October 29 - November 4, 2017: Issue 335
The Admiral’s Cup Anniversary Regatta on Sydney Harbour Will Celebrate First Australian Win of 1967
Love & War on Pittwater, 2015 - At Classic Yacht Regatta hosted by RMYCBB - A J Guesdon photo.
The Admiral’s Cup Anniversary Regatta has already outgrown expectations, as David Salter reports.
When an informal committee of offshore veterans first met six months ago to put flesh on the bones of a Classic Yacht Association of Australia idea to hold some form of a regatta to mark the 50th anniversary of Australia’s first win in the Admiral’s Cup, their aim was to attract a fleet of 10 yachts.
It now seems likely that more than twice that number will take part in the event to be sailed in Sydney on December 1, 2 and 3.
“What most of us believed would be not much more than a few nostalgic toddles around the Harbour has taken on a real life of its own”, says regatta chairman David Champtaloup. “We’ve been amazed by the response.
“Boats are coming from as far away as Queensland and Tasmania to join the Sydney and Pittwater entrants. There are already around 20 solid entries with a few more expected. Old crews are getting back together. It promises to be quite an event.”
Jointly hosted by the Sydney Amateur Sailing Club, CYCA and RSYS, and with continuing support from the Classic Yacht Association of Australia, the regatta comprises two around-the-buoys harbor races and one short offshore. The specially commissioned first place trophies for each race are named after the three members of Australia’s victorious 1967 team – Balandra, Mercedes III and Caprice of Huon.
Caprice and Mercedes III will compete in the 50th Anniversary Regatta, however Balandra is still being restored in Tasmania.
Entry is open to any yacht that represented Australia in the Admiral’s Cup or contested the selection trials. The illustrious old ocean racers that will be racing in December include Love & War, Kingurra, Syonara, Mister Christian, Camille, Vittoria, Sagacious V, Impetuous, Spirit of Koomooloo (the first Ragamuffin) and the original Wild Oats.
They will be competing against Mercedes IV, Too Impetuous, Black Magic, Auric’s Quest, Apollo VI and Salacia II. In addition, Lorita Maria and Anitra V have been invited to join the fleet in recognition of the enormous contributions made to Australia’s Admiral’s Cup challenges by Norman Rydge and the Halvorsen brothers.
The SASC is providing Race Management for the two Harbour races while the CYCA will manage the short offshore event.
Organising committee member Peter Shipway – himself an Admiral’s Cup veteran – has been heartened by the enthusiastic response from former skippers and crew.
“They’re all coming out of the woodwork”, he says. “Most of them have put their hand up for a ride on one of the boats. Some of the older blokes have settled for a spot on the spectator boat, but we’ll do our best to make sure anyone who’s up for it can sail as guest crew for at least one of the races.”
Among those who’ve already indicated they’ll be racing are some of the most celebrated names in Australian yachting. They include Col Anderson, Rob Brown, Peter Mounsey, Bernie Case, Richard Chapman, Phil Edmonds, Tony Ellis, Gary Geitz, Peter Hemery, Mike Hesse, Peter Tierney, John Wigan, Doug Paterson and Bruce Gould.
Syd Fischer, who captained the Australian team in the Admiral’s Cup six times, is a co-patron of the anniversary regatta with Sir James Hardy and Gordon Ingate. Fischer remembers how the quality of our offshore yachts and sailors shocked the European and American teams.
“We’d sailed against each other here to be selected, and that got pretty hot. Over there, they got a bit of a surprise at how good we were – and it came as a bit of a surprise to us, too!”
Chair of the regatta organizing committee, David Champtaloup, says he has been overwhelmed by the support coming from the Classic Yacht Association and all the Sydney clubs.
“It’s very heartening”, he said. “The event has clearly struck a chord with the yachting community. The SASC, CYCA, RSYS and RPAYC haven’t hesitated to provide their assistance with the staging of the regatta and the on-shore hospitality events. It will be a genuine multi-club celebration.”
Two of the Regatta Patrons – Gordon Ingate and Sir James Hardy – will be sailing as guest helmsmen. No doubt the third patron, Syd Fischer, will offer his usual robust brand of criticism from a dry berth on the spectator boat.
