28 August 2014

One Ton Cup 1988

The 1988 One Ton Cup was hosted by the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco during 3-15 September. The One Ton fleet (30.5ft IOR) had over the preceding years been the most competitive and best supported class in ocean racing, and the Cup was attracting the most sophisticated boats and best crews around. 

The fleet in San Francisco numbered 25, with the Farr office responsible for the design of ten of the boats. The defending champion, the Crown Prince Harold of Norway, arrived in San Francisco early with his yacht Fram X which had won the 1987 even held in Kiel, Germany, and remained a serious contender a year later. Other top boats included Bravura, a new 1988 Farr design under the direction of Geoff Stagg and a Farr works team. Bravura had taken top honours at the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii a month earlier. Another entrant that arrived from Hawaii was Australian Gary Appleby's Sagacious V, a veteran of the 1986 Southern Cross Cup and 1987 Admiral's Cup.

Propaganda - 1988 One Ton Cup winner
The New Zealand challenge was spearheaded by Propaganda, the top scoring boat in the 1987 Admiral's Cup which was by this time owned by a syndicate of Tim Bailey, Michael Fay and David Richwhite. Propaganda had not raced since the Admiral's Cup and instead had been tuned in Auckland with sistership Fair Share, and had been given a new keel and rudder prior to the series to try to improve downwind performance. Propaganda was skippered by Rick Dodson, and included US sailor John Bertrand who provided excellent local knowledge.

Startline action during the 1988 One Ton Cup
Other notable entries included the 1983-era Pacific Sundance, skippered by Chris Dickson, and local entry Pendragon, a Davidson design skippered by Kimo Worthington.

Part of the 1988 One Ton Cup fleet - Propaganda just to the left of KA-Sm-6 has an average start but will soon be up with the leading bunch.
The first inshore race was held inside San Francisco Bay in typically perfect conditions for which the Bay is known, but working the shore of Angel Island in the adverse tide on the upwind legs was critical. By the second to last beat Pendragon and Propaganda were leading and engaging in a close duel barely feet apart and taking each other into the middle of the course and into the current. Pacific Sundance was able to take advantage and lead around the penultimate weather mark, and it wasn't until the final beat was able to move into the lead, winning by 20 seconds, with Pacific Sundance second and Pendragon third.

The second race, the long offshore, took the fleet under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into light and shifty coastal waters, and on a large ocean triangle course of around 150 miles (with the Farollan islands acting as a wing mark), followed by a smaller triangle of 75 miles and then back into the Bay to finish off the Yacht Club. This proved to be more a test of nerves and frustration than sailing skill. Sagacious V lead the fleet after 50 miles, from Rush (ex-Jamarella) but with Fram X and Propaganda close behind. But during the night Propaganda had played the shifts to perfection and moved up to second, and managed to round the Farollan Islands without coming to a standstill and put a large gap between Sagacious and the rest of the fleet. For the rest of the race Propaganda was on her own, managing to keep moving in the very light air and finishing just before the ebb tide became too strong - Sagacious was shut out and Propaganda finished the race 8 hours ahead. Fram X came in third, followed by Pendragon.

Propaganda heads upwind and avoids a competitor's errant spinnaker
Conditions could not have been more different for the third race, the second inshore, with 25-30 knots blowing against the tide and forming short sharp seas. Pendragon was an early casualty, breaking her boom after throwing a covering tack over Propaganda. The fleet was closely bunched at the weather mark and while Sagacious was in the leading bunch her mast failed soon afterwards. Both Bravura and Fair Share managed to blow out spinnakers on the downwind legs, while top marks for presentation went to British entry Juno for showing her entire keel during a wipe-out at the gybe mark. 

As in the first race, the Angel Island shore was again paying in the strong tidal conditions, forcing a line of port tackers up the first half of the weather legs.  Propaganda had an immense tussle with the Takai design Victoria, just taking the lead after the final bottom mark and stretching away to win by a minute after Victoria broke her boom. Skedaddle, a Reichel-Pugh design, came in second, followed by Bravura and Fair Share.

