14 September 2016

Smir-Noff-Agen: Saved!

Smir-Noff-Agen, one of five centreboarders designed by Bruce Farr for the 1977 One Ton Cup, has been rescued from an uncertain future in Australia's Gold Coast. She was loaded onto a ship in September 2016 for transport to Dubai, where she is receiving a complete restoration and upgrade to have a second life as a modern IRC racing yacht, with a similar approach to that given to the Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble.
Smir-Noff-Agen seen here sailing as part of the victorious New Zealand team during the 1977 Southern Cross Cup in Sydney
The Farr centreboarders of 1977 were very fast yachts, and featured some of the cleanest hull shapes of the IOR era, and considered long for their rating (27.5ft IOR). As with Swuzzlebubble, this combination, along with a modern rig, sails and foils, should mean that the boat will be very competitive under IRC.
In somewhat of a sad state following a stalled refurbishment effort in the Gold Coast
Smir-Noff-Agen was later named Vanguard, then Scallywag II (and won the 1982 Sydney to Hobart race), and then Best by Farr - her history can be seen here. She will be re-named Oro Nero, and will feature a black and gold colour scheme.
Being loaded onto a cradle (above) and truck (below) for her long voyage to Dubai

The efforts to give Smir-Noff-Agen a new lease of life means that four of the five boats built to this design are still sailing and/or racing (see Jenny H, Mr Jumpa and The Red Lion), with only the whereabouts of the Australian boat Hecate unknown (but thought to be located in Darwin).

Update here.

13 September 2016

Gerontius (Farr 42)

The Bruce Farr-designed Gerontius (KZ-2302) had been designed for Graeme Eder in 1973 (Design #39) as an extension of the Farr 33 Moonshine, as a fast cruiser but with some emphasis towards the IOR where it was not considered to affect performance too greatly. At this early stage in the development of Farr's larger yachts, and because of her aspirations as a dual purpose yacht, a masthead rig was used, but of reasonably moderate proportions to match her light and easily driven hull. Her relatively squat looking rig and low sail area helped achieve a reasonable rating, although this was still relatively high at 35.5ft.

Notwithstanding that she was not designed as an out-and-out Admiral's Cupper, Gerontius created something of a minor controversy when she was selected for the New Zealand team for the 1975 Admiral’s Cup. Showing surprising speed upwind in light airs, she finished the trials in third place, behind two S&S designs, the 42 footer Barnacle Bill and the 45 footer Inca, with a clear edge over the highly fancied S&S designed 50 footer Corinthian.
Gerontius during the New Zealand 1975 Admiral's Cup trials (photo Sea Spray)

It had not been expected that the unusual looking and homegrown design would be competitive, and after it became clear after the first three races that she was clearly in the running, her competitors aboard the S&S designs lodged a joint protest over her IOR measurement certificate. This was dismissed, although it clearly rattled the Gerontius crew who suffered from poor starts in the next few races. But she ultimately prevailed and was duly selected to be part of the New Zealand team for its first attempt to win the coveted trophy, regarded as the unofficial world championship of offshore sailing.
Gerontius claws her way round Flat Rock (off Kawau Island) in the second trials race in which she finished second to Barnacle Bill on corrected time (photo Sea Spray)
The Gerontius crew for the Admiral's Cup included Farr himself (which meant that he wasn't able to sail aboard his Quarter Tonner 45 South which was making history at the same time in France), as well as Peter Blake. Her optimum performance was in fresher breezes, as was that of the Carcano-designed Vihuela in the Italian team. As Bob Fisher noted in his Admiral's Cup history "The drawback to their light displacement boats is that they lack sail area for light weather and in 1975 that was to be their undoing".

Gerontius in tight reaching conditions during the 1975 Admiral's Cup (photo Jonathan Eastland)
However, despite the typically light air conditions that prevailed, Gerontius' place in the team was vindicated when she ended the series as the top scoring New Zealand boat in 11th place overall. The New Zealand team itself finished a creditable sixth place, of the 19 nations represented.
Gerontius seen here in Cowes during the 1975 Admiral's Cup
Gerontius returned to New Zealand and raced actively for some time, including competing in the 1977 Auckland to Suva race, where she finished fourth on line and sixth on corrected time (amongst no less than 61 finishers!). Eder and Blake also sailed Gerontius in the same year to overall line honours in the 1,250 mile 1977 Round the North Island race.

