17 July 2015

The IOR 50 Foot Class

The International 50 Foot Class saw some of the most competitive racing ever in the IOR era, through the Class Association's own "World Cup" circuit raced in several venues each season. The development of the 50-foot class arose as a result of those owners who wanted to race their yachts on a level rating basis, similar to that enjoyed in the smaller Ton classes, and the larger Maxis, whereby all yachts were racing on the same rating, which for the 50's was set at 40.05ft IOR. 
50 Foot World Cup action in Newport, Rhode Island circa 1990 (Champosa V closest to camera)
At this size they were the "big boat" of any Admiral's Cup event, being at the maximum limit of the 30.0-40.0ft rating band for this series (with some modifications to drop 0.05ft of rating). Although teams had occasionally included a 50-footer, they were typically struggled to save their time against their smaller rivals, and this was particularly apparent in the 1985 and 1987 series when teams of at least two One Tonners were almost essential to be competitive. The 50-footers were also a more expensive option for most countries.
The Frers 50-footer Morningstar - winner of Class B in the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Elsewhere the 50-footers were a mainstay of US efforts in events such as the Clipper Cup in the early 1980s (with success by the crack Peterson types Checkmate and Tomahawk), and enjoyed competitive racing in Class B in the SORC (e.g. the Frers designs Bravura, Morning Star and Retaliation). The first apparent effort to scale up from the typical One Ton designs of the mid-1980s was the Farr design Great Expectations (#155), also designed for the Clipper Cup as well as the Southern Cross Cup, but incorporating some cruising amenities. Great Expectations later became Yeoman XXVII, and was an unsuccessful contender for the British Admiral's Cup team in 1989. The Davidson 50 Great Fun also signaled the potential of the big fractional rig approach in the 1982 Clipper Cup.
An early forerunner of the 'modern IOR 50-footer, the Australian yacht Great Expectations (photo McConaghy Boats)

The 50 Foot Class Association appeared to take shape and establish its own World Cup circuit in around 1988, and part of its objectives may have been to conduct racing under its own terms amongst its association of Corinthian owners, which eschewed some of the commercialism and sponsorship influences that were becoming apparent in other top level racing fleets. New Farr designs in this initial stage included a new Carat VII for Wictor Forss, and Heaven Can Wait (#203), Windquest (#206) and Jamarella (#213). Carat VII and Windquest showed a clear advantage over the existing fleet in the first World Cup series, showing superior light-air and reaching performance. The existing fleet included boats that still carried masthead rigs, but these soon proved to be uncompetitive against the new breed of boats.
The original Carat (a Frers masthead rigged design and development of Blizzard - she was the ex-Retaliation and competed in the 1983 and 1985 Admiral's Cup)
The fortunes of the 50-footers in mixed fleets received a boost for the 1989 Admiral's Cup in particular when the Royal Ocean Racing Club resolved to reduce the previous hegemony of the One Tonners by changing the time multiplication factor (TMF) in favour of the 50-footers, and to reduce the points loading for the offshore regattas. The small-boat dominance of previous regattas had been further curbed by changes to the TMF curve, the addition of a fourth (and long) inshore race and a reduction in the points loading for the Channel and Fastnet races. This coincided with increasing development in the class associated with its own dedicated World Cup circuit, essentially becoming scaled-up One Tonners. The change to the TMF for the Admiral's Cup, and concurrent performance gains by the new 50-footers, was considered to represent something like a 20-30% improvement relative to 1987 generation yachts. 
Startline action during a 50-foot World Cup event in Newport, circa 1990 - at this stage the fleet still retained a mix of fractional and masthead boats
The 1989 Admiral's Cup thus became the year of the 50-footers, with the new breed of these Admiral's Cup 'maxis' having line and handicap wins in five of the six races, and taking four of the top five places overall. Jamarella, owned by Alan Gray, led the charge for the British team with a superbly consistent 1/3/2/3/2/4 series that made her top individual performer in the 42-boat fleet (from 14 nations), and spearheaded Britain's first cup win since 1981. 
Alan Gray's Farr 50 Jamarella - top individual yacht in the 1989 Admiral's Cup and one of the new breed of "scaled up One Tonners"
Gray had built Jamarella expressly to try out the new World Cup circuit, and because he felt that the TMF changes could produce a 50-footer which was not just a useful Admiral's Cup team yacht, but a potential series top scorer. The design for Jamarella was slightly altered from her circuit-racing sisterships, with rig and keel modifications to orient the boat for ocean racing courses and to suit the slightly lower maximum rating limit of the Admiral's Cup.
The lines of Jamarella (Farr design #213) - with a clear lineage to the top yacht in the 1987 Admiral's Cup, the One Tonner Propaganda

