American C Class History

lohring

Member
124
1
Oregon
I've been digging through some old junk and found some interesting film on the early years of the C class catamarans in the US. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the boats were transitioning from conventional rigs to wing masts. The hulls were often wood or lower tech fiberglass and could be designed and built by talented amateurs. Sealion, designed and built by Dave and Jerry Hubbard, was the first departure with a single sail on a bendy mast, Gamecock, designed by George Patterson and financed by Tony DiMauro, was the first US C with a wing mast. It's design followed his first wing masted cat, Sprinter. Greer Ellis' Yankee Flier improved the wing mast with a thicker, high aspect ratio wing. The ultimate US wing mast boat was Scimitar, designed by Otto Scheer. He and his brother-in-law, Gene Miller built it from cold molded plywood in a basement. If it hadn't been destroyed in an accident when returning from the Yachting One-of-a-Kind regatta, the 1972 challenge with Australia might have had very different results. Adding to the above mix was Meade and Jan Gougeon's "C class" tri, Victor T. It was wider than a cat with a conventional sloop rig. However, its very light formed plywood hulls, described in their book on boat building, made it nearly unbeatable in light air.

The above boats raced together in the 1969 North American Multihull Championships held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/L_BJUlVZSbQ

The old boats were clearly outclassed by Scimitar and the Gougeon brothers established themselves as trimaran designers and premier wood boat builders. Here are some pictures of the boats taken from 8 mm videos.

Victor T Victor T 1969.jpg sailed by the Gougeons

Scimitar Scimitar 1969.jpg sailed by Otto Scheer and Gene Miller

Yankee Flier Yankee Flier 1969.jpg sailed by Greer Ellis?

Gamecock Gamecock 1969.jpg sailed by Lohring Miller

Sealion Sealion 1969.jpg sailed by Bill and daughter Meg Steane

Because the obvious US challenger, Scimitar, had been destroyed, a selection trial was held before the 1972 challenge. The boats were George Patterson's Weathercock, again financed by Tony DiMauro, and Bill Steane's Mountain Lion, the old Sealion hulls with a new, light weight wing mast. Some video of the boats at the race is below.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/32Ru_BK2NZc

Below also are some pictures of the boats. Weathercock won and went on to lose to the Australians.

Weathercock 1972 trials - Weathercock.jpg

Tony DiMauro & George Patterson 1972 trials - Tony DiMauro & George Patterson.jpg

Mountain Lion 1972 trials - Mountain Lion.jpg

Lohring Miller

 
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Catnewbie

Member
388
0
München
Thanks Lohring,

Very interesting, but to be ehaustive, you could have mentionned the Clark family who has been "sponsoring" the C-Cat serie for decades, just like the Medicis family used to sponsor italien artists during the Italian Renaissance.

BTW who is the US sailor of the year 2012 ?

Cheers Mate

W

 

lohring

Member
124
1
Oregon
Van Allen Clark wasn't active during this period. I believe that was because his full wing boat was damaged in a storm around 1968. Below are some pictures I took of the wing in a shed. I believe this was the first full wing C cat.

Lohring Miller

lo res Clark Wing 1.jpg lo res Clark Wing 2.jpg lo res Clark Wing 3.jpg lo res Wing Base.jpg

 
A

Amati

Guest
Stirring up some dust in my brain there! I was trying to find some results for the one of a kind regatta. No luck. How did Scimitar do?

 

lohring

Member
124
1
Oregon
It's been 44 years since the Hamilton regatta so my memories are getting a little fuzzy. The reason I know it will be exactly 44 years on July 19 is that my son was born then, effectively ending both my and my father-in-law, Bill Steane's racing in the regatta. The newspapers thought it was great fun that US citizens would travel all the way to Canada to have a child.

