1979: The Aussies thrive in the heavy air

The 1979 Admiral's Cup was to see a profusion of accidents to both boats and men but even then very few steps were taken to prevent the recurrence of either. It still remains for those who take part in the sport to be properly educated as regards its dangers and the methods of obviating those dangers, and for the rule makers to implement the constantly demanded call for scantlings in the IOR rule before a definite move has been made to reduce the number of deaths and the damage toll on boats.

At right: Vanguard (Hong Kong), Police Car (Australia), Morning Cloud (Britain), and Rrose Selavy (Italy). Click for larger image.1979

Yet despite all the aggravation of the disasters and the inconsistency of the rule makers, the 1979 Admiral's Cup promised to be the best ever. For some there was a preview of performance available at Poole with the holding of the Two Ton Cup there less than a week before the big event itself at Cowes.

Gitana VII was one of only two boats to rate the maximum 32 foot IOR in the Two Ton Cup. Most of the others race under the ratings at which they had been optimised for the main event, giving away around half a foot of rating - the Australian boats Impetuous and Police Car certainly were and so, too, were the Argentinian Sur II and the Brazilian Madrugada which also had the disadvantage of not being available to her crew to practise in British waters as her fragile wooden hull had been damaged whilst being shipped form South America. This was a pointer to her eventual demise in the Cup.

Peter Cantwell's Police Car had topped the selection trials in Australia and would have preferred fresher going than the predominantly light airs of Poole. She would get them and display Ed Dubois' thinking in terms of fast sailing yachts in the races to come. From what they had experienced, Cantwell and his crew believed that they would be unbeatable, particularly downwind, in any wind of over 20 knots. That was where they had scored most in the Melbourne trials.

Impetuous, designed by Ron Holland as a development of Imp (as her name suggests), had proved herself in the longest race of the Australian trials. With her 31.5 foot rating she took top honours in the 300 miler to make the team. Clearly, an Australian team without Syd Fischer would be almost unthinkable and his latest Ragamuffin, a 45 footer to Doug Peterson designs rating 35.1, was self selecting. She followed the trend of Peterson designs towards a broader, more powerful stern, rather like Dida and Yena, the stars of the Sardinia Cup the previous year. Fischer brought with him Boby Holmes, the former world 18 foot skiff champion, as helmsman and "Sighty" Hammond to navigate.

The Australian boats, which were all constructed in aluminium alloy, were each the work of a different designer but the Argentinians had put their entire faith, with not a little patriotism, into the German Frers. Theirs too were all built in aluminium. Acadia was chartered from her American owner, Burt Keenan, when she failed to make the US team despite being second-best points scorer in the Southern Ocean Racing conference in February. A "big" boat is always welcome in an Admiral's Cup team, if only for the advantage it has when going upwind against a strong Solent tide in the inshore races, and Acadia was a 51 footer rating near the maximum limit at 39.6 ft and was to be skippered by her designer. Red Rock IV was smaller, at close to 45 feet overall she rated 34.4 foot and had been built in England by Martland Marine, the constructors of Morning Cloud. Sur II was the baby of the team but her second place in the Two Ton Cup assured her potential as had her win in the Buenos Aires to Rio Race just weeks after her launch.

Brazil, too, turned to Frers in force but their team was of totally diverse construction. The largest boat was the latest in Ron Amey's line of Noryemas, chartered for the event. She was built by the Joyce brothers with a relatively comfortable cruising interior and for that reason may have been slightly uncompetitive in this "grand prix" fleet. At 48 feet overall she rated 37.8. Slightly smaller, at 46 feet, was Indigo built in the latest of plastic laminates by Kiwi Yachts in Florida to rate 36.2 foot. Madrugada was built of wood, cold-moulded, and lightly at that. She had been second in the previous year's Two Ton Cup had shown flashes of brilliance at Poole.

Evergreen did go on to win the Canada's Cup, the event for which she was designed, on water to which she was suited, but she returned to the international scene at Cowes as part of the Canadian team with world Flying Dutchman skipper Hans Fogh at the helm. Her performance was optimised, in her design, for light weather and a cracked centreboard in the first race of this Admiral's Cup began the rot that was to lead to her later withdrawal. Her two team mates were of 1975 vintage: Magistri was another Canada's Cup contender, as was Marauder, and was also designed by Cuthbertson & Cassian. Pachena was a Peterson two-tonner in aluminium which had been all-conquering on the West Coast in the hands of her owner John Newton.

