Sadly our illustrious and beloved Quarter Ton Class Patron Mr Bob Fisher could not be with us for the Gala Dinner last night (apparently there’s a little regatta going on in Newport, RI, that he has to report on) but he did send us this lovely message. Thanks Bob – we miss you!
It is with very much regret that I cannot be with you this year, but keeping the Fisher family exchequer ahead of the recession has meant that I have to be in Newport, Rhode Island instead. I know where I would rather be and Newport is not the first choice. Yes, I am in the glamour of the America’s Cup, looking at the superstars destroying dollars faster than the Greek economy, and the only consolation is that the event is about to re-write the technology of yacht design.
Quarter-tonners have always been at the forefront of yacht design, which is why perhaps there are so many smiling faces in this fleet, sailing boats whose contemporaries have long been pensioned off. The size of the boats enabled designers to be radical with their experimentation – the occasional failure through excess was not as financially crippling, as it would have been with a bigger craft.
That experimentation was led by designers, both amateur and professional, from all parts of the globe and saw the growth of light displacement, principally in small boats, and the Quarter Ton size was the first to feel the impact. It also produced boats that were cheaper – Bruce Farr’s maxim was always: “Displacement means Expense.”
So, those of us who sail, or have sailed, Quarter Tonners are the beneficiaries of a change of thinking 40 years ago. Back then we didn’t really know if we were ready for it and there were some compromises. Even Ron Holland’s Eygthene had compromise written all over her, and while she won the 1973 QTC, it was her consistency that paid off over one or two light displacement boats that sparkled on occasion.
All too well, I remember that week in Weymouth on Odd Job with Jack Knights and a crew from around the globe that quickly became dubbed as “The International All Stars.” If only the boat had realised that we were giving it our all, or perhaps the old adage of the 7 Ps – Piss Poor Preparation Provides Piss Poor Performance – should have rung in our ears. But when the tiller broke off the rudder head as we ran wildly from the Needles Fairway to CH1, it needed all our skills to return to England. Just where did Jack obtain that air-cooled lawn-mower engine that would run for no more than 12 minutes without overheating? Oh, for an outboard.
By all rights, the Cup that year should have gone to Robber from Sweden, but an OCS in the short offshore race (a mere 70 miler) saw her penalised 5% of elapsed time, which dropped her to 15th (and don’t forget the bonus points). There was little doubt that she was the fastest boat at the regatta. And 70 miles for the SHORT offshore race re-kindles the spark of the QTC five years later, in Japan, when the fleet returned to port on the second night for the short race and the third night for the long one. Thankfully now, the sadists who ran those races are long gone from power.
Quarter tonning for me was, and is, always fun. I distinctly hope that it is for you.