Friday, January 14, 2011

Caribbea 30

If there ever was a competition to see how much one could get into a small boat this one must be a very strong contender! Besides its classic good looks and all-round sailing ability, its most outstanding feature is the very spacious accommodation it offers - more like a 34 footer inside. Designed by Dudley Dix, it remains one of his favourite designs. Quite a number were built in South Africa (25+), by Nebe in Hout Bay (as usual), making it another great local!

The design was originally commisioned by Imberhorne (owned by the Chaplin family ex HBYC in fact). They commisioned sketches from C&C and Dudley Dix and settled on Dudley's proposal - and so this went on to become Dudley's first production boat. Later Nebe took over the moulds.

The Caribbea is a fairly light, fast and nimble vessel, with decent performance on all points of sail, but excels downwind and has recorded amazing daily runs of 150+, including one of 178 in the trades between Cape Town and the Caribbean. The pictures shown are of the yacht G-String, which I understand was circumnavigating until recently - at any rate it happens to be for sale as far as I can see - on - if you fancy a great budget cruiser in good condition in St Maarten . . .

We used to have a really nice Caribbea at HBYC and several times I sailed alongside it in Hout Bay. It really is a simple, elegant boat, dead easy to sail, and moves very well. RCYC Club Handicap is about 0.90 (bearing in mind limited racing data, and usually cruising spec) which is a very respectable number.
Left-click to see large picture

In this design, Dudley has run the cockpit right back to the transom for extra space in both cabin and cockpit. The engine is sited aft under the cockpit sole, and uses a saildrive, leaving the cabin completely unobstructed, which is a priority in a smallish boat. Rudder is skeg-hung over the transom, while the keel is moderate - allowing a good combination of responsiveness, manouverability and tracking ability. Draft varies with the keel options (there are four) - this one is about 1.5m.

The rig is a conventional masthead sloop, easily managed mainsail, great cruising rig. Displacement is 3376 kgs (Disp/Length of 191) which is fairly light - but also quite average with many modern boats - Benetaus have much the same numbers, a DiDi 34 is around 135, and a Shearwater 39 weighs in at 235.

The relatively high coachroof and freeboard give her loads of cabin space - more than full standing headroom - I would guess about 6'2" or so - whilst giving her a very respectable stability curve with AVS > 140 deg.

The cockpit is generous, deep, safe and simple. Tiller lifts clear. Two nice positioned primary self-tailers for the headsail and a traveller for the main - all reachable and manageable by one person - single-handers dream!

The interior is the part that really impresses - see pics of G-String, from

Overall - this is a very likeable boat! What radio hams would call "a keeper". For the investment, you can do a lot with a boat like this, and never regret owning one. It's a performance cruiser rather than a racer, but will also give much fun in club races. An ideal couple-cruiser too, and perfect for the Med, the Caribbean, and the ICW, but capable of sailing in the rough stuff as well, or crossing the ditch.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Morgan 31

The Morgan 31 is another of SA's much loved boats - this one could be billed as a pocket cruiser, though its actually much more than that. It really is a "proper blue water cruiser" capable in just about any conditions. She has great accommodations for her size, including a full heads and shower and a very spacious saloon and chart table. The cockpit stretches right back to the transom (no aft lazarette) allowing large space in the cockpit and cabin. The two examples I have been in both had the feeling of little ships, and in my view are really serious contenders for couple-cruisers. They really "look the business"!

The Morgan 31 was designed by Angelo Lavranos - around 1970 - while Angelo was working for Angus-Primrose in the UK - making it the oldest of these three designs. Looking at the underbody - I wondered whether it was a modern interpretation Contessa-32, but Angelo tells me it was designed specifically as a blue-water cruiser, inspired from the well known North Atlantic 29, but making use of modern materials (GRP) and rig (Bermudan Sloop). I suspect the cabin is far bigger too.

Chris Bonnet used Morgan-31s for years for offshore sail training, and students still rave about them - for being safe, capable, forgiving and comfortable. They are good passagemakers and have more speed than one would expect. While the long keel allows them to track extremely well, the counterside is that the helm is not very responsive compared with fin-keel designs. Manouevering in tight spaces is not their strong point - but if you want a boat that will go straight for days on end, with very little help from the autopilot, this is it! The long keel (and shallow draft) are also great if you want to splash about in the shallows of the Chesapeake for example, and you wont be catching ropes on the rudder or the prop. For a small, safe, comfortable, traditional, spacious cruiser, its hard to argue with this design. Not for round-the-cans though - she is a purpose-built cruiser.

