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Hellcat 1


Steve Clark

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Someone needs to take Hellcat home and restore her.

She is the first C Class Catamaran. She was designed by Rod Macalpine Downey and built by Reg White in 1962.

She defeated Beverly in the 1962 Little America;s Cup 4-1.

She was modified by Roy Bacon in 1964 to a una rig and her beams were moved and replaced. She was also widened from 12' to 13'.

Roy brought her to the US when he moved here to run Chrysler Marine.

When Parkinson's got the better of him, he gave her to me.

She has been sitting here for 10 years, I'm not going to get it done. I need someone who understands what she is and has either the talent to fix her or the checkbook to get someone else to do it.

When complete she will qualify for most "classic" yacht races and will blow the fleet away. Other than that she will be a wonderful big catamaran daysailer. The platform was designed to fold as in this picture, so moving her around is 1/10th the hassle of a bolted beam boat.

There are nio masts or sails to speak of. The rudders, tillers and boards are all here as is a big bin of bits. There are holes in the hull that need to be repaired and I don't make light of the amount of work and money it will take to restore her. But the end product will be wonderful.

Someone needs to step up to the plate.

I don't need to be paid for this. I promised Roy that I would make sure she found a good home if I didn't keep her.

PMs work or we can converse publicly.

I don't have a ton of pictures and gobs of information above and beyond this. There were a number of Hellcats built and sold in the 1960s, but this is the first one.

SHC

Oh yeah, the extra hull in the picture is the splash of Aethon we made to detrmine that the molds were right. Do not be confused!

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According to a Sail-World article on Reg White, Hellcat 1 was a wooden prototype and Hellcat 2 was fiberglass. Hellcat 2 was the boat that won the first C Class challenge, and Hellcat 1 won the second (see post below). If the hulls are fiberglass, this is Hellcat 2.

 

Portion of article text:

 

Enter John Fisk, a member of the IYRU multihull committee whose enthusiasm knew no bounds. His ideas inspired Macalpine-Downie and intrigued Reg. He wanted greater international competition in catamarans and had challenged the Eastern Multihull Association of the USA to a match in 25=foot catamarans – at the very start of the C-class. It was late 1958, just after the restored America's Cup had taken place and John explained it to Rod, Reg and myself as: 'a little America's Cup.' The main problem was that he did not have a boat, but the combination of those around rose to the occasion and the prototype, Hellcat, was launched early in 1959, built in wood by Sailcraft. Several modifications followed and eventually a glassfibre version, Hellcat 2, was built, again by Sailcraft, and after just one trial sail against the prototype, shipped to New York, where she defeated John Hickock's Wildcat by 4-1.

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And a little more history, this time from the Invictus web site

 

After the first challenge was sent and accepted, the first problem that both challenging and defending teams faced was how to build and sail something as big as an RYA 300 catamaran. No-one other than the great Nathaniel Herreshof, the "wizard of Bristol", had done it before. Most two handed catamaran classes racing off the beach at that time were around 18' long - the biggest were 20' x 10', with about 250 sq ft of sail. Some had spinnakers. In contrast, the challenger and defender would be monsters - another 5' longer and potentially 4' wider, with masts towering sometimes 40' above the deck. Until this time, most catamarans used heavy plywood or timber "bridge-decks" to join the 2 hulls, and some still had wooden masts, so building and sailing a challenger or defender would take the teams into unknown territory - so much so that the first challenge match had to be postponed a year, until 1961. In the USA, Bob Harris planned to defend with an expanded "Tigercat". In the UK, Rod Macalpine-Downie designed and built a prototype, called "Hellcat", with hulls built of double planked 1/8" gaboon plywood and demountable plywood box beams. The boat had to be demountable, because the cost of shipping a rigid structure to the US would have broken the budget, but working out the potential stresses on this structure involved a lot of guesswork. Rod and most other designers in the first few years went cautiously, building boats that were only 12.5 feet across the beam. This avoided the enormous stresses that would build in platforms more than half as wide as they were long. "Hellcat II" was built next, in fibreglass, using lessons from the prototype Hellcat and in 1961 it was this craft that McAlpine-Downie took to the US to win the first "Little America's Cup" match for Great Britain. She was built in fibreglass because she would have to be sold after the match to defray some of the cost of the challenge, and the Americans were more familiar with fibreglass than plywood as a building material. There was a weight penalty but the British team were victorious, reversing years of ignominy in the Americas' Cup, and brought the Trophy back to England, where it remained for eight years, despite a number of challenges. The reverse parallel to the Americas' Cup , where the Cup had been put up by the British in 1850 and snatched by an upstart challenger from across the Atlantic, captured the public imagination, reinforced the somewhat unfortunate nickname and attracted significant press interest in the UK. The Americans came back again in 1962 in a bid to reclaim their birthright, challenging with Beverly (Bob Fisher and Van Allen Clark) but they were smartly seen off by Rod McAlpine-Downie sailing in his home waters at Thorpe Bay on the Thames Estuary. His defender was the prototype Hellcat, which was probably lighter and faster than Hellcat II. The thought of the Brits or the damn' Yankees claiming the title of the fastest catamaran in the world stirred up the Australians (as one would expect) and Frank Strange, President of the Australian Catamaran Association, phoned through a challenge from Down Under just minutes after the 1962 match was won. At that moment, the ICCT (and the International "C" Class) became truly "international".

