Improbable

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Super Anarchist
Great stuff Sleddog!  You should have seen the amount of grog we had on board when we left Hobart!  Did you see the 2 schools of Orcas - one each side of the river? Just before the change of course, probably why we didn't see it coming!  And, while the later production GRP version of Tequila was 45', she was only 43' with the transom scoop.  A bloke in Auckland loved Tequila's shape, but wanted to build it in steel.  Paul was embarrassed to work out the scantlings and discover the steel boat would be lighter!

That was a great trip - we had been sailing for 5 days before I realised we had to go around Cape Reianga - I thought we were heading to Manukau!

 

poncho

Member
465
17
So Cal
Improbable!  Great stuff. I was on a bit longer race that had a layover in Sydney when skip asked me to do the southern Cross with them. Great people great fun. Parties at  rsyc  And we did well. I missed the Hobart race as I had a longer race to do. What good times with great sailors.

To whoever was on new world transpac 73,, Phil's wedding was epic! Our socal doctor spent the next morning dosing out penecillin to the Ala Wai swimmers/drunks. We we're on Robon rafted next.

 

sleddog

Member
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298
Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.


Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.

Haji could confirm.  I believe IMPROBABLE still has her original lenticular rigging that we used to tack 47 years ago....



 
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Haji

Super Anarchist
1,337
703
Woolwich, Maine
One of the intermediate lenticular shrouds fell into two pieces at the dock, I think sometime in the 90's.  At which point dad got all new Navtec  (round) rod rigging.  Too bad... that aero bladed stuff was really cool.

 

longy

Overlord of Anarchy
6,501
1,002
San Diego
It was notorious for failing like that - would oscillate in the wind and fatigue crack. Having threaded ends did not help, either.

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
67,056
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Great Wet North
Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.


Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.
I believe that is the current OED definition of "Fanatical"

 

Bob Perry

Super Anarchist
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Holy cow Sleddog! Where the hell did you come up with that memory? I lay the blame for that on OLD ROCKING CHAIR bourbon. I was not a drinker in those days but someone pulled out a bottle of OLD ROCKING CHAIR, the cheapests whiskey he could find at the liquor store, and I decided to give it a try. I trust you will keep quiet about the rest of the shenanigans that went on during that regatta.  Please.

 

12 metre

Super Anarchist
3,855
672
English Bay
Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.


Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.

Haji could confirm.  I believe IMPROBABLE still has her original lenticular rigging that we used to tack 47 years ago....


I believe that is the current OED definition of "Fanatical"
Makes me wonder if the gain would have been more than offset by the time lost due to increased heel, windage, and pitching moment while a body was up the mast.

 
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sleddog

Member
352
298
Exactly - real losses for a theoretical gain.

Not to mention exhausted crew members.
Possibly you've never seen Warwick (Commodore) Tompkins go hand over hand up a rig, even the headstay.  He was up the rigging at age 4, off Cape Stiff, on his father's schooner WANDERBIRD....see it here https://lifeonthewater.us/cape-horn-passage/

Commodore was responsible for much of IMPROBABLE's layout, including specing the cross-connected titanium winches, Sunshine vents, park bench seats, 40 knot speedo, halyard fall boxes...

 IMPROBABLE's red hull, original transom rudder and tiller were homage to Dick Carter's RED ROOSTER, which Commodore and I sailed on in the '69 Admiral's Cup and Fastnet.

Too bad IMPROBABLE came in about 2,000 pounds over G Mull's designed weight.  Even still, surfing down the Windward Passage from Cuba towards Montego Bay was a revelation and we were able to catch and pass the S&S heavy hitters, the '56 footers CHARISMA and YANKEE GIRL.

You are correct, "tacking" the lenticular rigging did not prove advantageous aboard IMPROBABLE..  We were sorry to have to curtail Commodore's enthusiastic mast climbing. :rolleyes:

The red hull with the stars and stripes on the rudder, our Easy Rider crew shirts, pony tails and other California paraphernalia did not endear us to the '71 Admirals Cup selectors.  Even though we were high  point boat for the AC Team selection in the '71 SORC, we missed the first race with the as yet unseen IMPROBABLE being offloaded from a freighter in Baltimore, delayed in her passage from the New Zealand builder by a back log at the Panama Canal. 

