Tuesday, March 20, 2012

U.S. One-Design # 269

I had just got off the phone with George Moffat, who had modified and raced USOD US 268 in the mid 1950's, when I turned back to the computer and found an email about the next 14 in the number sequence, USOD US 269, built by Pat Curtiss in Erie Pennsylvania, in 1947.

From Pat's email:

"Here are a couple of photographs of US 269 which a friend and I built in high school from a Douglass and McLeod kit in 1947 in Erie, PA . The kit came with the centerboard case installed, so the difficult carpentry was done. We did all the rest . It was quite a surprise to the local small boat sailors to see the impressive performance of this boat. We sold the boat in 1952 and I don't know its fate.

By the way, the picture on Mar 2 of the interior is not a Douglass and McLeod model which was very similar to the Thistle, with a number of lateral slats forward near the mast step, and a number of lateral slats aft near the transom. There were two flotation tanks, one forward of the mast and the other just forward of the transom.

US312 was also in Erie PA in 1948 but we were never able to get a larger class going. We did race the boat at Put-in-Bay, OH a number of times."

Interesting about Pat's comments on the standard interior layout of the Douglass and McLeod One-Design. I do know that finishing off the shells, as Pat and his friend did, was a common way to get into the International 14 class in the 1940's and 1950's, and with all the amateur completions, there may be a wide variety of interiors. The interior layout I featured in a previous post as being of a One-Design was typical of the Uffa 14's being built in the late 1930's and was carried over to the early Fairey Marine 14's in the late 1940's. Come to think of it, the photo in that previous post may be a early Fairey Marine 14 and not a US One-Design. Oops! (After some thought, I've corrected that previous post.)

The two pictures, Pat sent along:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Classic 14 in Massachusetts

Simon Koch writes in:

"I am currently restoring a 14. I believe it is from the early 60's, it is made of fiberglass with wood spars and rod rigging. I have replaced the cap rails, faired and epoxy barrier coated the hull. I will send along some pictures. Any information about the boat is appreciated. It is located in Cape Ann MA."

Simon's 14 has a mainsail with the number 666, which was the number to Stuart Walker's famous Farrar designed "Salute" that won the POW in 1964. Unfortunately "Salute" was wood, built in England, so it appears this 14 may have inherited one of Stuart Walker's cast off sails. Awaiting photos so we can further ID this hull.

USOD # 370 Re-emerges - Slightly worn but restorable

Yarrow Thorne from Providence R.I. emails:
"I just picked up hull 370 today and hope to have the boat ready for display at the worlds in Toronto 2013........ I am looking forward to bringing back a classic."
From the pics, looks like USOD # 370 has spent a lot of time propped up on the starboard gunwhale, a long enough time that gunwhale is completely gone and the veneer on the sheer has deteriorated. Also, the interior seems to have disappeared; the thwart looks to be a modern afterthought. It's obvious Yarrow is starting from a basic shell, but, all in all, looks like a good project.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

USOD # 360 Sails Again

Paul and Yvonne Galvez got their newly purchased USOD # 360 on the water last weekend (not sure where in Southern California it was, but there are some spectacular cliffs in the background). Paul's email was bubbling over with enthusiasm at sailing this newly rediscovered gem:

"Finally had a chance to put the old girl through her paces... I'm impressed. The boat is lively and very responsive. Even though she is tame by today's standards, it is still an athletic boat and demands precise trim for optimum speed and height. Believe it or not, the sails are original Ratsey and Lapthorne from '47. They are a bit blown out compared to what I am used to but in extraordinary shape nonetheless, with very little wear. This boat does not have any weight in the centerboard. No jib sheet cleats either. We got it planing in about 15 knots true and relatively flat seas. The vang exploded on a power reach but everything else held up fine.

She is getting a makeover now and will be beefed up at the mast partner, bulkheads,  dagger board trunk, and of course the vang. We do not want anymore explosions... Plans are to also replace the hiking straps and buoyancy tanks, along with some aesthetics. She should hopefully be ready to go by Summer. There is already talk of shipping her to Toronto for a vintage regatta that may take place during the 14 Worlds next year. Stay tuned."

And the pics of USOD #360 bombing along, spray flying after spending decades in a garage:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

US One-Design Classic International 14 (Part 2)

Southern California becomes the center of the USOD class

Somewhere in the late 1940's the nexus of U.S One-Design International 14 fleet activity (the one-design now switched from the R.I.P. design to the Douglass and McLeod hot molded Uffa Fox Alarm hull shape) moved from the Rochester fleet to the Southern Californian fleet. And as one dynamic mover-and-shaker exited (the founder of the US International 14 class, George Ford of Rochester, retired from 14's and started another successful yachting career on the Great Lakes in a Sparkman and Stephens designed yawl), another one emerged, a Southern Californian, Dick Fenton, the Commodore of Balboa Yacht Club, Commodore of Southern California Yachting Association, and by 1948, president of the nascent U.S. International Fourteen Association.

Details of the rise of the Southern Californian USOD fleet are somewhat sketchy; it would be best to first go back and reread the excellent early Southern California history as put down by Peter Gales. It is at the 1948 "International Championship Regatta", hosted by George Ford and the Rochester Yacht Club, that the Southern Californians demonstrated how strong a one-design International 14 fleet they had organized in three short years. Six Californian 14 teams made the cross-country trip out east and they left with the majority of the prizes.

