This article first appeared in Sea Spray Magazine, N.Z.

Although John Spencer saw the original design through to the ever popular Mk 7, which many considered to be the ultimate Cherub, development didn't stop there, but was taken up by numerous designers in Australia where the class achieved immediate popularity Since 1972 Steve Marten and Bruce Farr have continued with new designs, but it is interesting to note that boats to the older Farr mk11 design finished first and second at this year's National championship. This substantiated the comment that designs have reached their limit and any improvement in performance will only come from rig and sails. This was also borne out in the recent Worlds with Amanda Wilmot sailing a new boat to a design conceived by her brother Jamie more than four years ago. The newer designs excel in winds over 10kn because the flatter keel initiates planing earlier and holds the boat there longer than older boats that have 12“ or more rocker in the keel.

The flat keel has been carried to its maximum in the Australian “Hushpower” design, which has only 13/4 in of keel rocker throughout its length. The Farr Mk2 (QSJB) and Bethwaite designs have over 4” of rocker. However over an Olympic course there is nothing in the boat speed of any of the new boats and crews spend their time perfecting the sail trim, which is the main factor contributing to boat speed.

The top three boats at the (New Zealand) 1974 Nationals and the eventual NZ representatives at the worlds all used different rigs: Jezebell had a 13/4 inch Australian Riley mast with double spreaders and mast post; Q.S.J.B had a 13/4 inch Baverstock mast with single spreaders and Hush Puppy had a 2“ Baverstock with single spreaders and no mast post. Although all sported different set ups, boat speeds overall were virtually identical, even in England. This was probably their downfall at the worlds as the Australians had developed a new wooden wing mast which worked very well in moderate conditions, although Mandy Wilmot used a conventional 2” aluminium section with single spreaders. It was her downwind superiority that gave the rest of the fleet no chance in the light conditions.

The mast post was a relatively new feature at the 1972 Worlds and had been prompted by Don Baverstock's new boat of the that time, Black Knight. It appeared to hold the smaller 13/4 inch masts stiffer at the bottom so that the rig was less flexible and held the power in the sails when pounding in the chop. The Australians have never used the mast post idea and it appears to be a matter of personal preference.

The trend is now to flat mainsails, particularly in the bottom third of the sail, as this enables the jib to be sheeted further inboard without the problem of backwinding. All the top boats have specially constructed jib track supports that bring the fairlead into within 15-16 in of the centreline. The narrower sheeting angle has also prompted a movement aft of the draught in the jib. The entry is now finer with the draught in the centre of the jib and not in the front third as in the past. The rig has been copied by all the top boats and the fleets' overall speed around the course has improved by about five minutes. The Australians have been using the set-up for about two years. During the build up to the second (1972) Worlds most skippers followed the trend set by F.D. crews of having fully adjustable controls led back to the skipper with a control panel layout. The trend is now moving back to a simple arrangement which makes for an uncluttered boat. Another reason is that the control tended to distract the skipper's attention; now adjustments are fitted as close as possible to the sails rather than having leads running all over the boat.

Most important feature of the last Worlds contest however was undoubtedly the Australian Bethwaite rotating wing masts which appeared to be a real advance in rig tuning. Their upwind superiority was astounding on occasions and Pfeiffers 'Tachycardia' was pointing 10 degrees higher than any other boat. Only Mandy Wilmot's downwind speed kept her close to the front, as she used a totally conventional mast and rig set-up. These new wing masts are approximately 4-5inches deep and triangular shaped. They are laminated out of spruce balsa wood and cedar. The spruce is the major part, with balsa and cedar added to the front to act as a fairing and also to promote better wind flow without adding to all-up weight. Sails are from Elvstrom's Sydney Loft and are specially made for the masts.

Although they looked a little clumsy with diamonds and an over-rotating bar at the base the combination was superior in winds of up to 15knots. The English were not slow to recognise the potential of the masts and the spares carried by the Australians were bought once the series had finished. The only local boat to get among the top eight was Tony and Jill Hows' Peanuts, a new Forman design the same as several other U.K. competitors. These boats did not appear much faster than those used by the UK representatives in the 1972 Worlds, and it was only superb sailing and a thorough knowledge of their boat that kept Tony and Jill in the top placings to finish fifth overall.

The remainder of the British fleet could no match the speed of the overseas boats, and in fact a good third of their forty boat fleet was not up to international standard. This caused some consternation to the overseas contingent and headaches for the numerous crash boats on the two days that the wind blew 30knots.

Graham Duncalf and Neil Strom (I trust that we had permission to reproduce this in the Class magazine back in 1974, and thus here. If then the writers have my apologies, and I'd be grateful to hear from them to regularise the situation Jim Champ).

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