There will social occasions for sailors, family and friends after each day of racing.
The formal welcome dinner is at the RSYS on the evening of Friday 1 December, followed by a crew party at the CYCA following the offshore race on Saturday 2 and a final presentation BBQ at the Sydney Amateurs on the Sunday.
When Australian Offshore Racing Came Of Age
May 20th, 2017:
David Salter reports on the planned celebrations for a landmark yachting anniversary
Fifty years ago a team of three Australian yachts arrived in Cowes to take on the world. Two years earlier, in 1965, our first challengers for the Admiral’s Cup, Caprice of Huon, Freya and Camille, had been snobbishly mocked by the British yachting establishment as being too small and old fashioned. The Poms soon had to eat their words as the Australians went very close to winning the Cup at their first attempt
When Caprice of Huon returned in 1967, this time with Balandra and Mercedes III, the Aussie team was better prepared for the tricky racing in the Solent and the Channel, and the tough Fastnet Race that closes out the Admiral’s Cup series. They beat the crack three-boat teams from Great Britain, France, Spain and the USA by a whopping 107 points. And just to rub it in, Mercedes III, Balandra and Caprice of Huon finished first, second and third in the individual points score. It was a complete victory, and Australian offshore racing had arrived on the world stage.
A group of local yachtsmen, all with a connection to the Admiral’s Cup, are now organizing a special, one-off Regatta to mark the 50th anniversary of that first Admiral’s Cup win. Staged jointly on Sydney Harbour by the SASC, RSYS and CYCA, the racing will be held over three days on December 1, 2 and 3. There will also be a full “après racing” social program over that weekend hosted by the participating clubs.
As important as re-uniting the yachts that represented Australia will be the opportunity of bringing the crews together again. Admiral’s Cup veterans whose original “ride” is no longer racing will be welcome to join the crews of other boats in the regatta.
In keeping with the “three-boat team” theme, the Admiral’s Cup Anniversary Regatta has three co-patrons: Sir James Hardy OBE, Syd Fischer OBE and Gordon Ingate OAM. All three have distinguished Admiral’s Cup records.
Entry is open to any yacht that either represented Australia in the Admiral’s Cup or competed in the selection trials. The records show that upwards of 60 yachts might qualify for the Regatta. Many of those may no longer be in racing trim and some, such as the legendary Freya, are now overseas. Nevertheless, a fleet of 10-15 is expected, including some from the 1965 and 1967 campaigns, led by the ageless Caprice of Huon and Mercedes III.
Some of the other famous names we might see racing each other again include Camille, Impetuous, Police Car, Balandra, Salacia II, Challenge, Love & War and Mister Christian. There will be one race per day – two on the Harbour (Friday and Sunday) and a short offshore event on the Saturday.
The Admiral’s Cup racing trophy is awarded to the winner of a biennial international competition among teams of sailing yachts; it was established in 1957 by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) of Great Britain. For many years it was known as the unofficial world championship of offshore racing.
Teams of three yachts rated at 25 to 70 feet (8 to 21 m) by RORC rules (formerly 30 to 60 feet [9 to 18 m] waterline length) represent each nation in six races (five until 1987) off the southern coast of England, culminating in the 605-mile (975-kilometre) Fastnet Cup Race.
From 1957 to 1999 the cup was competed for between national teams, each having three boats. Initially only Great Britain and the United States took part but, in later years, many other teams also participated. The Fastnet race was part of the Admiral's Cup during this time.
Australians won for the first time in 1967, the winning boat—Mercedes III—designed by Ted Kaufman and Bob Miller (later Ben Lexcen), who went on to success in the America's Cup.
The 2003 event, the last held, was planned to be based in Dún Laoghaire in Ireland, but this was changed at short notice. In addition, instead of being a competition between national teams, the event was competed between yacht clubs, each with two boats.
As of April 2008 there was no planned date or format for a next event and the Admiral's Cup's future is uncertain. However the RORC was looking into reviving the event.