I don't remember who won overall, but Scimitar was the official C class winner. I think the Gougeons' tri was either first or second overall at Hamilton. I believe that the tri won a Yachting One-of-a-Kind Regatta, but I'm not sure. It definitely impressed Yachting magazine. Catamarans were just starting to beat the A scow regularly. Victor T suffered structural failures in heavier air but was strengthened by the Hamilton regatta. I believe Scimitar did win the One-of-a-Kind regatta in 1970. It was hit from behind while parked on a freeway shoulder, destroying the boat but probably saving Otto Scheer and his family. I believe Otto's wife was fairly seriously injured.

Bill Steane was inspired to build a new, light wing mast after Hamilton. The boat was very promising and probably faster than Weathercock. However, a combination of teething issues and inexperience in C cats conspired to cause its defeat in the trials. Weathercock had broken its mast earlier, but was repaired when it became obvious that there was a chance to become the challenger. She had a superior young crew that out sailed Mountain Lion when the wind came up. Bill took Mountain Lion on a west coast tour around 1974 and sailed against Alex Kosloff, the 1976 US challenger, and other catamarans at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club.

George Patterson's boats, Gamecock and Weathercock, were built in a chicken coop at his house. That's the reason for the names. Both boats had thin masts that failed in compression and were more difficult to set for best performance. Tony DiMauro generously gave me the remains of Gamecock in 1968 with the only requirement that I keep the name. I rebuilt the broken mast only to have it fail again. Yankee Flier's thick, tall mast was great in the light air that was common in the summer on Long Island Sound where the trials were usually held. It was overpowered in the heavier wind at the 1968 cup race. Lady Helmsman's wing proved to be a better all around design than either Gamecock's or Yankee Flier's.

Otto Scheer was a hydrodynamic engineer and understood wings better than most of the early C cat designers. The scimitar shape of his rig was based on his analysis as well as his extensive sailing experience. I wish I could find more pictures. He wrote an excellent article on the effect of aspect ratio and the importance of induced drag over profile drag. Tony DiMaro financed Otto's company's water tunnel testing of Patient Lady's first wing mast sections, and the results were published in the same article. Dave Hubbard's mechanism for control combined with these high lift sections started the Patient Lady full wing dynasty. The first full wing Patient Lady used an unstayed mast similar to the above Van Allen Clark wing. The later boats traded aerodynamic perfection for the lighter weight of a stayed rig.

I'll scan my copy and post parts of Otto's article when I get to my home computer. I'll also see what other information and pictures I can find on that era.

Lohring Miller

 

Steve Clark

Super Anarchist
There were several reason's why Dad stopped the C Class program.

One was the big correction of the late 60's which cost him about 50% of his net worth and forced him to reevaluate his venture network. Lots of hours and less money.

Second was the arrival of the Tempest Class, which he raced with my mother for 4 or 5 years, then with me and then with Bruce Dyson and Borne Knowles. This took up most of the yacht racing time until about 1976.

But most critical was the sudden death of his very good friend Court Converse. Court designed the wing and Dad and \Court really liked working together. When Court died, I think Dad's heart broke, the boat was "put away" overhead in a shed at Burr Brothers, and I don't think he ever looked at it again. It was still there when he died in 1983 and we broke up the bits and put it in a dumpster.

We sold the hulls to a local guy who never got it together.

Dad did fund Tony DiMauro's Patient Ladies 3, 4 and 5. I think in large part because he was so fond of Dave Hubbard and the only way Dave's ideas would see the light of day was if someone paid the bill.

I first built some parts for PLV in 1983 and in 1985 built the PLVI platform and started sailing with the Patient Lady Team as alternate helmsman. Unfortunately, PLVI wasn't good enough to beat Lindsey Cunningham's Victoria 150. Tony pretty much blamed the whole thing on me. Instead of being a source of funding like my Dad, I built a shitty boat. The group was exhausted and never really got back together except to bury Lorraine and then Tony.

So in 1993 the C Class in the US was totally done. When Tony died, I was stupid enough to start talking to Duncan about redeeeming ourselves, the humiliation of 1985 didn't sit well, and where more well adjusted people move on, I double down. Cogito was the result, and would most likely have been the very end of the story If Fred hadn't gotten involved.

