Craig Thompson builds out Parker 9108

Great to see that Justin Shaffer’s Parker 9108 is getting a great build out, be interesting to see her on the water this year in action.

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A night out with Mike Holt

The one thing that grabs you when you meet Mike Holt is that he exonerates the “ordinary genius!” I recently met him downtown Chicago in Timothy O’Toole’s on North Fairbanks, running late, I landed in the basement and there he is the current twice International 505 world champion at a table sipping a quite beer and no-one knows who he is?

I think the one great thing about Mike is not just his love of the sport, but it’s that he really has the “International 505” somehow flowing through his veins; from his humble beginnings in Essex to traveling the world, I still think, he thinks, he owes the class something when he has brought so much to the class himself.

He must be the most traveled 505 helm ever (up there with Howie), he tells me that he did the “Bloody Mary” in London in January, renowned for being baked in Californian sunshine, who in the right mind would fly 5,000 miles to prove you can race in near “bloody” freezing conditions. Only a mad Englishman living in San Francisco!

So on we go to the local Indian (one of Mikes most favored cuisines) and we get on to the topics of the finer points of sailing, he is a lucky chap with both Rob and Carl being top class crews and a couple of boat around the world, he has made the class his own playground (through brutal hard work), but has also brought so many influences and changes to the class.

Back in San Francisco at the 2009 worlds’ where we first met, he was an impressive heavy weather sailor, now he is just an impressive sailor, back to back wins in Kiel in the German heartland and then South Africa (if anyone doubts they way this man sails then take a peak on youtube of the penultimate race where Mike is on a flyer downwind if you don’t believe me), I have never seen anyone sail the angles and constant speed that he showed that day.

So getting on to boats, what makes him so fast, well he has sorted out his loft, got fast around the entire wind range and can sail with any crew, but when it comes to the boat, he has a vested interest in 9072. We keep chatting and he recon’s that this boat has the most wins of any boat ever to hit the 505 world championships, 9 race wins in total and counting and he suggests that the boat is significantly better than his new one.

This is where it gets interesting, because the human in him comes out, “it feels fast, it sails fast, it makes me fast, it just fits, I can’t tell you why it’s just the best boat I have ever sailed”, quite a line from a man, but it matches his personality with new insights about how he sails.

You see it’s not visual he is talking about feel, the feel for constant speed, height, the ability to always come back no matter where you are.

But more importantly is that he constantly recognizes he makes mistakes, if he could undo all of the past, would he now be on 4 world championship wins (he got the lowest overall points in both San Francisco and Australia), but when many look up to this man for guidance, he is still learning and adapting himself, that’s a demure man for you!

So what next, well he tells me he is heading to the Australian nationals, he said he hasn’t done that one before! And then I quiz him about Weymouth in 2016, mentioning that this is going to be one of the toughest fleets ever.

“That doesn’t bother me”, he says, “look at Kiel, if you can win there you can win anywhere”, and he will be in 9072 his favorite speed machine, so will he equal the gods of Colclough, and Krister (the only sailors to achieve 3 in a row), as he already sits abreast of Farrant, Marks, Elvstrom, Buffet and the rest.

There is definitely more to come from this champion and he is looking fit, sharpe and more than anything makes more water time than many do over several years!

Weymouth will be a battle worth watching.

Why Ovington and Rondars are breaching the trust of the International 505 class.

I read with great interest the recently distributed “proposals for the 2014 AGM” to be held at the Kiel 2014 worlds event on August 21st 2014. I don’t think in my 40 years of involvement in the class I have ever seen such blatant “gerrymandering” of the rules to benefit those who don’t clearly comply with them!

Since John Westell designed the International 505, the templates were there as a guide to the builders to provide tolerances to enable them to build boats without fear of them not measuring. So accelerate from 1954 to 2014 (some 60 years) and we find ourselves clearly in a place where some builders cannot manage to build boats that measure.

So instead of being honest with themselves and looking at the rules in more details, some decide that it may be easier to propose measurement changes at the AGM so their “boat building mistakes” can be incorporated into the rules.