Year Winning Club Winning Boats No. of Teams
2003 Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Australia Wild Oats, Aftershock 8
1999 Holland Mean Machine, Trust Computer Products, Innovision 7 9
1997 USA Flash Gordon 3, MK Café, Jameson 7
1995 Italy Capricorno, Brava Q8, Mumm a' Mia 8
1993 Germany Pinta, Rubin XII, Container 8
1991 France Corum Saphir, Corum Rubis, Corum Diamant 8
1989 Great Britain Jamarella, Juno IV, Indulgence VII 14
1987 New Zealand Propaganda, Goldcorp, Kiwi 14
1985 Germany Outsider, Rubin G VIII, Diva 18
1983 Germany Sabina, Pinta, Outsider 15
1981 Great Britain Victory of Burnham, Yeoman XXIII, Dragon 16
1979 Australia Police Car, Impetuous, Ragamuffin 19
1977 Great Britain Moonshine, Yeoman XX, Marionette 19
1975 Great Britain Noryema X, Yeoman XX, Battlecry 19
1973 Germany Saudade, Rubin, Carina III 16
1971 Great Britain Prospect of Whitby, Morning Cloud, Cervantes IV 17
1969 USA Red Rooster, Carina, Palawan 11
1967 Australia Merces III, Balandra, Caprice of Huon 12
1965 Great Britain Quiver IV, Noryema IV, Firebrand 8
1963 Great Britain Clarion of Wight, Outlaw, Noryema 6
1961 USA Windrose, Figaro, Cyane 5
1959 Great Britain Griffin II, Ramrod, Myth of Malham 3
1957 Great Britain Myth of Malham, Uomie, Jocasta 2
History Of The Admiral's Cup
In the post war period, British ocean racing was in a lull; the pre-war years had demonstrated their want of dominance on the ocean racing scene, out-classed by foreign yacht designers such as Sparkman and Stephens, while the innovations that were making their mark in the sport were mostly to the benefit of the dinghy sailors rather than offshore. For Sir Myles Wyatt, the way to improve the standard of British offshore racing was to entice the foreign competition into local waters. He envisaged a sandwich event, with Cowes Week bookended with the offshore races for which the RORC were famous – so the Admiral’s Cup was born.
In the event the first Admiral’s Cup was a straight head to head between the British and the Americans. The three-boat teams were to compete in the Channel Race, two inshore races in Cowes Week and the Fastnet Race, accruing points to win the specially bought silver Admiral’s Cup, donated by Sir Myles Wyatt (Admiral of the RORC) and his fellow British team owners. The self-selected British team included John Illingworth and Peter Green’s Myth of Malham, Geoffrey Pattinson’s Jocasta and Selwyn Slater’s Uomie. They faced a formidable American team of Dick Nye’s Carina, Blunt White’s White Mist and Bill Snaith’s Figaro.
Adjusting to the RORC rating rule required the American boats being re-measured (somewhat unfavourably). Unfortunately for the Americans, despite racing well throughout the latter stages of the event, in particular taking the Fastnet honours with 33 points to 27 including the overall win by Carina, their eventual loss had been set from the opening event when Figaro failed to make the start of the Channel Race; the resulting loss of points was the losing margin by the end of this first series. The British team won 70 points to 68.
America did not return for the second edition, their place in the line up taken by a team from Holland and a team from France instead. The British team was adapted slightly from its marginal pool of possible contenders: the Myth of Malham returned, alongside Selwyn Slater’s new yacht, Ramrod, and Griffin II, formerly Yeoman II, which was now the RORC’s own yacht skippered by Maj Gerald Potter. The Dutch team included Zwerver, Olivier van Noort and Zeevalk while the French brought Eloise II, Marie-Christine II and the 9m St Francois.
Following a strong start for Britain in the Channel Race, the Dutch pulled back in the Britannia Race, while the French held back their lead in the New York Yacht Club Race. Going into the Fastnet Race the British were only three points ahead. With early becalmings, it took the leaders of the fleet 40 hours to get to the Lizard. The Dutch led the Admiral’s Cup fleet round the Rock before bad visibility and increasing winds set in, prompting the French team in its entirety to withdraw with gear damage. The Dutch led to the final stages but were pipped by Griffin II and a highly placed Myth of Malham to ensure Britain retained the cup, 135 points to the Dutch 123 and the French 37.
For the first time, yachts competing in the event were designed specifically for the purpose. Most notable was Quiver III, owned by Ren Clarke, which joined the British team of Griffin II and Myth of Malham. They were joined by a team from the US, Holland, France and, for the first time, Sweden.
