27 February 2013

Shockwave (Frers 43)

Shockwave on launching day 
Neville Crichton had enjoyed some great success with his first Shockwave, a Laurie Davidson 46 footer which finished second in the 1980 Clipper Cup series. In 1982 Crichton commissioned Argentinian designer German Frers to design his next yacht, an all-out IOR 43 foot racer with which to campaign for a place in the New Zealand team for the 1983 Admiral's Cup. The new Shockwave was constructed by Cookson Boats in a full exotic layup with an internal longitudinal girder for stiffness against rig loads. The yacht was of medium displacement and carried a triple spreader Zapspars masthead rig and flew the latest in Kevlar and Mylar sails from the New Zealand North and Sobstad lofts. Shockwave measured in at 34.1ft IOR, a reasonably high rating for a 43 footer but reflecting Frers' thinking at the time to not give up too much speed through excessive hull shape deviations in a quest for a lower rating.
Shockwave in early sailing trials on Auckland Harbour (photo Shane Kelly)
Despite an excellent showing by Ian Gibbs' Swuzzlebubble III in the 1981 series, it was felt that New Zealand had the potential to put in a stronger team effort. But economic circumstances intervened, and the New Zealand Yachting Federation decided against sending a team which would be comprised of Shockwave and two chartered boats, there being no other new boats launched.
Above and below - early trials on Auckland Harbour (photos Shane Kelly)
Undeterred, Crichton elected to take his yacht across the Tasman and aim for a place in the Australian team. He had previously considered going to the SORC and trying for a place in the American team for which he had the residential qualifications. To fully qualify the yacht for Australia, Crichton chartered her to Mike "Zapper" Bell, maker of some of the world's top ocean racing spars, including those of Shockwave, and Graeme Jones. In addition, four Australian crew members were invited so that Shockwave would conform to the regulations that would apply at Cowes. 

Shockwave competing in the Australian 1983 Admiral's Cup trials
The campaign started badly for Crichton with Australian measurers unable to reconcile freeboard and inclining figures figures from her New Zealand rating certificate. However, once these problems were rectified Shockwave showed her impressive pedigree, winning five of the first nine races of the trials and was generally considered as having booked her passage to Britain. But there was an undercurrent of antipathy among the Australian selectors and they took their chance of ignoring Shockwave when she suffered some slight damage - Crichton indicated that they would prefer not to sail the last race, a 300 miler, in order to properly effect repairs. At the time, she was sufficiently far ahead on the points table for even a DNS in the final race to fail to keep her out of the top three boats. The selectors had other ideas, however, and totally eliminated Shockwave from consideration for the Australian team.  
Shockwave is loaded on a ship back to New Zealand (photo Australian State Library of NSW)
After the Australian trials, Crichton went back to Auckland to re-open negotiations with fellow offshore sailors and the NZYF. It resulted in a revised decision to send a team to Cowes led by Shockwave and to charter two European yachts. Ian Gibbs chartered Wee Willie Winkie from her Irish owner, Seamus Gallagher. The boat, which had been in the previous Kiwi team, was similar to Swuzzlebubble III which Gibbs had sailed in 1981, and he re-named her Swuzzlebubble IV for the series. The third boat was to be a production version of a Shockwave derivative, the Beneteau 456 Lady Be. The boat had just missed selection for the French team and Peter Blake, who was to skipper her, felt that there was a lot of unrealised potential.
Shockwave powers off the start of the second race in the 1983 Admiral's Cup. Team-mate Lady Be can be seen up to windward (photo Jonathan Eastland)
In the end, however, the 1983 team were unsuccessful and finished in sixth place overall, dropping from their fifth place effort in 1981. A third place in the breezy second race and 2nd in the fourth races were the highlights for Shockwave in a regatta in which she was otherwise plagued by bad luck,including a penalty in the first race, losing out in a very light airs Channel Race that favoured the minimum raters, and poor tactics in the Fastnet Race. In the end Shockwave finished with results of  45,3,33,2,27 to finish in 27th place overall.

