Friday, July 27, 2012

Duel in the Solent

Photo by Kos
Recently, four International J Class boats battled in England. Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger and Velsheda. Missing the action were Endeavour and her sister ship Hanuman. To see the Majesty in pictures of these vessels make you regret of not being there.

                                                               Hanuman in Newport.

Originally, only ten " modern" J Class were built. The interest in producing a replica, stems from the Endeavour re-building undertaken by Elisabeth Meyer. If I would like to see a new built, the L.Francis Herreshoff "Whirlwind"comes to mind. The longest waterlineJ Class boat at the time, she had a double head rig and was streamlined from bow to stern. Actually, L.Francishe blamed the lackluster performance of the boat in the 1930 trials to her bow; not quite built as designed. "W" had mahogany planking over steel frames with a pine deck. A new version would be made of metal. Anyone interested? Has anyone secured the rights?

A little side story.
About 40 years ago, driving to Maine for a wedding taking place near the town of Bath. Little did I know at the time, that the bride was related to the founders of Bath Iron Works. The family compound, located on a Peninsula, featured many separate buildings including the main house with an incredible collection of figureheads from long gone Clippers and tracked down from the Falklands, the China Sea and from other far flung places. But that is not the story.
Bath has a Maritime Museum, dedicated to the B.I.W, then the Congoleum conglomerate, building Frigates for the Navy " on time and on budget". A proud tradition of Commerce and Seafaring. Strolling in the Museum, with many photos of the past, including the building of Ranger the J Class boat for the 1937 America's Cup, I was wondering what it would take for Bath Iron Works to built a replica of this magnificent vessel ? I was a little ahead of the time. The A.C had switched to the International 12M. and to resurrect a Mammoth boat seemed futile to even ask. How wrong can I be. The J Class is thriving now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Volvo Ocean Race 2012

It's over. Nine months, 39000 miles and one winner. The talented Franck Cammas and his crew aboard one of the Juan K. boats. I also have a few observations about this latest edition of the Volvo Ocean race.
Each one of the boats with the exception of Sanya won at least one Ocean leg, winning from a tactical decision and position, not necessarily from boat speed.
Inshore races, again with the exception of Sanya, each one of the boats won at least one race where tactics and decisions came into play. It seems to me that the Box Rule in effect does a pretty good job in the design of the boats and that where you go is still the deciding factor.
Breakage. There was material failure in various degrees for all of them. The construction of the boat can be reviewed to include modifications to the scantlings. Ought to be not too difficult with the amount of feed back and observations gathered over the past few months. Keep the performance high, the drama low.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

NEWPORT, USA. America's Cup World Series

Newport was the America's Cup battleground for generations. The competition against sailing nations was the motive. The sailing boats involved, were the best that Traditional Yachting could offer at the time.
Now it's all different. Last week, in the sailing Capital of the world, the lethal weapon of choice became 45' catamarans zipping along the Narragansett bay. Close to the Fort Adams which never fired a shot. Great spectacle, offered to a public of over 60000 people who came to see sailboat racing over the few days of the competition. That is a first in Newport, I think. All good for the sport.
I very much enjoyed the show, and being practical about America's Cup venues, I applaud at anything to get the "Old Mug" going for a long time. 
But for me, the America's Cup was a "Victorian Affair". Important, were the Nationalist aspects, when designers, builders, manufacturers had to represent the best of the respective countries challenging for the Cup.

A little side story. When I was working for Andre Mauric, the French architect, in the first of Baron Bich Challenges for the Cup; there was little known about the design of a Twelves-Metre Yacht.
Intrepid had won the previous America's Cup and was a breakthrough 12M. Of course, the plans were not made available to us.
Therefore, in order to reproduce the boat, to establish a set of data, we went about to redesign Intrepid based on the Rating Certificate and 2000 photos.

                                                                          Scrolls of the Dead Sea.