17 September 2017

Coutts Quarter Ton Cup 2017

Winds ranging from 5 knots to 27 knots provided a thorough test of competitors at this year's Coutts Quarter Ton Cup, held in Cowes on 13-15 September. Few teams were able to maintain consistent performance across such a wide range of conditions and for most it was a very high scoring series.
Some of the 2017 Quarter Ton fleet assembled on the hard (above) and in the marina (below) at Cowes
However, Sam Laidlaw's Aguila dominated the front of the fleet throughout the championship and put up an impressively flawless performance on the last day, winning all three races. Laidlaw's team of Brett Aarons, Dan Gohl, Tom Forrester-Coles and Robbie Southwell, finished the series as overall winner, counting just nine points from seven races.

Speaking after racing Sam Laidlaw was delighted to have finally got his hands on the legendary Quarter Ton Cup, "I'm really excited, because we've had a number of attempts at this and been in the top three on several previous occasions. The crew have been fantastic. Brett has done a great job of looking after and preparing the boat and has been sailing with me for a long time now. With Dan on the bow, Tom on the jib and Robbie too we've got a very solid team.

Cote approaches the top mark during racing on the second day of the 2017 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup (photo Paul Wyeth)
"We couldn't have had two more different days. It's been a really well run regatta. It was a pity there was no racing on Wednesday, but I think it was the right call. The courses were very good and Rob Lamb did a great job, particularly in getting 4 races in on Thursday which was a real triumph.
The fleet gets underway during the second day of the 2017 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup (photo Paul Wyeth)
"We haven't really made any changes to the boat for this season. We lost our mast in Cowes last year so had to replace that, but otherwise we've just had a lot of time in the boat, working on our crew work and making small tweaks rather than anything major. It's the crew who do all the work, I just sit at the back and steer!"
Winner of the 2017 Coutts Quarter Ton Cup - Aguila (photo Paul Wyeth)
Apart from a shocker in the final race, Ian Southworth's Whiskers also sailed a consistent regatta, counting predominately first and second places to finish in second overall on 14 points. Third overall was taken by Mark Richmond's Cote on 29 points and fourth by Paul Gibbons' Anchor Challenge on 32 points.
Pinguin Playboy - the winning Corinthian entry (photo Paul Wyeth)
Pierre Paris's Pinguin Playboy is the winning Corinthian entry, ahead of Robbie Stewart's Hellaby and Jeff Dakin's Flashheart
As well as the main prize for the overall winner of the Quarter Ton Cup, the event also awards a raft of other prizes. The Roger Swinney trophy for boats other than the winners of the Open and Corinthian Divisions rating lower than 0.910 was won by Whiskers.

Terence Dinmore's Captain Moonlight won the prize for the oldest crew, with a combined age of 334 years, and Willie McNeill's Illegal the youngest (167 years). The oldest bowman, winning the walking stick, is 59-year old Led Pritchard of Whiskers. The concours d'elegance for the best-presented boat went to Lincoln Redding's Lacydon Protis.

Report by quartertonclass.org and full results are here.

9 September 2017

Phoenix (Beneteau One Tonner)

Phoenix was a Fauroux/Finot/Berret design from Beneteau (a development of Fair Lady and sistership of Coyote), and had a starring role in the 1985 Admiral's Cup. She was sailed by Graham Walker and Harold Cudmore, who had actually started their 1985 campaign with Walker's fourth Indulgence, a Daniel Andrieu-designed One Tonner. However, on Indulgence's first offshore race, the RORC's De Guingand Bowl, they sailed too close to Bembridge Ledge and in the early hours of the morning she hit an old shipwreck (the 1916 wreck of the Empress Queen) - while initially the boat seemed sufficiently intact to sail on, further inspection just half an hour later found that the boat was filling up fast.  The crew were taken off the boat by other competitors, and the boat was written off. 

