Designer and boat builder

Derek Kelsall on The Future Of Short-Handed Ocean Racing In The UK

Designer and boat builder

Your proposals should be welcomed across the board. I watched the increase in interest in France and the decline in interest in the UK – which closely matched my career in racing and racing design. The history might have been different had I not invited Eric Tabarly to sail on Toria! You can count on me for my full support and contribution where appropriate. I could see this having a knock on effect in promoting general racing – and particularly multihull – where we currently have the strange situation where multihulls have proven unmatched in sailing speed but there is no racing for the typical owner beyond the Micro class.

Local organisations, publicity and sponsorship were the key in France. Going back to the early 1970s, French national newspapers would devote two or more full pages to a major sailing event and the participants would spend hours in front of TV cameras. The sponsors put on lavish entertainment presumably justified by the coverage given. In the UK the Telegraph printed a couple of paragraphs.

Most entries were team efforts – with one person dealing with sponsorship and funding where here each individual is largely on his own. I cannot see the same happening here for a long time, but progress is being made. I agree, single- handed and short-handed events have the potential to attract publicity and now that the communications and safety measures are in place, the principle objections have been eliminated.

Your initial proposals naturally include a wide range of options for sizes and classes. I believe deciding the initial sizes/classes will be very important. Obviously any such proposals must include all boat types. On the specific point of a trimaran class, I would be reluctant to support a specifically trimaran class because I do not believe that the trimaran is necessarily the better offshore race craft.

For multihulls, in terms of a development class, it is my belief that the length only restrictions have already taken multihulls to extremes of power and width stability that they bear little relationship to any fast private cruising craft. My preference would be to use simple class limits on the lines of M-10 (which was an effort I made three years ago to get a cruiser/racer class established) and to leave the choice of number of hulls, beam, etc open.

Cost is obviously a major consideration. There are several examples of how a popular event attracts interest, attracts funding and then prices itself out of the market. Formula 40 was a classic in this respect – although the initial declared intention was to limit costs. This is not an easy question to address but one worth debating.

Custom design/build has become very expensive indeed. I believe unnecessarily so. Obviously it would be wrong for any organisation to endorse one particular designer at this stage. However I will mention that the method that we are now using to build catamarans and racing ones in particular, is proving to be a giant step forward compared to any other build method (other than using production moulds). This includes trimarans (will soon be developed to include monohulls – we have already produced a 26ft hull in three days, a 40ft catamaran hull in a week). However for the proposals here I would not be opposed to working with other designers. If it was to be one design I can imagine a small design team being effective and acceptable to the owners. I look forward to further discussions