For the fourth consecutive time, Jean-Luis Fabry's Finot-designed light-displacement Revolution was back in the French team, making an all time record in the Cup. She had been slightly re-named Revolootion to mark a party in the Groves & Gutteridge Marine when a lilac loo had been unveiled on her after-planing flap! With her ability to claim the IIIa allowance, Revolootion's rating was a foot and a half below the Admiral's Cup limit but allowable because her mark III rating was 30 foot.

The new Yena, also to Doug Peterson's design, was a 42 footer rating 33.4. One of her team mates had been in the previous Cup but in a different team. Rose Selavy was the former Moonshine from the British team.

Vanni Madelli completed the Italian team with his Scott Kaufman-designed 45 footer Vanina rating 35 foot. Tom Blackaller's presence was demanded by Mandelli for a time prior to the Cup to tune the boat he had sailed in the Sardinia Cup before he handed it over to his fellow Californian, Dick Deaver. This winner of the much-prized match-racing trophy, the Congressional Cup, had steered Bay Bea in the previous Cup. Italian hopes were high with a sound team and sailors who were now more experienced in the cut and thrust of international racing.

Japan had a second shot at winning the Cup and this time sent a team which included two from a Japanese designer, Toshio Kihara, and one, Togo IV, a 42 footer by Peterson. Kihara had produced some interesting and fast quarter-tonners in the past but Koteru Teru 2 and Gekko IV were two of his first bigger boats. The former was a two-tonner which had performed indifferently at Poole but shipped Keith Musto, an Olympic silver medallist, to steer the boat in the cup races. Gekko IV was a smaller boat, finished in England, with the most outstanding paintwork.

She was matched in this respect by the German team boat Tin-I-Punkt of Tom Friese, who has some Japanese blood in his veins. The psychedelic paint job had different representations to everyone who viewed it but all were agreed that it was eye-catching; sufficiently so for the race committee to discover that there was some commercial significance in the name and Friese was asked to alter it; he did, to Tina. She rated in at 36 foot, a biggish powerful boat, and had world quarter-ton champion Ray Cundiff steering and designer Peterson in the afterguard.

Tina was joined by another Peterson design, Rubin, a 42 footer rating 31.6. But Rubin was not a totally "pure" Peterson design. Her owner, Hans-Otto Schumann, had previously, with his Sparkman & Stephens-designed Rubin, shown a penchant for computer analysis of the hull shape for some tank testing to refine the original and had persisted with his thinking for his new boat. The third member of the German team was a Frers design, Jan Poot, a 45 footer rating 35.8.

Hong Kong's challenge came from a couple of Ed Dubois sisterships and one from Peterson. The latter had completed in the selection trials in the Crown Colony under the name of Mile High but the 42 footer was renamed La Pantera III, when Chris Ostenfeld purchased her. She rated slightly higher than might have been expected at 32.4 but was a powerful sail-carrier. The "twins" were Hector Ross's Uin na Mara and David Lieu's Vanguard and they were built by Supercraft in Hong Kong using Kevlar in their lay-up. At close to 45 feet overall they rated at 35.6. The strength of the Hong Kong team was not underestimated and no one was surprised when it topped the lists after the first inshore race.

Neither would they have been had it been Ireland, led by Hugh Coveney's Golden Apple of the Sun which beat the rest of the Admiral's Cup opposition in the solent Points Race run by the Royal Thames Yacht Club on the weekend immediately before the Cup. The Ron Holland-designed 44 footer had painted on her stern the worlds of the last stanza of the William Butler Yeats poem, "The Song of the Wandering Aengus", from which her name derived:

Though I am Old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun

Holland had been particularly careful and presipicacious to obtain the service of Harold Cudmore as the shot-caller on the boat. Cudmore's association with Coveney goes back some way and there is no finer tactician in Ireland; his influence on many boats has raised their status from simply being competitors to champions. Cudmore's influence was also able to add further strength to the crew in providing the services of his friend, Rodney Pattisson, the triple Olympic medallist, as principal helmsman of the yacht.