SHC

 
A

Amati

Guest
Thanks Lohring, blunted, PL3, and Steve and everybody else involved with this stuff. Really. President Kennedy gave us the goal about space travel because it was the hard thing, but if it isn't too invasive a question, why does the C class have such a hold on your imaginations that you would, it would seem, let it impinge on your tranquilities? I must admit, tilting with windmills is one of my favorite things, and it always seems like such a simple, good, obvious idea in the beginning, and it's only when I get to the point that I'm trying to duck the arms that are whizzing by that I begin to ask myself what the hell I'm doing.

Cogito ergo sum? ( hope I got that right)

 

P Flados

Anarchist
664
239
North Carolina
C Class is nothing but inspiring in terms of "man's quest to harness nature" for speed on the water for a two man boat.

Thanks again to all for sharing some of the history.

 

lohring

Member
124
1
Oregon
Steve, thanks for your clarification. I regret that I never met your dad.

I'm still looking through moldy magazines and ancient pictures. The file size limitations make posting a pain, but I'll start with Otto Scherer's article. (Please excuse my spelling of Otto's name in the above posts)

Lohring Miller

page 270.jpg

page 271a.jpg

 
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Doug Lord

Super Anarchist
11,483
20
Cocoa Beach, FL
Thank you very much Lohring! Never dreamed I'd get to see the lines of this great tri. Very interesting to note that the L/B ratio of the main hull is 13/1 and the ama is 12.8/1 !

 

Fat Point Jack

Super Anarchist
2,147
265
Thanks Lohring, blunted, PL3, and Steve and everybody else involved with this stuff. Really. President Kennedy gave us the goal about space travel because it was the hard thing, but if it isn't too invasive a question, why does the C class have such a hold on your imaginations that you would, it would seem, let it impinge on your tranquilities? I must admit, tilting with windmills is one of my favorite things, and it always seems like such a simple, good, obvious idea in the beginning, and it's only when I get to the point that I'm trying to duck the arms that are whizzing by that I begin to ask myself what the hell I'm doing.

Cogito ergo sum? ( hope I got that right)
From Mr. Clark's story in Multihulls Magazine, I remember the line to be, "Cogito Ergo Zoom".

A reprint of that narrative would fit right in here.

 

Steve Clark

Super Anarchist
Cogito is Latin for "I Think."

I would like to believe that "Thinking" is one of my core skills. Certainly I spend an awful lot of my time doing it.

The Cogito: I think therefore I am. is from Rene Descartes's "Discourse on Method" in which the philosopher attempts to construct reality from first principles. Unable to determine if there is any thing beyond his ability to perceive it, he is forced to conclude that the only evidence he has of his own existence is his own cognitive activity. Something that thinks must (to some extent) exist. It goes on from there, and with a few other block busters as well, ends up being the first philosophy that does not require the action of a deity to create the world as we know it.

Descartes was also responsible for a bunch of other pretty cool things that make the modern world so dynamic and attractive. A very cool dude, so not a bad guy to refer to in a boat name.

So the boat has a Latin name that references philosophy. The study of classics and philosophy probably never enhanced anyone's pay. It isn't something you study to get a great job and to get rich. But that does not mean that they are worthless and a waste of time. This pretty much fits with the mindset necessary to design, build and sail C Class Catamarans. It's hard work out of proportion with the size of the boat and the quality of the competition, but that does nothing to diminish the challenge and reward of the activity. You do it because you can. Or maybe because you can't not.

In other news, Doug, those are the panel expansions, not the lines.

Victor T was a really interesting boat, but her performance was very limited to light air and down wind where her relative lack of stability was not a problem. She was far more a monohull with training wheels than a modern trimaran. She could not, for example , ever fly the center hull. Adrenalin suffered from the same limitation. At some point power trumps efficiency, and the super wide french tri's that could fly two hulls simply overpowered this pleasant and slippery concept.

SHC

 
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