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.
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.
Well it’s hotting up again in the 505 fleet, Mike Holt has hardly had time to polish his trophy from last year win in Germany and it’s up for grabs again (that’s if they find the container)!
So with only 35 boats at this year’s world (Parker’s actually offered to ship our moulds to South Africa 18 months ago to build the class for the event, but the offer was refused! – maybe a mistake) it’s going to be a bit of drag race to the finish.
So tactics, may not be the biggest play this year, but protecting your position will be as a right or left big shift if not covered could really mix up the final placings. So in reality there are only 10 boats in with a shout, but with so much space on the race track, a bad leg may not kill the opportunity to post good numbers.
So here goes. Mike Holt has to be the favorite, back with Carl Smit his long-term crew, he has more time on the water than anyone else, tactically he is much better through the wind-range and keeping his head out of the boat. He is on form, fast, becoming reliable and love’s the big winds and seas, so South Africa will suit his style.
Jan Saugmann is not a man to be mixed with twice world champion and now settled into his new Polish built boat, he is a fearsome competitor and is very hot on the first windward leg, he will post good numbers and has a real chance to take this title. He is using a boat with a port-side launcher (similar to the waterat’s of the past), will it be advantageous to have that greater projected sail-area on the first beat?
Then Ian Pinnell, a professional sailor, multi-talented, previous world champion will post some serious numbers and is very comfortable through the wind range, if he can post some early numbers on the board he will be a consistent danger throughout, tactically – the best.
Ted Conrads with Brian Haines, have posted many wins at the worlds, but just not been able to string the numbers in a consistent manner to threaten a title win. Ted with his new family, is probably short on boat time, but he knows his way around a fleet and has some serious speed. One day he is going to be a world champion I have no doubt.
Howie Hamlin, is just Howie, always a threat and with Jeff Nelson on board Mike Martin’s world champion winning crew, he is a dangerous competitor, but with boat troubles (he has one boat in that container fiasco), he has had to rig a new bear hull from scratch along with foils, sails, fittings and set-up, this is a tall order. However, if anyone can do it, Howie can!
Sandy Higgins, will always be up in the top 10 – hot Aussie will post good numbers in the big wind and waves, so watch-out for him.
The disruptors, Stefan Bohm and Terry Scutcher, two very talented sailors and Terry in particular from his current laser performances and affinity to high wind sailing could cause some problems.
However, after this the fleet is weak, so my money’s on Holty (with Ian hovering around closely), being able to polish that trophy (again!) when it finally arrives back on the shores of California.
David Parker had the opportunity to interview Mike Holt the latest International 505 World Champion who has been the heart and soul of the class for some considerable time and I consider to be the best “heavy weather” sailor ever to step into a 505. Mike kindly offered to be interviewed and provides some great insights into how he approaches sailing in “the most competitive fleet” in modern sports sailing.
Mike, you have changed up the set-ups of your 2 boats over the years, sailing a traditional “West Coast – Californian set-up” (transom mainsheet and Glaser sails) to a more traditional European set-up with center-mainsheet, P&B sails, why did you feel the need to do this and how has it improved your overall performance?
I have always had center sheeting, never could get on with transom sheeting! Historically I used P&B sails until 2008 when we switched to a Glaser/M2 combo. We had been on our own path with a Van Munster boat and P&B’s and decided with the Worlds in San Francisco we would go with the equipment we felt was fastest at the time, Rondar hull, M2 mast and for breeze, Glaser sails.
Early last year we started using a suit of P&B’s I had lying around and not used and we liked the look on an Alto mast. Felt that we could sacrifice some high wind speed for better low wind speed, especially with the amount of European sailing we planned in 2014. Basically we wanted to be competitive across the wind range and we felt we achieved this.
I’ve been watching you sail over the years and seen a dramatic change in a couple of areas, first you now believe you can “beat the best” and I think your overall performance through all wind conditions has improved significantly, how did you achieve such a shift in psychology and performance?
We had been scoring good individual race results for a while, but not really able to put a good series together at a Worlds. So we have spent a fair bit of effort on boat preparation, calibration, and perfecting all our equipment and then on executing lower risk strategies when racing. Basically leaving no stone unturned. We also worked on fitness and weight.
Mike, you are renowned for your off-wind speed, what are you looking for on the leg, to gain the most advantage and how does you strategy change from being in the top 5 to down in the 20’s when you round the 1st windward mark?
The goal is always to be in touch at the top mark and then look for opportunities down wind. Once in wire running conditions you need to have a plan as to which side you believe is the correct one and what phase the wind is in when you round the top mark. Has it got left or right, what is it trending. Then execute the run at full speed. We basically just sail the boat down the run as fast as we can.