The rig is a masthead sloop, with dominant genoa. This is a great cruising rig - dominant headsails drag the boat forward (rather than push it from behind) and keep the boat tracking well, keeping centre of effort (heeling) forces low (compared with the mainsail),  whilst being easy to furl on roller furlers, and easy to reduce sail in extreme conditions. Often its quite ok to sail under genoa alone. Simple to handle.

The engine is placed under the stairs and out of the way, whilst driving an almost horizontal propshaft.

The ends are quite narrow, and the mid-section is a traditional wine-glass profile, making for a very comfortable ride - obviously at the expense of a quite large wetted area and the complete inability to plane. However these attributes won't matter at all for the design envelope this boat is intended for, and certainly benefit her purpose as a cruiser.

Morgans were built originally by Morgan Mosenthal (in Durban I think), and very solidly built at that - I saw a 5cm plug of GRP cut out of Pato (Hout Bay) for the echo-sounder! This particular boat had no osmosis after some 35 years . . . Morgan 31s are still generally in very good shape and well worth a look if you want a budget, safe, comfortable cruiser for two . . . . 

 I remember reading recently that a new party/company in Durban had acquired the moulds and were about to build some more.

Overall, a throughbred blue-water cruiser with good space, safety and comfort, ideal for a cruising couple on a budget, or for those who know they simply don't need more!

Some history - note the prices!!! (left-click for full size)

Monday, January 10, 2011

DiDi 34

DiDi 34 "Nandi" on launch day. Note the powerful keel (to match the rig), the deep rudder, long waterline, fine bow and clean lines of the hull. The high freeboard makes a dry boat with generous cabin volume, while allowing an exceptional reserve stability (AVS 140+ !!). Nandi was built singlehandedly by Nick Fairley over two years, working in spare time.

Nandi sailing out of Hout Bay for Cape Town in fresh winds during one of the early club rallies. She was often sailed double handed by Nick (owner/builder), and myself.
Tall, uncomplicated rig and nice clean lines
 Nandi pacing a Farr 38/40 under Chapmans Peak. Note the single transom-hung rudder remains fully immersed even during a fair angle of heel.
cruising back from Vulcan!

Of all the boats we are likely to cover in this blog, the DiDi 34 is clearly one of the best overall designs I am aware of. I have been involved with this particular boat since day 1 - "Nandi" was built by my great friend Nick Fairley. I have also sailed it many times and in many conditions, and witnessed the construction from start to end.

DiDi 34 is one of Dudley Dix's DiDi range of performance keelboats designed for radius ply construction. They are fantastic all-rounders with impressive performance, cabin space, safety, good handling, and great looks. Equally impressive is that the designs are simple, strong, use no fancy materials or parts, and are actually designed for home/kit construction. The design-to-build element is actually quite a touch of genius, and the kits are very well designed and accurately cut.

How does Dudley achieve all this, and what makes these boats so unique? No doubt Dudley could explain this all a lot better than I can, but the elements that have impressed me include:

1. Powerful rig and keel, combined with fairly hard bilges, give these boats lots of power whilst remaining suitably light. The Didi 34 displaces about 4T, of which a full 2T is lowdown in the (bulb) keel. The beam justifies a fair bit of height in the freeboard and coachroof, which also adds cabin room, whilst achieving a class leading stability profile. See diagrams below:
2. Dynamically, the DiDi 34 also excels. The deep fin keel, combined with a deep transom-hung rudder gives it sharp response on the tiller. The hull profile is sufficiently rounded to keep the rudder immersed at all times. The hull shape makes fair allowance for comfort and seakindliness without giving much away in terms of waterline length and planing ability, and she makes a good offshore racer or cruiser. Notable in many Dix designs is the station of the engine - usually just aft of the keel, forming a useful galley counter and enclosure. This allows maximum buoyancy in the bow and stern, whilst keeping the engine very low as well. Similarly, the fuel tank is situated right over the keel, in an epoxied wooden tank, which doubles as a saloon table. This all helps to keep the weight low down and midships, benefiting power, seaworthiness, and her light, simple and cheap . . . Accommodations remain very practical. Diagram below:

