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.


Who will win the South African International 505 world’s.

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.

Mike Holt provides some insights into what makes him such a powerhouse in the International 505 class

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 Holt Parker 505
Mike Holt wins the 2014 world championship in Kiel Germany

David Parker

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?

Mike Holt:

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?

Mike Holt Parker 505
Mike and Rob win a tight final race in Kiel Germany to take the 2014 world 505 trophy

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?

Mike Holt
Mike Holt, is a class act in the International 505 fleet, an astute heavy weather guru, but over the past few years has gained all round speed that has led him to dominate the class in recent years.

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 or see him in action at most events!

1954 Parker 505 – 434

IMG_0312 IMG_0311

IMG_03101954 Parker 505 - 434

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 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

An Interview with Parker Shinn – East Coast US 505 sailor

David Parker, had the opportunity to interview Parker Shinn who has been delivering some great results recently, so here’s some insights into sailing the International 505.

Parker 505

“What is it about the International 505 experience keeps you attracted to the class?”
Parker Shinn The 505 is in many ways the perfect combination. The boat is exciting, challenging to sail and offers excellent racing all around the world. At the same time, it’s hard to find better people in any class. There is a strong sense of friendship and camaraderie which is easy to see based on how much people are willing to help one another. It’s hard to to find anything better.

“If there is one innovation that the class must do to keep the class growing what do you think this should be?”

I think it’s important to strike a balance when it comes to innovation and thus far the 505 class has done an excellent job managing that process over the past several decades. I’m not sure there are any huge changes I would make to the boat, but one thing I think would be easy to do is lower the minimum weight since pretty much every boat out there carries corrector weights. With all the new materials now even the older boats are underweight and a lighter boat would liven it up a bit.

“Watching you sail, I get the impression that you read the wind shifts a lot.How are you calculating/co-ordinating the shifts with your crew and what changes do you make in the boat once you decide on a shift tactic?”

That’s a pretty complicated question, but I think it’s critical to have good communication with your crew. As a skipper in a 505 your hands are pretty full making adjustments and steering the boat well so I’ll consistently ask my crew questions about how certain things are unfolding on the race course. Usually we’re talking about compass headings, our angles compared to other boats, what mode we should be in based upon what we are trying to do tactically, and where pressure is on the course. If we’re consistently talking about these things it helps me to keep a mental picture of the race course. Then I can take shorter glances away from the boat to ultimately make a tactical decision.

“Which past or current 505 sailor inspires you and why?”

Howie Hamlin and Mike Martin have had the largest impact on my 505 sailing. They were the ones who helped me get into the class when I was young and gave me a lot of great examples to follow. The professionalism of their entire program was something that I hadn’t seen before and gave me an understanding of what it took to be the best, but it never detracted from their willingness to help other people in the class (myself included).

“I believe that the Barbados 505 worlds in April is your 4th 505 worlds event. What’s your personal goal?”

The last one I raced was in Adelaide and we had a respectable finish in the top 30, but I think there’s a lot plenty of room to improve. I learned after that worlds that I had been sailing with a centerboard beak that was too short for the past several years, which made it difficult to put the bow down in breeze so we always felt off the pace. The boat I’m racing now feels tuned really well so I’m excited to see how we do and I’m hoping for a personal best.

“Give a new-comer some advice on sailing the 505?”

Find the best people and ask them tons of questions. Sit next to them at dinner or find them after racing in the boat park and pick their brains on tuning, tactics, rigging systems, technique and anything else you can think of. The 505 is a complex boat but that’s part of the beauty of it. It takes a long time to learn how to tune it perfectly for every condition and you can dramatically speed up the process. There is a wealth of knowledge and most people are glad to share it.

Parker, thank you for sharing some insights.