America’s team of Figaro, Cyane and Windrose had a commanding appearance at the opening Channel Race, finishing ahead by 30 points of Britain in second place. However, as Quiver III won both the Britannia Race and the New York Yacht Club Race, the latter of which Windrose had retired from, their lead was pulled back from 30 to 13 points going into the final race of the series, the Fastnet Race. Here the Quiver III started promisingly until she ran out of wind between Bishop’s Rock and the Lizard, letting the Dutch Zwerver claim the win. While Quiver III finished second, the accumulation of British points were still three shy of the Americans and the Admiral’s Cup left home shores for the first time. Losing the cup to the yanks ensured that not only did foreign teams feel encouraged to try their luck too but also drove the impetus in technological advancement with which the event became synonymous. It was becoming a ‘must win’ event.
By 1963 the event was becoming truly in tune with the attitude towards ocean racing – balancing the offshore challenges with the atmosphere of a regatta style event. Again, in Britain yachts were being purpose-built, with the contenders facing five offshore and two inshore for final selection. The team was made up of Hon Max Aitken’s newly built Outlaw, Dennis Miller and Derek Boyer’s Clarion of Wight and Ron Amey’s Noryema III, a renovated Quiver III.
There were six teams taking part: Britain, America, Holland, France, Sweden and, new this year, Germany. Sweden, their three boat team including Vagabonde, Dione and Staika III, took the field by surprise with a strong Channel Race performance to open up a big lead of 90 points over France, followed by Germany and America tied, and with Britain and Holland bringing up the rear. Nevertheless, Britain drew back over the following two Cowes Week races, pulling off a superb 1,2,3 in the New York Yacht Club Race to go into the Fastnet Race as the second team, by only four points, to Sweden. The Fastnet Race saw the British team face early issues including Outlaw’s broken gooseneck before the start and a collision between Primevere and Clarion on the startline. However, after winning her startline protest, Clarion was able to claim her Fastnet Challenge Cup win and the team had secured sufficient points to reclaim the Admiral’s Cup for Britain again.
With debut entries from Ireland and Australia, in 1965 there was a total of eight teams. Once again the Myth of Malham appeared at the event, although this time ‘batting for the other side’ as she joined the Irish team, sailed by new owners Brigit and David Livingstone. Meanwhile the British team sought new purpose-built entries: Dennis Miller commissioned Firebrand which competed alongside Quiver IV for Ren Clarke and Noryema IV for Ron Amey. Australia was fresh off the back of a formidable challenge to the America’s Cup and, following a heavy-weather series of trials, they broughtthree-time Sydney Hobart winner, Freya, Ron Swanson’s Camille and Gordon Ingate’s Caprice of Huon, the latter of which went on to win the Channel Race to set up the team as the one to beat.
Gordon Ingate’s Caprice of Huon - A famous Beken of Cowes image of Caprice of Huon on the Solent in 1965
Unfortunately for the Australians, they failed to repeat the performance during the Britannia Race, with Camille and Freya going the wrong side of a limit mark, and Camille having to repeat the entire course upon only realising her mistake at the finish. In the New York Yacht Club Race, Britain had mixed results but going into the Fastnet Race there was just a 14 point gap separating them from the antipodean team. Here the British were able to capitalise on the light conditions that the Australian boats were not prepared for; they took first and third place and retained the Admiral’s Cup.
Australia returned down under with renewed vigour towards the event. Sir Robert Crighton-Brown commissioned Balandra, built to the same design as Quiver IV, while Bob Miller collaborated with Ted Kaufman to design Mercedes III. These joined Caprice of Huon for her second attempt. In Britain, Firebrand, after modifications, rejoined the team with Noryema V and Prospect of Whitby. 10 years after the first event, there were now eight teams – it was the first time both Finland and Spain had fielded entries alongside Holland, France, Germany and the USA.
In the Channel Race, France took the overall lead with solo star Eric Tabarly on Pen Duick III, but Australia took the team lead, 26 points ahead of Britain. In the Britannia Cup a series of almost farcical events by the French and US handed the Australian team further points although only one more than the competitive British team. In the New York Yacht Club Cup, the USA regained some pride to win but the universally strong performance of the Australians took them 17 points ahead of Britain and the USA. In the Fastnet Race Pen Duick III took the win but the Australian team continued to perform to win the race on points and take home the Admiral’s Cup for the first time with an overall margin of 107 points.