3. Build Philosophy - possibly the thing that appeals to me most is the approach of avoiding expensive materials and complex rigs. Carbon fibre is not required anywhere. A simple 2-spreader standard-section mast is used. Single tensionable backstay. Tiller steering, plywood rudder. Marine ply hull and bulkheads with radius chines. Lots of glue and epoxy, but GRP overlays not required (wood is stronger and does not require fairing like GRP). Fuel tank made of epoxied wood - its perfect. Savings in cost and weight, no rust to worry about, easily bonded to hull. Wood as a building material - modern marine ply, correctly used and epoxied, is in fact as good as a high-tech building material, with amazing strength ratios. It does not suffer rot, rust or osmosis if properly epoxied. It feels good, great to work with and repair, and has good insulation as a bonus. Rig design does not make use of highly stressed chainpates or stays, and the dominant mainsail leaves moderate loads on the headsail and winches.

How does she sail?
DiDi 34 is best on longish offshore courses. I have seen her outrun a well-known Simonis 35 on one occasion over a leg of about 15 miles from Cape Town to Hout Bay, and hold a very hot professionally crewed, very high-tech L34 for an equal distance in False Bay 9bearing in mind that Nandi was being sailed with plain club sails, a #2  roller furling headsail, and shorthanded. 7.5-8.5 knots is common in moderate conditions. Round the cans, she needs weight on the weather rail, but is easily handled with a crew of just two in the cockpit. Single-handing would be a bit more challenging on short courses, but quite possible assuming a roller-furling headsail, tiller-pilot and stackpack on the main. She is a remarkably dry-boat in the cockpit, and gives a decent ride on a beat, with little pounding. Off the wind she is quite steady and simply flies. She keeps moving in light airs, excels at 12-15 knots, wants 1st reef at about 20. Sails quite well under jib alone, if desirable.

Overall, a great boat for club and offshore racing, occasional cruising, and weekend excursions. Its great all-rounder with no vices. Actually a great design to benchmark against.

Does she have any drawbacks? Not really. She's not a classical heavy long-keeled cruiser though, nor a high-tech carbon-mast 4-spreader racer, but wont be embarrased in either role, on a far lower budget. If there was a prize for value-for-money allrounder, she must own it! The thinking-man's sportsboat . . .

For detailed info on the design see

Dudley's Commentary on the DiDi 34/38 follows below:

Didi 38 
I started on this design while sailing the 1993 Cape to Rio on Nick Taylor's Shearwater 39 "Ukelele Lady". I wanted a fast and light boat that I could build myself in the 3 years between races. I sometimes suffer from seasickness, so I took great care to design a boat that would be comfortable despite being light. That meant that it had to be fairly narrow to have an easy motion.

It was to be cold moulded wood for economy and to be suitable for me to build as an amateur. It took a year before I had money to start the project but 2 years was not enough time to do it, so I had to come up with a way to speed up construction drastically. I fell back on my staple radius chine metal designs and adapted that hull form to plywood construction. Aside from speeding up the build it also pulled the material cost way down. Against dire predictions from all and sundry in the boating world and media, we were on the start line in January 1996 after starting the build in January 1994.

"Black Cat" proved to be very fast offwind and a joy to sail on all headings, with a light helm unless pressed very hard. The slippery hull and tall fractional rig make it very fast on all headings on flat water in light breezes. It is a design that like to be pushed hard rather than treated gently. In common with many modern designs, the flattish bottom forward of the mast doesn't like to be sailed upright in lumpy water, powering her up to generate heel softens her ride and makes her more weatherly.

I have sailed her through a few storms in mid-Atlantic and in extremely rough seas as only the Cape of Storms knows how to generate. She has always felt safe and solid despite having a 12mm lightweight plywood skin throughout. Of her 4000kg displacement in measurement trim, a full 50% is ballast in her deep bulb keel. This, combined with her high cabin structure, give her stability characteristics that will right her from the worst of knockdowns.

To date we have sold plans for nearly 70 boats to builders from South Africa to Siberia, USA to Vanuatu.