It also didn't help one of our crew, Ron Holland, was in the Clearwater jail, having been arrested in a "little misunderstanding" for driving down the wrong side of the street without a drivers license after leaving a bar, his Kiwi accent so incomprehensible to the men in blue that they put him behind bars for an overnight stay for his protection.

Ron kept telling the police  lieutenant, "But I'm here to sail on IMPROBABLE.""

"Sure you are, kid." was the unsympathetic reply.

And that's when IMPROBABLE arrived on the truck, tipped over at 30 degrees and dragging remnants of a phone booth and power lines from a now twisted bow pulpit. The truck driver just so happened to park in front of the City Hall, to ask directions to Courtney Ross'  boatyard.  In his hurry to avoid permits and delay, the driver had taken back roads through South Carolina and Georgia....

And then a stroke of improbable luck occurred.  Ron Holland looked out his cell window, and there was IMPROBABLE parked across the street at City Hall. Ron couldn't believe it.  Next he spotted owner Dave Allen pulling in with his station wagon. Dave had been shadowing the truck all the way from Baltimore.

Ron yelled madly out his cell window for their attention, and Dave quickly bailed Ron out of jail.

We couldn't wait to get sailing and the start of the crucial 370 mile St. Pete-Ft.Lauderdale Race was only hours away.  We got to the start line with only minutes to spare, Commodore again up the mast installing the leeward lenticulars, Tom Wylie refitting the ripped off bow pulpit, and navigator Chan Chrisman trying to figure out how to miss the Tampa Bay shoals if we couldn't tack before Commodore was finished installing the port side rigging from England, which had different threading from the turnbuckles.

The legend of the bright red boat with the "hippie crew" was born: bandanas, beards, tie-dyed American flag shirts and freak flags a' flyin'. In the 70 boat fleet, there was no one else out there quite like it.

The East Coast Admiral's Cup selectors by-passed us for an all East Coast team of BAY BEA, CARINA, and YANKEE GIRL, likely a reaction to our long haired crew and the bold American flag painted on the huge stern rudder.

But we were going to England, team or no team.  We didn't have to brainstorm for long.  Good friend George Kiskaddon, of SPIRIT and NEW WORLD fame, was immediately successful at recruiting the King of Tonga to appoint IMPROBABLE as a one-boat "Tonga Team."

Again we were rejected, this time by the Royal Yacht Squadron, who curtly announced the Kingdom of Tonga did not have an official yacht club.

Ron Holland, then age 24, had a brain storm. With the help of his father , Ron quickly became a member of the Royal New Zealand YC.  Ron then "bought" IMPROBABLE for a dollar, the RYS accepted the last minute entry, and with Ron listed as skipper, we were in business, a one boat New Zealand Admiral's Cup team with 5 Yanks and one Kiwi aboard the Red Rocket.

 
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socalrider

Super Anarchist
1,346
697
San Diego CA
Nice Gibson Jumbo!  J-200?

This thread is fantastic - thanks sleddog and others for sharing.  Very enjoyable to listen in; I was born in ‘75 so missed out on these halcyon days. 

 

Left Shift

Super Anarchist
10,532
3,267
Seattle
Improbable!  Great stuff. I was on a bit longer race that had a layover in Sydney when skip asked me to do the southern Cross with them. Great people great fun. Parties at  rsyc  And we did well. I missed the Hobart race as I had a longer race to do. What good times with great sailors.

To whoever was on new world transpac 73,, Phil's wedding was epic! Our socal doctor spent the next morning dosing out penecillin to the Ala Wai swimmers/drunks. We we're on Robon rafted next.
That wedding was indeed epic.  IIRC, Phil had managed to create quite a close friendship with the HYC's commodore's daughter (Not, of course, referring to Commodore Tompkins), and after having spent the night in the fore peak of New World, convinced George (who was highly amused) that they wanted to get married that afternoon on the bow of New World.  George found a justice of the peace who was very dubious but George was convincing, so there we all stood in our lava-lavas and leis and rum drinks - about 10-15 of us -  and Phil got married in a quite dignified, slightly hilarious ceremony. The JP kept on looking around as if he wanted either in on the joke or out of the deal.   And Phil got his green card - which was the whole point. 

The HYC commodore was a little "non-plussed" when he heard about it after the fact.  Not sure how long that marriage lasted. I heard several years.  

I have a picture of that wedding somewhere.  Holy cow we were young.

 
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