27 September 2015

Quarter Ton Cup 1978

The 1978 Quarter Ton Cup was sailed in Sajima, Japan, and featured strong winds with choppy seas, that took out the masts of the production versions of the previous 1977 winner, the Holland-design Manzanita, and saw numerous capsizes. The Cup was won by a Japanese design Magician V, a fairly conventional but modified production boat, built by the Yamaha Corporation in a lengthy project to win the Cup and to promote their designs.
Magician V - winner of the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup
The 1978 Quarter Ton Cup marked Japan’s first victory in a world yachting championship, and also began of a new era of grand prix-style yacht racing, with open works team participation. Magician V, helmed by Roy Cundiff and Gerry Gavin of North Sails USA, with a Japanese navigator and foredeck hand, sailed consistently to take the series with a 4/3/1/5/2 scoresheet. They were able to harness the potential of the relatively light displacement fractionally-rigged boat. This potential was revealed in the first race when they were able to carry a spinnaker on the second reach, while many of the leaders could not, and consequently planed up to the front of the fleet from a poor early position.   
Magician V with a weather position on the rest of the 1978 Quarter Ton fleet
Magician V won the shorter offshore race in extremely strong winds (reported by the Japanese Navy as gusting to 45 knots), recording nearly a solid half-hour of planing in rough water where some of their less-powerfully shaped rivals were on a thin line of control. Cundiff recalled the conditions encountered early on the second leg; "Before we arrived at that mark the wind had built to 45 knots with 15 to 18 foot seas running. Boats were capsizing all over. In that race we dropped the spreaders in twice. With a strong current running in the vicinity of the second mark and with the sea conditions the way they were, few boats were making any progress at the mark. We quickly saw that and decided to sail right in next to the beach off a nearby island. There we managed to work our way up the shoreline, and by the time we cleared the island, we were nearly one hour ahead of the nearest boats. Then on the last leg, the 45-knot wind fizzled out to nothing, leaving a stomach-churning 15-to-18-foot sea. Fortunately, the wind finally filled in for the remainder of the leg, allowing us to finish the race". 
Even the winning yacht was not immune from being knocked down during the wild conditions encountered during the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup
In equally strong winds during the last, long offshore race, they started four minutes late after a premature start, but managed to sail steadily through the fleet to secure their overall victory.
Magician V - winner of the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup
Magician V started life as a production fibreglass hull. But after extensive modifications, including microballon bumps, carbon fibre reinforcement, an extended transom, flush deck, stripped out interior and a taller mast, providing 25 square feet of extra sail, she bore little resemblance to the production boats that normally left the Yamaha factory.
Kamikaze Express (left), second overall, and Seaflyer (right), third overall
Another Japanese boat, Kamikaze Express, a rakish looking Japanese-designed centreboarder that had one the Japanese selection trials, finished second overall and won the last race, with series results of 7/6/3/2/1 indicating continued improvement throughout the regatta. Six of the top ten finishers in the 32-boat fleet were Japanese entries, which may have been due in part that they were well accustomed to sailing in the wild and hazardous waters of the Sagami Nada. Competition in the local fleet was also bolstered by a 30 percent tax levied on all boats over 7.5 metres that had seen the number the Quarter Tonners in Japan soar.
Kamakaze Express - above and below, sailed by Mikio Tokano and designed by Toshio Kihara

During the series, the mainland of Japan seemed to be teetering between two huge wind systems, so that depressions and anti-cyclones rushed past to the north and south, while the wind in between became extremely unpredictable in direction and strength. This coupled with a current that ran as much as four knots, creating seas that were often extremely rough and confused.
Part of the 32-boat fleet soon after a start during the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup

New Zealand had a design connection to the third placed boat, the Whiting-designed Australian entry Seaflyer, which finished with results of 5/7/2/1/3. Seaflyer was a development of Magic Bus, and of specially designed offset construction plywood and had a centreboard. Potentially Seaflyer was the fastest in the fleet, but a lack of tuning time probably cost the Australians the win. The boat had also been designed for optimum performance in light to moderate winds and flat seas. Unfortunately it blew hard for four of the five races, with vicious sea conditions common throughout, churned up by a combination of wind and racing tidal currents. 
German entry Four Samurais designed by Axel Mohnhaupt finished fourth overall (with placings of 1/5/9/4/8)
As it was, Seaflyer lost the series by a mere two placings in the final 210 mile race – strong winds and high seas in the last half of the race proved too much for the lightweight centreboarder and she wasn’t able to hold off the determined challenge from the two top Japanese yachts. Knowing they had to finish two places ahead of Magician V in the final race, Hugh Treharne and his crew drove Seaflyer to the limit, capsizing twice as they sought the achieve an overall victory. Her first capsize came midway through the race, the result of a wild broach under spinnaker. The second was at night while sailing upwind – a rearing wave knocked the boat into an involuntary tack, while the crew were still stacked on the weather rail. The Australians recovered from that more frightening episode to finish behind Kamikaze Express and Magician V (profile plan, left) to take out second overall.  
Japanese yacht Shoun A approaches a gybe mark - she finished ninth overall