Didi 34 
I drew this design as an entry in the SA Yachting Design Competition in 1995. My radius chine plywood concept was not yet proven but I decided to use the same method of construction. I did not know at the time that the whole aim of the design competition was to arrive at a new GRP small cruiser/racer that the boating industry could promote together. My wooden boat was out of the running from the start but it has proven to be a really nice design. We have sold more than 40 of these to builders worldwide.

The Didi 34 is more moderate than the Didi 38, so it is a bit finer in the stern and has a bit more emphasis on cruising. The result is a boat that is capable and fast on all points of sail, with reaching being her strong point.

When designing her I also aimed at making her a more modern and more offshore capable version of the CW975 design with which I had won the Cruising World Design Competition in 1979. To that end, the interior layout is very similar and she has the same rig. I had enjoyed sailing my own CW975 "Concept Won" for many years in short-handed races and cruising single-handed, so wanted to bring her ease of handling into the Didi 34. The Didi 34 became a more all-round-capable boat, whereas the CW975 is an extremely fast boat for running/reaching but lacks a bit when beating, both of which result from her flat bottom and multi-chine hull form.

The HBYC boat "Nandi" was built by owner Nick Fairley from a kit that was supplied by Roy McBride of CKD Boats. The kit was cut using a CNC router to provide accurate components, including bulkheads and all panels of hull and deck aside from the radiused areas. I have not seen "Nandi" but from what I hear Nick built her to a good standard. She has been doing well in local racing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is to hold an overview and description of the popular yachts in South Africa. Main focus is on locally designed and built vessels, and vessels with a strong South African connection. Initially, we will focus on the classics (Miuras, RCODs, L26s etc) before moving to modern and larger designs. Designers such as Dudley Dix, Angelo Lavranos, Oswald Berckemeyer, Simonis, van de Stadt come to mind, but there are many others.

Credits and many thanks to Roy McBride as the co-instigator of this initiative, and the source of much of the material - especially photos. Roy has a great interest in boats, especially traditional ones, and is active in the industry where he supplies high quality kits for boat construction from leading designers. He is a fountain of knowledge on traditional boats and construction methods. For anyone interested in boats and cruising, you need to see his blog at - it is updated daily with interesting articles on all sorts of things!

Should you wish to see a specific boat featured, are able to supply (or add information) for a given design, or wish to correct any points made in this blog, please email to

Thank you!

Justin Phillips
Webmaster, HBYC and SA Yacht Blog

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Savannah - Keith Gemmell's Miura, snapped during a H.B.Y.C. Club Race

Early Nebe Advert for the Miura

I think I can say the Miura remains one of South Africa’s favourite yachts, and one of the most successful designs to come out of this country. . . At just over 30' long, it is an incredible allrounder, for it seaworthiness, seakindliness, general performance and cruising abilities.

I have only heard praise for the Miura, from all the right people. I once heard the Miura being described as the VW Beetle of the oceans – it is solid, goes anywhere, inexpensive, and quite round! It is however relatively more sophisticated than a Beetle I have to say. The name Miura derives from the Spanish word for “fighting bull” as I understand – Berckemeyer named several boats with Spanish names originally.

The Miuras were designed by Oswald Berkemeyer, his second boat after the Flamenca 25, (with which it shares some DNA), in the late 70s. I am not sure what the design objective was exactly – but it yielded a beautiful small yacht, inexpensive and simple, capable of sailing anywhere, and rugged as they come. They were designed for GRP production, and more that 250 were built, the majority right here in Hout Bay by Nebe. There are three Miuras in the Hout Bay Marina – Tenacity (2 x circumnavigations), Wings (1 circumnavigation), and Savannah (unknown). The Miura is a strong contender for the argument of which class of yacht has the most circumnavigations . . .

Overall a Miura is 30.5’. Displacement around 4700 kgs gives it a moderate displacement by modern standards. Underbody shows a swept fin keel, and a skeg-hung rudder with tiller steering. The single-spreader mast is relatively low, and the Miura carries most of its power in a large genoa, with smallish mainsail. They perform amazingly well upwind and in fresh to strong winds, a bit sluggish in light airs though. The most distinguishing feature of the Miura is the pronounced tumblehome evident at the beam. This gives it loads of strength, a good IoR rating apparently, and loads of cabin room. The swept up canoe stern makes it completely unable to plane, and therefore not great downwind speed, but a very good sea boat nevertheless. The late great Bertie Reed campaigned several Miuras in local offshore races with some suprising results. Reed held the overall record record from Cape Town to St Helena and back for many years in a Miura.

