19 May 2017

Backlash (Everitt 42)

Backlash was an interesting design from the board of English yacht designer Julian Everitt. Backlash was commissioned by Tim and Cathy Herring, who wanted an Admiral's Cup design and they were prepared to give Everitt a free hand to be adventurous with his interpretation of the IOR.  They were also prepared to allow the results to come slowly at first, and to develop the boat somewhat empirically.

The design was somewhat radical, with a very low freeboard for her length, although this was an emerging design feature at the time in the One Ton fleet, with the Humphrey's designed Jade being perhaps one of the most extreme examples.  While a masthead design was initially chosen for Backlash, this borrowed some fractional attributes, with a mast placed further forward than typical for this rig type, allowing for a larger mainsail and resulting in a high aspect ratio foretriangle. The boat featured a well thought out deck layout, with twin wheels set well forward allowing good visibility for the helmsman, and the navigators hatch was placed aft of this position, and behind the mainsheet traveller.  
Backlash in her original configuration (1985) (photo One Ton Facebook page)
Backlash was built in Cowes by Vision Yachts, of a high-tech mix of Kevlar, carbon-fibre and epoxy.  If she lacked anything, it was in her stability, and she benefited enormously from having an extra few crew on her rail. She displaced 7,484kg, and rated 33.6ft IOR, and flew a mix of Banks, Sobstad and McWilliams sails.

Backlash heading into Lymington Marina circa 1989 (photo from Shockwave40 blog)
The Herrings wanted to race their new yacht all over the world, and didn't want to miss any opportunities to improve the boat's performance, even if this meant changes to significant components of the boat, including the keel. While she was raced in her first season with a 'conventional' elliptical keel, Everitt subsequently designed a radical canard-type keel, which was considered to be worth the penalties that it attracted under the IOR (with respect to the Moveable Appendage Factor component of the rule). This was a new keel with a laminar flow bulb projecting forward of the foil, complemented by a centreboard-style canard which was lifted when not on the wind to reduce wetted surface area.  The new keel was set further aft, and was smaller and shallower than the original, with the canard placed 1.8m forward.
Backlash's original elliptical keel, which sported an angled cut at the bottom of the leading edge (photo Seahorse)
Further development is evident from photographs of the yacht, where it is apparent that the rig was changed to a fractional set up, and her original long and elegant sloping transom was changed to a more upright profile, enabling crew weight to be placed further aft.  This may have been done before changes to the IOR circa 1988 to allow such amendments without affecting the after girth station measurements.
Backlash leaving Lymington Marina, circa 1989 (photo Shockwave40 blog)
Backlash acquitted herself well in her first season in 1985, winning the prestigious Brittania Cup, along with the Queen's Cup and other local trophies. The boat was also declared the RORC Yacht of the Year in 1985, and was awarded the Beken Concours D'Elegance. She was unsuccessful in the British Admiral's Cup trials, so never represented Britain in that series. The winter of 1986 was spent in the US, where she competed in the SORC (4th in class) and the Antigua Race Week and Onion Patch Series before the Herrings sailed her back to begin racing on Britain's south coast again.  At this point the new canard keel made a regular appearance.  A reasonably successful Cowes Week in 1986 was followed by further success in the Burnham Week, where Backlash won the Town Cup and the Week's Points Trophy. She went on to win the Queen Victoria Cup and to finish third in the 'SPC' regatta in 1987 against the international Admiral's Cup fleet.
Backlash berthed at the Queen Ann Battery marina at the end of the 1987 Fastnet Race (photo Shockwave40 blog)

2 May 2017

Wings of Oracle (Farr Two Tonner)

With the next edition of the America's Cup about to get underway soon, where the Oracle name is now synonymous with the event, not least of all as the present defender of the Cup, it is interesting to look back at where Oracle's involvement in sailing began.  The Oracle corporation had its first foray into top level international sailing in the 1991 Admiral's Cup. Oracle had sponsored the Royal Air Force Sailing Association's (RAFSA) Sigma 38 one design cruiser-racer, which had acquitted herself well in club-level racing in British waters during the 1990 season. 
Wings of Oracle - Admiral's Cup 1991 (photo Farr Yacht Design Facebook page)
For the 1991 Admiral's Cup, the RORC had decided that the event would be better served by requiring teams to field one boat in each of the One Ton, Two Ton and 50ft rating bands, introducing level rating into an event traditionally built around teams of mixed handicaps. Oracle put RAFSA in charge of a new Farr-designed Two Tonner to form part of the British team, to join the One Tonner Port Pendennis and the 50ft Juno V. Getting Oracle involved in the British campaign was no small feat in itself, and saw the British effort being fully funded, a first for the local team.
Wings of Oracle in fresh conditions during the 1991 Admiral's Cup
The new Wings of Oracle was based on Design #268, a 1990 development of #242 (Larouge) and which had yielded Shockwave (see previous post) and Japan's Donky 6. Like her US sistership Bravura, Wings of Oracle was an improvement on Larouge, the 1991 Two Ton Champion. Design #268 indicated gains in all-round performance, with developments that included subtle changes in hull shape to improve performance in waves, and a more efficient keel and rudder.
Wings of Oracle leads Bravura (left) and Unibank (right) during the 1991 Admiral's Cup
So the boat itself came with evident pedigree from a design perspective, and was well built by Green Marine, under the close supervision of Farr International. The boat carried a North UK wardrobe, flown from a Southern Spars NZ rig (with the successful Steinlager 2 campaign having given Southern Spars a significant jump in international profile). While the boat was being built, the Castro designed Turkish Delight (renamed Oracle Arrow) was chartered as part of an intensive training campaign based in Hamble.  
The ex-Turkish Delight being used for training for the Oracle sailing team