Walker chartered Phoenix from the boat's owner, an American based in London, and sailed well through the British Admiral's Cup trials. Phoenix joined two other One Tonners, Jade and Panda, to make up the British team for the 1985 series. The boat's owner shared time on the boat with Walker, while Cudmore put together a strong crew, and signed up new British J-24 champion Eddie Warden-Owen to helm the boat. 
The sad sight of Indulgence being lifted from the water after her collision with a sunken wreck off Bembridge Ledge
Phoenix in fresh downwind conditions on the Solent

Hull profile of the Beneteau One Ton design of 1984/85 - the design was relatively short, light, beamy and well-canvassed, and with a high prismatic coefficient

Results in the 1985 One Ton Cup, held in Poole, were perhaps as expected for a crew that were still getting to know the boat, and she finished 13th in a hot 38-boat fleet, including many One Tonners that were using the event as a warm-up for the Admiral's Cup. Her team-mates Jade and Panda finished first and third. Experience from the One Ton Cup was used to tune Phoenix, with adjustments made to the ballast, deck gear and sails to trade some upwind speed for better reaching and running form.
Phoenix crosses behind Australia's Drakes Prayer in light upwind conditions during the 1985 Admiral's Cup
Phoenix in close company with the much higher rating Almagores (ITA, centre) and Jade (inshore) in the stampede to the finish of the first inshore past Cowes Green during the 1985 Admiral's Cup
Phoenix and Jade finished fourth and fifth in the first race of the 1985 Admiral's Cup, giving the British team the early overall lead in the series. That was short-lived, however, after Panda and Jade finished 29th and 35th in the second race, with only Phoenix able to post a decent place of fifth, and the team slumped to fourth, and Germany jumped into the lead. But they bounced back in the fast and fresh reaching conditions of the third race, the Channel Race - Jade, Panda and Phoenix finished first, second and eighth to bounce back into second overall.
Phoenix in fresh conditions during the 1985 Admiral's Cup (photo is possibly before the start of the Fastnet Race)
While the fourth race, inshore on Christchurch Bay, saw the bigger boats into the leading positions, Phoenix took the race win. While Panda was the winner of the Fastnet, Jade lost her rig and although Phoenix finished fourth to take out the top yacht of the series honours, the German team put in a consistent effort to win the series comfortably.  

Port Barcelona comes back into the marina during the 1986 One Ton Cup in Palma de Majorque
Phoenix later became Port Barcelona and finished third in the 1986 One Ton Cup, held in Palma de Majorque (with placings of 4/12/6/5/16/3), and 10th in the 1986 Sardinia Cup (13/15/16/9/11).
Port Barcelona soon after a start during the 1986 Sardinia Cup, with Germany's Diva G ahead and to leeward

Port Barcelona during the 1986 Sardinia Cup

18 August 2017

Half Ton Classics Cup 2017

Swuzzlebubble (GBR) - winner of the 2017 Half Ton Classics Cup (all photos by David Branigan)
With the overall regatta decided on the penultimate day, the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup was presented to Phil Plumtree and the crew of Swuzzlebubble at Kinsale Yacht Club, Ireland on Friday night.

A single ‘round the cans’ final race earlier in the day also delivered a full eleven race programme despite losing a day to strong winds. Swuzzlebubble’s series ended on Thursday after ten races of mostly first and second places confirmed their pre-event favourite status and this year’s win is the third victory in the 40-year old boat’s modern record adding to previous wins with Peter Morton and Greg Peck. On the water, Swuzzlebubble’s impressive upwind performance is hard to miss, but with the highest IRC rating in the fleet (0.975). she typically needed to finish by more than a minute and a half over her nearest rival in the inshore races to win on handicap.

Plumtree’s ten race series saw him dominate the 21-strong fleet from the opening race on Monday in spite of an eighth place in race three. However, four races on Tuesday left little room for doubt with all first and second places for the day while the event discard took care of the high score from the opening day.
Checkmate XVIII (GBR) - second overall

Checkmate XV (IRL) - third overall
Another first and second place on Thursday saw Swuzzlebubble start the coastal course with a commanding nine-point advantage. However, the race around the scenic approaches to Kinsale and the finish off the historic Charles Fort carried a 1.5x multiplication factor and several wipe-outs in the heavy conditions at sea saw Plumtree's team place fifth.