Berckemeyer lived in Cape Town in the 70s – at a time when racing classes were dominated by van de Stadt designs – viz. The RCOD and the Buccaneer for example, and many others. At that time, van de Stadt was already a legend in yacht design circles – sometimes known as the “S&S of Europe”! – and his modern design concepts of fin keels and spade rudders were still quite leading edge. GRP was also a brand new idea - so when Berckemeyer decided to design something new to compete with the Stadt boats, well he must have been pretty confident. At the time, the Miura was a radical looking boat – the roundness of it, the full beams with pronounced tumblehome, the swept fin keel, large Genoa were all quite novel then. How such a round boat would compete with the likes of an RCOD with similar waterline remained to be seen. In fact it outperforms the RCOD by a small margin – while carrying twice the weight , and with far more room. According to the RCYC database of club ratings, Miuras sail off a club handicap of 0.935, while RCODs sail of a club handicap of 0.91, for example.

In the Hout Bay Yacht Club, the Miura “Savannah” is actively raced by skipper Keith Gemell, often short or single-handed, in any conditions.

The Miura went on to become the most popular keel boat in South Africa for many years – I guess there are still more Miuras in South Africa than any other class of keelboats? Miuras became the keelboat of choice for Sailing Schools, first time keelboat owners, and people wanting to do the Cape to Rio on a budget. Not to mention those who wanted to circumnavigate, or even round the Horn. The Miura class remains quite active, and still often races as a class. Long live the Miura!

Vital Statistics LOA 31' LWL 28' * Beam 10' Draft (Laden 6') * Displacement 10700 lbs * Capsize screening formula 1.8 (good) * Sail Area / Displacement 14.8 (a bit under canvassed) * Displacement / Length 218 (moderate) * Max Hull Speed 7.1 kts

L26 (Lavranos 26)

Bandito, skippered by HBYC local Rian Turner during Admirals Regatta, 2006

Angelo Lavranos designed the L26 in 1978, which went on to become the leading competitive keelboat class in South Africa. Below is Angelo's own account of how it came about, so I'll leave that to him. Angelo was a South African (as far as I know - he certainly lived here for many years), before moving on to New Zealand where he now lives. L26s were all built in SA, originally by PSI Yachts in Durban, later by Ton Cup as well. Maybe others too. Despite its age now (30 years) - the "Ls" as they have become known are suprisingly fast - even beating some of our larger racers across the line on occasion! They are particularly fast upwind if they have enough crew and benefit from the relatively high crew-weight/displacement ratio, sitting out on the wide beam. They have a high form stability factor, being beamy and light, but generally low-tech boats, keeping costs down. Despite this, Ls manage very well in heavy weather. Mostly, they have no reefing points in the main - at least in the racing suite! They remain a well managed class, and the class choice for the Lipton Cup. They are now relatively affordable and have made performance sailing accessible to many of the youth and development programmes in SA. Lavranos also desgned many other successful boats (too many to mention!) - see his website at
Notes on the L26 by Angelo Lavranos
5th May, 2007