She went on to race in the inaugural 1978 Clipper Cup, as part of the New Zealand 'A' team alongside the Farr One Tonner Country Boy and a newer fractional rigged Farr 42, Monique, and revelled in Hawaii's reliable breezes. NZ A led the series by just two points going into the last race (the 800 mile Around the State), but were overtaken by a strong Australian effort in the finale, and finished second overall (the NZ B team finished third, thanks to a second place by Inca in the final race).

Gerontius remains based in Honolulu, and has recently been advertised for sale.

3 September 2016

Half Ton Cup 1982

The 1982 Half Ton Cup was sailed in Mikrolimano, Greece, and was won by local yacht, Georges Andreatis' Atalanti II, a Joubert-Nivelt design skippered by champion US yachtsmen Rod Davis and Chris O'Nial.  This result gave the Michel Joubert and Bernard Nivelt design team their second success in a Ton Cup, and was a prelude to the even greater success they enjoyed with their minimum rater, Diva, at the 1983 Admiral's Cup. The Daniel Andrieu design Cifraline 2 took second place.
Atalanti II - 1982 Half Ton Cup winner
French yacht Cifraline 2 had a successful build-up to the regatta at La Rochelle and was a favourite for Cup honours when she came to Mikrolimano. She was constructed in fibreglass and Klegecell sandwich at the Technicoque. Cifraline 2 was the faster downwind. With a clean hull shape and small keel she was fast downwind. The crew including Daniel Andrieu, Philippe Follenfant, Christophe Cudennec, Jena Baptiste le Vaillant and Michel Geoffrin started badly each race, and as a result put themselves under pressure to challenge the leader yachts. In the last offshore race, she was three hours behind in the first quarter but came through the fleet to win.
Cifraline 2
Philippe Briand was the designer and helmsman of Free Lance, also from France, and she was another favourite for the Cup.  Free Lance was very quick at all points of sailing and all winds, other than  downwind in light airs, this due to Free Lance being a long boat, very light (About 2300 kg when sailing), a very clean shape, as with Cifraline 2, but a correspondingly lower sail area.  However, while Free Lance started strongly, she was disqualified from the fourth race for a startline luffing incident with Greek yacht Jonathan. This was viewed by many competitors as unduly harsh, and was met with some anger by the Free Lance crew. In protest at the perceived unfairness of the decision, the Free Lance crew elected not to start the final long offshore race, resulting in a disappointing 20th place in the final standings.
Free Lance - had a disappointing end to her regatta, but bounced back in the 1983 event

The Germans had two boats in the series, including Play and Loss, designed by Nissen. She was skipped by Berend Beilken, a well-known sailmaker and winner of the 1978 One Ton Cup (with Tilsalg). Although very close to Cifraline 2 regarding measurements, Play and Loss had a very different hull with a reverse waterline below the stern. She was oriented to light airs.
Play and Loss (above and below)

The Italian team included the Fontana-Maletto-Navone designed Pioneer (renamed Pionière to address an issue regarding sponsorship), which had won the Italian selection trials. She was nicely built in cold-moulded wood at the Morri and Para Shipyard, and was very quick in light air, finishing first and second in the first two triangle races. Pioniere was quite different to the French designs, being heavy (2,700 kg), long and wide, with a large sail plan. She finished sixth overall. 
Pioniere (above and below)

Lady F, skippered by Eric Duchemin and Jerome Langlois, was an interesting design, but appeared to be too light for the design of the hull, which affected the way she sailed through the waves and chop off Mikrolimano.  Poor tactics in the first race where she finished 31st affected crew morale, and while they bounced back in the last race to take third, this was too late for a podium finish and they finished seventh overall.
Lady F (above and below) - finished seventh overall

Atalanti II
Play and Loss rounds a gybe mark
Attenti a quei due (placing unknown)
Don Quixote IV - finished tenth overall
Atalanti II
Hazzard (ninth overall)
Atalanti II
The results for the 1982 Half Ton Cup (first ten yachts)
Rating measurements for some of the top boats at the 1982 Half Ton Cup, including the 1983 winner, Free Lance
Atalanti II went on to win the Half Ton Cup again in 1993, after being fitted with a new keel and taller rig and benefitting from an age allowance.

Many thanks to 'Chorus' for his assistance in translating one of the French articles from the Half Ton History site regarding the 1982 regatta.