What do we know about the USOD from the  1948 "International Championship Regatta"?
  1. A one-design rule had already been hammered out by 1948, as the regatta was split into two series; a three race series for the US One-Designs and a three race series for the "Open" International 14 (the Canadians were having none of this one-design; led by Charlie Bourke, they were happily developing new designs - also being hot molded). The USOD fleet met the requirements for the 'Open" rule (the English 14 development rule) and sailed  for the "Open" series trophies as well.
  2. The one-design rule allowed lighter 14's than the open rule as some of the USOD's had to carry correctors to meet the 225 lb. hull weight minimum when racing in the "Open" rule.
  3. In the light air to drifter series, the 1935 Alarm hull of the USOD would prove as fast as anything designed up to that point; five of the USOD's scoring better in the "Open" series than Charlie Bourke's 1944 'Conneda". (This was nothing out-of-the-ordinary as, much later, a re-rigged USOD would win a light air regatta in the 1970's against the latest Kirbys and Proctors.)
  4. Obviously Douglass and McLeod was selling the USOD, either as a hull or a complete 14, to anyone who wanted to front the money. Since the USOD was the only 14 game in town for the United States in the late 1940's, the Douglass and McLeod USOD filtered into the East Coast - besides the fleet in Rochester there was a small fleet in Essex Ct -,  though the majority of boats were going west to the burgeoning fleet in Southern California. The East Coast, like the Canadians, would never buy into the one-design rule, but (and this is where the confusion comes from) the Douglass and McLeod Alarm hulls would always be referred to as the U.S. One Design (USOD), or One-Design for short, even though, on the East Coast, they would never be raced as a one-design.
Below is the somewhat famous photo of the kingpin of the early Southern Californian USOD fleet, Dick Fenton, in his Douglass and McLeod number 116 (note the caret symbol under the 14 insignia - designating this 14 as a one-design), sailing with a reef in the main.

(To be continued.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

U.S. One-Design Classic International 14 (Part 1)

U.S. One-Design International 14 - Pre-WW II and immediate Post-WW II

There is considerable confusion when I write about the U.S. One Design International 14 (this being the most common Classic International 14 hull being found for restoration). The International 14 has always been considered a development class. but there was a period before WW II, and the decade after WW II,  that major areas of U.S. 14 activity were sailing the 14's as a one-design, with their own rules. (As an aside, U.S. International 14 history is peppered with one-design classes that come directly from the International 14, such as the Jet 14, the Gannet dinghy and, more recently (1990's), another class called the One Design 14, based on the Jay Cross Mk 3 hull, built and marketed by Peter Johnstone.)

The history of the U.S. One-Design International 14 class starts pre WW II, in 1936, right at the beginning, when the founder of the U.S. International 14 class, George Ford, had local boatbuilders producing ribbed copies of the Uffa Fox "R.I.P" design in and around Rochester, New York. George Ford noted the success of American one-design classes of that period (the Snipe, Lightning, Comet, Star) and reasoned it would be better to get this new International 14 class, based on the English rules, off the ground in the U.S. as a one-design hull. George Ford's desire to mass produce a one-design 14 was immediately hamstrung by (in copying from Uffa Fox), the very complicated method of building these "R.I.P" hulls (double planked, about 80+ steamed ribs, thousands of copper rivets). George never quite solved the problem of meeting three criteria at the same time; how to build a "R.I.P." 14 down to weight, strong enough and, given the labor intensive construction, how to build them at a profit. It's hard to determine how many of these R.I.P copies were built (20, maybe 30). In 1938, the Rochester group ran into Sandy Douglass from Ohio at a Put-In-Bay regatta and shortly after that, Sandy Douglass started building ribbed 14's to a more modern and faster hull design than "R.I.P", that of Uffa Fox's later "Alarm" design ('R.I.P" being designed by Uffa in 1931, "Alarm" being designed in 1935). How many ribbed "Alarm's" Sandy Douglass built is unknown. (I've seen the total number of U.S. ribbed 14's built, both "R.I.P" and "Alarm" hulls pegged at 37, but this may be conjecture).

After WWII, around 1945, Sandy Douglass, now in partnership with Ray McLeod Sr, started producing both his famous Thistle sailing dinghy and the "Alarm" design International 14's using the hot molding ply veneer process developed during WW II. (The hull shells were molded by U.S. Molded Shapes in Grand Rapids Michigan - formerly U.S. Plywood - and then trucked back to Vermillion Ohio for completion.) Given the ability to mass produce hot molded ply hulls, the hull of choice for a One-Design International 14 now switched over to the Uffa Fox "Alarm" design. The Rochester fleet, already solidly pro one-design, was now to be joined by another fleet as one-design proponents; the new, upstart International 14 fleet in Southern California. (to be continued.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fairey Marine Early International 14 Interiror

After readers comments and some pondering, I've concluded that I was incorrect in my first post. This is not a Douglass and McLeod interior, but, is instead, the interior to one of the early Fairey Marine (English) hot molded Uffa Fox 14's that were imported into the U.S. I've put the incorrect first post in quotes after the picture.

Incorrect first post:
"Not surprising that the Douglass and McLeod One-Design (hot molded Uffa Alarm hull shape) has an interior that looks very close to the Douglass and McLeod Thistle, since Sandy Douglass transferred most of the post WW II International 14 technology into the Thistle. The mast thwart, the small side tanks bracketing the centerboard thwart can still be seen in the modern day Thistle. (This following statement is wrong!) Here is a picture of a Douglass and McLeod One-Design interior, exact date of the photo unknown but I put it in the mid 1950's."