Back in 1978 I was asked by David Cox to design what became the L26. Dave was one of Durban’s most prominent and influential “movers & shakers” in yachting. He later also initiated and masterminded the L34 Class also. Dave felt that “one Design” was the way to go, and that a large body of yachtsmen were fed up with “chequebook“ yachting and rapid obsolescence endemic with the IOR rule of that time. That sounds a familiar complaint even now. How right they were ! Dave and John Gordon Thompson formed L Boats as the licensee. The first boat afloat “Electron” (small but very very fast!) owned by Johnny went afloat in April 1980. Actually No 001 was for John Sully (a very prominent Transvaal Yachtsman) who was the first “real” buyer. Within 12 months there were 12 afloat, all from PSI Yachts in Durban, and 32 on order. By 1981 Ton Cup Yachts in Cape Town were also licensed to build. By April ’82, 60 were built with another 10 on order. Dave wrote an excellent set of Class Rules right at the outset, and marketed the boat very effectively and relentlessly. Ultimately (within very few years) 84 were built.
When the L26 was conceived the Lipton Cup was “dormant” since the demise of the 30 sqm class. In 1982 it was revived using IOR Quarter Ton Cup Class boats. Within a couple of years that too fizzled. The L26 was chosen only in 1984, when the class was already established and very well distributed amongst all the clubs round the country. Because of this the Lipton Cup was an instant success in the L26 and the event in turn helped maintain interest in the L26.
The design brief given to me was the key to the success of the boat.
1.Simplicity. This essential element of this is the runnerless, swept single spreader rig, robust enough for long life, handling mistakes etc. The IOR rigs of the time used runners, were delicate and obligingly fell down if misused. This was No-No number 1.
2.Rugged, designed to last, no breakages. At Dave’s insistence we stuck to a solid glass structure which is heavier than a sandwich. Dave was worried about ongoing supply of core material as well as the increased cost, consumer resitance etc. By the time the L34 came along he relented on this but in 1978 he probably made the right decision.
3.The boat should be able to handle SA coastal conditions (something most One Designs and sportboats of similar length, especially the lighter more recent ones are less able to do). Because of the L26’s waterplane characteristics and topside configuration she is able to take a person ahead of the mast while doing spinnaker gybes etc in strong winds without broaching or nosediving. The boat handles sweetly through the whole windrange, both upwind and down. When overpressed the helm just gets a little soggy, making her one of the more forgiving and docile boats to sail.
4.She had to be fast and fun to sail. In 2007 she might not bring the same excitement to Adrenalin junkies, but across the board for young and old she strikes a good balance.
5.Moderate cost, a “no frills boat”.
6.Tight Class rules.
7.Capable of “overnight” coastal races and weekending
She fulfilled the brief OK. Many have done coastal passages, and even the Da Gama race from Durban to East London (and back) several times. In the terminal “horror” Da Gama race of ’84 Dick Haliberton in Element was OK but Cape of Good Hope the Navy entry did a 360 roll, and somebody opened the hatch in the process. They flooded and got rescued. Notably Steve Meek even sailed one from Cape Town to East London, doing a 194 mile day in the process.
I designed some “spin off” boats for Dave Cox after the L26’s stopped. We did one with the L26 hull and a cruising deck (more headroom, volume), a shallower keel, cantilever mast called the C26. With the economic recession only two were built. After that another 2 or 3 were built with conventional stayed rig and called the S26. Also the original C-Flex plug with a wood deck using the L26 design (sail no 000) called Origin also did a lot of racing (outside the L26 class.)
The sailors and people involved in the L26 have been a vertiable “whose who” of top Yachties, ALL the sailmakers (most notably Rick Nankin in partnership with Chris King), and a lot of very successful people in other spheres. Lex Raas, who built all the Cape boats is now CEO of Moorings worldwide. His partner in Ton Cup was none other than John Robertson. His (late) partner Jerry Caine built a lot of the Durban boats after Basil Cook at PSI Yachts.


HBYC's Shosholoza (1) during Admirals Regatta 2006
Video clip of Shosholoza finishing last race in strong winds

UPDATE 18 October 2016: There have been several recent enquiries from prospective builders for this design, and Roy McBride of CKDBoats is considering cutting a kit if there is sufficient interest. The kit will be kept very cost effective as it is proposed to use Redwood Marine Plywood(BS1086 - stronger than okoume plywood but slightly heavier) - and to offer good alternatives to Meranti for framing lumber. 

UPDATE: See a sample IRC certificate of "Foxy Lady" here.

Looking for info on the history on the RCOD, I have been astonished to discover how ground-breaking this design was. In many ways, the Stadt / RCOD is to modern sailing keelboats what Issigonis’s Mini was to modern cars. Well perhaps not just the RCOD itself – it was the evolution of a few earlier Stadt designs, that culminated in this concept.