After three races Propaganda was the clear leader going into the fourth race, the 150 mile short offshore. Given the light conditions for the long offshore, the race committee elected to reduced the length of the race to 139 miles, but with just 70 miles outside the Bay, and the remainder within the Bay, taking the competitors right up into the container areas and the eastern end of the Harbour, where there were still light and shifty breezes, and periods of total calm. In fickle conditions Fram X and Propaganda finished 11 and 12th respectively, although Propaganda had been lying in 15th for a time.

Sagacious loses her mast in the third race
Despite the trials of the offshore races, most competitors were happy to this point with the organisation of the regatta. The checking of yachts was conducted on a random basis both before and after races, and involving checks of sails, freeboards and the internal positioning of gear by very thorough measurers - the race committee working hard to prevent a repeat of issues in Kiel the year before. However, most thought this thoroughness went too far when both Sagacious and Black Jack were precluded from installing their spare rigs following their breakages, and forcing the crews to repair the broken ones. Pendragon was unable to fix their boom in time for the short offshore and so had to miss the race.

The final race was again held in 18-20 knots, and saw Fair Share jump out to an early lead. Skippered by Russell Coutts, Fair Share was improving throughout the series and was clearly on form by the closing stages. She ended up covering Bravura and Pacific Sundance which let Propaganda sail her own race and go on to win by over a minute. With a 1/1/1/12/1 record, Propaganda won the series by a comfortable margin on 142.25 points, with Bravura second on 121.5, Fram X third (118.5), followed by Team Cirkeline, Sagacious and Fair Share. The first non-Farr boat was Challenge 88 in seventh place, a Bruce Nelson design.
Fair Share sails past Alcatraz
Propaganda's dominance was due to a number of factors. Much care was taken to develop her keel and rudder shapes to provide better all round performance to balance out the blistering upwind speed that she had at the Admiral's Cup. The boat and crew arrived early in San Francisco and spent a full ten days fine tuning the mast and rigging for the conditions and sail testing against Fair Share. Significantly, the crew found that their Sparcraft mast was flexing too much in San Francisco's 25 knot winds, and so extended the jumper struts and replaced the rigging with cobalt rod to limit stretch - the resulting more powerful and stiffer rig showed its worth from the first race onwards. 

Missing the Kenwood Cup series allowed the Propaganda crew to focus on the One Ton Cup, and avoided issues such as those that beset Juno which suffered a collision at the earlier regatta, and winners of the regatta Bravura were perhaps left with a false sense of security. Challenge 88 had had to scramble to make it to San Francisco after winning their victory at the Canada's Cup. 

Sagacious (left) follows Victoria into a gybe mark
The crew work was excellent and all of them had raced with skipper Rick Dodson which allowed fine tuning of the yacht to take precedence over crew work. The combination of John Bertrand as tactician and John Newton as navigator was also a great asset, with the boat sailed on a consistent and percentage basis, with no protests and no close incidents which allowed the crew to keep sailing the boat at its fastest. 

It was, overall, a remarkable performance, equaling the four-win record set by Chris Bouzaid in another famous New Zealand yacht, Rainbow II, which won the Cup in 1969. Afterwards, Propaganda co-owners Fay and Richwhite announced their intention to build a second, larger Farr design to campaign alongside Propaganda in the New Zealand team for the defence of the Admiral's Cup in 1989 - that boat would be known as Librah. Propaganda and Fair Share stayed in San Francisco for the 1988 Big Boat Series, where the ever improving Fair Share turned the tables on the One Ton Cup winner to take second place behind Pendragon, with Propaganda third.

