in 1982 to contest the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials. Bondi Tram featured the same elegant design characteristics of her earlier sister, with a moderate freeboard, relatively clean lines, blister cabin top and long sloping transom, and was finished with a striking metallic grey paint scheme. She carried Sobstad sails on a triple-spreader masthead rig.

Bondi Tram emerges from the McConaghy Boats shed
Bondi Tram was constructed by McConaghy Boats using the most exotic materials available. John McConaghy built her from carbon fibre and Kevlar skins sandwiched over a Klegecell core, using technology developed for Iain Murray's champion 18 foot skiffs. The very lightness of the resulting hull and deck from this method of construction increased the ballast ratio and led to the boat being over stiff and caused some problems with its rating. Internal ballast was added to reduce the rating, but this had a significant effect on her performance. 

Bondi Tram powers upwind during the 1983 Admiral's Cup trials
After it sailed in the 1982 Sydney-Hobart race with a rating of 32.1ft IOR (just over the Two Ton limit), O'Neil had 272kg of internal ballast removed from the boat and the hull was bumped at key measurement points - these measures combined had the effect of reducing the rating to 31.6ft for the Australian trials.
Bondi Tram (photo McConaghy Boats)
Bondi Tram had mixed fortunes in the trials with results of 5/5/2/3/1/5/7/4/5/2, but scored well in the races that mattered most, with a third in the 120-miler around Port Philip Bay that ended in a full gale, and finished second in the Bass Strait race. Her 'unofficial' points tally was 92, placing her second on the results table behind Hitchhiker (on 95 points) and ahead of Shockwave (all three were Frers designs). O'Neil told the selectors that he would remove another 180kg of lead ballast and accept an expected rating increase of 0.1ft to improve her light air performance, as well as her overall acceleration and downwind speed (although she was already considered by selectors to be the fastest yacht on this point of sail). It is not clear if the modification to her ballast was made, as she is recorded as still having her rating of 31.6ft for the Admiral's Cup (with key rating dimensions of 34.11 L, 12.34 B, and 14,789 DSPL).  
Bondi Tram trails Hitchhiker during the 1983 Admiral's Cup trials (photo Bob Ross/Australia's Yearbook of Sail)
Bondi Tram approaching the finish of the long bay race during the Port Philip Bay race during the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Sportscar)
In controversial circumstances, Shockwave was discounted by the selectors and the third place in the Australian Admiral's Cup team went to Peter Kurts Dubois 40 design Once More Dear Friends.
Bondi Tram (left) leads Espada (Austria) downwind during one of the inshore races during the 1983 Admiral's Cup
The Australian team were probably disappointed with their fourth place in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, but all the teams that year were humbled by the dominance of Germany. Bondi Tram was the best placed of the Australian boats, finishing in 13th place overall with placings of 8/32/17/32/12.
Bondi Tram featured on the cover of Yacht Racing & Cruising magazine in November 1983 after the Admiral's Cup series (photo Alastair Black)
The boat later proved her pedigree with an outstanding performance in the 1984 Clipper Cup series (photo at left), taking five straight victories for a clean sweep of Class D, and finished sixth in the overall fleet standings with placings of 15/14/13/19/3 - she formed part of the Dunhill Australia team, with Indian Gibber and Once More Dear Friends, that finished fourth overall.  

Bondi Tram backed that up result with another winning effort in the San Francisco Big Boat Series several weeks later to win Class E (the Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy) with four firsts and a second. She went to contest the Big Boat Series in later years but her results are not known.
Bondi Tram and Lobo during the 1986 Big Boat Series
Bondi Tram is presently for sale (as of February 2015) and lying in Waikiki, Hawaii (below).


  1. In the last photo, it looks like she has been fitted with dagger boards?

  2. Hi Arran, no they are just shroud base protectors (better view in the photos in the advertisement)