Her sistership, Silver Apple of the Moon, also constructed in carbon-fibre reinforced cold-moulded wood by Souter of Cowes, failed to make the team and was chartered to Switzerland. Inishanier, which displace her, was a modified production Contessa 39, similar to the British Eclipse - an eclipse of the moon would be too much to get away with. She rated 30.2, fractionally higher than her sister on the minimum cup rating of 30.0 feet. At two-tenths of a foot more was the Holland-designed one-off Regardless, which had been built by Holland's brother-in-law, Gary Carlin, in Florida. Regardless had a full, powerful underbody aft which was to prove a useful asset in the Cup races in strong breezes plus the added advantage of Ron Love and a highly competent crew.

In addition to Silver Apple of the Moon, skippered by Beat Guttinger, the Swiss had the Swan 441, Milene IV, and a Contessa 39, Assiduous II, owned and skippered by Norbert Berger.

Spain had three Holland boats; the biggest of them, Campsa (which slipped the notice of the race committee's eagle eye under rule 26), was the former Midnight Sun, the third-placed boat in the Two Ton Cup the previous year. The other two, Tornado and Yachtman (another to slip through the rule 26 net), were 40 foot sisterships built in aluminium alloy and rating near the Cup minimum.

There was a new Midnight Sun for Sweden, a Holland 40 foot rater built in aluminium alloy by Wolter Huisman in Holland. She was teamed with a Swan 441, Carat, and a Baltic 42, Big Shadow, a design by Doug Peterson.

A similar Peterson design, Darling Dee, was in the Belgian team with former Finn ace Andre Nelis as skipper. Another from the same designer, Pinta, which was in the previous German team, was under charter and, with the Frers 45 footer Incisif, completed the best team yet fielded by the Belgians.

Their neighbours, the Dutch, had Peter Vroon back once again, this time with the all-conquering Marionette renamed, appropriately, Formidable. She was joined by her former British team mate, Yeoman XX, now also renamed, Dagger, but not showing the class she had previously. The team was completed by the Serendipity 43, Schuttevaer, one of the most consistent of Peterson's production designs, built by New Orleans Marine.

But the most formidable competition to stop the British from a third successive win was expected from the United States. They had the most talent to choose from and the next three boats that they left out would also have been a force to be reckoned with. Back for a second time was the remarkable Imp, Dave Allen's top individual scorer in 1977 with Steve Taft and Skip Allen on board. Her performance in the SORC, after some modifications, was impressive but not quite as impressive as Seymour Sinnet's Williwaw which won overall. Dennis Conner was steering Williwaw at the Circuit and was in charge of this Peterson 45 footer rating 35.8 for the Cup. One of the higher rating boats, Williwaw was able to break out into clear air early on, a valuable asset in the Solent Races. So, too, did Mike Swerdlow's Aries, a 46 foot Holland design rating 36.5. The friendly rivalry between these two American boats was to be a feature of the series.

To defend the Cup, Britain chose a widely rating team to cover all eventualities, yet it was one which contained the odd surprise. Edward Heath was back with the same boat which failed to make the team in 1977, the 44 foot Holland-designed Morning Cloud which rated 33.2. Cloud had been extensively modified in the stern - her wave characteristics had not been correct in her original state and Holland re-drew them, getting a rating benefit into the bargain. Heath had added greater racing experience to his man and Peter Bateman as tactician and second helmsman in addition to sailing-master Owen Parker and the nucleus of the old crew. As Marks and Parker are next-door neighbours their liaison was necessarily close and the exchange of ideas carried on well after they had left the boat. The Morning Cloud of 1979 was a faster boat than she had been two years earlier.

While Morning Cloud had plenty of hours sailing under her keel before the trials began, there was no such luxury for Jeremy Rogers and his creation Eclipse. He had been too busy building other people's Admiral's Cuppers to finish his own until it was absolutely necessary, and the peterson-designed Contessa 39 Eclipse just made it to the starting line in time for the first of the trials. It was just as it had been two years earlier with Moonshine and many of the old crew were back.

Sharing the steering with Rogers were Phil Crebbin and Chris Law while Peter Bruce was the navigator. It proved a tough act to beat and, on any points system, Eclipse came out top and was a natural selection for the team as a minimum rater.

The third choice was the difficult one but the selectors favoured a big boat and for that there was no better than Ernest Juer's Blizzard, so named because she came out of the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, shed of Palmer Johnson in the middle of one. The 51 foot Frers design was very similar to Acadia but rated lower at 39.2. With Tom Richardson steering and Bobby Lowein navigating, there was plenty of good experience aboard and she had the potential to get clear of the pack and dictate the policy of the race; perhaps the most useful asset in the Solent Races where tides play such an important part.

