Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Metre and J Class.


          What could have been before Intrepid, the Twelve Metre Class boat and now with the elegance of arguably the most Majestic class of Sailboats, the J's.
With such an introduction I might have to explain something.

(A little side story).
          A few years ago, working on the design for another Tour boat. The initial idea was to develop a "Modern Classic" that I define as a sailboat with overhangs fore and aft, a nice sheer line matching the style, be fast, look fast and be beautiful for times to come. The result was satisfying  to me, and more importantly to the client. Then things changed. You see we live in Newport. R.I, the Sailing Capital of the World. Well maybe not the world, but certainly for the Americas. When seeing the gracious Twelves under charter for day sails, punctuated at the time by the appearance of Endeavour, the resurrected J. Class boat, the thoughts switched to a Tour boat within the limits of 65' for the Coast Guard rules of Transportation.

          It just happens the 12's for the majority are within that dimension and with their good looks became the new inspiration. I dove into the book about the Yacht Designer Phil Rhodes, the author of Weatherly the 12 M. with charterers plying the waters of Newport, I copied her profile to re-create the Look. Then it occurred to me that one of the problems in re-creating a classic 12's, no matter what; it is an expensive proposition. The Tour operator changed his mind again and ended up buying a steel schooner to be in sync with the others carrying 49 passengers at a clip. No blames, the deal was good, very affordable and making money, the lifeblood of the trade. My final version and interpretation is best described below. The drawing is the result of my meditation.

          Looking at the original Weatherly, I came to think that old Twelves with their long keels and attached rudder have a lot of wetted surface. Especially apparent on the Ted Hood design of Nefertiti.

          So, I decided on Weatherly to keep the rudder on, but slice a wide open space between the lead keel and the rudder. For the sake of fidel reproduction, I kept the deadrise the same to avoid what is called Girth Difference in the Rules governing the measurements. We will never know if this surgery would have improved the performance of the pre- Intrepid breed, but I am inclined to think so. Let's not forget that at the time the 5.5 Class pursued the cut in wetted surface to quite an extreme with some undesirable results. I tried to avoid the pitfall of directional instability by keeping the rudder attached to the keel via a strut.

          Let's get back to the Tour Boat, revenant of the Phil Rhodes design. The 9' draft is to much for the location where the boat is berthed. So, I reduced the keel draft by 2', increased the beam by 2' and decreased the canoe body draft by 2'. A different boat for sure but the idea is to keep the topsides identical to the original boat. As mentioned above, the project stopped right there and I have not done anything else. Except, that for sail plan I have in mind to adopt a rig similar to the SQ/M. boats. It is an elegant combination. Weatherby is the hull image I have  come up with. Happy sailing on paper.

On with the J's.

          If there is a story, it is about the J's era resurrection. Thanks to Elizabeth Meyer with Endeavour  dragged from the Hampshire mud in England, to be rebuild, sailed and sold with the promised in the eyes of pure aficionados to perpetuate from this daring opening to built more of them. When you consider the majesty, the power of 180T.  hurled through the water with a towering mast and gleaming deck gears, it is hard not to be taken aback and marvel.

Dominique Tanton at the wheel of Topaz.

(Before I go to the J's events in Bermuda last week, I have another little side story)
          A few months ago I ran into a friend of mine, Elizabeth Meyer; without whom the stories of the J's would be stuck into oblivion and certainly not what we see today. Well! One the Big J missing is Whirlwind, the F. L Herreshoff 1930 Contender to defend the America's Cup. Before I go far into this conversation, the J Class Association is only allowing original designs from that Era. So, there is a sort of scramble to dig deep into archives before WWII. 

          For some reasons, and to my knowledge, the mightiest of them all in 1930, Whirlwind Plans have not been picked up. I am not 100% sure about that statement, but nevertheless to get back to Endeavour's, Elisabeth told me that Whirlwind is slow. To have such an abrupt statement from someone who knows about J's. took me aback. The boat had the longest waterline, showing the trend towards the 1937 America's Cup; many innovations in the rig and sails were not enough to cover a late start, a wooden construction and a syndicate not quite in control. I think she won only one race in the elimination trial. Bermuda is over and the top two are Lionhearted first and Hanuman second.

          In Newport this past summer the fleet had a spirited regatta where Lionheard prevailed again. What surprised me the most about her design is the bow, wider and rounder at the waterline. The video clearly shows the feature by looking at the bow wave.

-Ranger last Summer at Newport.

-John Williams, owner of Atlanta,Georgia and Ranger passed away a short while ago.

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