Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Swiss Navy

Jim Greenfield, a long time member of Cooper River YC and a former employee of Fletcher Marine Products, sent me a collection of photos from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s.  Today's post will examine a series of photos taken of Blair Fletcher testing the first of the "Swiss" Moths his company produced during the mid to late 1960s.  These boats were based on the boats designed by Swiss builder Dunand and first seen over in this country at the 1965 World Championship which was held at Corinthian YC in Cape May, New Jersey.  Pierre Roggo, Claude Barth and Dennis Weber brought over three Dunands and Roggo won the regatta easily out pacing the Cates-Florida and Shelley Moths which were the mainstay designs fielded by the American sailors.

The "Swiss" Moths were quite beamy compared to other contemporary Moths and also sported a wooden, free-standing mast which was very much in vogue in European-designed Moths in those days.  In this photo one can see the double ended controls for the outhaul and Cunningham.  Most American Moths from this era just tied off the outhaul and most didn't have a Cunningham but instead relied on a downhaul, in which the gooseneck could be slid down a short piece of track attached to the mast and then a thumb screw tightened to retain the desired luff tension.  This, like the tied off outhaul was of course not adjustable while sailing.  Additionally the blade shapes were becoming more sophisticated on the European boats.  The vang however, was still fairly primitive with the tongue of the boom passing through a slot in the mast with "one setting suits all conditions" tension achieved by insinuating a wooden wedge into the front side of the slot to prevent the boom from rising.

The Cooper River shore line was very much less built-up than today.

In this photo one can just make out one of the small, vestigial deck wings which were very controversial at the 1965 Worlds.  The Americans cried foul, insisting that the small deck overhangs were essentially hiking wings, which in those days were illegal.  The fast thinking Swiss sailors countered that those were not hiking devices but instead were "rub rails"!  In the end they were permitted to sail without having to shave them off.  The argument of exactly when a rub rail grows enough to become a hiking wing was not entirely settled until the class adopted a sweeping set of rule changes which legalized wings and also ushered in the high aspect Australian rig and sail.  At a stroke, Moths gained both more sail power and more righting moment.  Those two changes drove not only development of the IMCA Moths all the way to the hydrofoiling boats seen today, but also the creation of Classic Moths for those sailors who wanted to continue racing boats built more or less to the original development rules.

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