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If the boat was a simple contender along the way, I would consider just enough restoration to put her back on the water and have some fun. Maybe a "small percent of cord" wingmast with jib to up the performance some but keep things soft for tradition sake. But with the history involved, my resources would not do her justice. With all of the folks that were talking C Class just after the last race, one would hope that someone will step up.

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Hellcat III (shown in earlier post) is still owned by the same Northern Irish family who purchased her new at Earls Court in 1962. Reg White visited the family to see the cat when he was in Ireland in 2006, for the Spitfire Europeans. Quote from her owner "Due to the size ,a propose built slip and boat house was constructed to keep the boat in and hence the excellent condition. Everything is still original, sail, ropes etc.. The decks and hulls are in near perfect condition and in original condition."

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I contacted the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth UK and was told that they weren't interested.

They have Lady Helmsman and that is enough C Class on Macalpine-Downey apparently.

The project doesn't fit into the IYRS model, which is more about plank on frame, and the Museum of Yachting has a pretty poor track record and weak curatorial policies for projects of this type.

Does anyone know if Thunder( which was on Craig's list earlier this summer in Maine) sold or where she is hiding?

SHC

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The ones that lose never get any love. Of course these boats are pretty big by dinghy standards and without good dollies are not much fun to move around.

 

10 years after PLVI lost to Victoria 150 I dug her out from beneath the pavilion at Roton Point. She had been sitting on rocks and a few generations of cats had been born and died inside her. It was an ugly scene....

 

"Freedom's Wing" has become "Freedom" without a wing.

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And Taku still lives in Southern Cal.

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Then there is PL3

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The best of these boats would be Patient Lady VI which is one of the tastiest wood boats ever built. She was the first boat with carbon beams, and was the biggest single step in weight reduction.

Her platform is 345 lbs completely restored. A nice carbon mast and suitable sails would make her deluxe.

SHC

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Posted · Hidden by Steve Clark, December 12, 2010 - many gurps
Hidden by Steve Clark, December 12, 2010 - many gurps

Sometimes things just get confusing,

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Taku was also raced as Wingmill, which had one of the shortest racing careers ever.

5 minutes before the start. Game Off.

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Freedom in wing mode.

SHC

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I have a copy of Catamaran Racing a book published by Cassell & company Ltd. in 1968. It has many good pictures (all in black & white) of the early C class cats as well as many other cats such as Shearwaters, tornado 1, early A cats,Tiger cat,Thai MKIV etc. Most interesting to this discussion is a picture showing Hellcat 1 the caption below the picture reads

"Hellcat 1 in her original rig before she had had a foot cut from her sterns." The boat also sports a speed robbing jib luff spar.

 

My father brought this book back from a business trip to England in the aarly 70's It is the first piece of "boat porn" that ever owned.

