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Green and dramatic - that´s Fair Isle for you

Summer at Fair Isle

I saw this video of a Kaskelot setting the spinnaker.

 It just looked so nice – oh summer wind….

Reading the lists of winners of the Sydney Hobart I am amazed to find yacht names of obvious Norwegian heritage: Christina, Solveig, Anitra, Peer Gynt and Freya. And even more astonished to find designers and sailors called Lars, Trygve and Magnus with the family name of Halvorsen.

I guess Australian sailors are less surprised. The Halvorsen story about the immigrant family from outside of Arendal, Norway, leaving bankruptcy behind and becoming a major part of leisure boating, both by motor and wind in New South Wales, is well known in Australia. Among the better sources for this amazing family history is the book “Wooden boats, Iron men. The Halvorsen story, by Randi Svensen, Halstead press, 2004.

5,5 with King Olav

The Halvorsen family made a long list of good looking, fast and very sturdy small double-enders, besides World Champion 5,5’s (one of the brothers became World Champion in one of them, and the Crown Prince of Norway, the late King Olav, sailed a Halvorsen-build 5,5 in World Championships at least twice), and a Dragon …

The Halvorsen’s participated in the Sydney to Hobart race most years from 1946 to 1965 and became Line Honours winner or overall winners at least seven times besides becoming number two or three years they did not made the line or overall first. Anitra for instance won in 1957 and became second in 46, 58 and 1959. And Peer Gynt won the Trans-Tasman race to Auckland (a race of 1,512 nautical miles) in 1948 and 1949, and became third in Sydney to Hobart in 1947. In 49 the yacht was sold to San Francisco where it won the Winter Point Score on San Francisco Bay. (Point is – Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen was magnificent sailors, but other sailors did it well in Halvorsen designs too.)

Freya – 3 time Sydney Hobar winner
The most famous of the Halvorsen double-enders is Freya. She became the overall winner in 1963, 64 and 65. She was thirty-eight feet nine inches long, with a beam of 11 feet. She was planked in Douglas fir with glued spline, upon glued Queensland maple laminated frames. Her deck was fiberglassed plywood, and her spar was a deck stepped aluminium mast. Her rudder tapered to a feather-edge. Australian National Maritime Museum is supposedly holding the line-drawings and specifications of Freya.

Tell me all about it if you know something more.

Randi Svensen quotes Magnus Halvorsen about Freya:

“Her long deadwood gave her the underwater body of a contemporary 50-55 footer. She had that feeling of a much bigger boat at sea. With her large vertical rudder there was perfect control. She responded to the helm at all times. Never did she broach to! Today’s sailors would find that unbelievable. She carried a shy spinnaker longer than any competing yacht. Indeed, a spinnaker could be carried until it was aback, without rounding up. Freya could also carry full sail to windward in 30 knots of wind.”

8+ knots consistent

The conditions of the Sydney Hobart varies from hurricane force winds to no wind at all – but still Freya used 3 days, 10 hours in 1965, 3 days, 5 hours in 64 and 3 days, 6 hours on handicap in 1963. Which is astonishing consistent on a 628 nautical mile long race in all sorts of conditions – and even more amazing, her mean speed was more than 8 knots. The Halvorsens must have pressed Freya above her theoretical speed at all times and in all conditions.

Freyas speed would have made her high up on modern list. She would have won in 2004, 2003, 1993, 1988, 1984, 1981, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1974, 1970, 1968, 1967, and 1966. The last two years the winners have been doing the Sydney Hobart in less than two days. But Freya would still be doing better than most yachts given the same speed as during her three consecutive winning years.

Amazing! What a double ender! And remember all of the Halvorsen race contenders was built both for cruising and racing. The Halvorsen thought of  comfort, security and speed. Both Halvorsen brothers disliked modern racing hulls and the very idea of using men as ballast.

The first photo is of Anitra on the Sydney to Hobart race in 1959.

The second is Freya showing her “shy spinnaker.”

The third is Freya going hard windward.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

In 1945 the double-ender “Rani” finished first and got both the line honour and won the over-all in the very first Sydney-Hobart race. She was the second smallest of the nine participating yachts.

Rani was a short-overhang, double-ended, light-displacement 35-footer (not unlike a well known Kaskelot “Salt”, I’m just mentioned it) – designed by A.C. Barber in Sydney and built by the Steel Brothers of lake Macquarie in New South Wales.

Dear fellow double-ender admirers, if anyone have more knowledge and a more detailed description of Rani – feel free to submit a comment. The photo used here is the only one I can get my hands on.


