mardi 30 juin 2015

LITTLE AMERICA'S CUP BOOK - four side stories - PART ONE

François Chevalier published four side stories supporting his new book THE EXCEPTIONAL HISTORY OF THE LITTLE CUP, discussing four early "also rans": White HogMountain LionDulcinea and Splice.

Evolution of C-class catamarans between the 1961 American challenger Wildcat, the first wing (Whole Hog, 1968), and the holding champion Groupama, sailed by Frank Cammas and Louis Viat in 2013.
© François Chevalier 2015

Whole Hog (1965)

Since the America's Cup was reduced to a one-design match race between 48-footers (14.65m), the International C-Class catamaran championship, affectionately known as the "Little America's Cup", has become one of the last regattas where yacht design prevails. The secret of this competition lies in its founding rules, which, from its inception, took into account the surface of the spars in the sail area. It is this particular detail in the wording of the rules that is responsible for having given "wings" to the competition. 

A reminder of the C-class open rule:
Length Over All: 25ft (7.62m)

Beam: 14ft (4.27m)
Sail area, spars included: 300sqft (27.87m²)

With the launch of his C-class Beverly, William Van Alan Clark Jr. astonished everybody with his original and groundbreaking choices in the new catamaran's design. Whereas other contemporary boats had wooden crossbeams and a plywood cockpit, Beverly featured narrower hulls, fastened together on their topplates by three raised aluminium tubes, similarly to Hobie Cats. A trampoline was set between the two aft crossbeams. 

William Van Alan Clark, Jr.'s first C-class Beverly won the North American Catamaran Championship in August 1962.
© François Chevalier 2015
The first Whole Hog project featuring a wing (1965)
© François Chevalier 2015   
The second version of Whole Hog, featuring a wing with improved aerodynamics (1968)
© François Chevalier 2015    
Beverly was designed by Bob Harris and bears of the name Beverly Yacht Club. She was built near the club at the Cape Cod Shipbuilding in Wareham, Massachusetts. Like Van Alan's other sailboats, she bore a red livery on her topsides. This area on the northern shore of Buzzards Bay is worth visiting and Ram Island, where William lives, right across from the town of Marion, is a small jewel constantly rounded by the local regattas, except in winter. On August 19th and 20th, 1962, it was there that the North American Catamaran Championship was held, the winner being selected as challenger for the Little America's Cup. 
Beverly in-build. Van Alan Clark, stands aside his hands in his pockets. 
Photograph courtesy of Steve H. Clark

Beverly beat four other American C-Class catamarans as well as the previous holder of the Little America's Cup, which the Brits had sold before leaving for home in 1961. However, things were not so easy for Beverly on the Thames Estuary; During the final, she was beaten four to one by Hellcat and the trophy remained in England.

Two years later, American yacht designer George Peterson developed a wingmast for his C-class Sprinter, but could not beat the brothers Dave & Jerry Hubbard's Sealion, which was rigged without a jib. Beverly also received a new "Una Rig", as well as rakeable daggerboards and hull-retracting rudders. The load on the sails and rigging became so high that the fittings often broke. William Van Alan Clark later suggested that a self-standing wing could solve deformation problems in the top of the sails and also reduce the loads of the crossbeams. A wing would incur a heavy weight penalty, about double that of a conventional rig, but, in ideal conditions, it would generate significantly greater lift.

In 1965, Van Alan asked his friend Courtland B. Converse, a 33-year-old aeronautical engineer and president of the Pee-Kay Aircraft Corp., which specialised in seaplane floats. The project was named Whole Hog, but the anticipated weight was all but appealing so the boat never left the drawing board. The next year, most C-class catamarans featured a wingsail, each representing 20% to 30% of their sail area, but Van Alan is convinced that a wing would solve most post the problems relating to the wingmast tops deflecting too much.

Finally, in the winter of 1967, Court Converse, then Commodore of the Beverly Yacht Club, submits the drawings of a new wing for Van Alan's Beverly II of which the hulls were designed by the Hubbard brothers. With a higher aspect ratio than that of the previous project, she comprises three flaps along the trailing edge. Contrary to more recent wings which feature distinct profiles for the forward fixed element and for the aft thinner flaps, Beverly II's flaps were faired continuously with the forward element.