Some of the recent behavior by the class leaves a lot to be desired, I suspect I know fairly well (who) is behind this suggested change. A few/or one very influential individual who benefits enormously from the class sailors, enough so, for them to make a very reasonable living. However, too naive to admit that the so called perfect “computer designed 505” probably doesn’t comply with the current rules and therefore is not actually a 505 (by the way this doesn’t offer a pass to the other builder, who has blatantly broken the rules for years)!

For an actual country class association (Germany) to suggest such changes is “ballsy” to say the least and damn right blatant at best. Then to include phrases like “current boat builders had difficulties to meet the required height range for the top of gunwale” – are you kidding me! You mean you cannot make a boat that is deep enough not to have the templates touch the center-band of the boat or the hull, clearly making it illegal!

To be then follow-up later with “current boat builders had difficulties to meet the required height range for the keel band.” So lets change the rules once again, because someone cannot measure between 3mm and 4.5 mm in height of the keel band from the hull!

At this stage, the rules are beginning to resemble a new boat called a “506” and simple suggestions like, why don’t we reduce the weight by 20lbs become sensible, considering the age of the sailors in the class.

In the same proposal Rondar’s (or someone representing them in the German 505 association) declare “that a builder would like to add more buoyancy chambers to the boat, because it will be a good idea, good idea for who apart from the builder?”

Or perhaps, they have already built the boat with the additional elements (which are not within the current rules) and now are asking to repent for their sins by another change to the rules? I remember when Parker’s built the new 2013 boat we followed the rules and wrote to the IRC and it’s executives indicating that we had checked our boat had complied with the Section B. rules of the International 505 class.

Quotes like this are totally unprofessional and unbelievable “boat builders (e.g. Rondar) have taken actions to improve both the production process and the quality of the finished boat by improving the deck mould design and the deck/hull assembly process. As a free side effect additional buoyancy chambers could be offered (what’s a free side effect?):

a) left/right from the mast

b) at the transom

Additional buoyancy chambers are welcome for security and would be acceptable as long as the current chambers stay separated and their bulkheads stay unchanged. While option a) is acceptable without a rule change option b) would need a small rule adjustment.”

No, what Rondar’s have really done is build an illegal boat, but instead of talking to the 505IRC, they obviously ignored the rules and built a boat that “they” think is advancing the class, well Rondar’s are wrong and if someone buys one of these boats then you have a 505 that doesn’t measure!

Comments like “small rule adjustment”, suggest that the German 505 association are now judge and jury and think it’s their right to interpret the rules on behalf of boat builders. While you are at it, why don’t you put in a double floor (oh, sorry just read your website and you’ve done that as well another illegal adaptation) or extend the hull a little bit on the waterline and make the boat a little wider at the stern that would only need a “b) would need a small rule adjustment.” as well, why not make the centerboard a little longer and the spinnaker pole!

The 505 world association is getting into deep trouble with “rogue builders” there are only a few and everyone knows who they are but are too scared to mention names. It’s obvious to me – since we measured some 9XXX series boats some time back and we couldn’t get them to measure – we were perplexed to why and how they passed international measurement rules at any events, until we realized that no-one was really measuring the hulls anymore?

To check our findings we actually compared our templates to the 505 master’s, ours are a perfect match and our measurer (20 years on the IYRU technical committee) had probably measured 1,000 505’s over his life as well as designing 4 complete models, so I trust his abilities to measure a 505 hull and they didn’t measure and still don’t.

When we did mention the issues found and confronted the IRC committee (at the worlds in La Rochelle) with our findings, great silence descended everywhere, like we were the problem! When in fact it’s the IRC continual inability to deal with the measurement issues in the 505 class that are the problem. We even wrote to the ISAF, no response! At some stage the ISAF will have to take charge if some firm control over the behavior of these people and builders is not put in place.

Finally the most unfortunate thing about this whole issue is the way the class has treated the class sailors. Many dedicated over the years expecting the Int. 505 association (as they pay there membership) to ensure that when they relinquish their hard earned money for a boat, that at least they could expect to be buying a boat that actually measures but no.

My advise, most people in Europe are covered by the EEC directive on the “sale of goods act” that protects the consumers rights to ensure that what they think they are buying is what they are buying. So if your boat doesn’t measure you have legal right for recourse and compensation through the EU courts.