This year saw an even greater level of professionalisation of the event, attracting its first major sponsor, Dunhill. The Australian team had enjoyed the services of a team manager previously and now other teams sought one too. The British team of Phantom, Prospect of Whitby and Casse Tete III lined up against teams from Australia, the USA, Italy, Germany, Finland, France, Holland, Argentina, Bermuda and Spain – 11 teams total.
The Channel Race gave Australia a 38 point lead with strong performances from Ragamuffin, Mercedes III and Koomooloo. However, Britain pulled back in the Britannia Cup with a win by Prospect of Whitby, her teammates in 8th and 9th place, but Australia nevertheless stretched ahead to 41 point lead that was consolidated the New York Yacht Club race. However, the triple scored Fastnet Race fielded conditions more attuned to the American team. Red Rooster won the Fastnet Challenge Cup by 68 seconds, followed in third and eighth by Carina and Palawan. This took them from 4th to first place. For Australia, the defeat was cruel – they had led the competition from day one to when they rounded Bishop Rock.
For the British, team selection was as tough as ever, with 27 trialists and only 4 races to select from. British Prime Minister Ted Heath had won the Sydney – Hobart Race in 1969 and replaced his S&S 34 with an S&S 42 in anticipation of the Admiral’s Cup. The top three nations: Britain, USA and Australia may have dominated the event in past years but it did not put off smaller and less equipped nations from competing. In fact, in 1971 there were 17 nations – perhaps attracted by the dropping of the RORC rule for the new IOR rule. Austria, Belgium, Brazil, New Zealand, Poland and South Africa debuted while Sweden rotated with Finland to maintain a Scandinavian presence.
With the British Prime Minister participating, media interest in the event ballooned, making even the trails and subsequent allocation of places to Morning Cloud, Prospect of Whitby and Cervantes IV, newsworthy items. Prospect of Whitby won the Channel Race with her teammates in 3rd and 5th to create an early lead over the USA and Australia. However in the next race, a disqualification meant that Britain’s lead almost evaporated, and Australia pulled into second place after the third race with just the Fastnet as the decider. The Fastnet that year was testing, from flat calm to gale conditions and many a tale from the competitors of the gusty conditions that broached and surfed the waves. While Australia’s Ragamuffin won the race, Britain took the points and the Admiral’s Cup came home.
The 1972 Kiel Olympics provided another sea change to attitudes around the Admiral’s Cup. The introduction of the IOR rule brought new ideas, gear and techniques from dinghy sailing to offshore and the Olympics provided a forum for sailors to exchange ideas. In Germany, whose previous best performing boat had finished only 14th in an individual race, this was taken up in full and they built a roster of boats to meet the IOR rule including the eventual team: Carina, Saudade and Rubin. The boats this year, across the board, embraced innovation: pits were used by the Australians, twin-grooved forestays and crosslinked winches by the British.
There was a dramatic start to the Channel Race with a brisk 20 knot breeze blowing out spinnakers. For the British, the 2nd and 8th of two of the team was negated by a 42nd, dragging them to sixth overall; Germany led, followed by Holland and Italy. The second race was held in a force 8, blowing 9, but this didn’t stop Berend Beilken of the German team comparing it to a dinghy race with tactics to match – he took the overall win with Saudade although the Australian team moved into second place to the Germany by just 12 points. The third race, again won by Saudade, boosted Britain into third place behind Australia, now only 6 points behind the Germans. Consistency in the Fastnet Race meant that Germany went home with the Admiral’s Cup after what was a frustrating race for many, with fog and meandering to negligible breeze towards the end.
57 yachts competed in the 1975 Admiral’s Cup, of which an incredible 24 were S&S designs. Other designers were pushing the boundaries again such as Bruce Farr designed Gerontius and the Bruce King designed bilgeboarder, Terrorist with two asymmetric pivoting-boards angled to be vertical when the boat was at a normal degree of heel. First time competitors included Canada, Switzerland, and Hong Kong and everyone was taking the event more seriously; the Spanish had even hired a Dutch coach for 6 months prior.