Swuzzlebubble approaches a windward mark during the 2017 Half Ton Classics Cup
Their nearest challengers were second placed David Cullen on Checkmate XV and Nigel Biggs on Checkmate XVIII, but both had sixth and fifth places earlier in the day that effectively decided the regatta in Swuzzlebubble’s favour as the former Kiwi classic ended with a three point advantage. A worst race discard of second allowed Plumtree to sit out the final race due to an unexpected crew personal commitment.
The Big Picture (IRL) in trouble on one of the downwind legs of the 2017 Half Ton Classics Cup (she finished fourth overall)
The regatta turned to what had been suspected all week given Swuzzlebubble’s pre-event favourite status after two previous titles: that the series is a battle for second place. This battle went down to the wire and the outcome of the eleventh race which was won by Nigel Biggs on Checkmate XVIII and he succeeded in beating David Cullen on Checkmate XV by a half point margin to take the first runner-up place.
Swuzzlebubble shows her form and speed upwind
The Half Ton True Spirit trophy, the other major award for the week was presented to Paul Wayte and the crew of Headhunter in recognition of their camaraderie within the fleet both afloat and ashore but especially for their sportsmanship. Wayte loaned a spare mast to Superhero after their own rig was badly damaged en route to Ireland that enabled the Finnish entry to start the regatta last weekend.
King One (IRL), Paul Elvstrom's Half Ton Cup winner in 1981, finished 11th overall
Tributes were paid to Principal Race Officer Anthony O’Leary and Regatta Director John Stallard of Kinsale YC with their team of volunteers who delivered a memorable series.

Per Elisa (GBR) - the last Half Tonner ever built, finished 12th overall
Class President Philippe Pilate on General Tapioca was best of the continental entries in fifth overall in the 21-strong turnout. At the prize-giving ceremony, he confirmed that the 2018 championship will be held at the Royale Koninklijke Yacht Club (KYCN), Nieuwpoort in Belgium from the 20th to 24th August, where a team of volunteers are already planning a week of great racing and hospitality.

The 2017 event was sponsored by Euro Car Parks together with AGK Displays, MF Services, Windward Hotels, Provincial Floor Coverings, Martin Reilly Motors and Harken UK. 

Results here.

Videos here: Day 1 Day 2 Day 4

All photos by David Branigan/Oceansport / Halfton Class Europe FB page)

11 August 2017

30th Anniversary of New Zealand's Admiral's Cup Win

In the early hours of 12 August 1987 (UK time), and 30 years ago today, New Zealand's team of Propaganda, Goldcorp and Kiwi finished in fourth, 11th and 20th in the Fastnet Race to win the coveted Admiral's Cup for New Zealand for the first (and only) time. The New Zealand team had amassed 1,365 points to hold out the British team of Jamarella, Juno and Indulgence by some 84 points. They had gone into the Fastnet Race, the final race of the five-race series, with a lead of 109 points, and just needed to stay close to their British rivals to secure their win. They did this to near perfection, with Propaganda just one place behind Jamarella, and Kiwi pushing Indulgence into 25th. Juno had an impressive 2nd place, but this was not enough to overcome the overall Kiwi dominance.

From the RORC History page:

1987 was the year when the New Zealanders achieved what they had long threatened since their first challenge in 1971; the double - the Cup and the top-boat slot with Propaganda (below) sailed by 'Billy' Butterworth and his boys.'
Their effort was uncommonly like the German bids of 1983 and 1985 - a home grown-effort based around a small group who had all the right skills. New Zealand yachting was, and remains, an illusion. Although in the 1980s the Kiwis won virtually everything worth winning, this giant in sailing is actually a country of only three million people. And while the Kiwis are boat-crazy, having one of the highest per capita ownership rates in the world, there is scarcely any grand-prix IOR sailing at home to speak of.
Goldcorp (finished sixth yacht overall)
On a roller-coaster of success, the Kiwis had won the World Youth Championships, five medals at the Los Angeles Olympics, had made the Whitbread Round the World Race their own, won the Kenwood Cup and made an indecently impressive debut at the America's Cup. In 1987 at Cowes, they beat the Germans and twelve other nations at their own game. They came with the best-prepared team; their boats had excellent speed and the sailors were good enough to sail a textbook series which minimised risk and maximised points. Only Propaganda seemed to have an extra cutting edge with her phenomenal upwind form. Don Booke, the team manager from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, was not exaggerating when he said: 'We believe we won the cup twenty-four months ago. We sat down and got contributions from everyone who had been involved in the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup and had monthly meetings at the Squadron. Our big job was to change the triallists from enemies into friends.'
Kiwi, the "big boat" of the New Zealand team, finished seventh overall
So the Kiwis put in a full twenty days practice in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour before coming to the UK, and then had another twelve days sailing in British waters, with video analysis to bring crew technique and sail shapes to race-readiness. They even sailed a practice overnight race in the Channel, something few teams had contemplated before. The squad were coached by Californian Rod Davis, who by then had put his roots down in New Zealand through marrying the sister of ace sail designer Tom Schnackenberg. He prepared their programme, advised on sails, suggested new gear and moved crew around. John Clinton, the sail designer for the KZ-7 12-metre, came over to England to re-cut the sails, though Rick Dodson thought the Kiwis had anticipated British conditions pretty well. Dodson, who had been Swuzzlebubble III's mainsheet trimmer when she'd been top Admiral's Cup boat in 1981, was now skippering Mal Canning's Laurie Davidson-designed One Tonner Goldcorp (ex Mad Max).
Propaganda - the fastest One Tonner at the 1987 Admiral's Cup, and the top individual yacht overall