Denmark also benefitted from the new-found dominance of the 50-footers, picking up Germany's discarded Container (renamed Stockbroker's Container) which joined the Jeppeson designed 50-footer Andelsbanken IV. The team had to settle for second to Britain after Andelsbanken IV's forestay parted and the yacht had to retire from one of the races. 
Andelsbanken IV during the 1989 Admiral's Cup, with Jamarella tucked away to leeward
No less than 18 of the 50-footers gathered in Japan in November 1989 - the shipping costs of all the yachts, containers and crews, were underwritten by Mark Morita, the Japanese owner of Champosa. The series was notable for a dramatic photo sequence taken of Container during the boisterous conditions of the second day, and with the wind blowing 35 knots, Container was dismasted in dramatic style during a wayward gybe. 
Container surfs into a gybing manoeuvre in the Japan leg of the World Cup circuit - the sequence of what happens next can be seen here
Some spectacular 50-foot action can also be seen in the video clip below (possibly during the 1988 Big Boat Series in San Francisco, and including the One Tonner Challenge 88), that features a wipeout by Carat. The boat in the last sequence is the 50-footer Diane, which loses her rig and the swinging boom then knocks a crewman overboard.  


Jim Andrews' Richel/Pugh design Abracadabra, skippered by John Kolius, comfortably won the 1990 World Cup, and went on to win again in 1991, this time skippered by Paul Cayard sailing under the Italian flag. 

Abracadabra - 50-foot World Cup winner 1990 and 1991 (photo Mcconaghy Boats)

The presence of the 50-footers in the Admiral's Cup was assured for 1991, when the organisers directed that each team include a One Tonner, Two Tonner and a 50-footer, although this move hardly encouraged more teams to attend. The eight 50-footers were Corum Saphir (the top 50-footer and part of the winning French team), Mandrake Krizia (Italy), Champosa VII (USA), Juno V (Britain), Container (Germany), Tuborg (Denmark), Will (Japan) and Cyclone (Australia).
Juno V during the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40 blog)
Champosa VII approaches a leeward mark at speed during the 1991 Admiral's Cup
Container's owner Udo Schutz, had a new boat built for 1991, although she was scarcely different from her predecessor, but had grown a little in length to suit the new 40.5ft rating which the 50-foot class had allowed for in 1991. The Danes had chosen the old Container to fill the 50-foot berth for their team. Another name change reflected her new sponsor, Tuborg. However, while the old Container had been a mainstay of the Dane's challenge in 1989, Tuborg was off the pace in 1991 after suffering a collapsed mast step and significant loss of rig tension, with the problem only diagnosed halfway through the 1991 series. Tuborg became the weak link in the Danish team's disappointing sixth place.
Container (left) in close company during a 50-foot World Cup race in 1991
Fujimo - another Reichel/Pugh design and sistership to Abracadabra (photo McConaghy Boats)

The 1992 World Cup was won by Morita's latest Champosa VII, another Reichel/Pugh design, skippered by John Kolius. Champosa VII had struggled in the 1991 Admiral's Cup, and despite being an update of Abracadabra, she had not been able to reproduce the form of the two-time World Cup champion, or that of the top Farr 50s, which at that time included Will for Japanese owner Ryouji Oda (#211), Juno V, Springbok and Mandrake (#224). 
Some of the tight racing that the 50ft class became renowned for
The original Will was followed in 1991 by a new design (#260). The Farr design notes for Will describe the changes from earlier generation boats: 
"Design 260 has a higher sail area to wetted surface ratio and lower drag keel and rudder arrangements. She has significantly higher stability and lower displacement. The deeper keel will give a large performance improvement in stronger upwind conditions without any loss downwind, particularly as refinements in keel shape improve downwind speed."
The 1989-generation Will seen here during the 1989 Admiral's Cup
In what was probably the last of the 50-foot World Cup, coinciding with the final demise of the IOR, the 1993 event was won by the Farr design Carat VII Citroen. The 1993 Admiral's Cup was also the last one sailed under IOR, and the eight 50-footers that sailed were Container (for the winning German team), Ragamuffin (Australia), Corum Saphir (France), Mandrake (Italy), Champosa VII (Japan), Indulgence (Britain, the ex-Juno V) and Jameson 3 (Ireland, the ex-Heaven Can Wait) and Pro-motion VII (Netherlands). The series was notable for the incredibly close win by Germany over Australia (by 0.25 points), but also for the serious collision between Mandrake and Pro-motion VII in the fifth race that saw both yachts forced to retire for the remainder of the regatta.
Jameson 3 wipes out downwind in fresh conditions during the 1993 Admiral's Cup
More tight racing in a 50-foot World Cup event

