27 October 2015

Quarter Ton Cup 1981

The 35-boat fleet that assembled for the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup in Marseilles, France, included qualifiers from the well-attended French and Italian selection trials (a total of 70 boats competed in these two events), and several boats from other countries. The winds ranged from Force 2 to Force 11 (4 to 60 knots), and in the last race of the series, only three boats were able to reach the finish line.
Protis, winner of the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup
The pre-regatta favourites were the many custom and semi-production boats designed by Frenchman Jacques Fauroux, whose Bullit had won the previous two editions of the Cup. Fauroux sailed one of his designs, La Concorde, which, like many other of his boats in 1981, had less extreme stern sections than Bullit, in response to changes in the IOR. The best competition for the Fauroux boats promised to come from the Italian Willy Willy, designed by the Fontana/Maletto/Navone team, and from New Zealand, the Davidson-designed Hellaby that had finished second to Bullit the previous year. 
Cifraline in trouble on a downwind leg during the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup
The opening race was an Olympic triangle sailed in Marseilles’ South Bay in a 17-33 knot easterly. Hellaby took the start and kept the lead throughout the race, with a careful cover over a new custom Fauroux design, Protis which was co-skippered by Bruno Trouble (interestingly, Protis was the only boat in the fleet to carry an inboard engine, which allowed her to be a little bigger and to carry a little more sail area). As the wind freshened, Hellaby extended her lead and won by more than two minutes, with Protis second, and Petite celte, another Fauroux design third, and Willy Willy fourth. 
Adelaide - her ability to carry her spinnaker during the fourth race gave her a big advantage over the rest of the fleet
The second inshore race, sailed in similar conditions to the first, was won by Adelaide, yet another Fauroux design, owned and skippered by Dominique Caparros, who had co-skippered Bullit in 1979 and 1980 and had Adelaide built from the same mould. She led the race convincingly from Protis, while Willy Willy finished fourth and Hellaby sixth. 

The photo to the left is of Lorraine, another new Fauroux design owned by Hong Kong sailor Gilbert Ng and skippered by Helmer Pederson. The photo was taken by Beken of Cowes, on the first day of racing - another reef was needed on the second day and was too fresh for the photographers.

Due to the hard going in the first two races, only 29 entries began the 80-mile middle distance race, which started in much lighter conditions, with La Concorde taking the early lead. Protis moved up to second on the next downwind leg before passing La Concorde to move into first, a position that she would not relinquish. La Concorde was subsequently disqualified for rounding a mark incorrectly. 

Protis during typically fresh downwind conditions during the 1981 One Ton Cup
In the next race, another Olympic triangle held in West Bay, the seas were less rough but the wind was much stronger than the previous inshore races. Adelaide again showed excellent speed in these conditions, gaining the lead early and setting her spinnaker on the reaching legs and opening up a huge lead in dramatic planning conditions. Several other boats tried setting spinnakers and suffered broken masts as a result. While Protis held second place at the start of the run, she too broke her mast after setting her spinnaker. 
Protis - possibly during the first race, and before the more wild conditions of the second and fourth inshore races
The start of the third triangle race (photo Frederic Allain/Seahorse)
Only 21 boats started the 180-mile final race, and four more dropped out in the early stage. The fleet beat their way east in a moderate breeze towards St Raphael, the only mark of the course save for the requirement to stay seaward of the islands along the shore. Protis, which had been allowed to install a new and stronger mast after her fourth race mishap, took over the lead on the first leg and turned the St Raphael mark early the next morning. La Concorde, the early leader, reclaimed her position at the head of the fleet as they worked their way southwest to the islands again. 
Willy Willy
As the fleet entered the last stage of the race in the late afternoon, a mistral wind began blowing from the west at 35-60 knots. Willy Willy, built of plywood, broke some frames and retired as did a number of others, including La Concorde and the New Zealand crew on Hellaby, who professed to never having encountered winds of mistral force before. 
Protis above and below caught in the mistral wind in the fifth race

Greg Dagge from Lorraine recalls that by evening they were just holding station off the Isle de Hyeres against huge waves that were coming off the land. They were in a good position when the compression strut between the chainplates gave way and they were forced to retire, but sailed back to Hyeres under bare poles and incredibly recorded speeds of up to 18 knots.

New Zealand's Hellaby, sailed by John Lasher and which finished in fifth place overall
Another photo of Cifraline in trouble on a downwind leg
By early evening, there were only three boats left in the race. Gyptis, a Jezequel design, was anchored far to the east and would not finish for two more days. Cifraline, a steadily improving Daniel Andrieu design, was battling with Protis which, unbeknownst to the crew, now only needed to finish the race to win the series. Both boats managed to beat past the dangerous Cape Sicie, but then found it so rough that they ran back into the lee of the Cape and anchored for most of the night. They began racing again in the morning, but since Cifraline weighed anchor half an hour earlier, she made it home against the still heavy mistral ten minutes ahead of Protis.
Her second place in the final race gave Protis the Cup, and Fauroux his third consecutive Quarter Ton title. Cifraline finished second and Gyptis third. Willy Willy was fourth, while Hellaby finished the regatta in fifth place. 
Protis during the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup (photo Seahorse magazine)
Protis as seen in 2015