No mean sailor himself, with five America's Cups and an Olympic gold and silver medal to his name, Davis was worth listening to. 'I am the catalyst to help them figure out how to do things. You win the Admiral's Cup by putting three boats in the top ten or twelve places in every race. You do that by not breaking anything, by not doing anything stupid and by staying outside the protest room - no bogies, no double bogies, no sand traps!' Admittedly, Davis had good ingredients with which to work. Goldcorp had been re-vamped stripped out by Dodson and Davidson, to be turned into the winner of the New Zealand trials.

The video of the 1987 series can be seen here, and more photos from the series can be seen here.

28 July 2017

One Ton Cup 1986

The 1986 One Ton Cup was staged in Palma, Mallorca, and attracted a total of 33 yachts from 14 countries.  The host country, Spain, fielded a full contingent of six yachts, as did Britain. Unfortunately, wind conditions were less than reliable during the inshore races, and the regatta did become something of a lottery at times rather than a test of sailing skill. During the Olympic inshore races, windshifts could be anything between 20-60 degrees, and on the second Olympic course the wind actually went around the clock, turning two legs into one. More wind was enjoyed for the duration of the offshore races, although the second race, over a 272-mile offshore course, was the most painful for those who had fought their way to the front of the fleet. On the third morning of the race, while the leaders lay becalmed not far from the finish, the tail-enders sailed around them with spinnakers set.

However, it was generally felt that the best sailors emerged as the winners, and the event proved that Denmark was the current top nation in One Ton racing. After dominating the 3/4 Ton scene for a number of years, they had turned their attention to One Ton size and grabbed first (Andelstanken - above, leading Rubin VIII) and fourth (Aways) in their first attempt at the Cup.
Andelstanken approaches a windward mark during the 1986 One Ton Cup
X-1 Ton profile
The pre-regatta measurement and checking process yielded some discrepancies in freeboard measurements, often due to the manner of storage of gear within the boats, and sometimes through the blatant use of raking rigs forward during measurement.  With an aft rake of around 1.3m on the most extreme yachts, the effect of rake on the trim of the yacht could be considerable, and difficult to compare with actual sailing trim. Heavy aluminium spinnaker poles were used for measurement, and later swapped for carbon-fibre ones. This lead to half the owners delivering a letter to the jury pointing out some of these practices.  Spot checks during the regatta and after the finish of the short offshore race by the inspection and measurement team caught the Spanish yacht Ameldos with rafts and other heavy equipment in an aft windward bunk (the last leg of that race had been a long close reach of 50 miles, with crews on the weather rail the entire way).  The shifting of ballast in this manner was clearly against the rules, but attracted a somewhat paltry 20% penalty for the race (equivalent to seven places).   
Andelstanken - winner of the 1986 One Ton Cup (photo Per Heegaard/Dimension Sailcloth)
The winning yacht, Andelstanken, with places of 5/1/8/4/4/1 (including a win in the long offshore beset with calms at the finish), was one of five standard or slightly modified X-Yachts One Tonners, designed by Neils Jeppesen. The hull shape was based on the design of Euro, the third top performer in the 1985 Admiral's Cup, but with a harder bumping of the mid-depth measurement point, a slightly cleaner run on the buttock lines and a heavily cut-away forefoot. The result was a big, powerful and heavy displacement hull that was good to windward, but a bit sticky when sheets were eased. The X-Yachts were clearly the longer and heavier in the fleet, with the lowest displacement/length factor ratio (1.004).  A 1985 series date avoided being affected by new Crew Stability Factor (CSF) penalties.
Spain's Sirius IV (above and below) - second in the 1986 One Ton Cup
The second yacht was the Farr design Sirius IV, a further development of Farr's One Ton design that began with #136 in 1983, and which finished with placings of 2/16/3/6/1/2. Sirius IV, and her sistership Ameldos, were less full aft than their predecessors, but otherwise retained the Farr signatures of heavily distorted maximum beam and mid-depth stations. Sirius IV was clearly oriented towards light weather conditions with less displacement (5,390kg compared with 6,150kg compared with Andelstankenand more sail area, while Ameldos had a 1986 hull date and therefore carried a CSF of 0.6%. Despite her light air orientation, Sirius IV excelled in all weather conditions, and was thought by many to be the fastest yacht at the Cup, but her disastrous 16th in the second race effectively ended her chances at overall victory.