At a conservative estimate there were some 20 million pounds worth of boats gathered in Groves and Gutteridge waiting for the start of the first race of the series, something which might have struck hard at the three Polish yachts which showed the lack of cash spent on them. For all that two 44 footers, Hadar and Nauticus, were Peterson-designed while the third, Cetus, showed influence from the same sphere in the handiwork of the Polish design team of Hoffman and Siudy.

No one would have expected the drama at the start of the first inshore race of the series. Sur II, on port tack, collided with Madrugada, on starboard tack, and punched a huge hole in her side. It was right down to the waterline and the Brazilian boat was in danger of sinking. Her crew dropped the sails and climbed out on the spinnaker pole over the starboard side to stop the water from rushing in. It was, however, to be the end of Madrugada's Admiral's Cup. The Brazilian team tried first to charter the Two Ton Cup winner, Gitana ViII, but instead obtained the use of David May's Dubois-designed Winsome Gold. And there, too, they came unstuck since, in the next race, the mast of Winsome Gold sprung so badly that she was to take no further part in the racing.

There was one general recall before the fleet was away from a starting line laid near Peel Bank. Almost immediately it was obvious that those who had started at the port end were favoured, particularly as the westerly wind shifted slightly into the south. Blizzard was soon out in front followed by Williwaw as they headed for the south Brable buoy and on out to West Lepe and the Salt Mead mark on the first windward segment of the race.

The Hong Kong "twins", Uin na Mara and Vanguard, were seemingly engaged in their own duel. It apparently stimulated them to do well anyway; far above the performance either had shown previously in Britain. It was a day, however, which was likely to suit the larger craft. The fresh winds and the strong tidal currents made the windward legs a real speed test, and the slightly grater speed of the bigger boats more than compensated for their handicap penalties.

When Blizzard rounded well clear at Salt Mead and began the run to Clipper, it seemed that all was well in the British camp. A respectable distance astern, Morning Cloud was doing battle with Golden Apple of the Sun, both holding up well on handicap; and, further back, the baby of the British team, Eclipse, was ahead of Imp. At this stage, it loaded as though the defenders were going to open their account with a win.

Nevertheless there were slips. At the start of the second beat, Eclipse chose the wrong headsail and fumbled her rounding of the lee mark. It let Imp through and Eclipse was loosed by her dirty wind; she lost a minute in all but that, in the final analysis, was four places and she might have been fourth instead of eighth for the day.

By contrast the Hong Kong team had a field day. Chris Ostenfeld's La Pantera, against the run of the play, was well ahead of many bigger boats and her third place overall was well deserved. Then the "twins" finished in fourth and fifth positions to give the Far Eastern team the overall lead. The British team were 11 points astern. Blizzard had crossed the line first and saved her tie on handicap by an astonishing four minutes; a massive margin in view of the fact that only ten minutes covered the next 20 boats. Eclipse and Morning Cloud, at eighth and fourteenth, completed the first day's scoring for the defenders.

Williwaw benefited from Conner's good start to claim second place and, with Aries tenth and Imp twelfth, only one point separated the United States team from Britain while 20 points back were the Italians who had scored solidly with Yena, the best at eleventh.

The following race was one of mishaps. The first of them was serious. As Inishanier approached the Clipper buoy, the leeward mark at the end of the first round, she broached uncontrollably and crash gybed. Harvey Bagnall was struck across the head by the boom and severly injured. Help was summoned by radio and Bagnall was winched into a Royal Navy helicopter and taken to Haslar Hospital where he later fully recovered.

The next mishap was to the British team chances. For the second day running Blizzard had strode out into the lead as the south-south-westerly breeze blew hard. In her own inimitable way she carved her way from the Squadron line through the boats around her and was soon legging it clear at the front of the fleet. Aries chased her but the white-hulled Blizzard stormed away. By Delta she was three minutes ahead and saving her time on the Fleet. She was to go further ahead on the short, tow-headsail reach to Hampstead Ledge and the blistering run in force 6-7 winds all the way to the Clipper.