The Channel Race started amongst much hype; all the 57 yachts were berthed together in the Goves and Gutteridge Marina creating a much needed in-house atmosphere. However, the Channel Race itself was a slow frustrating race with each time picking up one bad result to offset the good. The US took the lead with the Germans in second, then Australia and Britain in 4th. The 2nd and 3rd races were traditionally the Britannia Cup and the New York Yacht Club Cup but this year it was decided to hold their own races, separate from the Cowes Week agenda. The British won them both, propelling them into the lead with just the Fastnet to go. The Fastnet Race was a similar one to the 1973 race with tricky light conditions making things difficult for the last leg back from the Scillies in particular. The British romped home with a conclusive win with 105 points between themselves and the Germans followed by the US. It was Australia’s worst Admiral’s Cup, finishing 9th overall.
19 teams lined up in 1977 including one new entrant – Japan – and a roster of new younger designers being given opportunities as sailors were prepared to experiment. The British team was a mix of tried and tested Yeoman XX, with the newly built Marionette and Moonshine. A new, 5th race, was included into the programme and, following a long, slow and frustrating inshore race in 1975, there was also a new time limit which meant there would be no after-dark finishes on the Squadron Line.
The first race was held after a short delay and won by the British with Moonshine in first place, Marionette in 7th and Yeoman XX in 9th and a 15 point lead over Hong Kong. In the Channel Race the Australian team turned around their first poor results but it was the US which sneaked into 1st place overall, 16 points ahead of the British. The second race, after a day’s postponement, was then abandoned as per the new time limit rule, and re-held the next day. After finally getting underway, it proved a dramatic event with many disqualifications, however it was the British which pulled in the most consistent performance to go into the final race 19 points ahead of the USA. The 1977 Fastnet Race was the slowest on record with boats rounding the rock at the time they would normally be finishing in Plymouth. The British retained and extended their lead to retain the Admiral’s Cup.
Teams turned up to the 1979 Admiral’s Cup with determination; the entire Argentinian team were patriotic Frers designs while the Australians once again featured a Syd Fischer owned Ragamuffin and the French fielded Revolution for the 4th consecutive time – a record in the Cup. The previous cup winners Marionette and Yeoman XX had been bought by the Dutch team and renamed Formidable and Dagger respectively. There was an estimated 20 million pounds worth of boats gathered for the start of the series.
The inshores were marked with mistakes and accidents from the off - Brazil’s Madrugada holed and retired during the first race. This race was for the British to lose, their tactical errors letting Hong Kong sweep up with a 3rd, 4th and 5th. Once again in the next race, the British had a strong hand but made mistakes and this time it was the Australians who benefited to pull up to 3rd overall. During the Channel Race the British team had a blow when Morning Cloud lost her rudder, allowing the Irish to sneak into the lead going into the fourth race. In this fourth race yet another Brazilian yacht was hit and holed but little deterred the Irish lead followed closely by the USA. The 1979 Fastnet Race is infamous and the Admiral’s Cup fleet were not spared breakages: the Irish team lost two rudders and one boat was abandoned as was their Cup ambitions. Conversely the Australians seemed to thrive on the conditions and slipped into the take the win. Celebrations were tempered by the tragedy that unfolded further down the fleet and the traditional post-race party was replaced with a memorial service.
The Australians were determined to hold onto the Admiral’s Cup this time, even having Apollo V designed and built in Lymington using the latest in plastics techniques. However, their diligence and attention to detail could not stop the British team from sweeping all before them. Peter de Savary’s Victory of Burnham, Brian and Pam Saffery Cooper’s Dragon and Robin Aisher’s Yeoman XXIII made for a convincing win, with the USA in second place.
However, there was controversy when a little time later Victory of Burnham’s rating was challenged and found to be incorrect. She had been poorly prepared for her original measurement and was only partly remeasured for the Admiral’s Cup. Regardless it did not affect the overall result.