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Britain Gently Lifts A Pound Of Flesh

 

A catamaran from England avenged her country's defeat in the 1958 America's Cup by politely slaughtering the fastest sailboat in the U.S.

Carleton Mitchell

In a crisp northeast breeze off Sea Cliff, N.Y. last week, two sailboats—one British and one American—took the starter's gun and headed off to windward. Both the boats were new this summer, and neither one had ever raced the other before. In fact, the entire regatta for the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy was being held for the very first time. Yet before the smoke of the gun had drifted off to leeward everyone in the spectator fleet on Long Island Sound had the odd feeling that he had watched this same race somewhere before. Perhaps at Newport, in 1958, in the competition between 12-meter sloops for the America's Cup?

 

As at Newport, a British challenger was meeting an American defender in a best-of-seven match-race series. And just as before, one boat immediately began to knife ahead, pointing high, moving fast, a thing of power, pride and efficiency. Once again, the trailing boat plunged and porpoised, throwing spray, scooping solid water, getting nowhere. For all practical purposes the race was over by the time the boats made their first tack.

 

But one thing was different at Sea Cliff: whereas in 1958 the U.S. boat had overwhelmed the invader, this time it was the British challenger, the 24-foot catamaran Hellcat, that cut cleanly through the seas while the American defender, Wildcat, hobby-horsed astern. Hellcat worked out a lead of approximately a quarter of a mile going into the second weather leg, when Wildcat withdrew after striking submerged driftwood. That afternoon the British skipper, John Fisk, sportingly offered the American boat a day off for repairs. Then, just as sportingly, he defeated it in the second race. The wind blew 16 to 18 knots, with gusts up to 26. And Hellcat surged away from the American boat so fast in the choppy water that the 27-foot powerboat from which I was watching the race could barely stay even with her. Early in the race the wallowing Wildcat again was forced to retire, with one hull awash, the temporary repair unable to stand the strain.

 

This time, under the terms of the regatta, Fisk could have gone home with the trophy. However, he gave the U.S. two free days for more repairs—and then suffered his only defeat, a fluky, inconclusive loss in patchy, dying wind. But on the next two days Hellcat won both races to drive home what she had demonstrated on the first day—that England is almost as far ahead of the U.S. in the design of modern, day-sailing catamarans as she was behind at Newport in the design of 12-meter sloops.

 

Keep it clean

 

The designer of the English cat, 28-year-old Roderick Macalpine-Downie, seems to have succeeded for many of the same reasons that Olin Stephens succeeded with Columbia in 1958. Hellcat is beautiful, clean and functional, a reminder that naval architecture remains an art as well as a science. In this, she is like Columbia; and, in fact, her designer is a great admirer of Olin Stephens. Like Columbia, Hellcat is sharp and fine forward, but full aft. According to her designer, these unbalanced ends prevent her from hobby-horsing, the speed-killing bobble that the fuller-bowed Wildcat suffered whenever the water became choppy. Hellcat employs no gadgets or special gimmicks. Her performance seems to be a matter of perfect proportions and ratio of sail area to hull length. Finally, Macalpine-Downie has no especial preoccupation with weight; Hellcat is 650 pounds, against 514 for Wildcat. In theory, this extra poundage should be fatal in light to moderate winds; but as so often happens with a well-balanced craft, the weight proved no real drawback in light air and was an asset when the wind piped up.

 

With the American boat, on the other hand, there seemed to be an almost fanatical fixation on weight and gadgetry, as though the magic of making a boat move lay wholly in a slide rule. Wildcat's hulls are canted outward 5°. Inside her wing deck she has a series of wheels to raise and lower asymmetrical airfoil-section plastic centerboards, which are themselves toed in 2° from the centerline to provide a theoretical lift to windward. She is, all around, a marvel of invention. And, until Hellcat showed up, she seemed to be something of a marvel in speed—she won nine straight races against all comers to earn the honor of meeting the British boat in the new challenge series. She is, at this time, the best day-sailing catamaran we have. But she is certainly a long way from being the best in her class.