Champosa VII was bought by a New Zealand yachtsman and underwent some modifications to fulfil a new purpose as a cruiser/racer. Other 50's that seem to be enjoying a second life include Container and Yeoman XXVII (for sale here). Will (possibly the second one) is sitting in the Tamaki River in Auckland looking somewhat worse for wear. 
Champosa VII seen here in Auckland in 2012

15 July 2015

Aquila (Davidson One Tonner)

These photos are of the Seattle-based Davidson designed One Tonner, Aquila. The owner had previously owned the Lidgard 50 Black Sheep and then bought Aquila that was built by the Cook Brothers in Christchurch, to a similar design as Canterbury which made the New Zealand team for the 1985 Admiral's Cup. She competed in the 1986 Big Boat series, but while she was reasonably fast she was not sailed well and finished well down the results.  

10 July 2015

Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2015

10 July 2015 - Cowes, UK - The Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2015 finished in spectacular style with four windward leeward races in champagne sailing conditions. Going into the day Louise Morton's Fauroux designed Bullit (winner of the Cup in 2014) had a ten point lead over nearest rival Sam Laidlaw's Aguila on 17 points, with Eric Reynolds Everitt designed Magnum Evolution third on 21 points and Tony Hayward's Blackfun, designed by Laurie Davidson, one further point back in fourth. 
Bullit with a solid lead during racing on day 2 of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2015
Blackfun and Bullit went at it hammer and tongs in the first race of the day with Blackfun just managing to take control on the final run to win by eleven seconds on corrected time with Bullit second and Aguila third. But that was to be about the last time Bullit saw anyone's transom all day as the team went into overdrive with great starts, text book first beats and pitch perfect defences to lead each of the subsequent races from the off, winning race six by 38 seconds from Blackfun and Magnum Evolution who tied on corrected time for second, and race seven by 46 seconds from husband Peter Morton's Tiger (Fauroux) with Willie McNeill's Illegal Immigrant (a Ceccarelli design) third. 

Blackfun - secured her best ever result in the Quarter Ton Cup series with a second overall
As Bullit crossed the line of race seven Louise and her crew of Charlotte Lawrence, Colette Richmond, Lauren Eatwell, Bethan Cardan and Tom Dodson laid claim to the 2015 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup with a race to spare. Even though they had no need to race the final race the Bullit crew were having too much fun to go home and couldn't resist racing the last race. And what a race it was as the fleet revelled in the fresh Solent conditions and glorious sunshine. Again Bullit led from the outset and at the line she pipped Magnum Evolution by 25 seconds with Tiger taking third. For Louise this was her second Coutts Quarter Ton Cup win, her first being in Espada in 2013 - Espada and Louise's crew also won the trophy in 2011, but sadly on that occasion Louise was unable to sail because of a broken leg.
Bullit leads the fleet downwind on day 3
Bullit may have had the regatta sewn up early, but the battle for the remaining podium places went down to the wire as the fleet enjoyed some of the closest racing to be found anywhere in sailing. The introduction of the discard after race six shuffled the pack somewhat and going into the final race Blackfun lay second on 17.5 points, Aguila was two points behind in third and Magnum Evolution had dropped into fourth, eight points behind Aguila and potentially out of the running. But if there's one thing we know about Quarter Ton sailing it's that you should always expect the unexpected. As Bullit claimed her fifth win of the series, it was Magnum Evolution who followed her across the line in second with Tiger third. Blackfun crossed in fourth to secure second overall, but all eyes were on Aquila as the crews did their mental arithmetic to see if she had hung onto third place. In fact it took the careful calculations of the scoring system to confirm that Aguila had finished eighth by just four seconds, her worst score of the regatta, meaning she was now tied on 29 points with Magnum Evolution. It was actually on count back that Magnum Evolution was awarded third place overall leaving Aguila with the leather medal. Magnum Evolution's result is all the more remarkable since she is one of the few boats in the fleet still largely in her original IOR configuration.

In the Corinthian Division for all amateur crews Pierre Paris's Penguin Playboy, crewed by Raphael Paris, Amme Lienhardt, Batile Geran and Nicolas Guillon, put in another great day to add three firsts and a fifth to their scorecard and claim Corinthian victory by six points from Paul Gibbon's Anchor Challenge with Robbie Stewart's Enigma taking third. This was the second time that Pierre and Pinguin Playboy have engraved their name on the Corinthian Trophy, the first being in 2013.

