UK-Cherub Class

Get Your Heart Racing


Impresions of the 1974 and 1976 Cherub Worlds from Nicola Bethwaite

Unfortunately … I am not one of those people who has a perfect total recall and can only supply you with impressions, which of course, must be coloured by hindsight…

I was 19 at the time of the Cherub Worlds in Torquay and had been sailing Cherubs for 3 years. I have been very fortunate in my choice of parents and Dad was experimenting with the over-rotating mast concept, which at that time had been in use for several years. At the same time, he was refining his hull designs, and this Cherub was a derivative of a NS14 which my older brother, Mark, had designed. The cherub was known as “the coffin” because of its boxy, square shape. In fact, the sharp chine angle was fundamental to the design, as it encouraged a fast breakaway of water on the hull, reducing drag. The combination of both these design breakthroughs gave us an edge which was almost unbeatable.

Of course, we were beatable! A broken centreboard in one of the early races while we were leading was not helpful, and an innocence and immaturity contributed to a second place in that regatta, which was won by another Australian girl, Amanda Wilmot. I still see Amanda quite frequently, as we both race offshore occasionally.

Fred Babcock was extremely hospitable to the Australian team, accommodating us both before and after the regatta at Chorleywood just outside London. In Torquay, we stayed at Daddyhole Plain in an old hotel which was very rickety but very rustic. We loved it. Couldn't quite get used to not having tonic in our gin, and as for getting a decent rum and coke, impossible! I did understand why the beer isn't chilled though - in a place as cold as that, you don't need to get any cooler!

My win in the Cherub Worlds in Adelaide in 1976 was almost accidental. A number of factors left me without a crew on the eve of the Australian Championships in Adelaide, which preceded the Worlds. By chance, my younger brother, Julian, was available to sail with me and so we took off in the car (a 2 day drive from Sydney to Adelaide) and placed 6th in the Australian Champs. We had no great expectations, and with luck from a fortuitous windshift, found ourselves leading the Worlds with 3 races to go. Sailing with Julian defined for me the meaning of the word “teamwork”. He is a genius at making boats go fast (even then) and I would simply say “I need more height, or more speed” or whatever was required, and he would pull the strings. I was able to concentrate completely on strategy and tactics and the result is history. We are both very proud of that early victory and remember it with great delight.

Technically, in 1976, I was using very similar equipment to that in 1974. I had a new boat “Nix” which I built in mid 1975 and was still using the over-rotating mast with great effect. In the fleet of 60 or so boats in the 1976 Worlds there were only 4 or 5 Cherubs using the over-rotating mast, as it was thought of with a great deal of suspicion and derision, ironic now when I think about it.

Nicola Bethwaite, 1997


history/1974_and_1976_worlds_nicola_bethwaite.txt · Last modified: 2013/06/25 15:55 (external edit)