The yacht, which had not been officially christened, sailed in the Spring of 1968. She made three or four outings before she shattered in a gale. On November 23rd, before she could be repaired, Court Converse died in an open-frame autogyro accident, about 100ft from the family house in Converse Point. Van Alan remained a loyal supporter and sponsor of the C-class, but afflicted by grief, could never bring himself to continue the project that had started with his friend. The wing fell into disrepair in a hangar. His family finally ordered the wing to be broken up in 1984, following the passing of William Van Alan Clark on July 16th of the previous year. Heir to the Avon cosmetics corporation, he had specialised in many applied technological fields and had started many spinoff companies. Van Alan's second son Steve took over his activities. 
William Van Alan Clark Jr. (1920-1983) and his son Steve.

The North American Catamaran Championship took place on August 19th and 20th 1962, inside Buzzards Bay. The Buzzards breeze proved difficult to exploit for the unprepared C-class crews. Texas Hellcat, designed and built by her owner and skipper Peter Oetking is the only contender with a boat measured to the maximum size in the open rule, but owing to lack of preparedness, abandons on the first day. Sprinter, designed and built by George Patterson, was crewed by Bob Smith and Dave Hubbard, is completely new, and had the same measurements as Hellcat II.
Courtland Butler Converse (1932-1968). Court was the youngest commodore in the history of the Beverly Yacht Club in Marion, MA. He came from the family that gave its name to the company renowned for its world famous All Star basketball shoes. He was married to Josephine Saltonstall, whose brother William G. Saltonstall, Jr. had steered Beverly in the Little America's Cup in 1962.

The wing designed by Court Converse in 1968 foreshadows that of Australian Roy Martin's Miss Nylex, winner of the Little America's Cup 1974. The sail was put away in a hangar with the hulls of Beverly II for sixteen years, before being demolished. 
(unknown photographer, Steve H. Clark collection)

Finally, Tremolino II and Tremolino III, which both belonged to the Le Boutillier-Cornwell syndicate, had been designed by Harold Boericke and by Lt. Col. C. E. Cornwell. The sons of the owners, Ed and Boot, sailed on Tremolino II whilst Walt Hall and Tommy Jackson sailed on Tremolino IIIBeverly, which was sailing in her own playground, won three quarters of the fleet races and match races and won the trophy. The Little America's Cup challenger selection trials followed immediately, with BeverlySprinter and Tremolino IIBeverly dominated the series and was selected by the challenger committee.  
Drawings of the wing as imagined by the Commodore of the Beverly Yacht Club, Court Converse (unknown photographer, Steve H. Clark collection)
Particulars of Beverly (1962) 
ICCT 1962
C-class sail number : US 7

Yacht-club: Beverly Yacht Club, MA, USA
Location of regattas: Thorpe Bay Yacht Club, Essex, UK
Owner: William Van Alan Clark Jr., Ram Island, Marion, MA, USA
Yacht designers : Frank MacLear and Robert B. "Bob" Harris
Sail: hard
Builder: Cape Cod Shipbuilding, Wareham, MA, USA
Year of launch: 1962
Length: 7.62m
Beam: 3.81m
Sail Area: 27.87m²
Helmsman: William G. (Billy) Saltonstall, Jr.
crewhand: W. Van Alan Clark, Jr.
Hull build: laminated polyester
Crossbeams: three aluminium profiles
Deck: Dacron trampoline
Mast and boom: aluminium

Rudder: aluminium and rigid polyurethane foam 

Mountain Lion (1968)

Evolution - from Sea Lion(1964) to Mountain Lion (1968 and 1970)
© François Chevalier 2015   
One of the most important developments was that of Mountain Lion, the first C-Class to feature a wing...or maybe the second - in that year, the wing concept was not unknown and two were actually tested: one in Deep Creek Lake, MD, the other in Beverly, MA.