Oracle were, however, told that the lack of experience within RAFSA would let the campaign down, and the saga around the boat's performance preoccupied the British press for many months. When she under-performed in the Two Ton Cup, with questionable tactics on the race course, there was a call for significant changes to the afterguard. Eventually, and just three weeks before the Admiral's Cup, the original skipper (a Flight Lieutenant) was replaced by Stuart Childerley, then a 24-year old Finn sailor.
Wings of Oracle during one of the Christchurch Bay inshore races, sitting to leeward of two 50-footers - Italy's  Mandrake (I-11933) and team-mate Juno V (K-505)
Although she struggled throughout the 1991 series, the British effort started strongly, with both Juno V and Wings of Oracle second in their respective divisions to see Britain in second place overall. Wings of Oracle led the Two Ton pack early in the Channel Race, before being affected by seaweed on the keel that had been a particular problem throughout the season and in the Cup itself, and finished fourth.
Wings of Oracle (photo Farr Yacht Design Facebook page)
Wings of Oracle had a terrible start in the Second Inshore, electing to re-cross the startline even though she had not been recalled. She clawed back two places, only to be hit with a 20 percent penalty when the spinnaker touched the second weather mark during a set. Wings of Oracle finished poorly in the Third Inshore and was a lowly seventh in the Fastnet Race. Overall she finished as sixth Two Tonner, and Britain was fourth in the team standings.
Wings of Oracle sails back to Cowes Marina following one of the inshore races during the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40 blog)

27 March 2017


A great photo surfaced recently on the Farr Yacht Design Facebook page of Shockwave, the champion Two Tonner from 1992.  The photo looks like it was taken during the 1992 Kenwood Cup in Hawaii. More on Shockwave from an earlier article can be seen here.

26 March 2017

Kialoa IV (Holland Maxi)

This post is a tribute to the late Jim Kilroy (1922-2016), who campaigned, with great distinction, a series of yachts named Kialoa from 1957 to 1989. This article features Kialoa IV, the replacement for his famous Sparkman & Stephens-designed ketch Kialoa III.

Kialoa IV was the first of a new breed of maxi-raters, just over 80ft long, and was designed by Ron Holland in 1979 and built using a composite sandwich-laminated hull and deck with aluminium reinforcing. The latter being in the shape of a space-frame chassis incorporated into the hull to take keel and rig loads. Kialoa IV was built by Holland's brother-in-law Gary Carlin at his Kiwi Yachts yard in Florida, which had also built the famous Imp which pioneered the space-frame concept. The composite laminate was influenced by studies carried out by both Kiwi Yachts and Dupont's research department in Wilmington. Holland noted at the time that "While all-up hull weight advantages were not a primary consideration, the tests showed lighter ends and deck were possible compared to Kialoa III".
Kialoa IV in early days, possibly during the 1981 SORC
Holland described the design philosophy at the time as incorporating aspects from his successful level rating and Admiral's Cup designs that had not yet been utilised at the Maxi scale. "Hull shape is as influenced by the IOR measurement procedure as my smaller designs. Keel and rudder designs are treated in a similar way. Choice of rated length, displacement and sail are the primary starting point for my IOR designs, attempted to hold proven relationships although there are aspects of the IOR rule that dis-proportionately penalises the larger yachts due to necessary low displacement length ratios and associated sail areas. Scaling effect needs to be handled carefully but decisions on this, and the earlier mentioned points relating to Kialoa's first series success speak for themselves".
Kialoa IV during the 1981 SORC (photo Seahorse)