It all started when the wood mogul Kees Bruynzeel invented "hechthout" a new type of plywood, suitable for boat building (amazing how often advances in materials lead changes in design concepts). Being Dutch, he was a sailor, and as it happens a friend of E.G. van de Stadt (Ricus). So Stadt drew the “Valk" - in 1939, which is really a hardchine sharpy of those days - a dinghy, with centreboard and spade rudder, and a very successful and fast design. Shortly after Bruynzeel wanted a see-going version – Stadt drew the Zeevalk. It won Fastnet in 1952. And so we have a dinghy converted to an ocean boat. . . . the amazing part of this is that it was the first keelboat to have a wing/fin keel with a balanced spade rudder (according to what I have read – most designs until then had long integrated keels with keel-hung rudders). For that time, Stadt was unusually skilled in hydrodynamics it turns out, and the result was an underbody that had a much lower wetted area, low centre of gravity, and very impressive handling with the large spade rudder right on the transom. It was narrow of beam, with fine bows, making it able to punch through chop, while maintain a flat run through to the stern, which enables the hull to plane well, which it does!

It also sported a simple fractional Bermuda rig, gaffs being the norm until then. It was very light, even by modern standards, and the hard-chined design was ideal for plywood and home-building. In essence, the RCOD is arguably the first of the modern sailboats we know - and still amazingly fast by any standards. Its narrow beam, low centre of gravity and high coachroof give it excellent reserve stability (can right itself from around 140 degrees or so), making it safe and seaworthy for offshore racing.
Van de Stadt hated the design rules that were being developed at that time. As a former member of the IOR committee, he resigned in protest at the unsafe trends he saw this rule encouraging. I expect his main complaint would have been the element of wide beam that was being encouraged, for I have never seen a Stadt design that is wide in the beam, or for that matter many formula boats that aren’t . . . Designers have got past this in many ways today with sophisticated computer models etc, and fairly wide boats can now be safe, but I can vouch that the early Stadt boats sail very well, are very safe, and go like the clappers - especially downwind. They would compromise on cabin space and upwind power though, and the low freeboard makes them a bit wet when the wind is up.

RCODs competed widely in all offshore races in SA, usually with at least a podium finish, and held may speed records until recently, eg Richards Bay to Durban, RCYC to Dassen, several others. When the records were broken, it was usually by a 50’ maxi of some sort.

Possibly the most telling result for an RCOD was the 2006 Cape to Bahia race, where Suidoos-2 arrived 3rd on corrected time. Skippered by the Ancient Mariner Gawie Fagan (80 years old!!!), they achieved 250 miles per day for the first three days! - in a 9m boat! If you think about it, that’s nearly 2x hull speed for 3 days . . . on average!!!!!!!!!!! Many modern designers would struggle to beat that, and so would quite a few modern (and younger sailors)!

At HBYC, Pat West and Dick de Kroon have campaigned a GRP RCOD called Shosholoza (1) for about twelve years. This is an ordinary club boat, with old sails and simple rig, and usually sailed two-up. So you wouldn’t expect fireworks, but I can say there have been many occasions when this boat has had amazing results and is up along with the front of the fleet, and Pat recalls an occasion when they hit 17 knots on a broad reach. From my perspective, it also points very well, and makes almost no leeway, even if it does heel a tad . . . But for a design that is now about 50 years old, it’s quite astonishing!

Some facts I scrounged from the interweb, if you still have time:
"Ericus Gerhardus van de Stadt (1910 - 1999) was one of the pioneers of modern yacht design.

In 1933, he and his wife Lies started a boatyard at Zaandam, where they lived aboard a houseboat in the canal, designing and building canoes and dinghies. They developed a successful business despite the set back of World War II, and not overcoming their starting losses until 1950. Among many innovations in yacht designs: the wing section fin keel and balanced spade rudder combination, the first very fast plywood yachts, the world's first series production GRP yacht, and the world's first maxi - "Stormvogel". Although he participated in the development of the IOR rule, he later resigned from the International Technical Committee in protest over US dominance in offshore racing rules. He feelings about how rating rules fostered "unseaworthy" was well known." Under his leadership, E.G. van de Stadt and partners continued to produce many designs and were also at the forefront of research into yacht aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. He was reserve helmsman for his country, Holland, in Olympic yachting in 1936 and was very successful in offshore racing for many years. After his retirement in 1978, Van de Stadt Design was run by the partners Cees W. van Tongeren, Hans R.F. Korner, Klaas Buis, Walter Galjaard (now retired) and Anita de Vos. The company has produced over 400 designs since 1933 and there are some 25.000 van de Stadts afloat in the world today.
RCOD Vital Stats
LOA 9.05m
Beam 2.13 (skinny!)
Displacement 1800 kgs (light)