The One Ton Cup

Results (top 10)

1. Propaganda (NZL) - Farr - 142.25pts
2. Bravura (USA) - Farr - 121.50
3. Fram X (NOR) - Farr - 118.50
4. Team Cirkeline - Farr - 114.50
5. Sagacious (AUS) - Farr - 112
6. Fair Share (NZL) - Farr - 106
7. Challenge 88 (USA) - Nelson - 103
8. Pacific Sundance (NZL) - Farr - 98
9. The Esanda Way - Davidson - 90
10. Skedaddle - Reichel-Pugh - 84

23 August 2014

One Ton Revisited - Press Release 23 August 2014

Two of the “royals” of New Zealand offshore racing – John and Kevin Lidgard – have joined the line-up for the One Ton Revisited regatta in February/March 2015. Successive generations of the Lidgard yachting dynasty, father and son John and Kevin are to crew for Bevan Hill on the John Lidgard-designed and built Result. The 36ft 2in (11.02m) Result was constructed, of kauri/kahikatea (glassed), for the 1977 One Ton Cup in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

The John Lidgard designed Result during the 1977 One Ton Cup
One of John Lidgard’s many great moments in a highly-distinguished offshore racing career was in 1971 when he skippered New Zealand’s Southern Cross Cup team that comprised Pathfinder (Brin Wilson), Runaway (John Lidgard) and Wai-Aniwa (Chris Bouzaid). That trio notched up an unprecedented (and, one suspects, never-to-be-repeated) 1, 2 and 3 in the Sydney-Hobart classic to also clinch New Zealand’s first win in the Southern Cross Cup teams’ series. That would have been particularly satisfying for John Lidgard – designer, builder and skipper of Runaway and captain of the team - quite a “fourfecta”!!! 

Pathfinder racing in Auckland in 1971 (Pathfinder is now based in Seattle)
Another newcomer to the fleet is the S&S design Young Nick, which was also built for the 1971 One Ton Cup defence in the Hauraki Gulf. She was commissioned by industrialist, the late Lou Fisher, and skippered by former Rainbow II tactician (now yacht designer) Alan Warwick. Young Nick is in top condition with owner/skipper Craig Hopkins seeking training partners to work up with him before the event (anyone interested, Craig’s email address is craig@edesiamarket.co.nz).

Young Nick during the 1971 One Ton Cup trials
With the entry deadline looming, organisers know of a number of would-be entries that are working their way to putting their hats in the ring. So, to be as inclusive as possible, the RNZYS has agreed to accept late entries, right up to the eve of the series, at the Squadron’s absolute discretion and with a 10% loading on the regular entry fee. To facilitate this, an official amendment to the Notice of Race will be issued in the next few days (view the Squadron's One Ton Revisited page here). 

The Farr 1104 Revolution
In the interim, we will be meeting next week with the Volvo Ocean Race stopover organisers to discuss how we can play our part in what will be a Festival of Sail while the round-the-world racers are in town and, particularly, how the One Ton Revisited yachts can that be best-accommodated in the build-up races to the Volvo restart on 15 March, 2015.

Meanwhile, the One Ton Revisited entries to date are Pacific Sundance (NZL 5281), Rainbow II (C96), Result (2998), Revolution (NZL 4697), Sextett (GER 1785), Wai Aniwa (1280) and Young Nick (1185).

17 August 2014

A Lighter Ton - now an e-book

My book 'A Lighter Ton: The Champion New Zealand Yachts of the 1970s', first published in March 2012, is now available on the Amazon Kindle store as an e-book (here).

The book tells the story of how New Zealand designers, Bruce Farr, Laurie Davidson and Paul Whiting, changed the face of international racing yachts during the 1970s in the level rating offshore classes – the ‘Ton’ boats. It features 76 photographs and 15 drawings, including lines plans.

The book traces the origins of the International Offshore Rule (the IOR), how it worked and its development in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It then examines the emergence of a new and light displacement approach to the Rule, one that allowed for greater speed for less cost, leading to boats that were more exhilarating to sail and would point the way to a more exciting future in yacht design.

