Improbable

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.
dude..... you and poncho need to get together and write some damn books. Non-fiction, fiction,whatever. fuck it, just write it,. 

Haji, sorry for your loss man. 

 
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poncho

Member
465
17
So Cal
dude..... you and poncho need to get together and write some damn books. Non-fiction, fiction,whatever. fuck it, just write it,. 

Haji, sorry for your loss man. 
Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!

 

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!


The Weekend Sailor was great!!  Thanks for making it happen!

 

jeff carver

Super Anarchist
1,257
5
river city
Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!
I bought when sailing was fun a few or so years back. Passed it on to many friends i sailed with back in those days and it brought back great memories and laughs for all of us. Now i loan it to newer sailors and they think it's all BS. 

 

poncho

Member
465
17
So Cal
Bill Barton's labor of love, The Legend of iMP, has several chapters on IMPROBABLE, her conception, adventures, owner and crew. As poncho remembers, we were in Sydney with IMPROBABLE when SAYULA pulled into port, battered and bruised.

https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Imp-Magical-Rocked-Sailing/dp/0615355315
Battered and bruised we were! But happy to be alive. I was honored to be invited by sled and bone to sail with them and the improbable group. I was just a kid of 23 in the company of greats, and after sail repairs, sailing some more  this was a pinnacle. 

 
I was sailing on a Tripp designed Mercer 44 from St. Petersburg when Improbable came to town for the SORC.  We rated about the same, and I remember Improbable just sailing away.  That was my first experience with what being out-designed meant.

 

Haji

Super Anarchist
1,341
717
Woolwich, Maine
Heading to the NW again to visit Improbable and continue cleaning & prep for sailing.  Will be in the Birch Bay (Blaine) & Bellingham area July 3-10 if anyone wants to connect and see the boat.

 

captain_crunch

Anarchist
673
270
Smithfield, VA
The photo is from "The Sailor's World" by Arthur Beiser.  The photo is probably by Stanley Rosenfeld.  The caption is:  New IOR rating rule encourages closely similar racing boats with sloop rigs and fin keels.  Result is fine performance with strong crews in deep water, as Improbable shows, but most boats built to rule are less suitable for cruising than formerly.  Who benefits from situation is mystery to many yachtsmen.

improbable_640wide.jpg

 

Haji

Super Anarchist
1,341
717
Woolwich, Maine
The photo is from "The Sailor's World" by Arthur Beiser.  The photo is probably by Stanley Rosenfeld.  The caption is:  New IOR rating rule encourages closely similar racing boats with sloop rigs and fin keels.  Result is fine performance with strong crews in deep water, as Improbable shows, but most boats built to rule are less suitable for cruising than formerly.  Who benefits from situation is mystery to many yachtsmen.

View attachment 274184
Drooling....

 

Haji

Super Anarchist
1,341
717
Woolwich, Maine
Earlier today had a great long phone talk with Commodore (Warwick) Tompkins, about the creation of Improbable and all the characters involved.  Great stuff.  Still processing it all...

 
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