What a treat to have the owner of the new Archambault 31, Ann Acland, on board with us when we took Anticipation out for a sail in Mahone Bay the day before Chester Race Week started. We were also joined by the North American representative for Archambault and Aigle, Philippe Paturel, and Canadian sailor, Jeff Brock. The boat scooted along in the light breeze without effort and the tiller, mounted with a handle extension, was very responsive to the wind because of the 6'3" spade rudder. The UK sails made out of the San Francisco loft were made of carbon fibre, done with a new heat-sealed process without using glue.
As we look forward to the 2012 Olympics in London, two classes will be front and center: the Laser for Men and the Laser Radial for women. The Laser Radial might be, for some, a non-event, but for those who started to learn the sport for fun (and for racing), the Laser Radial was a monumental leap in design, taking a great concept and making it better. The "Laser" was brilliant at the time and still is today. Low cost, strict one design specifications, performance, both easy to rig and sail were all great features built around a two-section mast that slipped together for sailing but came apart easily for trailering or car topping.
Quebec's Tanzer Industries Ltd. launched the first Johann Tanzer-designed Tanzer 22 in 1970. The launch was well-timed, for the ensuing decade brought unprecedented growth to the sport of sailing. This small sailboat surfed into the leaders of the fleet of vessels in this size range which builders turned out in great numbers to satisfy the demand for introductory ballasted boats. Most of the 2,270 units built were constructed in Dorion, Que. The boat was also produced in Edenton., N.C., (270 units) and in Arlington, Wa. (167 units). Offered in fin keel and keel centreboard configurations, only about 200 centreboards were built as they were not competitive in racing fleets. In 1985 Tanzer gave the Tanzer 22 a "facelift"...
Skipper Jim Matthew is nice enough on land. He smiles, issues pleasantries with an English accent and talks about racing. On the water his whimsical Kirby 25 appears with big red lips on a white spinnaker. But don't be fooled. The name of the boat is Poch Ma Hon, Gaelic for "kiss my ass." And the sight of this boat frays the nerves of other Kirby sailors from the Barrie Yacht Club in Barrie, Ontario.
We opened our 1984 Lake Ontario sailing season in early April with a test ride on a J/22 the new, small planning keelboat from J Boats, Inc. of Newport, RI. We discovered a fun, spritely yacht packed with performance. Launched in the United States for the 1983 season, the J/22 has been an instant success, with more than 360 boats sold south of the border in less than a year.
Canada's Conneticuit-based yacht designer Bruce Kirby has long been known for the singlehanded Laser. Of course, he has designed numerous boats in the two decades that have passed since the famous dinghy made its debut, and one of the most recent is the Ideal 18. Although this new design is a keelboat, with a crew of two, the basic philosophy behind it is true to the little boat that made Kirby a household name -- in nautical households.
When George Hinterhoeller designed the Shark in 1959, he was looking for a boat that would "go like hell when the wind blew". Growing up in Austria's Salzkammergut region, Hinterhoeller was used to light displacement fin-keelers: fast, responsive and exciting. The few sailboats he found on Lake Ontario when he emigrated to Canada in 1952 had heavy displacement hulls. They were ponderous and had a bad habit of hobby-horsing in the rough Lake Ontario chop. This young builder/designer was also bored by their performance. Announcing that he could build a boat that would sail circles around the rest, he retired to the shed behind his Niagara-on-the-Lake home and built Teeter Totter, a hard-chined 22-foot sloop made of plywood...
I like sailing light boats. Their spirited performance lets them respond instantly to a puff or to bounce across the waves delivering quick precise feedback for the sailor. There is no sluggishness, no inertia from a heavy lead keel and no crew to buy lunch for. Small boat racing is returning to my local club in Midland, Ont., and a good part of the reason is the simplicity. Preparing the boat for a race is only a matter of minutes. The leader in this field for a long time has been the Laser, a 14-foot singlehanded daggerboard boat designed by Canadian Bruce Kirby. Manufacturing the craft has had its ups and downs but the more than 100,000 boats built are surely a milestone of success.