Another Japanese yacht, Paradice, a Peterson-designed centreboarder, did not fare as well. On the last leg (upwind) in 25-35 knot winds and 12-foot seas, Paradice rounded up during a gust, and a wave caught her and tacked her. With the no.3 jib cleated and the double-reefed mainsail held by the running backstay, the boat lay on her side until a subsequent wave completely turtled her, the centreboard fell out of the boat, and water poured in through the open companionway. The boat began to settle by the stern, upside-down. The crew had just enough time to dive below to release the liferaft before the boat sank in 600 metres of water. The crew were rescued by a passing freighter 17 hours later, having been swept 24 miles eastward by a strong current into the main shipping lanes. 
Four Samurais leads Magician V into a leeward mark during the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup

At least four other centreboarders capsized during the series, including the yacht Oooh Vind, a Groupe Finot design with a swiveling keel, controlled by a lever on deck that could be angled to windward, hopefully to provide a few extra degrees of pointing ability. The same gale force wind that hit Paradice caused Oooh Vind to promptly capsize, tossing all four crew into the sea, with one sailor nearly drowning. The capsizes all happened in the two long offshore races which had taken the fleet into the ‘black current’ waters at the entrance to Sagami Bay, where racing tides of up to four knots rip between rocky islands. The reaction of wind against current whipped up short, steep waves which at times looked – and felt – like brick walls. Many competitors were critical of the organisers for sending the small yachts into what was considered to be a dangerous sailing area. Altogether there were 23 DNF’s in the series, and six earlier retirements did not even start in the final race. 
Magician V sails upwind in moderate conditions

Of the three New Zealand crews competing, the best effort was tenth overall by Black Arrow II, a Peterson design skippered by Tony Bouzaid (16/12/12/9/18). Mark Patterson, sailing the Holland design Vago, withdrew after a win and a dismasting, while John Bonica in Self Whiting finished 22nd overall, and suffered from a torn mainsail forcing her retirement in the final offshore race. Helmer Pederson skippered the Japanese yacht Rodem V, which was uncompetitive and finished 17th.
Magician V seen in a more forlorn state in Japan in recent times
A film of the 1978 Quarter Ton Cup that has recently surfaced can be seen below.

11 September 2015

The International 50-Foot Class - Part 4

The final installment in the International 50-Foot Class story...

Jim Andrews' Richel/Pugh design Abracadabra, skippered by John Kolius, comfortably won the 1990 50-Foot World Cup, and went on to win again in 1991, this time skippered by Paul Cayard sailing under the Italian flag (with many of his crew from the Il Moro di Venezia America’s Cup campaign). But World Cup honours didn’t seem likely after the first event, in Key West, when Mike Peacock’s new Farr design Juno V topped the 15-boat fleet, marking the first time in over a year that a Farr boat had won a 50-Foot event. 
The 50's get underway in a start at Key West, 1991 (right to left - Carat VII, Container, Windquest, Mandrake, Heaven Can Wait, Pro-Motion, Springbok)
The competition was as hot as ever, and only two points separated second through sixth in the overall standings. The new Australian Farr-design Heaven Can Wait came in second overall, while the early leader, Mark Morita’s latest boat, Champosa VII, a Reichel/Pugh design, finished third. 
Windquest comes head to wind as she is hit by Carat VII (right)
The most spectacular sight at the regatta had to be the three-boat pileup on the first beat of the last race. Windquest was approaching the starboard layline on port tack, to windward of Carat VII. Both ducked behind Pro-Motion on starboard, then tacked to leeward of a pack of starboard tackers led by the new Briand-designed Capricorno. Carat spun the helm hard and hit Windquest, which was slower to tack. As Carat slammed into Windquest’s aft quarter, she stopped Windquest’s tack and pushed her back onto port tack. The two boats were locked together, Carat’s bow stuck in one of Windquest’s staunchions (photo, right), and Capricorno, coming in on starboard, had nowhere to go. She barrelled into the intersection between Carat and Windquest, costing Capricorno the first four feet of her bow. This raised serious questions about her berth on the French Admiral’s Cup team later that year, and whether for that reason or not, that place was taken by Corum Saphir (although this could have been the same boat).
50-Foot racing circa 1991