Pinguin Playboy took out the Corinthian Trophy
Alongside her third place overall Eric Reynold's Magnum Evolution, crewed by Tom Taylor, Charles Gibbons, Julian Everitt and Piers Hugh Smith, also claimed the new trophy for the Low Rating Division, donated by long time Quarter Ton Class Revival supporter and owner Roger Swinney, which she won by 13 points from Tom Hill's Runaway Bus with Enigma third.
The Everitt design Magnum Evolution
After racing the fleet gathered at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's delightful Cowes clubhouse for a Gala Dinner to celebrate a hugely successful regatta and honour their winners. The competitors were joined by a number of guests including Quarter Ton Class Patron, revered yachting scribe and past Quarter Ton Cup winner Bob Fisher. Tributes were paid to the race committee, led by Rob Lamb, which did an astonishing job of running eight races despite the loss of an entire day's sailing. Quarter Ton Class Chairman Peter Morton highlighted the quality of the race management team by noting that two of the members have been selected to be on the race committee for the forthcoming Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Regatta in Portsmouth. Peter also took the opportunity to thank all of the teams who had travelled to Cowes to be part of the event. As he collected his prize Frenchman Pierre Paris responded by saying how much he and his crew love sailing on the Solent with the Quarter Ton fleet and confirm that they will be back again next year.

Peter paid particular tribute to event sponsor Coutts whose association with the Quarter Ton Class is now in it's tenth year. Coutts and their guests have been on the water every day of the regatta supporting the sailors and enjoying the fabulous spectacle of these historic little yachts being sailed at the very top level by some of the best sailors on the planet. John Goss of Coutts explained that throughout the week they and their guests had also been raising funds for Sail for Cancer and he asked Geoff Gritton of Panic, one of Sail for Cancer's great supporters, to come forward and accept a donation of over £1,400 on behalf of the charity.

The Coutts Quarter Ton Cup prize givings are famous for featuring some very special prizes alongside the main trophies. The Marineware Trophy for the Concours D'elegance was this year awarded to Rickard Melander's Alice II, which underwent a major refit this winter and is looking quite stunning. The prize for the oldest crew once again went to Jim and George Webb's Flashheart with a combined age of 264, while the youngest crew award went to Olivia Dowling's Catch with a combined age of just 152. The Oldest Bowman trophy was awarded to 50 year old John Paxman of Panic. A Whiskers Special Award was presented by Lincoln Reading to the boat which had seen the most improvement in their results from last year to this and was won by Richard Fleck's Per Elisa who finished seventh overall, up eleven places from 2014. 

The Kemp Plate, which is presented in memory of Stephen Kemp who was responsible for bringing Coutts to the Quarter Ton Cup and who sadly lost his battle with cancer two years ago, does not have a specific purpose, but rather it finds its winner organically each year rather in the manner of Harry Potter's sorting hat. This year the Kemp Plate was presented to Matt Haslam of Blackfun for a truly outstanding achievement. Peter Morton explained that Matt had been so engrossed in his mobile phone that when he reached the bottom of the pontoon ramp at Cowes Yacht Haven on his way to the boat he failed to turn either left or right, and instead walked straight off the end of the dock, much to the amusement of the assembled fleet.

And finally came the presentation of the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup to Louise and her crew. Having paid tribute to the Bullit crew's achievement in general and to Louise in particular for her second win, Peter then jokingly asked for his boat back (he won the 2014 event in Bullit before gifting it to Louise last winter). In her acceptance speech Louise reiterated her husband's praise for the race committee, thanked her fellow competitors for a fantastic regatta, thanked Tom Dodson for "Risking his reputation to sail with us," praised her crew for their incredible support and commitment and wryly thanked Morty for the boat. 

And so the sun has set on another Coutts Quarter Ton Cup. Full results, photos, video and blog updates from the event are available at the Quarter Ton Blog, and further information about the class can be found at www.quartertonclass.org.

Overall Top Five Results

1. FRA7891 Bullit - Louise Morton - 1,2,(3),1,2,1,1,1 = 9
2. NZL3311 Blackfun - Tony Hayward - (12),1,1,8,1,2.5,7,4 = 24.5
3. GBR7259Y Magnum Evolution - Eric Reynolds - (8).5,6,2,4.5,2.5,8,2 = 29
4. GBR8481R Aguila - Sam Laidlaw - 4,4,7,23,5,4,(8) = 29
5. GBR7557 Tiger - Peter Morton - 5,6,8,(9),5,8,2,3 = 38

3 July 2015

Half Ton Cup 1976

A film of the 1976 Half Ton Cup has been recently found. This regatta was held in Trieste, Italy, and attracted some 70 yachts. It was a light air series, so the sailing footage is not very dramatic, although the musical score tries hard to give it a lift, but it is interesting to see the wide range (and shape) of yachts competing, and at times the close proximity of the spectator fleet. The footage appears to cover the first two Olympic races, and part of one of the offshore events.

