22 February 2016

Hellaby (Davidson Quarter Tonner)

Hellaby was designed by Laurie Davidson, for the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup, held in Auckland, New Zealand. She was owned by John Lasher and skippered by Tony Bouzaid, of Waverider fame, and was one of the fastest of the new Quarter Tonners launched for the 1980 series, that included new Bruce Farr designs Anchor Challenge (which won the New Zealand Quarter Ton trials) and Hot Number. Compared to the Farr designs, Hellaby, as a development of Davidson's earlier Quarter Tonners such as Fun, was slightly longer than the Farr boats overall, but with a shorter 'length between girths', and a slightly narrower beam. 
Hellaby working upwind during the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup
The new boats were joined by a number of revamped yachts from the local fleet, including earlier Davidson yachts such as Bashful, Blackfun, Continental Fun and Hi-Flyer, and the Whiting Quarter Tonners Strawberry Letter, Smokey Joe and Hatchway Hummer.
Hellaby undergoes some early modifications to optimise her rating under IOR, including bumping of her midship depth
But the local fleet were comprehensively beaten by the Jacques Faroux-designed Bullit, which at the time demonstrated that European design thinking had overtaken the New Zealand style of boat, with more of a dish shape, with less depth and more beam, a longer stern overhang and an ability to surf downwind much more easily than her rivals. 
Hellaby follows Bullit around a windward mark during the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup
The moment of truth arrived after the top mark in the first race. Bullit rounded second, behind Australian entry Bashful, but by the wing mark was 38 seconds ahead, and went on to finish a full six minutes ahead of the second placed Hellaby. After a repeat performance in the early stages of the second race, sailed in fresh conditions, one of Bullit's spreaders failed and the crew were forced to reduce sail, letting Hellaby in to win after she overtook Anchor Challenge on the second reach.
Hellaby and Bullit before a race - note Hellaby's name covered to address Rule 26 (sponsorship) issues (photo Peter Montgomery Collection)
Bullit was able to reinforce her superiority in devastating fashion in the 140 mile intermediate race, where she beat the second placed Hi Flyer (another Davidson design, and sailed by Helmer Pederson) by almost 47 minutes in the 24 hour long race. Hi-Flyer managed to beat Hellaby by just 12 seconds. The race was sailed in 15-20 knot winds which suited Bullit perfectly. She repeated the performance in the fourth race, steaming away on the reaches and runs after rounding the first mark in fourth place. Hellaby took second in the fourth race, with Bullit again taking the gun.

Hellaby during the 1980 Quarter Ton Cup

The 220 mile long ocean race was sailed in very fresh conditions, with 40 knot gusts at the start and a forecast that did not provide much hope for an improvement for a fleet faced with two roundings of Channel Island. Again, Bullit set a blistering pace in the initial downwind work, but many of these small boats suffered knockdowns and a nervous, if not scary, time while out in the vicinity of Channel Island.  Bouzaid considered the race dangerous, and said they were lucky not to strike wind against tide at Channel Island. Hellaby at one stage submerged completely after gaining high speeds from a number of waves - the boat was white from bow to stern and Bouzaid, standing as far aft as he could get, had water around his knees while gear on the boat began snapping and popping.  
Hellaby during the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup
Hellaby during the first race of the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup
The race was again won by Bullit, despite rig damage, while Anchor Challenge finished second. Hellaby came in third. With the victory in the final race Bullit secured the Quarter Ton Cup for France, with 116.5 points, well clear of Hellaby in second place on 106.25 points, just 0.75 points ahead of Anchor Challenge, while Hot Number, finished fourth.
Maedchen at the 1984 Quarter Ton Cup - the winner of the series Comte de Flandre (F-9083) visible to the upper left
Hellaby went on to contest the 1981 Quarter Ton Cup in Marseille, where she finished fifth in a fleet of 31 boats - she was lying second with placings of 1/6/5/3 before the final Mistral-affected final race from which she retired. After that series she was bought by German yachtsman Horst Dietrich who renamed the boat Maedchen. Dietrich contest the 1984 Quarter Ton Cup in Nieuwpoort, where she finished sixth (of 26 boats). She had a poor regatta in 1990 (finishing 37th) and the boat was later bought for a sailing school in Hamburg and renamed Quatro. 

Maedchen at the 1984 Quarter Ton Cup (photo 1/4 zeilers Facebook page)
Hellaby has since been optimised for racing under IRC and in the Quarter Ton Cup revival series.
A revamped Hellaby competing in the 2018 Quarter Ton Cup

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