Kialoa IV was launched in November 1980 and Kilroy immediately began a working-up programme for the new boat which involved her trialing against her predecessor, Kialoa III, which would later be converted for cruising. This was a unique opportunity, where use a pace boat had previously proven effective with Admiral's Cup size yachts (such as Big Apple and Marionette in 1977), but this was the first time that this had been done with ocean racing yachts at this scale.
Kialoa IV powers upwind - 1981 (photo Hood sails)
Initial testing showed the new yacht had an advantage in light and medium conditions in the smooth waters of Tampa Bay. As the design philosophy had pushed towards speed potential in medium conditions, with the emphasis towards seeking an advantage over Kialoa III downwind, the early results were seen as encouraging. When the two yachts were paced against each other in fresher conditions and bigger seas, the speed difference was not marked to windward, with the new yacht showing slightly more heel angle and helm sensitivity, but downwind speed was as expected.
The bigger they are ... (photo Colin Jarman/Seahorse)
Based on early testing results, as well as the fact that the boat still had approximately one foot of rating to play with (within the 70.0ft limit for the Maxi class), it was decided to optimise the speed/rating relationship with a reduction in displacement and an increase in stability. This was made easier through the built-in flexibility within the yacht, with stability-tuning cavities in the keel, and internal ballast being encased in the aluminium sub-structure rather than being glassed in. These changes saw the final rating settle at 69.5ft for the 1981 SORC and Maxi Boat Series.
Kialoa IV and Condor during the California Cup match race series in 1982, which was won by Condor (photo Sobstad sails)
The extensive tuning process had a significant effect on the early performance of Kialoa IV; she went straight into the fray and won races at the 1981 SORC, although there was something erratic about her earliest performances which was to be expected for a boat still at early stages in its development. Initially, and in certain narrow ranges of conditions, both Windward Passage and the Frers-designed Bumblebee IV showed similar speed to the new Kialoa. But Kialoa IV showed her strength over a wider wind range and looked dominant. Although the newest boat, she seemed relatively conservative, and was certainly the heaviest in terms of rated displacement (nearly 84,000lbs, against 70,600 for Bumblebee IV - although for that, Bumblebee carried a near 1% rating penalty).
Kialoa IV in fresh running conditions
However, by mid-season she was more than good enough to win the 1980-81 Seahorse Maxi Series (for yachts rating between 50 and 70ft), and included Ceramco NZ which used the event as a build-up for the Whitbread Round the World Race later that year).  For the most part, Kialoa IV enjoyed close racing with her near sistership, the new Condor, but dominated the series with line placings of 2/1/1/1, and third on handicap (4/1/3/6). During this season, and before the Sardinia Maxi Series (which she won), her main boom (and mainsail) was lengthened by 3ft. This increased her rating closer to the 70.0ft IOR Maxi limit.
Kialoa IV about to cross tacks with Condor (centre) during the 1982 Clipper Cup, with Windward Passage not far behind (right) (photo John Malitte/Sea Spray)
Kialoa IV went on to compete in many international series and regattas, including the 1982 Clipper Cup where she performed strongly finishing as fourth yacht overall (just behind Condor) and helping the US team to an overall victory in the 1982 edition (alongside Bullfrog and Great Fun).
Kialoa IV to leeward and behind Condor during the 1983 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Kialoa IV won Class A in the 1983 SORC against some new competition, including the new Peterson-designed Midnight Sun and the Pedrick-designed Nirvana, with a combination of good speed and tactics and few gear failures. All the Maxi fleet were well down in the overall standings however, with Kialoa IV managing just 38th within the whole fleet. Kialoa IV finished as second yacht on individual points in the 1984 Clipper Cup (with placings of 5/13/3/3/14), behind the new Frers-designed Boomerang, but ahead of Sorcery, Nirvana and Condor.  
Kialoa IV to leeward of Windward Passage in light airs during the 1983 SORC (photo Larry Moran)
Kialoa IV was often at the forefront of sail development and pioneered the introduction of nascent Kevlar technology at the Maxi scale. Increasing quantities of Kevlar were used to support maximum allowable roach in the mainsail. Dacron was retained in lower sections, presumably for ease of handling, given that cloth weights for both materials were in excess of 8oz.
Kialoa IV with a new Kevlar "crescent cut" no.3 headsail - an article at the time by Hood sailmakers note that "the leech hollow is at absolute minimum to ensure that the foretriangle is full. The no.3 sheets at 8.25 deg and allows full main to be carried at 30 knots apparent wind with the mainsheet traveller two-thirds down the track". Condor (below) opted for the new Norths vertical cut technology (photos William Payne/Seahorse)

The design was a successful one for Holland, and along with sistership Condor, she generated commissions for Round-the-World derivatives Lion New Zealand and Drum for the 1985-86 Whitbread, and the 'inshore' Maxi Sassy, although none of these boats made much an impression on the race course, being shorter than Kialoa and Condor, and heavy for their length. Lion New Zealand did, however, finish second in the 185-86 Whitbread Round the World Race, with greater structural integrity than some of her rivals.
Kialoa IV during the 1983 SORC (photo Larry Moran)

Kialoa IV's reign at the top of the Maxi class was relatively short however, and the decision was made in 1985 for the replacement maxi, the new Frers-designed Kialoa V. She went on to compete in the 1987 Antigua Race Series, before Kialoa V was commissioned in 1988.
Kialoa IV in more recent times, seen here in La Rochelle, France (photo Sail-World)

More details (and photos) about Kialoa IV can be seen on the "Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win" website here, and a record of all her race results are here.