The following is copied from Knockdown, The Harrowing True Account Of A Yacht Race Turned Deadly
By Martin Dugard, Pocket Books.

The following paragraph ran in an Australian yachting magazine in October 1945: “Yacht race to Tasmania: It is expected that an ocean yacht race may take place from Sydney to Hobart, probably starting on December 26, 1945. Yachtsmen desirous of competing should contact Vice-President Mr. P Luke, 62 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, for information. Entries close December 1, 1945.”
Their boats were heavy cruising yachts with deep keels instead of true ocean racers, but nine skippers sailed that first Syd-Hob. One of the nine starters was a fifty-two-footer named, in a moment of midwar patriotism, the Winston Churchill. Huon-pine planking, copper nails, cloth sails. Hauled up from the water two days before to let the hull dry, then a hull polish of Johnson’s floor wax to help her slip through the water faster. Built in 1942 by Tasman shipwright Percy Coverdale, Winston Churchill was considered the finest yacht in all Australia. Legend has it that her namesake even gave his blessing to her moniker on a postwar trip to Australia.
Overlooked in the prerace hoopla was Rani, a thirty-four-footer skippered by John Illingworth of the Royal Navy. Rani was also made of Huon-pine planks, pounded into the frame with copper nails. Her sails were hand-stitched cotton. All ropes were Indian hemp. The mast was Oregon pine, the rigging was cast iron, and the bilge pump was a pair of sailors clutching a tin bucket and frying pan. The crew wore Royal Australian Navy gear, mostly cotton impregnated with wax.
Illingworth was taking the Syd-Hob challenge seriously, having spent the months beforehand visiting Australia’s south coast and speaking with fishermen about the winds and currents of the Bass Strait. He also developed friendships at Sydney’s local weather bureau to learn more about weather patterns over Eastern Australia and Tasmania.
But all that knowledge went missing. The Bass Strait didn’t take kindly to the event, heaving a gale at the fleet. Boats were scattered. Rani went missing. In an era before radios were aboard racing boats, there was no way to inquire about her location or the condition of the crew. All that was clear was that she had left Sydney with the standard issue of navigational aids: paper charts, coastal guides, a compass fosteering, and a sextant for determining position. The CYCA gave her up as lost. It had been a major blunder allowing such a small boat to race across the Bass Strait.
But five days after the storm began, Rani suddenly sailed up the Derwent River into Hobart. This greatly amazed the CYCA welcoming committee at the dock for two reasons: first, Rani had been given up; and second, no one else had yet finished. Little Rani had won the first Syd-Hob in six days, fourteen hours, and twenty-two minutes. It’s still the slowest winning finish in race history, but henceforth, the first boat across the finish line would receive the Illingworth Trophy. Rani also won on handicap that year, the first of only four boats in Syd-Hob history to do so. Winston Churchill finished third.

The race
The 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part.

From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the city of Hobart.

It is my plan to continue to make a list of double-enders that either are famous or should be. I am currently researching the Halvorsen brothers who build and sailed a long list of double-enders in Sydney-Hobart races. I want do a story on Suhali, maybe the Tumlare, Colin Archer and so on. Please feel free to give me hints on double-enders I should know about.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

“The only reason to have a rounded stern in a boat of modern construction is for the sake of appearance, and so long as attention is paid to sufficient reserve buoyancy aft, that is justification enough”, writes Arthur Beiser in “The proper yacht”.

I’ve always thought that about half of what has been written for and against double enders, pointy sterners, transom sterns, counters, retros and whatnot was mostly irrelevant. There’s wonderful and miserable examples of all shape and form of yacht hulls.

But the double-ender slips the water better than most?

It’s the exit at the waterline that matters most. Big broad bearings aft, like on modern race-sleds, are great for planing. Most displacement boats are best with nice and mostly symmetrical waterlines, maybe a slightly aft raking center as she heels but nothing too extreme, maybe more displacemental sharpness in bow than stern but still, moderate is to be appreciated.

Anyway – all yachts looks pretty double-ended at the waterline. What you do from there and up has more to do with aesthetics, desired accomodation, and designer’s tradition than any immutable law of the sea.

What about seaworthiness then?

To those who say there is no difference in seaworthiness provided by the double-ended shape, I can only say that I doubt whether they have experienced a full grown North Sea storm, when the waves are vertical, breaking from three directions at once. Then it isn’t just how the vessel is shaped to the waterline, because the effective waterline is often nearer the deck than where is usually is. The double-enders were shaped to live and thrive in such conditions. Other designs often do not. The real reason for the shape is seaworthiness.