 

Watching the second race, in which Wildcat tried vainly to keep up with the flying Englishmen, Bob Bavier, a member of the committee that picked the defender, summed up Wildcat's problems—and the problem now confronting all U.S. designers. "Wildcat goes faster than any other boat in the country, including the 12-meters," he said. "It is simply that the British have come up with something better."

 

 

Read more:http://sportsillustr...m#ixzz17xwAmaGF

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post-738-051077500 1292202682_thumb.jpg

She is heading for Keil.

Doctor Bunkenburg will be leading the restoration.

SHC

 

Thank you very much Steve, after having bad sleep last night, it´s like an early christmas gift. The best one I ever had! Cannot express it.

 

But you know also, that I will give my best to restore her.

 

I really appreciate all contributions to her history like the great articals above.

 

 

 

Nils

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post-738-051077500 1292202682_thumb.jpg

She is heading for Keil.

Doctor Bunkenburg will be leading the restoration.

SHC

 

Thank you very much Steve, after having bad sleep last night, it´s like an early christmas gift. The best one I ever had! Cannot express it.

 

But you know also, that I will give my best to restore her.

 

I really appreciate all contributions to her history like the great articals above.

 

 

 

Nils

 

That's excellent. Congrats.

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Steve, here are the recent pics of Ocelot that I mentioned

 

 

 

post-40393-007064600 1292104093_thumb.jpeg

 

post-40393-026181200 1292104024_thumb.jpeg

 

 

where is that? and what is happening with it? any sails left etc?

 

Living in Kent, UK. Has a mast but not an appropriate one and no sails. We are currently investigating what is happening with her.

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This picture of the Shark is of Steve Dashew racing in the Nationals in Charleston, SC in 1966, when he came from CA and blew all the rest of us away. I finished fourth and went off to college right afterwards. He went back to CA and built the D-class Beowulf, and probably had a lot more fun than I did! The Shark was a great all-round boat, which gave me years of joy. I have never been able to figure out why more cats didn't emulate the folding design, which made the boat so much easier to trailer and set up.

 

The pictures remind me of the Shark catamaran, another MacAlpine Downey design that my parents raced every summer Sunday in the 60s and early 70s in upstate NY. Their fleet is still active. These aren't my parents, but you get the idea:

 

shark-nationals0001-edit-2.jpg

 

 

 

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Sometimes things just get confusing,

post-738-025939500 1292113225_thumb.jpg

 

 

Steve

 

Congrats for finding a home for one of the breakthrough designs of all time.

 

I'm sure you will find a team to crank up PL IV to it's potential.

 

There is nothing more exciting in sailng than a ride on a C boat.

 

Even a 37 year old wooden boat with a bow tramp and coolers can sail in the 20's all day long.

 

Pl 3 has never lost a race.

 

Best wishes to the Hellcat project.

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Steve, here are the recent pics of Ocelot that I mentioned

 

 

 

post-40393-007064600 1292104093_thumb.jpeg

 

post-40393-026181200 1292104024_thumb.jpeg

 

 

where is that? and what is happening with it? any sails left etc?

 

Living in Kent, UK. Has a mast but not an appropriate one and no sails. We are currently investigating what is happening with her.

 

That's great news, too. I remember seeing those hulls hanging in the Sail Craft shed when I visited Brightlingsea back in 77 ..

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post-738-078142300 1291753017_thumb.jpg

Someone needs to take Hellcat home and restore her.

She is the first C Class Catamaran. She was designed by Rod Macalpine Downey and built by Reg White in 1962.

She defeated Beverly in the 1962 Little America;s Cup 4-1.

She was modified by Roy Bacon in 1964 to a una rig and her beams were moved and replaced. She was also widened from 12' to 13'.

Roy brought her to the US when he moved here to run Chrysler Marine.

When Parkinson's got the better of him, he gave her to me.

She has been sitting here for 10 years, I'm not going to get it done. I need someone who understands what she is and has either the talent to fix her or the checkbook to get someone else to do it.

When complete she will qualify for most "classic" yacht races and will blow the fleet away. Other than that she will be a wonderful big catamaran daysailer. The platform was designed to fold as in this picture, so moving her around is 1/10th the hassle of a bolted beam boat.