As she started the second beat, she had a huge lead and began to extend this on the beat to Salt Mead but they made the navigational error that was to cost her dearly. Instead of reaching across the Solent to West Lepe, she bore off on a run. It was not until Acadia rounded seven minutes later that the Blizzard crew realised their mistake, doused their spinnaker and headed back for the right mark. It cost them 20 minutes but even then she was able to claim forty-second place in the 57 boat fleet.

The day should have belonged to Ireland and but for the dreadful accident aboard Inishanier it would have done. Regardless was first and Golden Apple of the Sun second. The overall honours, however, went to Australia whose Police Car, Ragamuffin and Impetuous finished third, fourth and ninth. For much of the race it appeared that the smallest boat in the side, Impetuous, was set to win this race overall after a magnificent first windward leg, but she slowed somewhat towards the end of each of the runs. The Australian team scored 16 points more than the Americans and lifted themselves from fifth to third in the overall standings.

America could have gone one better but Mike Swerdlow's Aries made an error of navigation by heading for the island shore after rounding the Clipper, believing that the course was one of two rounds and that she, therefore, had to recross the starting line - the ambiguity of the sailing instructions once again catching a foreign boat out. As a result of suffering worse tidal effect, she slipped to fourteenth, but with Williwaw sixth and Imp tenth the US closed on the Hong Kong leaders.

At the same time as Harvey Bagnall was injured, there was a similar accident, although not quite as serious, on board the Japanese yacht, Togo VI. Her injured crewman was transferred to a boat and was also taken to hospital from which he was later discharged.

A running start to an ocean race is always a second class affair - it leaves so much to chance - yet that is what the 56 Admiral's Cuppers had for the Channel Race and then faced the added hazard of the Royal Yacht Britannia coming up the East Solent to take her accustomed mooring for Cowes Week. Cudmore's tactics appeared impeccable when he placed Golden Apple of the Sun at the leeward end of the line but then he luffed across too soon to get to some stronger wind and the Irish boat was buried under a welter of sail. The chance factor was further emphasised when 92 miles down the track, at the Portobello buoy just east of Brighton, Blizzard, the usual fleet-leader, was only in third place.

Acadia was the first to round and then Midnight Sun, but well up were the two fractional-rigged boats in the fleet, Accanito and Police Car. The wind was from the west and the leg to the CH1 buy off Cherbourg was a close reach so there seemed little point for the leaders to sail to the west of the Rhumb line, but some who did benefited slightly when the wind backed to the south by not having to harden sheets quite as much as those to the east. However, then it was the leaders who still benefited as they were in slacker water close to the French coast past Barfleur.

Britain's chances of the Cup completely disappeared when Morning Cloud lost her rudder halfway to CH1 and dropped her sails to motor to Hamble to fit a new one. It was the aluminium one she had rejected in favour of the American-built carbon-fibre rudder which broke.

The leg home was uneventful and the smaller boats took the honours. Regardless finished one hour after Acadia and was the handicap winner, just six minutes ahead of Revolootion (which reversed the decision when her age allowance was computed for the Channel Cup, but which does not count in the Admiral's Cup). Then came Eclipse, Imp, Wild Goose, Assiduous, Accanito and Police Car. For good measure, France were top scorers, ten points ahead of Ireland who took over top spot in the overall points score.

The fourth race was one in which the downwind speed of the boats was all important - the runs were against the was strong Solent tides. It also proved an upset for the Australians. Firstly, in a start that was recalled, Police Car hit - and holed - Indigo (the Brazilian luck was fast running out) and crewman John Mooney was thrown overboard with a broken arm. There was a rubber boat right on the spot to haul Mooney out of the water and into photographer Ken Beken's fast launch to get him ashore to hospital. Then, later, Police Car faced two protests, one of which she acknowledged and took a 20 percent penalty, which placed her seventeenth instead of fifth, and the other she survived. Ragamuffin and Impetuous were worse still at twenty-second and twenty-third and the Aussies dropped to third overall. Yet it was Ragamuffin's sistership, Williwaw, that won the race, and for her skipper Dennis Conner his not inconsiderable weight (222 lbs) in Mumm Champagne, for this was the race for the Champagne Mumm Trophy. With Aries in second place the United States team took second place to the Irish in the overall standing and the speculation began as to who would win the Admiral's Cup.