The Admiral’s Cup picked up a headline sponsor for 1983 in the shape of Champagne Mumm, a concession allowed by the RORC against its traditions. This event became the first where stipulations were made on the crew to reduce the number of ‘hired assassins’ – now at least half the crew had to be resident or national of that yacht’s competing country. This heavily penalised one returning competitor – Bermuda - which just could not summon enough of their small yachting population to commit themselves to the campaign.
Yet more ratings controversy dogged the British team, with two trialling yachts were found to have incorrect ratings during the trials. In the end they selected Graham Walker’s Indulgence, Brian and Pam Saffrey Cooper’s Dragon and Dixon Atkinson’s Black Topic. However, they could only finish 8th in the series, their poorest placing ever. Instead Germany took a resounding victory of 847 points over the nearest rival, Italy on 680.
The German’s followed up one win with another, easily achieved with their high level of race preparation and the events that beset the other teams. The Germans arrived with Diva owned by Freddy Dieckell and Peter Westphall-Langloh and sailed by Berend Beilken (who had been with almost every German Admiral’s Cup team since 1973), Tilmar Hansen’s Outsider and Rubin owned by Hans-Otto Schumann.
This time the British team of Lloyd Bankson’s Phoenix, Larry and Debbie Woodell’s Jade and Peter Whipp’s Panda, while failing to crack the German defence, came an admirable second. Panda won the Fastnet Race in which 68% of the fleet retired and Phoenix took away top boat – an achievement for a production yacht.
In 1987 of the 14 competing teams it was the New Zealand team that finally came good on their promise and won the Admiral’s Cup for the first time since their first challenge in 1971. They also took the double – top team and top boat for Propaganda, sailed by Billy Butterworth. It was a textbook series with classic sailing by the team and they put their success down to a full 24 months of planning and a strong shift in internal attitudes from seeing each other friends rather than as enemies.
One key change that had been introduced to the event was to ensure the teams did not rely on one tonners; the stipulation of an aggregate team length of at least 95ft ensured that they teams had to have at least one alternative entry. Again the British took the ‘silver’ place, with Mike Peacock’s Juno III, Alan Gray’s Jamarella and Graham Walker’s Indulgence, finishing second by the Kiwis. Following the event, rumours of cheating were tackled head on by the club who requested information from the 436 sailors and received 77 responses and resulting in the disqualification of I-Punkt.
14 teams arrived in Cowes for the start of the 1989 Champagne Mumm Admiral’s Cup in which the British finally took back the trophy with the slimmest of margins from the Danish team of just 18 points. The British team was masterminded by Harold Cudmore and included Graham Walker’s Indulgence, Mike Peacock’s Juno IV and Alan Gray’s Jamarella. For Graham Walker it was certainly a case of unfinished business having been runner-up twice and third once.
An additional race was added to the series – taking it to six and with retrospection it was agreed that this was one of the best year’s in the event’s history with designers, builders, owners and crew drawing together a fleet of outstanding performance. Harold Cudmore’s role in bringing together the British team was reflected in their strong performance to take the Admiral’s Cup for the first time in eight years.
This year it was the turn of the French to savour a long-sought victory. Of all the countries which had competed in the Admiral’s Cup only France, the Netherlands and the USA had sailed in all but one of the 17 series and it was on this last that they finally won it.
The RORC had created a new format, restricting teams to one tonner, one two-tonner and a 50ft which made it trickier for countries to assemble their teams and the series opened with the Dutch, the Kiwis, Sweden and Ireland and only 8 teams total, the lowest since 1965. The consequence of this new level-rating format however was for more exciting racing for observers and competitors. The quality of the fleet was still high and going into the event it was widely assumed the Danes and Italians were the ones to beat. It was tight racing and the final result wasn’t known until half the fleet had made it in at the end of the Fastnet Race – France had finally won it.
The Champagne Mumm Admiral’s Cup was the last event to use the IOR rating rule after 23 years of use. All told, despite only attracting seven teams, Yachting World described the event as being perfect newsworthy material: the winning team did it by less than a point, and it was full of dramatic collisions and sinkings, not least when Harold Cudmore’s One Tonner which had been chartered from King Harald of Norway, sank.
One considerable change to the agenda had been to split one of the longer offshore races into two shorter windward/leeward races; during the second of these there was drama when two yachts collided hard enough to be locked together for five minutes. It was only by sailing at just the right angle of heel did the Pro-motion manage to limp back to Chichester Harbour without sinking.