Well – lots of sailors will say hoghwash to this argument. Boats in all shapes and forms have crossed the North Sea and endured hurricanes and gails all over the world. Anyone who has experienced real bad weather – and gotten away without to much trouble – feel grateful towards the boat and her constructors. However – I have experienced bad weather in good boats and bad boats – and I certainly prefer my own double-ender.

What about length of waterline?

When the double-ender lists hard the effective waterline will reach from bow to stern with lift (or effective waterline) all along. A non-double-ender will lose the effective waterline at the stern. A longer waterline will in theory give a faster hull for the same weight and rig. Besides, while the double-ender heels hard the hull shape will prevent it from loosing steerage – at least for a longer than most, and at least for realtive narrow double-enders.

I guess classic hulls with long overhangs will achieve the same lift while listing hard – and classic hulls still are double-enders in effect when sailing listless. So – the longer waterline argument is not among the heaviest pro double-ender arguments.

History then?

I’ll bet the “real” reason double-enders evolved were not for the sea keeping qualities at all, but mainly because it is an easier hull to make in wood. The fact that they in fact floated and got their Vikings home obviously proliferated the design. You know – if they didn’t get back they wouldn’t have been able to pass the knowledge to the next generation.

What a rotten argument!

But the double-ender has other qualities.

A cruising boat is a home afloat, and volume is a luxury. The broad double-ender, with a sharp, deep underbody – like the Norwegian Colin Archer sailing tugboats, gives the best volume and sailing ability for any hull shape, bare none. None are better for liveaboard quality of life, volumewise, and sailwise if the boat is properly ballasted and rigged, and most are steadier and kinder to the crew in a seaway. One just has to put enough of the right things, like ballast, total displacement, and sail area, in the right places.

I don’t know – it seems that it all ends and starts with Beiser – the only reason to build or own a double-ender is because you like it and it pleases your eyes. That’s good enough for me. Do you have any other reasons – feel free to comment.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

As the title suggest, the double-o -7 New Year Race is not going to be mentioned much in our logbook. We ended up being a hardly decent 24th. However, we where the first of our competitors racing with the same handicap. We could have done better. We had problems with flying the spinnaker, we had two, possible five bad tacks and all in all we never really got Salt into the fast track.

At the bright side of life the above photo (Salt at right) made the local newspapers-website (Aftenbladet.no) look good. And to our defence – the wind was more or less down to zero when we started. We moved hardly forward the first 20 minutes, and very slowly the last 10 minutes.

Hunting race
The New Year Regatta is sporting a hunting start where the handicap is taken out at the time of start. Each individual boat is given a starting time according to handicap. The yachts with the largest handicap starts first. In theory all boats will then be at the finish-line at the same time. Besides it is more fun for the smaller and slower boats to be overrun by the big and fast ones, compared to loose sight of them few minutes after the start. At least it gives you time to admire them.

Lame ducks. However, when there is no or very little wind – the small and slow yachts, can not gain distance during the handicap-time as long as noone are moving. Just to make the race more interesting – the wind came back to give the fastest yachts and latest starters a little breeze to move. And the wind gave its last little puff as soon as the largest and fastest competitors had crossed the finish line.

Ugh!

Anyway – the race gave us a wonderful excuse to be out on the fjord. There was even moments of brilliant sunshine – followed by torrents of rain and rainbows. And we hade a nice fight going with Loffen – I think we passed each other four times.

So what did we do wrong?

– First – we could have hoisted the spinnaker in good time before start and just left it flapping in the next to non-existing wind. This way we could have ensured that we would get no problems when we finally started.

– Second – we could have stuck to the original plan of reaching starboard of Tjuvholmen – thus getting a better spinnaker reach, possible a little more wind, and we would have been out of the incoming flow. However, we had Loffen fighting us in lee pressing us above Tjuvholmen.

– Third – we had some really awful tacks. I guess we are plain rusty and out of touch. But still – we have to learn to give Salt a wide tack, filling her big Genoa and let her pick up new speed before we adjust to the new tack and wind angle.

– Fourth – we where to slow getting the spinnaker down and setting the Genoa twice. First I guess I hoped to keep the spinnaker flying the complete first leg, and that the 6-meter-a-second wind (12 knots) from the weather forecast would finally show up. When we finally got the spinnaker down it was during a squall, not out of control, but less elegantly than we normally do and without the Genoa working properly. The second time around was a little improvement, but far from the best we can do.

I guess the proverb – winning a yacht race is not a question of getting everything right, but to do less faults – is true.

