13 January 2013

Locura (Soverel 43)

The previous post on Swuzzlebubble IV featured a photo of her crossing behind the US yacht Locura, commissioned from designer Mark Soverel by George de Guardiola. This was a yacht that I found quite an interesting design at the time of her launching in 1983. At 42ft 10in, or 13m, she was an extension of a smaller 39ft design that Soverel and de Guardiola had campaigned successfully in the 1981 SORC. Locura rated 33.7ft IOR, and was lighter (about 1,500 pounds, or 680kg), shorter (about 1.5ft, or .45m) than other yachts of a similar rating. 

The 13ft (4m) beam was carried well aft, although to maintain a competitive rating this width had to be offset with a significant bustle to reduce the after girth station penalty. Locura also carried about 10% more sail for her rating, and this was set on a tapered three-spreader Sparcraft masthead rig, with a large main and narrow and tall foretriangle. This arrangement mandated narrow spinnakers, which were something of a drawback in light running conditions. The yacht was constructed with skins of E-glass with a Klegecell core capped with carbon fibre.

Locura sails downwind during the 1983 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Winning the SORC was a priority for the yacht, and so she was designed to excel on reaching and running legs in the medium to heavy air that prevails in that regatta. For an IOR yacht of the 1983 era she was considered to be easily driven (due to her narrow entry), and powerful (due to her wide aft sections) with a weight and shape that would let her surf early and often. Her stern sections were also felt to dampen pitching, add form stability and increase the contribution of the crew to her righting moment.
Locura during early sailing trials 1983 (photo Sail magazine)
Locura proved to be strong performer and qualified for the 1983 US Admiral's Cup team after winning Class D - she was also in line to win the regatta overall but was edged out by the Peterson 43 Scarlett O'Hara in the last race. The two boats were similar in rated dimensions, with Locura being only slightly longer, wider and heavier, and sailed with a rating approximately half a foot higher.
Above and below - Locura during the 1983 SORC (photo Seahorse (above), Yachting World (below))

For the Admiral's Cup she was skippered by Soverel and Ted Turner was enticed out of retirement to join the yacht as tactician. The size and moding of Locura was not well suited to the light conditions that prevailed in 1983, but the US proved a point on the second race when Scarlett O'Hara and Locura finished first and second respectively, and the team were the top performers of the day. The US team finished third overall, and Locura finished 20th yacht with placings of 13/2/36/20/22.
Locura with an army of crew stacked in the aft deck sailing downwind during the 1983 Admiral's Cup
Locura was renamed Dawn Patrol by the time of the 1984 SORC, after her new owner the Dawn Patrol Syndicate.  She finished sixth in Class C, and 33rd overall. Changes to the IOR around this time sought to check the reliance of yachts such as Locura on crew weight - she had been sailed with as many as 15 such was her sensitivity to crew weight. Off the wind in light air, four of the crew would troop forward to the forestay to lift her full after sections. The new rule limited crew to the formula 0.3R - 4, giving Locura a maximum number of ten.

The yacht was later renamed Barrister III and painted red. She continued to enjoy success at various regattas around the east coast. However, in early 1999 Barrister III fell off its jack and onto her side, breaking stringers and puncturing the hull. She was later sold to a French yachtsman who sailed her from Maine to Bordeaux.
Dawn Patrol ploughs into a wave during the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Dawn Patrol (above and below), 1984 SORC (photos Larry Moran)

Barrister III (ex-Locura) in a forlorn state, 1999
Barrister III more recently, sailing in France
Soverel designed a bigger 55ft version called The Shadow, with the same stern style. Rating in at 45.8ft IOR, The Shadow won Class A at the 1984 SORC, although in a year that was dominated by the One Tonners in Class E she finished 26th overall. She then went on to win Class B at the Clipper Cup
The Shadow, a 55ft development of Locura, showing the distinctive Soverel stern treatment
The Shadow sailing in light airs in 1984 (photo Larry Moran)


  1. Retrofit in progress near Nantes for locura rogress

  2. That's good to hear, look forward to updates!

  3. Après plusieurs mois, déposé complète de l'accastillage et une mise à nue de la coque, ça prend forme..