The sail area is limited to 300sqft (27.87m³) on a C-Class and William "Bill" Steane, the designer and builder of Mountain Lion, made an extremely basic wing for her: a rectangular shape, 10ft in breadth and 30ft in height. He designed a symmetrical profile, bearing in mind that under load, the frame and membrane would distort. Steane built the wing in his garden using small aluminium fairings reinforced by a criss-crossing matrix of rods and covered by a nylon film. The wing could can be reduced to two levels, thanks to zip flies that run all around the wing... At the time, Steane worked for a company that supplied three quarters of all the World's zips at Talon Zipper in Meadville, PA. During the first trials on Deep Creek Lake, the performance was neither discouraging nor very convincing. 
Steane assembling the frame of Mountain Lion's wing.
(unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)     
Mountain Lion's wing was a large 10ft by 3ft rectangle, with an aluminium circle for a base. (unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)
Bill Steane's story is very different from that of all the other C-Class crowd, most of whom had grown up amidst all sorts of sailing boats. Steane was born in 1915 and grew up in Vermilion on Lake Erie, but quickly left to work inland. He only came back to sailing when his son-in-law introduced him to A-Class catamarans in 1967. In that year, he bought the Class Sealion, that which had campaigned to defend the American flag in the 1964 Little America's Cup at the Thorpe Bay Yacht Club in the mouth of the River Thames. 

The builders of Sealion (Dave & Jerry Hubbard), had designed the hulls with a special feature: the deck had as an inward negative slope to reduce the developped surface. This unique feature was used again in 1996 in Steve Clark and Duncan MacLane's Cogito
The base of of the wing is an aluminium circle
(unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)

The circular wing base was inserted in a roller bearing trackof a structure that pivoted on one of the aluminium crossbeams.
(unknown photographer, Lorhing Miller collection)
After much thinking, Bill replaced the plywood crossbeams with aluminium tubes and rechristened his boat Mountain Lion (to contrast with Sea Lion's origins on Long Island) and starts sketching wingsails. 
Mountain Lion during seatrials on Deep Creek Lake, MD. 
(unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)

Mountain Lion during the 1968 North American Multihull Sailing Association Championship.    
(unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)
The wing consisted of 44 frames, each spaced 8in from one another. The base was a turning circle, set in a rollerbearing between the forward crossbeam and the aft crossbeam. This complete structure is unstayed and pivots freely, enabling the sail to be hoisted and dowsed conveniently. 

En 1968, Mountain Lion took part in the North American Multihull Sailing Association Championship (NAMSA), but her performance did not influence multihull history, so Bill abandoned the Wing concept. Wings would go almost unnoticed until Australian Roy Martin's Miss Nylex made it to the Little America's Cup final in 1974, which she won soundly. 

In the following year, Steane steps a cat-boat rig, designed by the Hubbard brothers, on Mountain Lion; With this configuration he sailed on Lake Arthur PA, in the company of the dinghies and keelboats of fellow Moraine Sailing Club members. He took part in a another NAMSA championship in Hamilton, ON, and realised that wingmasts had proliferated and now dominated the multihull scene, particularly Scimitar and Yankee Flyer. Steane was even beaten by the brothers Maede and Jan C. Gougeon catamaran Victor T. He became the grandfather of a new little girl named Sue during the regattas, and this encouraged him to further his research. 

Roton Point, 1973. Patient Lady II (US71) is ahead, carrying Dave Hubbard's third wing iteration. She is followed by an over-canvassed Tornado in second place, Mountain Lion (US17) in third, Rick Taylor and Ned Damon's Hawk (US77) in fourth, and Lee Griswold's Taku II (US68) in fifth place
(unknown photographer, from Gene Miller's collection)
Steane started building a wingmast similar to that of Scimitar, with a thick profile and a high aspect ratio, featuring an aluminium fairing, a wooden-slatted frame, each section spaced one foot from one another, and covered by a nylon wrap. Stean brings Mountain Lion to the C-class sanctum of Roton Point, Rowaytown, CT, for the World Championships and the 1972 Little America's Cup selection trials. With Scimitar destroyed in a road accident, George Patterson's Weathercock emerged as the victor, though more than a few offered that Mountain Lion could have made a better defender against the Australian challenger Quest III
C-class sailors get wet in the slightest breeze or sea, so wet suits are paramount. In the foreground, the trapeze footrests, the compass and the mainsheet traveller
(unknown photographer, from John Sherer's collection)

A happy Bill Steane receives his 1971 Christmas present!
(unknown photographer, from Lorhing Miller's collection)
Steane continued to sail multihulls with his wife Edna, including a trimaran called Trilliad designed by the Gougeon brothers, and giving his grand children many thrills on the Big Lakes, in the Mexican gulf, on the Mississippi river and in the Everglades. He passed away at age 91, having lived and transmitted his passion for sailing. 

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