Well – next year we will be back and even more ready! The party was nice thanks to sponsor Subsea 7. Besides hot shot sailor and TV commentator, Christen With, had some nice videoshots of Salt and remarked positively about our spinnaker handling. (Admittingly – he also commented that we were to consentrated on the spinnaker and forgott the main…)

The sorry results

The Kaskelot takes you topside

 

I was on the verge of ordering a new Genoa 2 140% from Aker Seil, when I found this second hand Genoa from UK-sails. It looks good, but there are quite a few patches and it is in bad need of a repair from a careful and loving sailmaker. The Carbon-fibre tapedrive Genoa is only used for two seasons. But those two seasons must have been some very hard ones. A few of the carbon-strings are broken, there are patches along the leach and at least two major rips along the foot.

Besides, it is on the small side. My 100% jib is 31,5m2, the 150% Genoa 1 is 47,25m2 – the correct size of a Genoa 2 should be 140% which amounts to 44,1m2 – the second hand carbon dream from UK-sails is closer to 126% which amounts to 39m2. That makes it ready to tackle some very hard winds, which mean I have to wait longer for a sail-shift going from Genoa 1 to Genoa 2 – while I can wait longer before I need to shift down to the 100% Jib.

Arguments

I Even after I have paid the sailmaker to patch the Carbon-fibre, the leach and the foot – I should be able to save a lot of money, compared to a new sail.
II Besides the sail from Aker Sail would be a Dacron/Pentex Genoa which is OK and affordable, but it is not a carbon-fibre supersail.

III The steps with the UK-Genoa are kind of nice and symmetrical – 8M2 down with the Genoa 2 and another 8m2 less with the jib.

IV I have so far done OK without the Genoa 2 – so I don’t really know if I need it or how much it is going to be used. Second hand is not free, but it is definitely a less costly way of finding out.

So – should I stay or should I blow?

Anyone out there who feel like giving me some advice? How long will a carbon-fibre sail last? Will it make good in our rather cold New Year Regatta, January 6? Will the sailmaker be able to make a racing sail for Salt out of this? Should I stick to Pentex and let the guys with the money go for the carbon-fibre?

Maybe this is all about wanting a sail I normally could not afford? I wish for it and then I fix all arguments to fit my wishes.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

Down at the dock the spray form the fjord was washing over boats 200 feet away. No night to be at sea – but it worked out to be nice night to be in the cabin. At least as long as the boat is securely roped to the dockside. I don’t understand why anyone would wish to live close to a sailboat marina. The howling of the wind and the clatter of halyards hitting the aluminum masts must be annoying – to say the least.

Not so nice

On any given day this would have been one of the no-so-nice trips to check out the boat in the middle of a gale. But a few days ago I installed a new diesel oven. And the change is formidable. I have kept it burning just to check that everything is working fine. So during the gale I went below and just savoured the heat and dryness. The yacht has never been among the very wet ones, but she always get damp, cold and uninviting during winter. Everything start to smell a littel stale and all my equipment seems cold and damp.

No more

What a change! Why on earth did it take me five years to get rid of the old diesel-electric heater? It never did work right – and when it worked it made noise and ate through my batteries. It finally sign it’s own death-penalty when it quit during a two-hand race from Bergen to Stavanger and back. At best this is a long race. When hit by cold strong headwinds and no heat below – it was unendurable. When my first-mate turned blue and her upper lip started quivering I knew it was time for some fast reaching towards the island Utsira.

Nightmares

Well – the real reason for dragging my feet for so long, was that I had to cut through the teak-deck for the exhaust-pipe. And I hate making holes – I hate it even more than I hate cutting rope. Sailors who buy expensive ropes, and make sure it is long enough by overdoing it by two meters, know what I mean. Anyhow – I finally did summon courage enough to drill a large hole in the cabin roof, and it was no big deal. Nothing to stay awake and think dark and sorrowful thoughts about leakage and rot.

X-mas sailing

Now it is so nice that I want to go x-mas sailing. At least I want to go out to see if there is cod to be had for 2.day x-mas. That is the best cod ever. Coming up from the cold fjord, hard and white in the meat and snarled by bait a cold and snowy day. Served with small potatoes, lots of boiled carrots and melted butter with cream and parsley…. And I want to cruise the fjords towards Sjernarøy for a two day lecture in university ped.

I have sailed the Bahamas and Florida – and the truth is that cold wind sailing with a nice glow below is much to prefer to hot wind sailing all day and even hotter nights.

If I get to the x-mas sailing and the cod fishing – I will blogg you all about it. Be my guest!

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

 

 

 

 

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