Abracadabra didn’t feature in the results in Key West, but claimed a clear victory in Miami, with impressively consistent scores of 1/2/3/1/2/4, yielding a 13 point win over the second placed Nelson/Marek design Insatiable, while the new Farr design Mandrake (Design #224) was third. Abracadabra had undergone slight modifications before the 1991 series – more ballast was added, and a new lighter rig had been stepped. 
Typical close quarters racing in a 50-Foot World Cup event, circa 1991
The beginnings of some disquiet within the class at the escalating costs of commissioning a modern 50-footer led to president of the International 50-Foot Class Association (IFYA) Wictor Forss taking the unprecedented step at the Miami owner’s meeting of recommending that the class become one-design. Forss presented the owners with a pair of drawings of how a new one-design 50-footer could look – featuring light displacement with good upwind stability, a deep fin keel with a bulb, 10-12 person crews, and unhindered by the continual changes of the IOR. A panel of six owners was formed at the meeting to study the feasibility of going one-design. 
More close quarters 50-Foot racing, with Container on the outside of Windquest
Skyrocketing costs aside, the racing remained as good as ever. Abracadabra took a third consecutive win in the Lymington leg of the World Cup, held in July 1991 as part of the Oracle IOR Regatta, and ahead of that year's Admiral’s Cup. Juno V kept the pressure on Abracadabra right to the end, and took second place, followed by the new Container. The presence of the 50-footers in the 1991 Admiral's Cup had been assured when the organisers had earlier decided that each team include a One Tonner, a Two Tonner and a 50-footer, reflecting the typical composition of teams in the 1989 event (although the need to field a 50-footer hardly encouraged more teams to attend). 
The Australian Frers-designed Cyclone
The eight 50-footers in the Admiral's Cup were Corum Saphir (the top 50-footer of the regatta and part of the winning French team), Mandrake Krizia (Italy), Champosa VII (USA), Juno V (Britain), Container (Germany), Tuborg (ex-Container 89, Denmark), Will (Japan) and the Frers-design Cyclone (Australia). 
The 1991 Container (photo shockwave40)
Container's owner Udo Schutz, had a new boat built for 1991 - although she was scarcely different from her predecessor, she had grown a little in length to suit the new 40.5ft rating that the IFYA had introduced in 1991. The Danes had chosen the old 1989-vintage Container to fill the 50-foot berth for their team. Another name change reflected her new sponsor, Tuborg. However, while the old Container had been a mainstay of the Dane's impressive second placing in 1989, Tuborg was off the pace in 1991 after suffering a collapsed mast step and significant loss of rig tension, with the problem only diagnosed halfway through the 1991 series. Tuborg became the weak link in the Danish team's disappointing sixth place. 
Tuborg - the 1989 Container, sailed for the Danish team in the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo shockwave40)
The final regatta for the 1991 World Cup was held in Miura (Sagami Bay), Japan. As with the 1989 series held in the same venue, only four races were possible when a large high pressure system prevented completion of the scheduled seven races. Mandrake won the series, with Champosa VII second. Cayard and Abracadabra were third on countback (with Champosa), which was enough to give them World Cup honours over Juno V and Mandrake
Juno V after finishing a race during the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo shockwave40)
Abracadabra crosses behind Mandrake during the 1991 Japan World Cup series
After the Japan series the issue of one-design was tabled following the deliberations of the feasibility study, and the owners unanimously voted for a radical change in boat design. It was decided that, beginning with the 1995 circuit, the IFYA would scrap its adopted IOR measurement rule and become a one-design class, which would be a collaboration of the top 50-foot designers (Farr, Reichel/Pugh, Nelson/Marek and Judel/Vrolijk). It was intended that the boat would be designed for offshore grand-prix racing, but not to a formula-driven IOR design, although it would be raceable under the IMS rule. The new design did not come to fruition, however, with the IFYA eventually following the IOR into sailing oblivion, and seemingly taking any momentum for a new type of boat with it. 
Champosa VII (1992 IFYA World Cup champion) douses her spinnaker ahead of a leeward mark during the 1991 Admiral's Cup
The 1992 World Cup was won by Morita's latest Champosa VII, another Reichel/Pugh design, skippered by John Kolius. Champosa VII had struggled in the 1991 Admiral's Cup, and despite being an update of Abracadabra, she had not been able to reproduce the form of the two-time World Cup champion, or that of the top Farr 50-footers, which at that time included Will for Japanese owner Ryouji Oda (Design #211), Juno V, Springbok and Mandrake.
Australian 50-Footer Ragamuffin in power reaching conditions during the 1993 Admiral's Cup

The original Will was followed in 1991 by a new design (#260). The Farr design notes for the new Will describe the changes from earlier generation boats - "Design 260 has a higher sail area to wetted surface ratio and lower drag keel and rudder arrangements. She has significantly higher stability and lower displacement. The deeper keel will give a large performance improvement in stronger upwind conditions without any loss downwind, particularly as refinements in keel shape improve downwind speed." 