From the outset, the Italians appeared the best prepared team (they even flew out their own chef) and led the series from the second race onwards. However, in the last race the Germans were able to snatch their tightly managed victory by an incredible 0.25 points.
In 1995 Italy had some sweet retribution from their loss of the previous edition; instead they were the ones who sneaked a late win overall after a strong performance in the Fastnet Race. This was their first victory in the Admiral’s Cup, which now included nine races in the series.
They pushed a resurgent US team into second place with a nail-biting conclusion as, with two out of three of the American team having finished the Fastnet Race, they were only ahead by 1.833 points and relied entirely on Jim Brady’s No Problem beating the Italian Mumm a’ Mia. For America, the blow was all the greater for having pulled in some strong performances including from Pigs in Space which had water in its bilges, a damaged keel and a crumpled, delaminated bow after hitting a ledge at 9.5 knots. With three quarters of the race ahead of them they voted to carry on racing but made ready the liferafts just in case, nevertheless, they not only finished but came second.
While again, only seven teams took part in the Admiral’s Cup it was nonetheless a high quality event with a dramatic outcome. It was also the USA’s first win at the event since 1969 occurred in 1997; since then they had missed only one competition, come second at five and third in three, finally being pipped at the post by the Italians in 1995.
It had looked, going into the Fastnet Race, like history would repeat itself. America had led the series from the start against the six other teams but Italy rose smartly during the Fastnet Race, from 4th to lead – they held a 1st in IMS, 1st in ILC 40 and a 3rd in the Mumm 36 classes. Saving the American bacon was when, just five miles from the finish, the leading fleet ran out of wind. The Americans in the ILC 40 class could sail up and around the leaders and the US boat went 6th to second while the Italian boat went from first to 6th. Italy ultimately finished third behind Germany while American reaped the rewards, also taking the best individual Big Boat yacht for Flash Gordon 3.
After several years of low numbers of entrants, the Admiral’s Cup committee announced key changes to the event to entice more entrants to join, at the behest of the sponsor who had set a target of 10 teams. Key among the changes was to reduce the required time from three weeks to two, dropping the Fastnet Race for a race around Wolf Rock and introduce a new Channel Race. A one-design of the Sydney 40 was introduced for the mid-sized boat (alongside the 50ft Big Boat class and Mumm 36 Small Boat class) and a host of these were made available for £1 hire. The committee also relaxed its rules on national teams and allowed for Commonwealth and joint European team that flew under the European flag and attracted nine teams.
As usual in the event, it hinged on the final race; the British led into the beginning of the offshore around Wolf Rock but when one of the team failed to perform it allowed The Netherlands to sneak in and claim their first ever Admiral’s Cup win. The team of Innovision 7, Trust Computer Products and Mean Machine made much of the win as The Netherlands had attended every Admiral’s Cup since 1959 but the best they had achieved till that point was 3rd.
The four year gap between events belied the waning interest in the Admiral’s Cup that would make this the last edition held. In 2001 the event was cancelled due to low numbers of entrants and there were many questions around the format of the event, boats and location of racing. After the hiatus, the 2003 edition attracted eight teams. In a concession to the times, teams were of two boats each and representing clubs, not nations (although the event was still international in its attraction) meaning the fleet of 16 was a far cry from the heydays of the 1960-70s. However, the crew and boats were still of top drawer quality including veterans of the Volvo Ocean Race, Olympics and America’s Cup.
The series of nine races showcased a two-team rivalry between Spain and Australia right from the start, with Spain going into the final race with the lead. Aftershock and Wild Oats had work to do to make good the last race, with Aftershock finishing 3rd on corrected against Spain’s first, putting the pressure on Wild Oats in the Big Boat class to beat their Spanish rivals on the King of Spain’s Bribon Telefonica Movistar into 4th place or worse. This seemed unlikely as they had finished first almost entirely across the series thus far. However, Australia cruised across the finish line and awaited the results apprehensively before receiving the news that they had won.
Copyright © 2005 - 2017 Royal Ocean Racing Club Ltd
Mister Christian on Pittwater at 2015 Classic Yacht Regatta hosted by RMYC BB- A J Guesdon photo