You changed to a new crew this year with Rob Woelfel to replace Carl Smit (due to business/family commitments) and have been almost untouchable since, what difference has Rob brought to the boats overall performance?
Rob and Carl are both very similar, both very athletic with a burning desire to do the best they can. The advent sailing with Rob last week was simply he could commit the time required to attend all the events and put together a practice schedule. The old time in the boat story…
Now you have one World Championship under your belt, I don’t think you are finished yet, if you were to emulate on of “the greats” of the class who would this be and why and if you sailed against him/her, what would your tactics be?
I think we are really lucky to sail against a large number of greats now, Wolfgang, Nico, Howie, Mike M, Jan, Holger, Julien, Ian P, Ethan etc. Earlier in my 5O5 career I sailed against Colclough and Bergstrom too. When we were all together at the Mid Winters in Florida last weekend, we were talking about the evolution of the way we sail the boats, wire running, HA foils etc. The tactics used to be very different, so it would be an interesting challenge to mix 60 years of sailors into a “dream” regatta!
Give a new-comer some advice on sailing the 505?
Copy, copy, copy. Do not believe you can reinvent the wheel. Use the same equipment, mimic the styles and learn to sail the boat.
Mike, I’ve seen some great video of you inside the boat and there’s a lot of intensity in your sailing (almost to the point of madness!), you do lots of work on the helm which may be surprising to some, but how are you maintaining maximum boat speed?
Drugs. Or beer (ed. Mike grew up in Essex, so it’s part of the passing out ceremony for Essex boys when they leave the territory!). Or too much coffee. Back to the previous answer, I watched PC (Peter Colclough) sailing in breeze at a UK Nationals in Prestwick in 1987. He smoked me off the line, so I followed and watched how he sailed the boat. Very aggressive steering and mainsail trimming with the boat very flat.
Mike, thanks for sharing some insights into the class and your approaches to sailing the International 505, Parker’s wish you all the best in South African for the 2015 World Championships.
Mike Holt can be reached at email@example.com or see him in action at most events!
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!
Well, the world’s are now in action at Kiel, a huge fleet has turned out for this championship race with at least 20 top contenders all capable of carrying off the trophy. But so much will depend on the weather this week.
If the wind stays up watch out for Mike Holt, perhaps the best “big-wind” sailor in the fleet today, he works the boat really hard and focuses on incredible speed to keep him out of trouble. Although not a seasoned Olympian, he just won the British 505 nationals and narrowly missed being world champion in both San Francisco and Hamilton Island on discards. If the stays up, he is going to put some serious numbers on the board, letting him throw some of the poor performances.
Likewise Howie Hamlin and Wolfgang Hunger, all perform well in big weather, so by the looks of the forecast, the wind will remain in for the 1st half of the event it will be interesting to see how they are set for the lay-day.
The fleet is dominated by the German’s so I would expect by the end of the week for them to hold around 7 of the top-positions and if the wind goes soft, they will use their incredible experience to mark some numbers on the board.
The we have Jan Saugmann, in his new boat, with a DNF in the 1st race and a 13th in the second, the twice world champion may find it hard to recover from this position to come within the top 10. Andy Smith (GB) is a newcomer and with Ian Pinnell, always putting numbers in I have an outline feeling that if the fleet goes “Olympic” with variable racing conditions these two – fireball and 505 world champions will put some serious markers on the board. Andy looks like a tactical wizard, being able to manipulate himself through difficult and big fleets.
Nicholas is a class act and with a 4th in the second race can afford to throw the 1st, interestingly only 4 of the top 10 have consistent numbers and this early on, you need to score some 1st to be able to throw out the bad numbers that some of them have.
Today’s racing (if held) will be interesting to see who puts some good numbers in. But if the wind stays high and “Holty” could dominate really early giving him that break later in the week, however his all-round speed is much improved this year with a change of loft.
Watch-out it will be interesting, but as I say the 1st 10 around the 1st windward mark will really be the players, so getting a good start with speed, the top mark will really establish the leaders for the rest of the race.
Here’s an interesting photograph of the 1st measurement plans on the 1st 505 ever built by Bill Parker in 1954. You will notice some interesting features of the original plans.
1. They are signed by John Westel himself dated 01/01/1954, when he visited Bill in Boston, Lincolnshire and personally measured the boat himself.
2. The distinct lack of any measurement or even mention of a mast-gate area.
3. That the new Parker 505 takes it’s lines exactly from the original plans as intended by the designer and Bill was the advisor on the new radical design of the 2013/14 Parker 505.
4. Bill and John became best friends until his death and had the highest regard for each others skills, ambition and innovation for the class.
5. For those that ask about our credentials, 60 years of 505 experience goes a long way!
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
All images by Robert Sprague.