Reaction to this new breed was not universally positive, however, and this book follows the changes to the Rule that were designed to safeguard a peculiar status quo, boats that were typically wider, heavier and slower for their size. The issues raised by the new boats came to a head for the 1977 One Ton Cup series held in Auckland, and the Australian Southern Cross Cup series of the same year, and lead to rule changes that would affect the face of offshore yacht design for over a decade. This book is a celebration of the yachts that, although practically ruled out of the sport, showed the potential and promise of a lighter Ton…

See the reviews here.

One of the yachts featured in 'A Lighter Ton' - The Red Lion seen here during the 1977 One Ton Cup

10 August 2014

Red Rock IV (Frers 43)

Red Rock IV (photo Beken - sample sheet)
Red Rock IV is a 43 footer (rating 34.4ft IOR), designed by German Frers and built by Marland Marine for owner E Mandelbaum to form part of the Argentinian team to compete in the 1979 Admirals Cup. She sailed in the series alongside team-mates Acadia and Sur II - Acadia having missed a place in the US team. 

The 1979 series was windy throughout, and after placings of 31/25/38/17 in the inshore and Channel races, Red Rock IV went on to finish 6th in the storm lashed Fastnet Race of that year (to finish 15th yacht overall, and top yacht in the fifth placed Argentinian team).

Red Rock IV featured on the cover of Argentinian yachting magazine 'Gente'
Red Rock IV is now owned by English yachtsman Rob Newman in her new home port of Portishead, Bristol Channel. Newman has extensively modified this big heavy yacht for single handed sailing, and has recently competed in the 2014 Celtic Challenge, the Solo Offshore Racing Club's signature event for the season which started on 22 July in Falmouth, and finished in Plymouth in early August. The Celtic Challenge comprises five races up to 310 miles long, taking in the Southern Irish ports of Kinsale, Sherkin Island, Bear Island and Dingle, and included a rounding of one of the most well known of offshore racing turning marks, Fastnet Rock.

Red Rock IV sailing in the Celtic Challenge 2014

The Celtic Challenge also formed a qualifying event for the even bigger challenge of the 2015 AZAB (Azores and back) race, which Newman has also entered. He reports that Red Rock IV performed fantastically well in South Irish sea, and his video footage shows that he is able to sail this big boat downwind with apparent ease (and time to film!), even though she was originally designed to be handled with a full crew and still retains some of those IOR rolling tendencies. 

Red Rock IV sailing downwind in the South Irish sea (photo Rob Newman)

12 July 2014

SORC 1983

Here is the video documentary of the 1983 Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC). It features some great sailing footage of the maxis like Kialoa IV, Condor, Nirvana and Midnight Sun, and the keen battle between the top Class C yachts Locura and Scarlett O'Hara. Also featured are Class B winner Carat and the first of Farr's return to IOR design in this period, Class E winner Migizi.

11 July 2014

2014 Half Ton Classics Cup

Swuzzlebubble, the Farr-designed Half Tonner that competed in her first Half Ton Cup in 1977, won the 2014 edition of the Half Ton Classics Cup, held in Saint Quay Portrieux, France. After two second placings on the first day, Peter Morton and his crew won the next race and then never looked back, going on to win the 40 mile coastal race on the second day, and all three races on the third day to wrap up the regatta with a day to spare. Swuzzlebubble seemed to have impressive speed in all of the conditions experienced during the regatta, and was able to overcome the handicap of having the highest IRC rating in the fleet (0.974). 