Shockwave was shipped back to New Zealand and competed in the trials for the 1983 Southern Cross Cup team. Although she started strongly, Shockwave couldn't hold out the new Farr 40's Exador, Pacific Sundance and Geronimo, and withdrew from the final race with structural damage to a couple of ring frames.
Shockwave nearing the end of the 1983 Fastnet Race
The record is a little unclear, but it is understood that Australian selectors changed their previous stance when the selection trials for the Australian's own Southern Cross Cup team came round. Under charter to Jones again, Shockwave won the trials and was selected to race for Australia. Strangely, too, this came after she had been eliminated from the New Zealand team. It is unknown how Shockwave performed in this regatta, but in any event all other boats and teams in the 1983 series were humbled by the dominance of New Zealand's team of Farr 40s.

Shockwave sails downwind under spinnaker and shooter in the 1984 Pan Am Clipper Cup
Shockwave had the chance to join two of the Farr 40s, Sundance and Exador in the New Zealand 'A' team for the 1984 Pan Am Clipper Cup in Hawaii. Overall victory in the series was lost when Exador's rig came tumbling down in the Round the State race, and the team finished second to the US 'White' team. Shockwave finished 12th yacht overall and second in class C.

Shockwave on a reaching leg during the 1984 Clipper Cup (photo NZ Yachting)
Shockwave was later based in Southern California and was very competitive against other yachts of the era, such as Juno and Victory, and went on to win its class in the San Francisco Big Boat Series in 1988 and 1989. It would be interesting to know if she is still sailing.
Shockwave during the 1987 Big Boat Series (San Francisco), being chased by High Risk

26 February 2013

2013 Three Kings Race

The 2013 Three Kings Race was hosted by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club and got underway last Thursday morning (21 February). In contrast to the conditions in Wellington for the IRC/PHRF Nationals, the north of the country was in the grip of a high pressure weather system that resulted in light airs for much the duration of this epic 500 mile race, and made for slow going for all of the competitors, with the last yacht finishing on Monday evening.

A light airs start - Pacific Sundance leads Promise (Stewart 34) and Expedition Coppelia (Farr 38) (photo Suellen Hurling)

The Three Kings Islands
The Three Kings are a group of 13 small islands located 34 miles off the northern tip of New Zealand (also known as the Manawa Islands).  The course is simple - from Orakei Wharf in Auckland, rounding the islands to port, and back to Orakei Wharf. The race has its origins in the 1970s, where it was used as part of the trials to select New Zealand's team for the 1975 Admiral's Cup team, and later in 1976 as part of the Dunhill Cup series, where it was won by a then new Anticipation, followed by US yacht Ballyhoo and the overall series winner, the Farr One Tonner Jiminy Cricket. Back then the race was slightly more complicated, and longer, taking in roundings of Channel Island and Great Barrier Island. Ballyhoo was the line honours winner, taking 67 hours to complete the 560 mile course.

Team Vodafone Sailing and 888 at the start (photo Suellen Hurling)
Despite the generally light conditions, Team Vodafone Sailing finished the 2013 edition of the race in 43 hours, finishing well ahead of the second multihull 888

The first of the small fleet of monohulls began their final approach to Auckland late on Sunday night, led by Outrageous Fortune whose crew were beginning to contemplate whether to start the motor so that they could make it to work on Monday. Patience was no doubt starting to wear thin on all the boats going into a fourth night at sea. However, the lights of Truxton could be seen bringing down some new breeze and the crew of Outrageous Fortune leapt into action and a few hours later they crossed the line (at 03:36), just 20 minutes ahead of Truxton (and IRC honours). 

But none of the monohull fleet were able to save their time on PHRF on the Townson 32 Wandering Star, sailed by Gareth Wells, which arrived home at 17:04 to take overall victory for the race. This was a great effort by Wells and his crew in a mixed fleet of mostly bigger boats, and perhaps one of the more notable victories by a Townson 32 in an offshore classic since Peter Mulgrew's Moonlight famously won the medium distance ocean race in the 1971 One Ton Cup trials. The crew reported that conditions ranged from light air conditions that were torturous at times, to 40 knots past North Cape and difficult sea conditions.

Wandering Star - Three Kings winner 2013 (photo Suellen Hurling)
The Farr One Tonner Pacific Sundance didn't find the light airs to her liking, finishing fifth on line and sixth on PHRF (photo Suellen Hurling)
The race was a challenging one for all the crews, and took much longer than many would have anticipated. However, it is good to see this race back on the racing calendar after a hiatus of some 37 years, and hopefully it will remain as a permanent fixture and attract a bigger fleet next time.

