19 May 2017

Backlash (Everitt 43)

Backlash was an interesting design from the board of English yacht designer Julian Everitt. Backlash was commissioned by Tim and Cathy Herring, who wanted an Admiral's Cup design and they were prepared to give Everitt a free hand to be adventurous with his interpretation of the IOR.  They were also prepared to allow the results to come slowly at first, and to develop the boat somewhat empirically.

The design was somewhat radical, with a very low freeboard for her length, although this was an emerging design feature at the time in the One Ton fleet, with the Humphrey's designed Jade being perhaps one of the most extreme examples.  While a masthead design was initially chosen for Backlash, this borrowed some fractional attributes, with a mast placed further forward than typical for this rig type, allowing for a larger mainsail and resulting in a high aspect ratio foretriangle. The boat featured a well thought out deck layout, with twin wheels set well forward allowing good visibility for the helmsman, and the navigators hatch was placed aft of this position, and behind the mainsheet traveller.  
Backlash in her original configuration (1985) (photo One Ton Facebook page)
Backlash was built in Cowes by Vision Yachts, of a high-tech mix of Kevlar, carbon-fibre and epoxy. The hull when removed from the original plug weighed just 270kg. The ring frames and longitudinals and glass fibre floors gave enormous strength and rigidity. The hydraulic backstay could be pumped up to 5,000kg on the forestay load cell, with just 10mm hull deflection. If she lacked anything, it was in her stability, and she benefited enormously from having an extra few crew on her rail. She displaced 7,484kg, and rated 33.6ft IOR, and flew a mix of Banks, Sobstad and McWilliams sails.

Backlash heading into Lymington Marina circa 1989 (photo from Shockwave40 blog)
The Herrings wanted to race their new yacht all over the world, and didn't want to miss any opportunities to improve the boat's performance, even if this meant changes to significant components of the boat, including the keel. While she was raced in her first season with a 'conventional' elliptical keel, Everitt subsequently designed a radical canard-type keel, which was considered to be worth the penalties that it attracted under the IOR (with respect to the Moveable Appendage Factor component of the rule) - her rating is recorded as having increased to 33.84ft at the 1986 SORC. This was a new keel with a laminar flow bulb projecting forward of the foil, complemented by a centreboard-style canard which was lifted when not on the wind to reduce wetted surface area.  The new keel was set further aft, and was smaller and shallower than the original, with the canard placed 1.8m forward.
Backlash's original elliptical keel, which sported an angled cut at the bottom of the leading edge (photo Seahorse)
Further development is evident from photographs of the yacht, where it is apparent that the rig was changed to a fractional set up, although the 1986 SORC results note that she was still masthead rigged at that stage. Her original long and elegant sloping transom was changed to a more upright profile, enabling crew weight to be placed further aft.  This may have been done before changes to the IOR circa 1988 to allow such amendments without affecting the after girth station measurements.
Backlash leaving Lymington Marina, circa 1989 (photo Shockwave40 blog)

Backlash acquitted herself well in her first season in 1985 and showed remarkable speed upwind and down, winning Class I in Cowes Week with four firsts - the Queen's Cup, the Viscount Marchwood Cup, the Sir Walton Preston Cup and the prestigious Brittania Cup, and five firsts in Burnham Week including the Town Cup. The boat was also declared the RORC Yacht of the Year in 1985, and was awarded the Beken Concours D'Elegance. However, she was unsuccessful in the British Admiral's Cup trials in that same year, so never represented Britain in that series. She did compete in the Fastnet Race, which was considered the most unpleasant since 1979 - after losing her no.4 jib soon after the start, Backlash comfortably loped around the course, and this gave the Herrings the confidence to sail the boat to the US.  
Backlash during the 1987 Admiral's Cup trials
The winter of 1986 was spent in the US, where she competed in the SORC (5th in Class 3, but 34th overall) and the Antigua Race Week and Onion Patch Series before the Herrings sailed her back to begin racing on Britain's south coast again.  At this point the new canard keel made a regular appearance (photo right, and inset showing the carnard).  A reasonably successful Cowes Week in 1986 was followed by further success in Burnham Week, where Backlash again won the Town Cup and the Week's Points Trophy. She went on to win the Queen Victoria Cup, but after again missing out on British team selection for the 1987 Admiral's Cup, she finished third in the 'SPC' regatta held that year against the international Admiral's Cup fleet.
Backlash berthed at the Queen Ann Battery marina at the end of the 1987 Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)

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