DATE: October 1990
RECORDED TIME: 07 Hours & 13 Minutes
YACHT: Sun Tonic
TYPE: Royal Cape One Design
OWNER: Tommy Martin
SKIPPER: Peter Atkinson
CREW: Derick Warne; Giles Bonnet; Peter Morgenrood

PASSAGE DETAILS: The time for this passage is recorded from the time that the yacht crosses the line of the Harbour Mouth in Richard's Bay until the time that she crosses the line of the Harbour Mouth in Durban. The line of each harbour mouth in both cases is the line between the north and south breakwaters. Crew member Peter Morgenrood recalled that the time could have been even quicker had they not missed the gybe into Durban and had to spend 15 minutes tight reaching with the pole on the forestay.

TROPHY: The Ivor DeBeyer Memorial Trophy, originally donated as a prize for the first Durban yacht to finish the Mauritius to Durban Race, is to be awarded to the current record holder and will be passed on to the yacht which breaks this record. In order to be eligible for this trophy and for the record to be recognised Smooth Sailing must be notified in advance of any attempt on this record.

DATE: October 1990
RECORDED TIME: 07 Hours & 03 Minutes
YACHT: Sun Tonic
TYPE: Royal Cape One Design
OWNER: Tommy Martin
SKIPPER: Peter Atkinson
According to Peter Morgenrood the boat was delivered to Richard's Bay with only two crew members in a howling westerly after club racing had been cancelled one Sunday.

Letter from Chris Sutton (the Durban one) to Roy McBride , who owns a very competitive RCOD called Foxy lady, (now for sale I think)

Hi Roy - I still own Foxy Lady which is a fibreglass RCOD. And yes these little boats still go like smoke. During the 2008 Vasco we regularly surfed at speeds of 18 kts. After the race the log and gps showed max speeds of 22 and 23.5 kts respectively. Neither of the drivers remembers achieving this speed but we may have been too busy watching the spinnaker leech to think about the log. We sailed a there and back race on Sunday ( abt 14 nm ) and finished first over the line and handicap. Although Foxy is for sale (I have to sell her to finance refurbishing my Morgan 31) I cannot think of a better budget boat for the SA coast. Her replacement, the L26 is a good boat, but you can't do ocean passages on one. As you probably know Suidoos II has 4 Atlantic crossings under her keel (2 South Atlantic Races from which she returned on her own bottom).



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Flamenca 25

Designer: Oswald Berckemeyer
LOA: 7,62m (25’)
Displacement: Approx 1800 kgs
Rig: Masthead Sloop
Hull: GRP, Swept Fin Keel, Spade Rudder.
Builders: Mostly Nebe of Hout Bay, H Vink, other?Engine: Usually small outboard on stern bracket, some examples have a well, a few with small inboards
RCYC Club Handicap: 0.840, 0.880
Design Age: First drawn in late seventies

This pic happens to be of my own boat - a Flamenca 25 called Quest. Flammys (as they are often known) were designed by the late great Oswald Berckemeyer, a German national that lived in SA and in fact Hout Bay for many years. Most were built by the Nebes (Fritz and Gerfried), also of Hout Bay - so truly a local boat. Their big sister (though a fraction younger) is the more famous Muira at 32'. Flamencas are amongst the best learner boats available and very easy to single-hand. They are stable and safe in Cape Waters, and easily capable of righting themselves from a full knockdown. With their relatively small size, they aren't the fastest boats around, but certainly great fun to sail. Flammys are very sweet handling boats, capable in strong winds, and easily single-handed.
Most of the fleet lives in False Bay, but examples are found all over the country, and even a few across the ditch . . . It is believed that Berckemeyer drew the Flamenca to compete as an option to the (van de Stadt) Buccaneers, dominant in False Bay – a bold idea given the reputation of the Buccaneers. As such they became worthy contenders - and both classes are still active in FBYC today, with much ongoing rivalry. The “Garmin Flamenca Worlds” (no less!) are held annually now in the False Bay Spring Regatta.
Flamencas can be found from about R40-70k in good condition