19 May 2017

Backlash (Everitt 42)

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.  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, winning the prestigious Brittania Cup, along with the Queen's Cup and other local trophies. The boat was also declared the RORC Yacht of the Year in 1985, and was awarded the Beken Concours D'Elegance. She was unsuccessful in the British Admiral's Cup trials, so never represented Britain in that series. 

Backlash berthed at the Queen Ann Battery marina at the end of the 1987 Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)
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.  A reasonably successful Cowes Week in 1986 was followed by further success in the Burnham Week, where Backlash won the Town Cup and the Week's Points Trophy. She went on to win the Queen Victoria Cup and to finish third in the 'SPC' regatta in 1987 against the international Admiral's Cup fleet.

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