For the results and more photos see the Royal Akarana Yacht Club website: http://rayc.co.nz/three-kings/

24 February 2013

2013 New Zealand IRC and PHRF Nationals

After three days of superb sailing in the Port Nicholson Regatta on Wellington Harbour the 2013 New Zealand IRC and PHRF keelboat champions have been crowned. Jim Farmer's Georgia took a clean sweep of the A Division, winning both the IRC and A Division PHRF national titles, while Real Deal won the B Division PHRF national title.

Georgia - 2013 IRC and PHRF National Champion - A Division (photo Chris Coad)
Georgia sailed a flawless regatta winning every race on line and taking five wins on IRC handicap and seven wins on PHRF. This record not only gave Georgia two national champion crowns but also earned her the Ross Telford Memorial Trophy for the most outstanding yacht at the regatta. Real Deal was almost as dominant in B Division winning three races on PHRF and placing second in a further three races. 

Close competition between Georgia and Kia Kaha was a feature of the series (photo John Hardie)
Conditions were quite fresh at times, especially on the first day, providing plenty of thrills and spills.

Prime Mover (Farr 1104) struggles with an errant spinnaker on Day 1 (photo John Hardie)
Flying Boat (Young 11) tries to catch up with her spinnaker on Day 1. Flying Boat finished 3rd in IRC Division 1 (photo John Hardie)
Prime Mover on Day 3, finished 5th in IRC Division 1 (photo John Hardie)
Amongst the B Division fleet were a couple of famous campaigners, with 1972 One Ton Cup winner Wai Aniwa (Carter 40) mixing it up with three-time national Half Ton champion Titus Canby (Farr 27).  

Titus Canby on Day 2 - 4th overall PHRF Division B (photo Chris Coad)
Wai Aniwa on Day 2 - 8th overall PHRF Division B (photo Chris Coad)
Results and more photos are here: http://www.rpnyc.org.nz/club/regattas/port-nicholson-regatta/news

23 February 2013

1987 Admiral's Cup

1987 was the year in which New Zealand finally won the Admiral's Cup, with its champion team of Goldcorp, Kiwi and Propaganda. Britain was second and Australia third. New Zealand's win was the culmination of all the lessons learnt from four previous unsuccessful attempts in 1975, 1981, 1983 and 1985, and marked a growing professionalism in this country's approach to offshore yachting and adopted much of the expertise gained from the 1987 America's Cup campaign. Unfortunately the New Zealand 1989 team of Librah, Propaganda and Fair Share, was not able to defend the trophy, finishing third overall. See the official film of the series here.

Propaganda, Adrian Burr's Farr One Tonner guided by Brad Butterworth, Peter Lester and Bevan Wolley to top individual yacht of the series
Peter Walker's Farr 44 Kiwi - one of the few consistent mid-sized yachts, finishing seventh overall, and benefited from a slight tweak to the time correction factors to swing the balance back away from the minimum raters.
Mal Canning's Davidson One Tonner Goldcorp (ex-Mad Max), completed a solid team performance finishing sixth overall
The X-Yachts Jeppesen design Stockbroker Lief sailed for the seventh-placed Danish team, and finished as 31st yacht overall
The top British yacht Alan Gray's Jamarella (sistership to Propaganda) and the Humphrey's One Tonner Juno. Jamarella had a series-long duel with Propaganda, but only outscored her Kiwi rival in the first inshore race and the Fastnet race finale. Jamarella finished second overall, and Juno ninth
The Dubois One Tonner Jameson Whiskey - sailed for the fourth placed Irish team, and finished 24th overall
The Andrieu 44 Indulgence (Graham Walker) was the third yacht of the British team (eighth overall) - took a flyer in the first race, with unfortunate results, but bounced back in the strong surfing conditions of the Channel Race

Signalling the start of watch-maker Corum's involvement in French Admiral's Cup efforts, the Beneteau 44 Corum which finished in 19th overall (France finished eighth)
Irish Independent Pelt, the former Full Pelt, a Dubois One Tonner and the top boat of the Irish team (fifth overall) after sailing a blinder of a race in the Fastnet finale
Juno was involved in a collision in the third inshore race, resulting in a 20% penalty.
Turkish Delight - third member of the Irish team, a Tony Castro 43 (ex-ItzanotherPurla from 1985), finished 17th overall
Saudade, a Judel-Vrolijk One Tonner and member of the defending German team that was unable to repeat their 1985 effort and finished fifth team (Saudade placed 16th overall)
The Judel-Vrolijk 43 Blue Yankee - part of the US team that finished sixth overall. Blue Yankee had a disastrous Channel Race when her rudder fell to bits, and finished the regatta in 32nd place. 
Mean Machine, a Farr One Tonner finished 29th overall