A Sail-World obituary for Jim Kilroy is here

27 February 2017

One Tonner Revival Regatta 2017

The 2017 edition of the One Tonner Revival Regatta, hosted again in Breskens, The Netherlands - details below:

A photo from the 2016 regatta (above), with Guanabara passing behind Esprit du Morbihan.  A video summary is below

23 February 2017

Jamarella (Farr 50)

The 1989 champion Admiral's Cup yacht, the Farr IOR 50 Jamarella (Farr design #213), has recently been listed for sale on Yachtworld (here).
Jamarella mixing it up with two other Fifties at a leeward mark during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (Japan's Will to the right) (photo Nick Rains/Seahorse)
Jamarella was English yachtsman Alan Gray's second yacht of that name, and followed his successful One Tonner that finished as second yacht overall in the 1987 Admiral's Cup. Gray had built the new Jamarella expressly to try out the new World Cup circuit established for the Fifties, and because he felt that the TMF changes could produce a 50-footer that was not just a useful Admiral's Cup team yacht, but a potential series top scorer.
Jamarella showed early form in the British Admiral's Cup trials, held in Kiel (photo Christel Clear/Seahorse)
The design for Jamarella was slightly altered from her circuit-racing sisterships Carat VII and Windquest, 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. She was built in carbon/epoxy/PVC foam and Nomex sandwich by Thompson boatbuilders, and was helmed by Gordon Maguire and Lawrie Smith. She sported Diamond sails on a Sparcraft mast, a common and fast combination at that time.
Plenty of action aboard Jamarella as she rounds a leeward mark during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (photo Francois Mousis/Seahorse)

Gray's instinct was confirmed and his professionally-run campaign was rewarded as Jamarella spearheaded the dominance of the Fifties in the 1989 series, with the new breed of these Admiral's Cup 'maxis' taking line and handicap wins in five of the six races, and taking four of the top five places overall. Jamarella 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 led Britain to its first Cup win since 1981.
Jamarella on a tight reach during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (Sail magazine)
Jamarella powers to windward during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (photo Sharon Green/Harken)

The British team was sponsored by The Observer and The Glenlivet, and the team sought to play their part by carrying their logos on their hulls. The first attempt at placing the decals on the hull of Jamarella was, at the last minute, identified as being too far aft to comply with the tight regulations that were then in force. Leaving nothing to chance, the letters behind the line 18ft from the transom, were removed to be replaced in a compliant mid-ship position after the first race (photo below).
After the 1989 Admiral’s Cup the Fifties gathered again in Newport Rhode Island for the sixth and final event in the 1989 World Cup. Jamarella was shipped over from England and finished third.
Jamarella slips along in light airs during the British trials (photo Rick Tomlinson/Contender)
Jamarella arriving at (above) and leaving (below) Lymington Marina during the 1989 Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40 blog)

Jamarella is now based in the Netherlands - more photos can be seen in the Yachtworld link above..
Recent photos (above and below) of Jamarella (Yachtworld)

14 September 2016

Smir-Noff-Agen: Saved!

Smir-Noff-Agen, one of five centreboarders designed by Bruce Farr for the 1977 One Ton Cup, has been rescued from an uncertain future in Australia's Gold Coast. She is presently being shipped to Dubai, where she will receive a complete restoration and upgrade to have a second life as a modern IRC racing yacht, with a similar approach to that given to the Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble.
Smir-Noff-Agen seen here sailing as part of the victorious New Zealand team during the 1977 Southern Cross Cup in Sydney
The Farr centreboarders of 1977 were very fast yachts, and featured some of the cleanest hull shapes of the IOR era, and considered long for their rating (27.5ft IOR). As with Swuzzlebubble, this combination, along with a modern rig, sails and foils, should mean that the boat will be very competitive under IRC.
In somewhat of a sad state following a stalled refurbishment effort in the Gold Coast
Smir-Noff-Agen was later named Vanguard, then Scallywag II (and won the 1982 Sydney to Hobart race), and then Best by Farr - her history can be seen here. She will be re-named Oro Nero, and will feature a black and gold colour scheme.
Being loaded onto a cradle (above) and truck (below) for her long voyage to Dubai

The efforts to give Smir-Noff-Agen a new lease of life means that four of the five boats built to this design are still sailing and/or racing (see Jenny H, Mr Jumpa and The Red Lion), with only the whereabouts of the Australian boat Hecate unknown (but thought to be located in Darwin).