There are nio masts or sails to speak of. The rudders, tillers and boards are all here as is a big bin of bits. There are holes in the hull that need to be repaired and I don't make light of the amount of work and money it will take to restore her. But the end product will be wonderful.

Someone needs to step up to the plate.

I don't need to be paid for this. I promised Roy that I would make sure she found a good home if I didn't keep her.

PMs work or we can converse publicly.

I don't have a ton of pictures and gobs of information above and beyond this. There were a number of Hellcats built and sold in the 1960s, but this is the first one.

SHC

Oh yeah, the extra hull in the picture is the splash of Aethon we made to detrmine that the molds were right. Do not be confused!

 

Steve,

 

I remember that boat, still often get it confused with MacAlpine-Downey's Shark (note the hyphen) and recall that race as reported in One-Design magazine and Yachting...sadly, I am too old to take her on, but she is worth every hour and penny and likely still hot enough to best some of today's cats.

 

If not mistaken and alluded too above, that boat was the basis of all his later designs. And, I would hazard a guess that if damaged Shark hull is about, that rig may serve a refit well.

 

Thanks for the memory and the heads-up.

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It´s my pleasure to tell you, that Steve has found relatives of Reg White in Canada, who will take and renovate Hellcat.

 

That is a fantastic solution and I feel very happy for them. It´s just great that this boat survived.

 

Thanks to Steve and best regards

 

Nils

 

who has enough toys in the opinion of my friends like Ole.

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From Bob Fisher, a few hours ago:

The pic of Hellcat is a very early one with John Fisk steering and Rod Macalpine-Downie crewing. It shows the boat at her full, 25-foot, length before Rod ordered a foot to be cut from the stern of each hull.

I met with Steve Clark today in Estoril, at the World Yacht Racing Forum and he told me that a new home has been found for her with John Osborn, the brother-in-law of the builder, Reg White. Reg, Rod, John and Roy Bacon are now full members of the Pearly Gates YC, but I have a feeling that every one of them will be pleased with Hellcat's new home.

Bob

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From Bob Fisher, a few hours ago:

The pic of Hellcat is a very early one with John Fisk steering and Rod Macalpine-Downie crewing. It shows the boat at her full, 25-foot, length before Rod ordered a foot to be cut from the stern of each hull.

I met with Steve Clark today in Estoril, at the World Yacht Racing Forum and he told me that a new home has been found for her with John Osborn, the brother-in-law of the builder, Reg White. Reg, Rod, John and Roy Bacon are now full members of the Pearly Gates YC, but I have a feeling that every one of them will be pleased with Hellcat's new home. Bob

 

Bob should definitely be Knighted, what a source of info.

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post-49186-020174700 1292458165_thumb.jpgpost-49186-001906700 1292457644_thumb.jpgpost-49186-061388300 1292457628_thumb.jpg

 

Here are a few photo's of UK3 taken in 2007, not only showing the boat, but Reg White at the helm. We had a great day back in 2007 when Reg visited Cushendall and relived some of the moments of the early C class history. The boat was built in 1961/62 and purchased direct from the pool at the Earls court boat show. It was very sad to learn of Reg's passing away earlier this year.

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  • 4 weeks later...

From Bob Fisher, a few hours ago:

 

The pic of Hellcat is a very early one with John Fisk steering and Rod Macalpine-Downie crewing. It shows the boat at her full, 25-foot, length before Rod ordered a foot to be cut from the stern of each hull.

I met with Steve Clark today in Estoril, at the World Yacht Racing Forum and he told me that a new home has been found for her with John Osborn, the brother-in-law of the builder, Reg White. Reg, Rod, John and Roy Bacon are now full members of the Pearly Gates YC, but I have a feeling that every one of them will be pleased with Hellcat's new home. Bob

 

Bob should definitely be Knighted, what a source of info.

 

I'm sorry, this is off topic, but I recently bought Roy Bacons' Lotus Elan; I'd be interested to hear if anybody has any recollections of Roy and the little green Lotus.post-49811-032794500 1294864301_thumb.jpg

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