By Ian Farrier
The 1999 Corsair ‘Spring Splash’ at Pensacola, Florida (April 29 to May 1) attracted 54 official entries, with several more Corsair trimarans visiting the area just to observe. This was 64% more boats than when I was last able to attend in 1997 and was the largest ever gathering of Farrier trimaran designs in any event world wide. Perhaps even the largest gathering of trimarans anywhere of any type.
It was once again a pleasure to see so many of my designs gathered together at the same time, and they presented quite an impressive site lined up on the beach. Corsair Marine sponsored the event, and thanks are due once again to Kirk Newkirk and Mark Smith of Key Sailing who hosted the event, provided the committee boats and the use of their excellent facilities on the beach.
Weather was mostly kind with conditions varying from 8 to 25 knots, plenty of sunshine, and warm waters. Onshore events included the usual socializing, a talk by Randy Smyth on sails, Doug Harkrider on race preparation, while I hosted in a question and answer session.
For the racing, the fleet was divided into seven classes, the largest being F-28Rs at 16 boats, closely followed by the F-31s and Formula 27s at 12 and 11 each. F-24s, F-25Cs and a cruiser class made up the balance.
Race One was a passage race in 8 to 10 knot winds, and ideal screacher weather. The start was staggered with four separate starts, all the F-24s away first, then the F-27s, followed by both the F-28s and F-25Cs, and the F-31s last. I was able to hitch a ride on Doug Harkrider’s F-31R and we were one of the first across the line. It was then a close race for the lead among the F-31s of Bob Gleason, Steve Marsh, H. Enloe, and Kip Williams, which lasted all the way to Navarre Beach. Positions swapped many times but Gleason’s F-31RS eventually took the gun in an elapsed time of 01:36:32, 33 seconds ahead of us, and only another 25 seconds to Enloe. On the way we caught and passed most of the earlier starters and only Smyth’s F-25C was faster (starting 5 minutes earlier) with an elapsed time of 01:36:01, or 31 seconds faster.
Fastest amongst the other classes was Lou Young’s F-28R (01:51:44), Tony Townsend’s Formula 27 doing very well (01:50:48), Mike Parson’s F-24 Mk II (01:59:09), and Jim Frederick’s F-24 Mk I (02:03:38).
There was then quite a procession of boats heading in to find room on Navarre Beach, where crews indulged in a very welcome lunch, and swapping tales. This was livened up by a thunder storm passing through, but fortunately it didn’t last long
The return race was again a staggered start with the smaller boats starting first, and the wind starting light but slowly increasing to over 15 knots at times. It was mostly a spinnaker run, and again it was a pitched battle among the F-31Rs, but eventually we slowly pulled away on Harkriders’ F-31R to finish with an elapsed time of 01:11:23, 1 minute ahead of Steve Marsh, with Bob Gleason a further 2 minutes behind. This race demonstrated that flying the jib inside the spinnaker is defintely faster, particularly if it can be hand held to keep it filling and setting just right. Speeds of over 19 knots were reached, in winds that were not all that strong, and even though holding the jib sheet on the leeward net I only got occasional spray. This time, all three leading F-31Rs were faster than Randy’s F-25C (01:15:24).
Quickest amongst the other classes was David Saint’s F-28R (01:24:43), Doran Cushing’s Formula 27 (01:30:28), Mike Parson’s F-24 Mk II (01:39:26), and Jim Frederick’s F-24 Mk I (01:42:48).
Race three was around the buoys in moderate to heavy conditions, with a lot of spectacular sailing, and at times even the occasional main hull was flying. This weather surprisingly suits the smaller F-25C and Randy Smyth was faster than all the F-31s with an elapsed time of 00:51:51. Other class winners and elapsed times were Bob Gleason’s F-31RS (00:53:38), Ron Roth’s F-28R (01:05:51), Dave Lussiers Formula 27 (01:13:26), Mike Parson’s F-24 Mk II (01:15:04), and Jim Fredericks F-24 Mk I (01:18:14 ).
After a barbecue lunch on the beach, the fourth race was also around the buoys in similar conditions. Randy Smyth, again demonstrated how it should be done with an elapsed time of 01:15:19. Doug Harkrider was leading the F-31s when a nut holding the gooseneck eyebolt came loose, detaching the boom for a while. This allowed Bob Gleason through to win by 4 minutes in an elapsed time of 01:18:26. Phil Styne took out the F-28Rs (01:32:01), Tony Townsend the Formula 27s (01:27:12), Mike Parsons the F-24 Mk IIs (01:46:35) and Peter Clay was the fastest F-24 Mk I (02:05:44).
Race Five was scheduled to be a passage race out into the Gulf of Mexico, but a strong wind forecast persuaded the race committee to change the course into a long steeple chase around the bay. All classes started together in what was a spectacular sight, with Randy Smyth’s F-25C getting on the plane early and powering away from everyone to take fastest time of 02:25:14.
This time I crewed on Kip William’s newly delivered F-31 aft cabin, with full interior, but with an F-31RS rig (aluminum rotating mast). Also on board were crew members from Brian Haynes F-28R Carbon Tiger who had travelled the furthest to take part, having flown out from England. Brian himself crewed on Doug Harkrider’s F-31R and was suitably impressed. On Kip Williams F-31 we had a race long fight with Lou Young’s very well sailed F-28R, falling back and catching him several times but never getting it together enough to pass. Yours truly even managed to get a winch overide (well I haven’t raced seriously for a while)…and just when we thought we finally had him too!
One incident was quite spectacular with the F-28 hard spinnaker reaching just in front and getting hit by a large gust. Rounding up, they lifted the main hull until the sheets were let go, costing them some time. It’s actually better and far safer to bear away in such gusts while reaching, where possible, as this maintains more speed and reduces heel (the mast being thrown to windward, rather than leeward).
Doug Harkrider was fastest F-31 this time (02:34:28), Lou Young was the best F-28R (02:44:21) and doing well to finish near the F-31Rs, Dave Lussier took out the Formula 27s (03:13:41), Mike Zotsky the F-24 Mk IIs (03:38:10), and Peter Clay the F-24 Mk Is (03:40:00)
The event concluded with a meal and presentation of trophies at Flounder’s Restaurant on the beach front, where a good time was had by all. The next morning only a few scattered Corsairs parked here and there on their trailers remained, with most well on their way home after what was a very enjoyable event. A few lucky ones were still on the beach and intending to do a little cruising. Next year – perhaps a hundred boats?