The 1976 Half Ton Cup was won by the Ron Holland-designed yacht Silver Shamrock, which can be seen leading the fleet at the first weather mark. New Zealand was represented by Ian Gibbs' Paul Whiting design Candu II, which was not at her best in the prevailing light winds, and finished sixth overall. Details of Candu II and other photos from the 1976 Cup can be seen here.

1 July 2015

Italian Half Ton Classics 2015

Gunboat Rangiriri, the legendary and revolutionary Bruce Farr-designed Half Ton world champion in 1977, has won the 2015 Italian Championship Half Ton Classics. Gunboat Rangiriri owned and skippered by Claudio Massucci with tactics from Palermo Maurizio D'Amico and the sailmaker Antonio Incarbona dominated by winning six of the seven races, in a well organised series run by CVFiumicino that attracted eight Half Tonners. 
Claudio Massucci's Gunboat Rangiriri - winner of the Italian Half Ton Classics Cup 2015
Loucura, the Farr 31 owned Fabrizio Gagliardi, finished in second place, and benefitted from tactician Pino Stillitano's knowledgeable of the course off Fiumicino. In third place was Stern-Pragma Multimedia (Morasca / Orestano / Sorge), the former Stern Weber designed by G.Ceccarellli in 1987 and third in the Half Ton Cup in the same year, and assisted by sailmaker Alessandro Scarpa. Her overall points tally was affected by a poor sixth place in the long race.
Defending champion Loucura finished second in 2015
In fourth place was the Vallicelli designed Moments, which has been recently restored by owner Luciana Morino, and helped on the first day of racing by the Olympic yachtsman Gabrio Zandonà. Eulimene, the Comet 303 (Pietro Fois), was well sailed by Francesco Codacci, taking an excellent third place in the long race.
Stern-Pragma Multimedia finished third
Charts and other news is here, and some video footage of the racing is here. Photos by Christophe Julliand.

Loucura leads off the startline, ahead of Cicci 7
Moments finished fourth overall
Gunboat Rangiriri to weather of Stern-Pragma Multimedia
Gunboat Rangiriri rounds a weather mark
Prydwen (Davide Castiglia), a Ziggurat 9.10, finished seventh overall

28 June 2015

Downwind Fun

Tony Hayward's Davidson-designed Quarter Tonner Blackfun has a hairy moment while running downwind during the Irish Quarter Ton Cup, forming part of the Sovereign's Cup sailed in Kinsale (25-27 June 2015). Blackfun went on to win the series convincingly with six bullets and a second (photo by David Branigan).

20 June 2015

Lone (Farr Three-Quarter Tonner)

Lone was commissioned by English yachtsman Mr Jan Nielson in the fall of 1989, with the aim of winning the 1990 Three-Quarter Ton Cup (24.5ft IOR). She achieved that objective, and went to be one of the most successful level rating yachts in the IOR era, winning the Cup on two further occasions in 1991 and 1992.

The Farr Yacht Design website notes that the design for Lone (Design #229) was able to draw on previous experience from the One Ton, 50 Foot and Maxi arenas, but also from feedback on the 1988 Three-Quarter Ton design Aphrodite (Design #201) which had placed first in class and fleet in the 1988 Japan Cup. Aphrodite also had a creditable fourth place finish at the 1989 Three-Quarter Ton Cup in Pharilon, Greece. Lone was shorter overall (by 0.22m), lighter (122kg), narrower (0.1m) and with a deeper keel (0.04m). The sail plan was larger (with a 'P' dimension 1.18m more), with more rake in the mast.
Lone (as Xacobeo 93) - Three Quarter Ton Cup winner 1990-92 (photo FYD Facebook page)
Lone underwent her first sea trials in the Mediterranean in the spring of 1990, before going on to win at Kiel Week, and then taking out the Three-Quarter Ton Cup in Flensburg, Germany, in convincing style, with placings of 1/1/1/1/2, in a 26 boat fleet representing eight countries. She later won Class IV in the Copa del Rey regatta, and in 1991 Lone defended her Three-Quarter Ton Cup title, held in Denmark, with Pedro Campos as skipper. She was bought by Spanish interests in 1992, and renamed Xacobeo 93 she won the Cup again. The boat did not compete in 1993, but raced in the 1994 series (as Azur de Puig), the last time the Cup was held, where she finished in tenth place, of 14 boats (all from Spain).