I have been informed that similar issues have happened to the contender class, to such an extent that the rules were changed to accommodate a “rogue” builder who decided to use the tolerances to alter the boat shape, these then led to a rule change! Similar happened with the Lark and 420 builder in recent years in the UK (the same builder by the way). So what does the ISAF do? Nothing!

Lets just hope that these proposed rule changes are given short shrift during the meeting and buried forever, so the class can get back to business as the best high-performance dinghy ever to have hit the water!

The Polish enter the International 505 class as builders for the first time.

Parker International 505
Great to see another International 505 builder in the mix to compete against Holgar Jess over expensive Ovington designs

The 505 fleet has another builder, the Polish have produced a new derivative with a few modifications. Mainly an offset port-side spinnaker chute, copying the US teams of the 1980’s out of the Larry Tuttle (Waterat)/Lindsay shop. The overall design is remarkably similar to the Rondar but has (probably) been substantially influenced jointly by Jan Saugmann the twice Int. 505 world champion.

I sailed against Jan in Australia back in 2011 and he is very tactical on the 1st windward leg, always looking for clear air and climbs very high with speed when he can, so I can see where he is coming from. As the world’s fleets get bigger again 150 plus, it is vital to be in the top 20 at the windward mark otherwise you are dead in these predominately drag race upwind and gybing reaching legs.

The offset chute enables two things, a slightly lighter bow (not much by the way), but more importantly the ability to move the jib tack, much further forward, Steve Benjamin (USA) the 1980 world champion used this method very successfully (with bags in those days – but Steve came from the 470 class so was well equipped to handle the spinnaker (being quite small back then)). This means you have more apparent sail area on the wind, so potentially providing much more power up-wind, if you can control the slot.

If done right you are gone probably gaining 50/100 meters or more by the 1st windward mark. Also considering the 1st launch now is 90% on an initial starboard reach (because of the windward offset separator-mark for the first turn), then your 1st rounding is almost free of charge and considering you are only going to launch for 3 more times during the race, the risk of a gybe launch is fairly limited.

The only other problem that you may encounter is dropping the windward guy under the boat, this is a killer and ultimately non-recoverable without much disturbance. To counter this it’s generally recommended to put a 6″ wire/rod catcher on the bow to pick up the dropping loose guy.

After this major difference there is the usual comments on a finer bow and flatter stern in-common with the new Ovington the boat has a traditional deck-lines and tight forepeak. A carbon jib aperture that sticks out into the boat a little further forward than normal for the bow jib forestay, so the slot angles and leech tensions can be altered.

The boat is fairly empty in the middle with not much support around the mast gate and centerboard case, so there may be some movement here and a weird stern dip in the transom and the same (possible) problematic hull and deck joint inherited from the Rondar’s of the past.

The Polish fleet is very very active with one of the fastest growing fleets around and no doubt with the expense of the Holgar Jess boats being out of range for most sailors it’s a welcome change to see another builder entering the class with something different at a much lower price. Along with new foils from the same country Poland will be a keen builder and provider of International 505’s in the near future. I wish them all the best. As for the world’s:

The boat’s entrance into the 2014 world’s in Kiel will be interesting, the event can have variable wind ranges, the German’s will be mainly in new Ovington’s from Holgar and with a likely massive turnout, anyone having a chance to put some air between them and the rest of the fleet on the 1st leg has some chances. Personally the German’s may work the fleet to their advantage and don’t be surprised if Wolfgang Hunger picks up his 6th world championship title.

The new Ovington 505 takes shape

For those accusers out there who think I am just “bloody minded” about the 505, here’s a reminder that the fleet is still about choice. So please find some pictures and comments below regarding the new Ovington/Holgar boat.