The transformation of Swuzzlebubble from her derelict condition in Greece just over a year ago to her race-winning form of today is remarkable, and underlines the pedigree of her original design, prepared by Farr as one of a trio of these breakthrough yachts, and pre-dated many of her competition that arrived for the 2014 series. The performance of Swuzzlebubble perhaps lies in the fact that this design was considered quite long for a Half Tonner, and reflected Farr's thinking at the time about how to provide fair lines around the after girth stations in combination with a lighter displacement hull. From 1979, and following the introduction of a displacement to length factor in the IOR rule, boats had to be heavier to remain competitive, and later boats tended to be deeper amidships and more pronounced distortion in their aft sections. Although she was originally designed as a centreboarder, she now sports a Mark Mills IRC-optimised fixed keel. And Swuzzlebubble is obviously very well sailed, and Morton's win in the extremely close racing in the Quarter Ton Cup a few weeks ago must have been excellent preparation for the Half Ton Cup.
Swuzzlebubble shows her impressive upwind form on the first day of the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup
The Half Ton Classics Class press release from the final day sums up the overall placings (with photography credits to Fiona Brown (and many more here), and video from the Half Ton Classics Cup blog:

Saint Quay Portrieux - 11 July 2014 - The 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup came to a sparkling conclusion today with one final thrilling race off the beautiful North Brittany coast and a delightful prize giving on the waterfront of Saint-Quay-Portreiux. With the breeze a little lighter at around 10-14 knots we saw some different faces at the front of the pack today and the finish was incredibly close, both on the water and on corrected time. Robert Tregear's Per Elisa (1989 Ceccarelli), the last one off Half Tonner ever built, came into her own and gave Swuzzlebubble a run for her money, although they couldn't quite save their time and Swuzzlebubble won by 23 seconds. Third place went to Frederic Waniart's diminutive Maeva (1974 Mauric) who beat General Tapioca for third by a mere 0.16 seconds! Also much happier in today's lighter airs was Checkmate XV who took fifth, beating The Big Picture by 0.53 seconds!

Video footage of racing on Day 1

Startline action during the 2014 Half Ton Classics Cup
Our winner, Peter Morton's Swuzzlebubble had already been confirmed yesterday, but still came out to race purely for the joy of it. And our remaining podium positions were confirmed as Bernard Fournier Le Ray's Brittany Drizzle (1978 Berret) evaded one final challenge from her sistership General Tapioca, owned by Philippe Pilate, to claim second place with General Tapioca taking the third step on the podium.

General Tapioca - third overall
At the prize giving each of the skippers was invited to the podium to receive an invitation to the 2015 Half Ton Classics Cup, which will be held in in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, from 17-23 August, and to say a few words about the regatta. They were universal in their praise of the Sport Nautique Saint-Quay-Portrieux for their organisation of the regatta, of the Half Ton Classics Class for their work behind the scenes, and of their crews and fellow competitors for the incredible competition, fun and camaraderie they have experienced this week. 

Video footage from the coastal race on Day 2

General Tapioca chases Concorde downwind

Winner Peter Morton not only paid tribute to the organisers and his crew, but to his fellow owners and the incredible work they do in keeping these historic boats in such outstanding condition. He especially highlighted his closest challenger Bernard Fournier Le Ray, who he has known since Bernard built Indulgence, the boat in which Peter won the Three Quarter Ton Cup in 1986. Peter highlighted that Bernard built Brittany Drizzle himself in his garden in 1978 and has raced and maintained her personally ever since, giving Peter much good competition over the years. That she is in outstanding condition some 36 years later and still raced with great success at the highest level is a true testament to Bernard's skill as a builder and sailor and to the longevity of the Half Tonners. Peter concluded by saying he looked forward to racing with the fleet again at next year's event in Nieuwpoort.

Interview with Peter Morton

The Daniel Andrieu design Concorde - ninth overall and winner of The Half Ton Spirit Trophy
And finally we came to the most important presentation of all, The Half Ton Spirit Trophy, which is awarded to the team, which, in the opinion of the Class and the Regatta Committee, truly embodies the extraordinary spirit of the class and the event. For their commitment and incredible personal hard work in keeping their beautiful boat in 100% as original condition, for sailing with great success with an entirely Corinthian crew and for racing her, runners, checkstays, titanium fittings and all, to an incredible ninth place overall, the 2014 Half Ton Spirit Trophy was awarded to deafening applause to Concorde (1989 Andrieu) owned by Francis Marshall and crewed by Robert Libby, Matt and Ivan Jacock, Peter Greenwood, Dick Jackman and Jack Spree - a bunch of Enterprise sailors and fishermen from Loo in Cornwall. A very moved Francis and his entire team came to the podium to accept the trophy and the recognition of their fellow sailors. 

