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Romantic notions

by John Curnow, Global Editor, 11 Aug 2021 22:50 UTC
A Cutter's Breeze, Tally Ho, Fastnet Race 1927 (Outward bound) - oil on canvas 76 x 102 cms 30 x 40 ins © Martyn Mackrill

It almost doesn't matter what boat it is. Brush strokes, textures, changes in light, fine details, spray, and wind all combine to transport you. Passport out, stamp on page, I'm off kind of thing. It's just a bit of weather... Where's your spirit of adventure? Your joie de vivre? C'mon, it'll be fun! Hhmmmm.

A painting, especially oil on canvas, can do that. All to easily for most, it would seem. And then by way of juxtaposition, a humble pic can demonstrate the postcard version of going for a yacht so explicitly. Sure, the better the glass out the front, and the body behind it, along with some talent for the soul with their eye up to the viewfinder, and it all increases somewhat exponentially, but the contrast between the two is about as dichotomous as the very subject matter they are depicting.

Step forward to today, well just the other one actually, and a shot from the start of the 2021 Fastnet leaves you with the pursed lips, and the words, 'That's a bit unpleasant!' As soon as you've expressed that thought out loud you go more to a teeth exposed grimace, as you breath in once more, and then sound resembles the dentist's suction pipe as you sit in the chair holding a conversation you are still amazed anyone could work out what you just said.

Now all of that stemmed from Katie Newman, the MD of Messum's, sending me a note and images of the Martyn Mackrill original paintings that you see here. "Mackrill is the Honorary Painter to the Royal Thames Yacht Club and has had many successful exhibitions at our London galleries. Amongst a selection of new paintings by Martyn on show at Messum's St. James's during August, are these two monumental works that depict the infamous 1927 Fastnet Race when only two of the fifteen yachts completed the race - Tally Ho and La Galeta", said Newman.

This was only two years after the inaugural race, and on August 8, 2021, the 49th iteration got under way into a stiff Sou'wester, accompanied by an ebbing tide, to afford the 337 strong fleet a most joyous welcome for their trek to the rock.

So at the conclusion of Cowes Week these two images depict the 1927 race that took six days to complete in near storm conditions.

It was easy to get entranced when you read, "At the time, this contest between Tally Ho and La Goleta was characterised as the hardest fight between two yachts that had ever been sailed in English waters over so long a course, and under such heavy weather conditions", said Alf Loomis, crew of La Goleta from 1927.

As you could imagine, blown sails and broken spars featured a lot, but the English Cutter, Tally-Ho, and the American Schooner, La Goleta, battled it out all the way there, and back, with wind, rain and huge seas their constant companions. Only 42 minutes separated them at the end; to the Albert Strange penned English vessel's favour.

There are five Mackrill paintings on display at Messum's St. James's, which means not everyone will be able to get to it in the current climate, but if the romance of it all takes you by the collar, then it would seem to be very much worthwhile a trip to the English capital.

It would also seem Mackrill was destined to be as famous as he is, for he hails from and still resides on the Isle of Wight. He's the son of an engineer in the Merchant Navy, and a grandson of the owner of a fleet of trawlers. Drawing and painting his surroundings came as a natural extension to this way of life.

Where's the cruising?

Well you're right. The Fastnet is a race, and always has been. It's just that old wooden classics do get placed into the cruising category ever so easily. It's not that their days are over, it's just that carbon whizz-bangs go so quickly, and the chasm between them and wooden vessels is about as vast as the one we described earlier between paint and pixels.

Of course, older vessels have had many custodians already, and will continue to flourish as long as the love continues to be anointed upon them. The jury is well and truly out as to whether the plastic fantastics will entice souls to lavish care and attention over them in the same way when they become grand old dames. Provided of course they have no pounded themselves to death in the meantime.

Now Cruising boats do go in the race. Yes, they may well be at the high performance end of the spectrum, such as the Nigel Irens penned Allegra you see here, but they have fridges, real bunks, TVs, gensets, power sockets, showers, these marvellous soft things called cushions, and even paint down below, so you don't have to turn on your miners light in the pitch black, so as to be sure you're not treading on sails or humans. Fantastic stuff...

Also, let's never forget that the two are not mutually exclusive. Pause for a moment and think. Lazy jacks and furlers are now on racers. Prodders and Code Zeros are a cruisers best friend, especially when they have opted for in-mast furling and a self-tacking jib.

Begin a romance

Bavaria C38 might be one to do it for you. This is the latest of the Cossutti penned cruisers from Bavaria, and shares the chines and V bow of her earlier sisters. The last one we were on was the C45.

Maurizio Cossutti himself explains, "Chines increase stability while sailing at a heeling angle of between 15 and 20 degrees. When designing the bottom of the hull, the dynamic effect of the chines can also be used to provide faster water drainage from the hull. Modern sailboats often have a very wide stern and therefore a lot of volume in the rear of the hull. When the sailboat gets more wind and the heel increases, the hull gets out of balance. The stern comes further out of the water and the bow is pushed further into the water. As a result the pressure on the rudder increases. A V-Bow with more volume compensates this effect and the boat is easier to steer."

Sometimes this is referred to as the corkscrew effect, and simply means the tail wags the dog, or the stern steers the bow, and you'll be fighting with the helm.

The volume is used to effect below, with the extra volume up for'ard not only aiding buoyancy and drive, but also allowing for a 1.73x2m bed in the Master Stateroom. Equally, carrying a lot of beam out aft means the cabins there can go even further back (and include 1.5mx2m beds), also affording even more room for galley and saloon, in addition to the optional extra head. Being deck-stepped means there is no mast swallowing up space down below, just a supporting column.

We're going to see the new C38 as soon as is possible, as there is now one in New South Wales, but for now we do know that she is all about volume, headroom and power to weight. Equally she can be a competent coastal cruiser, short-handed passage maker, or handy social racer, available in either a two or three cabin and single or twin head configuration.

She comes in at just over 9 tonnes, but sports a 46m2 main, 30m2 self-tacking jib, 35m2 109% genoa, 70m2 Code Zero, and a 130m2 gennaker for getting a wiggle on when the breeze builds and gets around towards the beam and even further aft. Your sailmaker might even be able to make you a great A2 to round it all out. Wooohoooo... A 2.05m draft from on a 2205 kilo L-Shaped iron keel, and a 3.98m beam means she should be plenty stiff enough to cope with it all.

If the Bavaria C38 sounds like it might be your next affair, then contact Ensign Yachts now, and get sailing. Managing Director, Sean Rush says, "Starting from AUD340,000 sail away for a 38' yacht with the volume of a 45 footer, this latest offering is one of the best models Bavaria has produced in terms of value!"

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please use the search window at the top of the home page if you are after something specific, as only the latest news appears on the site as you scroll down. We enjoy bringing you the best stories from all over the globe.

If you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the Sail-WorldCruising home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

Finally, stay safe, and ready for all that 2021 will offer.

John Curnow
Global Editor,

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