CGI, an Andrieu One Tonner, finished 30th overall

Another Judel-Vrolijk One Tonner, this time I-Punkt, which sailed for the Austrian team that finished ninth overall - the boat finished 21st overall but was later embroiled in controversy after revelations about the illegal use of water ballast and subsequently disqualified.

20 February 2013

Acadia (Peterson 43)

Acadia was launched in 1980 as a replacement for owner Burt Keenan's original Acadia, a Frers 51 footer in which Keenan had narrowly lost the 1979 SORC to Dennis Conner's Williwaw. Somehow the original Acadia was passed over for the US Admiral's Cup team that year, and Keenan sailed instead for the Argentinian team. Afterwards, Keenan sold the 51-footer to a Swedish yachtsman, who renamed her Bla Carat

The new Acadia was a Doug Peterson designed 43 footer (known as the Serendipity 43), being a development of Peterson's earlier yachts that exemplified a masthead rig, heavy displacement (by today's standards), narrow stern and deep forefoot. The Serendipity 43 was a more moderate approach, designed to be a solid all-round performer, with wider stern sections for better reaching performance with a shallower forefoot and more rocker. 
Acadia during the 1980 SORC
The Serendipity 43s were built by Tom Dreyfus's New Orleans Marine - although a semi-production boat, with hulls of unidirectional fibreglass from a female mould, Keenan opted for the IOR custom package for Acadia, with a flush balsa-cored deck, Stearn triple-spreader rig and the obligatory stripped out interior. Acadia (the name reflected the way some people from Louisiana refer to that part of the country) measured in at a competitive 32.6ft IOR, and benefited from an experienced crew that included her builder Dreyfus, Olympic sailor John Kolius and designer Bruce Kirby. 


Acadia went out and won her class in the 1980 Sugar Bowl Regatta. She then headed for Florida for the 1980 SORC where she put in an equally dominant performance. Keenan and his crew amassed a 37 point advantage over her closest competitor, Tatoosh (Frers 46) before the 27 mile Nassau Cup finale, making the race something of an anticlimax - Tatoosh had to win with Acadia no better than 39th. Tatoosh did her best, taking first place in class B and fleet, but Acadia held on to finish 16th in fleet to win class C and overall circuit honours. 

Although the win was a victory for those who thought that a production yacht might still have a life in top level IOR competition, Keenan himself saw Acadia as only an interim prospect, and already had plans for her replacement, a Frers 41 minimum rater, in which to contest the Admiral's Cup trials the following year. Acadia did, however, go on to form part of a triumphant US team at the 1980 Sardinia Cup, held in Porto Cervo. 
Acadia and her owner Burt Keenan in 1980
Despite being a production yacht, the Serendipity 43 design did prove to have some  impressive longevity. Another version, Louisiana Crude, contested the 1981 SORC and US Admiral's Cup trials, owned by builder Tom Dreyfus and skippered by Tom Blackaller. The new Acadia also performed strongly. However, what would have otherwise been a straightforward selection for the US Admiral's Cup team was turned on its ear when Louisiana Crude was sold to Sweden from under the selector's noses, and was then found to have a suspect rating (and was later declared void). Bill Martin, the owner of one of the Admiral's Cup hopefuls, Stars & Stripes, also protested the rating of the new Acadia. After remeasurement the rating of Acadia went up from 30.0ft to 31.1ft, and so failed to make the team (the rating of another hopeful, Williwaw, was also found to have significant errors). 

The design came bouncing back in 1983 in the shape of Scarlett O'Hara, which finished first overall in the 1983 SORC (and second in class D) and joined the US Admiral's Cup team that year, finishing as the top inshore yacht of the series in a regatta which favoured the minimum raters, and helped the US team to third place overall. 
Scarlett O'Hara during the 1984 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Acadia is now located in Conneticut and is maintained in great condition by her present owner.