  1. The hull deck joint is just a copy of the old Rondar and is inherently unstable and prone to movement which caused all the previous measurement problems along the shear line. Unless moulded correctly, this again will cause the template baseline position to move along the hull sides, we will wait and see what the measurements look like. As an update on this, it does appear that the new Ovington is indeed too flat above the water-line, meaning that during the measurement the templates actually touch the centerline of the hull. Which probably means that the new Ovington boats intact does not measure under the current IRC 505 rules. I hear also in the grapevine that the forward bulkhead is too far forward again meaning that the boat does not measure on this station. Will Ovington retify the problem, Rondar’s didn’t because it costs too much. However, we do ask ourselves the question, if this boat was designed by computer and is so accurate, why didn’t anyone read the rules before the boat moulds were crafted?
  2. The recessed shroud tracks are nice if you want them, so if you don’t want them, you have a fairly horrible looking recess along the seat-tank area, otherwise it adds complication to the mould and I don’t see any benefit at all.
  3. The recessed rudder pivot points do what? Bring in the rudder within 8/10 mm of the stern of the boat, so what, I must check the rules and regulations to see if this is actually allowed.
  4. In terms of innovation I don’t see much at all, no floor strengthening, just the forward thwarts set as the Australian Kyrwood’s of the 80’s. It will still be a mess around the mast gate/foot area and under the deck for rigging.
  5. As for the hull, Holgar talks about optimization of the waterline length, well the reason why it can be longer is that all the Rondar’s were short. The Parker is already at maximum width and length on all sections.

Lets see what happens on the water.

So here are the recent tech drawings from Ovington via Holgar Jess yard in Germany, enjoy!

Parker International 505

Parker International 505

Parker International 505

505 Hull tactics for the 2014 season.

Things are changing rapidly for the first time in many years in the hull and boat configurations now available in the 505 fleet. After 20 years of Rondar domination, with a few other waterat’s and fremantle hulls, 2013 see’s a major change in available hull designs.

The polish have entered the fleet, with what looks like a copy of the Rondar moulds. With few internal structural elements, between the hull center-line and the critical front bulkhead to centerboard casing, it will be interesting to see how stiff this boat will be particularly upwind in tough conditions. She does have an offset port-side spinnaker chute (originated by the USA teams back in the 1980’s), which is trying to lighten the ends to increase performance on the critical first windward leg.

Ovington are entering the market, supplying Holgar Jess and others, they have returned the Rondar moulds back to the manufacturer (Ouch! – lets see if Rondar’s can be bothered to re-engineer their moulds) after years of producing less than perfect boats. Let’s hope that Ovington can build boats that actually measure this time round?

Parker’s return with a revolutionary  and innovative International 505, engineered for maximum performance and acceleration, this boat has been optimized for the higher range performance, not ignoring the variable European and East Coast USA weather conditions, but primed for the very high winds and wave patterns of San Francisco bay.

Getting the most out of performance racing dinghy design is a combination of understanding how International 505 hulls perform. In the past most believe that extremely narrow and flat boats are best. However, these are slow in the turn and become sticky in tough acceleration and de-acceleration environments. Fuller boats, stand higher, though they have more surface area, they are more tolerant to variable speeds and as such accelerate much faster to the optimum speed.

So Parker’s have build an “acceleration” model, through extensive study of events like the San Francisco (2009) worlds and Hamilton Island (2011) top performers and 30 years working with the likes of Steve Benjamin, Peter Colclough and Krister Bergstrom, to produce a hull that is super-stiff. With (17) interconnecting mono-cock hull structures (a structure, such as an aircraft or boat, in which the skin absorbs all or most of the stresses to which the body is subjected) with rigid fore and aft structures connecting the forward bulkhead, through the mast gate to the front of the centerboard case, thus reducing flexing and energy dispersion (that slows the hull down). This maximizes the power generated through the hull, and when you power up, you want this power in straight-line speed not bending the hull out of alignment.

Parker’s have also maximized the boat width, being some 8 mm wider than the past Rondars and to the maximum hull length, ensuring maximum upwind performance.

The addition of the first A-frame mast-gate also stiffens the boat in critical areas and locks the boat in (essentially the boat hull cannot flex in any direction), but this also opens up the crowded mast-gate bulkhead/deck intersection, making the boat easier to rig, operate and set-up.

So the worlds in Kiel 2014 will be interesting, lots of older Rondar 505’s will be on the water with world class sailors and a few new Ovington’s (perhaps) and a similar handful of Polish and Parker’s, game-on!~

Being biased, I know which boat I will be in.

David Parker with Bruce Parker are the co-designers and builders of the Parker International 505.