In what was the last of the 50-foot World Cup circuits, coinciding with the final demise of the IOR, the 1993 event was won by Carat VII Citroen. The 1993 Admiral's Cup was also the last one sailed under IOR, and the eight 50-footers that sailed were Container (for the winning German team), Ragamuffin (Australia), Corum Saphir (France), Mandrake (Italy), Champosa VII (Japan), Indulgence (Britain, the ex-Juno V) and Jameson 3 (Ireland, the ex-Heaven Can Wait) and Pro-motion VII (Netherlands). The series was notable for the incredibly close win by Germany over Australia (by 0.25 points), but also for the serious collision between Mandrake and Pro-motion VII in the fifth race (photo, right) that saw both yachts forced to retire for the remainder of the regatta.

Container is pushed hard in fresh reaching conditions during the 1993 Admiral's Cup
Germany's Container prepares to round a weather mark during the 1993 Admiral's Cup

Ireland's Jameson 3 (ex-Heaven Can Wait) broaches in fresh downwind conditions during the 1993 Admiral's Cup
Champosa VII was bought by a New Zealand yachtsman and underwent some modifications to fulfil a new purpose as a cruiser/racer (and has had her rig recently trimmed to improve handling while cruising). Other 50-footers that seem to be enjoying a second life include Container and Yeoman XXVII (for sale here).  

Champosa VII re-launched in Auckland, early 1995
Champosa VII returns to Auckland following a cruise in the Hauraki Gulf, 2012
Will (possibly the second one) is sitting in the Tamaki River in Auckland looking somewhat worse for wear. Cyclone has been converted to a cruiser-racer and has competed in the Sydney-Hobart.

Part 1 of this series can be seen here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

5 September 2015

45 South II (Farr One Tonner)

45 South II in her heyday, finishing fourth in the 1976 One Ton Cup in Marseilles
The Farr One Tonner 45 South II (One Ton Cup 1976), one of the subjects of an earlier article, continues to benefit from continued upgrades by her German owner Henrik Teichmann. Following the addition of a twin-spreader carbon mast in 2013, and a winter refit over 2014-15, 45 South II now also sports a new carbon rudder and prod. 
45 South II sailing back to Germany from a cruise in England, summer 2015
Teichmann reports that the new rudder has improved 45 South II's performance even more than the carbon mast, and the boat recently finished a close second in a 24-hour race held in Holland against 380 other yachts (this must be a very popular race - it attracted 577 entries in total, although light winds in the last few hours meant that only 250 boats finished the race in time). 
The new carbon rudder blade
45 South II ghosts over the finish line in the 2015 Delta Lloyd 24-hour race (Holland)

4 September 2015

One Ton Cup 1971 - Part 2

Here is a gallery of colour photos from the 1971 One Ton Cup, which formed part of a feature article in the New Zealand Weekly News, March 1971 (photos taken by Leon Hamlet). An earlier article about this series, the first One Ton Cup under the then new IOR rule, can be seen here.
The New Zealand yacht Runaway, sailing for Germany, sails downwind past islands in the Hauraki Gulf
Wai Aniwa leads the fleet downwind, with Escapade and Apecist to the left and Young Nick to the right
Wai Aniwa works her way through the Rakino passage on the first (short) ocean race - she looked at this stage to be an all-the-way winner of the race, but was becalmed near the finish line and slumped to sixth.
Swiss yacht Joran, foreground, and Wai Aniwa slug it out together during the beat to the weather mark in the third race
Mustang, left, rounds the weather mark in the third race to windward of Apecist (G226) and Maria (A12) on the right
The eventual winner of the Cup, Australia's Stormy Petrel

Sweden's Kishmul to windward of the Italian entry Kerkyra

The start of the 146-mile short ocean race sees Stormy Petrel get the jump on Mustang, Kerkyra, Warri and Wai Aniwa - Wai Aniwa soon after tacked to port and worked the Whangaparaoa shore to take the lead
Young Nick comes in second in the short ocean race