It appeared that there were only the two leading teams to be considered and, if the Fastnet was anything like the three previous ones, the Irish, with two small boats and one medium, should have no difficulty in retaining the lead but, if it should blow, then the Americans, with the Fastnet Cup holder, Imp, and two biggish boats, would overtake them. Nobody gave much consideration to the other teams.

The Fastnet started in a light to moderate westerly wind, hardly the precursor of what was in store. After 30 hours the leaders were approaching the lizard with 160 miles behind them and the wind had lightened. Indeed, for the maxi-raters, there was little wind all the way to the Fastnet but the storm was quick to build and gave no real warning - barometers did not drop as they should have done to tell the sailors that they should be prepared for force 10 and more.

The wind came as the Admiral's Cup yachts were on their way out towards the Fastnet and veered as a second front produced the huge waves that did the majority of the damage to the smaller boats in the race. The Admirals' Cup boats were mercifully spared any loss of life while fifteen competitors were killed by drowning or hypothermia in the smaller classes. Many were down to storm-jibs, some to well-reefed mainsails as well, as the westerly winds shrieked in the rigging and the seas grew to enormity. Then the damage toll began and the carbon-fibre rudders were put to their severest test.

Regardless lost hers and the Irish team the Cup. The boat was towed into Baltimore by the lifeboat. There was double disaster for the Irish when Golden Apple of the Sun lost her rudder too, and the boat was abandoned by her crew in favour of a helicopter when the forecast was for another gale that night.

The Australians, however, seem to thrive when the wind blows hard and the seas get big - did Syd Fischer not win the Fastnet back in 1971 when the return trip from the Rock was a sphincter-griping sleigh-ride? The three yachts from the other side of the world had begun their recovery after Land's End and were up with, or ahead of, their close rivals before the storm struck. Ragamuffin was ahead of Williwaw, Police Car up with the larger Hong Kong "twins" and Impetuous ahead of Imp; and still the really telling part had yet to come. At 0100 on the Monday, the weather forecast for the sea area was for force 3-4, possibly 5-6 later, but by late that afternoon the keepers of the Fastnet Lighthouse were reporting force 7 south-westerly and the 1750 BBC forecast predicted 4-5, later 6 and 7-8 in places.

Kialoa had rounded the Rock at 1250 with Condor just over an hour behind her. The first of the Admiral's Cup yachts was Golden Apple of the Sun eight minutes into the Tuesday morning when the wind was blowing at its hardest. Aries was ten minutes behind her.

Twenty miles from the Fastnet, Eclipse was running under spinnaker and broached wildly as the wind increased violently. The nylon sail was quickly handed and a number 2 genoa set in its place and two reefs put in the main. Very soon the number 2 gave way to the number 4 and then the storm-jib and the mainsail dropped. The wind eased just sufficiently for a fully-reefed mainsail to be set before the Rock, to even then another knockdown was suffered ere she rounded at 0200. Reaching back the mainsail came off again for a while but was soon re-hoisted and the speed with so little sail was phenomenal, possibly dangerous, but Eclipse was racing.

So, too, were the Australians. They always had more sail up than their rivals and punched their way to the Fastnet Rock - at one time Impetuous was said by skipper Graeme Lambert to have been completely three feet under water. On the way back they added boomed-out staysails to their reefed mains and storm jib and left the rest behind. Impetuous and Police Car finished third and fourth respectively of the Cup boats - right behind them was Revolootion, loving the surfing conditions on the way home - while Ragamuffin's thirteenth gave them a total of 75 more points than the USA and the Cup went down-under for the second time.

The joy of winning was tempered by the knowledge of the loss of so many of the competitors and the prize giving at Plymouth was followed by a memorial service rather than the traditional party. The sadness will pass, but there were lessons learned from this disaster.


Twenty hours of living hell.

From 10 pm on the night of August 13th, 1979, until 6 pm the following evening a storm in the Western Approaches tore at the very vitals of the 30-strong fleet taking part in the Fastnet Race. It was as trom taht was to kill 19 people at sea, all but four of them yachtsmen racing aboard competing boats in the Fastnet. It was a storm that was to lead to many others ashore when the inevitable questions had to be answered.

Summer storms are not unknown and the Fasntet Race ahs a legendary record of strong winds, but the 1979 storm was one of some complexity which built up from depressions in such a way that it lulled the weather forecasters working form the satellite pictures into a sense of false security. The combination of the winds from one depression supercharging those of another came too quickly for the British forecasters to relay details in the BBC Shipping Forecast that was transmitted at 5.50 pm on August 13th.