The third boat was Port Barcelona (4/12/6/5/16/3), the ex-Phoenix which finished as top individual yacht in the 1985 Admiral's Cup and slightly modified for the expected conditions at Palma.  
Port Barcelona - the ex-Phoenix, finished third (photo Histoiredeshalfs.com)
Rubin VIII was a new Judel/Vrolijk design, which had a poor start to the series but went faster and faster as it went on, finishing seventh with placings of 23/13/5/7/3/6. She could not beat her earlier namesake, renamed Mean Machine, which finished sixth.  The new Rubin VIII was slightly longer and narrower, with notably less beam aft to avoid any CSF-related penalties, and sported a semi-elliptical keel which was very fat at the bottom but maintained a low wetted surface.  
Rubin VIII displays her elliptical keel during onshore preparations for the 1986 One Ton Cup (photo Seahorse)
Another interesting boat was Regardless, from the USA and the Nelson/Marek design team. Following European trends, she had relatively clean and undistorted lines other than the normal crease at the aft girth station. She had a lot of volume in the afterbody, and without a lot of bumping she carried some additional displacement that she was not credited for, thus being a bit heavier than her actual rated displacement figure (5,796kg) would suggest. Her series was marred by a poor result in the long offshore where she was badly caught by calms within sight of the finish line, but she proved to be a good all-rounder and was particularly impressive upwind. She finished ninth overall, with placings of 8/23/11/3/7/9. Designer and skipper Bruce Nelson was happy enough afterwards, feeling that the results of such a weird series were not too important, but encouraged by the way Regardless competed with the highly-touted European boats.
A video of the series (of average film quality unfortunately) can be seen here:

30 June 2017

Eight Bells - Doug Peterson

The sailing world lost one of its great talents, US yacht designer Doug Peterson, this week, on the day that one of his former America's Cup teams, Emirates Team New Zealand, won the Cup. Peterson was a major force in leading edge IOR design in the 1970s and 80s, starting off with his breakthrough One Tonner Ganbare.  
The 1973 One Tonner Ganbare, seen here in a 2016 regatta in the Mediterranean (photo Histoiredeshalfs)
Tribute articles can be found on Scuttlebutt here and here, and his contribution to New Zealand's winning effort in the America's Cup in 1995, is here. Some of his famous boats from the IOR era are presented in the gallery below.
The centreboard One Tonner B-195 sailing in the 1977 One Ton Cup (photo Jenny Green)

Eclipse - top individual yacht in the 1979 Admiral's Cup
Acadia (to windward of another Peterson design Forte) on her way to Class C and overall honours in the 1980 SORC
Louisiana Crude - the top performer in the 1981 SORC, but later sold and her place in the US Admiral's Cup team was taken up by 4th placed Intuition (below)

 Container 79 and Almagores thunder downwind during the 1983 Admiral's Cup

Scarlett O'Hara - top individual yacht in the 1983 SORC, and top inshore yacht in that year's Admiral's Cup

The maxi yacht Midnight Sun performed strongly in the 1983 SORC

Secret Love, a Peterson 45 during the 1984 SORC - winner of Class C (photo Larry Moran)
Legende - One Ton design, competing in the 1985 SORC