15 October 2015

One Ton Cup 1990

Marstrand (Sweden) provided excellent sailing conditions for 27 One Tonners, including four new yachts, from ten different countries that competed in the 1990 One Ton Cup, with winds generally fair and up to 30 knots during the short offshore race. 
Okyalos VI - One Ton Cup winner for 1990, in reaching conditions in which she demonstrated a slight edge over her competition
The new boats included Italy's Pasquale Landolfi's new Farr designed Brava, which looked as impeccable as his previous boat (the 1989 One Ton Cup winner that had been bought by Russian yachtsmen and re-named Maestro). Peter de Ridder's latest Mean Machine VII, an impressive looking Judel/Vrolijk design, was part of the line up, along with sistership Amsterdamed. Last but not least of the new boats was the Jeppesen-designed Okyalos VI, built by X-Yachts. 
Russia's Maestro, the ex-Brava - won the first race but then slipped off the pace to finish ninth overall
The first race saw the new Mean Machine with a three-minute lead at the first weather mark, but such were the vagaries of the breeze on the first reach she was almost in last place at the second mark. Other than that first reach the breeze was steady and Mean Machine was able to claw back to seventh place. Maestro won the race in impressive style. However, both offshore races showed the talent of the Okyalos crew, who had won the previous two editions of the Three-Quarter Ton Cup. This, along with their good all-round speed, especially reaching, earned them a win in the long offshore race and third place in the short one, both of which carried a higher points loading than the three inshore courses.
Germany's Saudade soon after rounding a leeward mark chases the pack
Mean Machine was second best offshore, with a third place in the long race and a first in the short one.  Many campaigns were lost in the short offshore race - six yachts lost their rigs: Saudade's just went, Brava lost hers downwind when the runner tail broke, and ABAP/4 lost hers for no obvious reason at all, although her experimental carbon rigging had caused problems before. Fram XI damaged her mast but finished in sixth place under an unusual arrangement of trysail and spinnaker. Okyalos broke a checkstay but the crew managed to keep the rig intact. 
The near-winner of the One Ton Cup, Amsterdamed, approaches a windward mark and prepares for a spinnaker hoist
As a result of the short offshore, only 22 boats were able to make the startline for the fifth and final race, which saw Okyalos and Amsterdamed vying for the Cup, with Amsterdamed needing to finish five places ahead of Okyalos to win. Mean Machine was out of the running due to a DSQ for a premature start in the third race, but won the finale by almost a minute.  Although Amsterdamed started poorly, she came through the fleet and closed in on Okyalos. On the third beat, Okyalos's checkstay broke again. Somehow the rig stayed in the boat, and the crew tacked to effect repairs in time to tack back on the layline to the windward mark. She rounded just ahead of Amsterdamed, but there were enough boats close enough that Amsterdamed sould still take victory. 
Saudade broaches during a pre-Cup training sail
On the downwind leg, the repair team on Okyalos went up the mast once more and Amsterdamed was close enough to attack, but were too close to avoid a luff from Okyalos and their boom touched Okyalos's runner. They immediately hoisted the 'I' flag and accepted a 20% penalty. It was a big mistake as Amsterdamed was able to power up the next beat to put enough boats between them and Okyalos, if not for the 20% penalty. Okyalos were able to nurse their rig to finish in tenth place and claim the One Ton Cup. Amsterdamed took second, while Mean Machine's win in the race gave them third overall. Zurich finished fourth, and Fram XI fifth.
Japan's Ninja rounds a leeward mark behind Saudade
The top boats were all considered close in speed - Jeppesen designs took first and fourth, while Judel/Vrolijk had second and third, and their boats looked good all round with a bit extra upwind. Farr designs took fifth and sixth, and would probably have looked better if Brava had not lost her rig, as she was felt to be close to Mean Machine and Amsterdamed.  The first four boats all sported Diamond sail inventories.
Danish yacht Zurich, finished fourth overall

Okyalos was bought by French interests and became Corum Diamante, forming part of the 1991 French Admiral's Cup team. She returned to Greece after the 1993 Admiral's Cup and has since been repainted in her original scheme and was recently offered for sale by her present German owners.
Corum Diamante (ex-Okyalos VI) during the 1991 Admiral's Cup
Okyalos VI seen more recently, and still looks in race-winning condition

4 October 2015

One Ton Revisited 2016

Here's an updated announcement for a European-based One Ton event, which is being promoted by Dutch yachtsman Vincent de Vries, the owner of the Carter design and 'Tina' typeThere are hopes for 30 One Tonners to attend, and all types of One Tonners are welcome, from cruiser/racers from the 60's to the most modern flat out racers from the 90's.

Vincent de Vries Carter-designed One Tonner l'Esprit du Morbihan - originally found as a centreboard ketch and restored to her present glory over five years

2 October 2015

Dive dive!

Here's a great couple of photos spotted recently on the "1/4 ton zeilers" page, of the Fauroux Quarter Tonner Re.Invention (KA R 27), seen here pushing the envelope downwind in fresh conditions. The photos were taken by David Wallace and feature on the wall of the members bar at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Australia. Re.Invention sailed in the 1984 Quarter Ton Cup in Nieuwpoort and finished seventh.