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our direction. Hence
the helmsman,
which was usually
me, needed to be
wedged in to ensure
he was able to
steer a reasonably
Jacobs Ladder courtesy
straight course.
Needless to say,
accidents did happen at high speeds. In the
early years we managed to ruin the week
by breaking the mast quite regularly and
not carrying a spare. All we could do was
pack up the boat and go home. The foils
were razor sharp to cut through seaweed
and the greatest care needed to be taken
to avoid other speed sailors. At high speeds
it was possible to overload the leeward foil
which resulted on more than one occasion
in a forward capsize. The most memorable
accident, which was recorded in detail by
a nearby photographer, was the complete
structural failure of the overloaded leeward
hull which resulted in a spectacular crash
The elegant Crossbow2
followed by the recovery of the remains from
the bottom of Portland harbour.
of the hulls and automatically regulated
would all pull equally, a nigh impossible Weymouth Speed Week was characterised
the depth of immersion of the foils through
task. However, this design was extremely by several memorable features. Organised
trim tabs linked to the sensors. Theoretically,
efficient, having the advantage of a very low by a team from the RYA, it has always been
all that the crew had to do was sheet- in
centre of effort and very high power. held in October each year in the hope that
the main and steer. The design worked
the wind speeds would be at their highest.
extremely well but the forces of nature were
Our syndicate was not alone in using Mostly this worked quite well but there were
sometimes too much for such a small craft
a Tornado Catamaran as a base for some weeks where more time was spent
and various capsizes ensued.
development. ‘Jacobs Ladder’, another sunbathing in the autumn sun than sailing.
very exciting boat, aptly named because On one occasion, the RYA managed to
it incorporated a stack of Flexifoils as a alleviate the boredom by procuring a number
sail, achieved phenomenal speeds but not of plastic baths to provide a different type
always in the direction intended. In fact, of competition! The ‘Speed Week’ allowed
vertical, rather than horizontal speeds were complete freedom of design and this resulted
Mayfly Mayfly
sometimes recorded! in the most fascinating and impracticable
Heath Robinson craft arriving at the beginning
In our own case, the Icarus project started of each competition, some of which capsized
In reminiscing, it is inevitable that many
in the 1970’s. Originated by my brother before the crew could get on board.
successful designs will be omitted, but
James, the design was then developed
one I shall never forget was ‘Clifton
by him over a period of around 15 years So what was Weymouth Speed Week like 30
Flasher’, designed by the now famous
together with my elder brother Alan, the years ago? Thanks to the Castle Cove Sailing
multihull designer Nigel Irens. His design
yachting journalist David Pelly, John Fowler Club and a variety of well known sponsors,
incorporated short multiple vertical
and myself acting as engineer, (with helpful it was a sociable week and fun was had by
‘wings’, linked together to enable them
advice from my father, an Essex doctor).We all. It brought together original thinkers and
to be sheeted in such a way that they
were entered in the ‘B’ Class (Sail area not designers whose creations were tested in
to exceed 21.84 sq some of the most challenging conditions.
m) and in our first As time passed more and more windsurfers
year we achieved came on the scene. To some extent, these
19.8 knots. Over had a negative effect on many of the more
the years we complex and sophisticated design teams,
gradually improved including the Icarus syndicate, because the
the foils and our windsurfers began to achieve speeds that we
speeds, eventually could only dream of, and at a fraction of the
recording a World cost.
Record of 28.14
knots on 14 Oct There are some great online resources if
1985. This seemed this period of development interests:
unbelievably fast
at the time and from which we accessed
I well remember images of Monitor and Mayfly.
that the smallest International Hydrofoil Society
movement on the Correspondence Archives
tiller would have a The Amateur Yacht Research Society has all
Clifton Flasher. Picture courtesy of Nigel Irens
dramatic effect on sorts of historical resource at
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