Video from Day 3

Per Elisa - the last Half Tonner ever built, finished 14th overall
Concorde on a reaching leg ahead of fellow French competitor Port de Perros Guirec (12th overall)
The next Half Ton Classics Cup will be held in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 17-23 August 2015.

7 July 2014

Juno (Humphreys One Tonner)

Juno was a One Tonner designed for the 1987 Admiral's Cup for English yachtsman Mike Peacock, who had previously campaigned Cifraline 3. She was a development of the 1985 trend-setting Jade, the One Ton Cup winner of that year and member of the second-placed English team in the 1985 Admiral's Cup

Humphreys had sought to retain Jade's impressive two-sail reaching speed in the new design, while adding some upwind emphasis. Juno was considered very light for a One Tonner (displacement of 5,404kg), with a lower centre of gravity than Jade. Although most IOR designers were pushing up freeboards a little at the time, Humphreys pursued the low-freeboard style that marked Jade out from the crowd. However, with Juno he was also able to streamline the cabin slightly - the design required builder Adrian Thompson to do away with the keel H-frame, and instead sling the keel off the solid central area of the hull. The resulting saving in construction depth allowed the freeboard to remain similar to Jade but with a lower cabin-top.

Juno working up in Mallorca, Palma Bay, prior to the English Admiral's Cup trials in 1987
The yacht was built from a one-piece male mould, using a divinycell foam core with unidirectional and woven carbon-fibre and kevlar laminates. Her spartan interior featured a navigation console above the centrally-located engine box, while ring frames around the mast were spaced to accommodate battery stowage and twin anchorages for the shrouds.  As was standard with One Tonners by this stage, she sported a tall triple-speader fractional rig, although it was placed slightly further forward than many of her contemporaries.

Early trials, with designer Humphreys checking the B&G Hercules navigation and performance data computer
Juno, skippered by Andrew Hurst, went on to qualify for the English team for the 1987 Admiral's Cup, alongside Jamarella (Farr One Tonner) and Indulgence (Andrieu 44). She finished as ninth yacht overall, with placings of 31/7/16/43/2. Her seventh in the second race (the Channel Race) was particularly commendable, as she had been hampered by ankle-deepwater on the surfing spinnaker run back from EC2 buoy, as a result of a failed gasket around the engine strut drive. She had a poor first race and a middling third race where, along with Jamarella, she had been part of the pursuing pack and was forced to go outsider of the bunch at the gybe mark between reaches.

She had a disastrous race in the Third Inshore race, where she collided with Centurion (ex-Jade) at a windward mark and had to take a 20 percent penalty. This was on top of a poor team decision to all sail for the right hand side of the course on the first leg. Juno bounced back in the Fastnet race finale, however, revelling in the two-sail reaching conditions to take second place. 

Juno in the Queen Ann Battery marina after the 1987 Fastnet race (photo shockwave40 blog)
Juno went on to compete in the 1987 One Ton Cup, where she finished tenth (after placings of 18/10/30/6/6). She also raced in the 1988 One Ton Cup in San Francisco.
Juno during the 1988 One Ton Cup, just ahead of Australia's Sagacious V
She was renamed Citroen after she was bought in France. Although she performed with great distinction during the 1989 season, including being awarded the RORC Yacht of the Year, she had a disastrous 1989 Admiral's Cup series sailing for the Irish team, finishing near last in 41st place, following results of 24/32/41/38/39/35.

Citroen approaching Lymington Marina after a race during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (photo shockwave blog)