The fleet, which included 57 yachts competing in the Admiral's Cup, suffered through unpreparedness and from the inexperience of many of those taking part. Those with experience of strong winds and racing through stomrs came through unscathed, perhaps a trifle more apprehensive than in the past, but with their boats intact and good results in the lists.

Notable among them wer the three Australian yachts, Impetuous, Police Car and Ragamuffin which finished in thirteenth palces to give Australia her first Cup win since 1967. Writing of the 1979 Fastnet Race nearly four years later, Jim Robson-Scott, a member of Police Car's crew, gave a statistical reason for this success:
"In our country, we get equally bad blows in summer as we do in winter. Our summer season lasts eight months, compared to a much shorter season in Western Europe. In Britain, it's a statistical fact that the majority of the really bad weather occurs in winter when the fleet is laid up. It follows then that the exposure of the offshore yacthsman to bad weather is much greater in Australia per year than in Britain, so we tend to learn and profit by our greater exposure. It has been said that it's possible to do ten full seasons offshore in Britain without being exposed to a really bad blow. I wish that were true in Australia because they are usually not amusing! Something that one can definitely do without."

Designers: C&C
Principal Dimensions:
LOA 41 ft 6 ins
Rating 32 ft 5 ins
Beam 14 ft 3 ins
Displacement 6.642 tons


Ind.Team Ind.TeamInd.TeamInd.TeamInd.TeamTotal
RAGAMUFFIN 45 49 54 36 135
POLICE CAR 51 124 55 158 100 232 41 112 162 462 1088
IMPETUOUS 28 54 78 35 165
WILLIWAW 56 52 46 57 129
IMP 46 150 44 142 108 190 40 153 159 378 1013
ARIES 48 46 36 56 90
VANINA 42 29 72 50 144
YENA 47 130 35 100 56 178 47 131 138 405 944
RROSE SELAVY 41 36 50 34 123
UIN-NA-MARA IV 54 53 26 49 102
VANGUARD 53 162 39 140 64 150 23 123 120 369 944
LA PANTERA III 55 48 60 51 147
RED ROCK IV 27 33 40 41 156
SUR II 26 88 30 106 94 146 15 110 105 411 861
ACADIA 35 42 12 54 150
BLIZZARD 57 16 10 53 81
MORNING CLOUD 44 151 37 104 4 124 39 136 87 339 854
ECLIPSE 50 51 110 44 171
ACCANITO 32 19 102 43 3
JUBILE VI 3 57 25 67 90 304 13 88 168 324 840
REVOLUTION 22 23 112 32 153
REGARDLESS 43 119 57 117 114 294 45 119 3 78 727
INISHANIER 24 4 98 28 72
MILENE IV 4 5 22 4 57
SILVER APPLE OF THE MOON 37 74 22 72 88 214 42 77 3 192 629
ASSIDUOUS 33 45 104 31 132
CAMPSA 31 44 84 26 126
TORNADO 13 53 17 71 96 254 21 48 51 180 606
YACHTMAN II 9 10 74 1 3
TINA 49 47 38 55 3
JAN POTT 30 113 38 117 28 158 16 100 3 99 587
RUBIN 34 32 92 29 93
TOGO VI 12 3 52 24 117
KOTERU TERU II 23 53 26 44 58 196 22 62 108 228 583
GEKKO VI 18 15 86 16 3
FORMIDABLE 40 40 42 30 141
SCHUTTEVAER 29 72 9 56 62 170 25 61 3 213 572
DAGGER 3 7 66 6 69
INCISIF 1 20 20 20 75
DARLING DEE 36 38 1 43 76 176 34 55 99 228 540
PINTA 1 22 80 1 54

15th: Sweden(Midnight Sun, Carat, Big Shadow); total points: 452.
16th: Singapore (Bugis, Wild goose, Apollo IV); total points: 439.
17th: Poland (Hadar, , Nauticus); total points: 401.
18th: Canada (Evergreen, Magistri, Pachena); total points: 391.
19th: Brazil (Norema, Indigo, Madrugada, Winsome Gold); total points: 268


Google Translate

Chinese (Simplified) Danish Dutch Finnish French German Greek Italian Japanese Norwegian Polish Portuguese Russian Spanish Swedish