Editorial from the Rip (Royal Port NicholsonYacht club (INC) Wellington, NZ, November1999 written by Charles Clark

Stormy1 is a Thompson 650 and our new toy, she is meant to delight and provide fun. Well anyone who is silly enough to believe that when the little boat is struck down by a 40 knot gust which came out of nowhere one sunny Wellington winter’s`day will believe anything. Thank goodness for short memories.

Our introduction to Stormy1 ex Pria Pisim, was on a gentle Auckland harbour in the first race of the Squadron winter series. We started off Westhaven and blasted off on a close reach to North head then out to a buoy off Cheltenham and back burning off all the Young 88s and Ross 930s on the way and rapidly catching the next division of larger boats this was real FUN.

Like Sports Cars Sports Boats are in touch with their surroundings, a sports car has excellent road holding, precise steering, responsive engine, high performance tyres and high technology construction, and a sports boat is the same they excentuate the experience of sailing demanding total concentration to get them to perform their best but oh so rewarding when they do.

The design allows for the boat to transmit more feel and texture both in wind variation, strength and pressure and sea conditions. This allows the crew to react to changes with trim adjustments that will enhance the performance of the boat.

The Thompson 650 is built upside down of 12mm cedar strip with e glass both sides. The hull is then turned right way up and the semi ring frames of foam core are set in place with all the structural members linked into the main bulkhead.

All is then glassed and chainplates and gudgeons are constructed of carbon fibre and epoxy. The keel is framed in stainless steel with a 380 Kg bulb on the bottom that is raised and lowered by a 10:1winch. The rudder is cedar core and e glass.

Prod and mast are carbon fibre very light and stiff. The mast is made up of 3 pieces epoxied together, all rigging is stainless rod with two spreaders and jumpers to keep the mast in place in all weathers so far so good!

We carry a large wardrobe of sails built by Stormy’s previous owner Phil Haughton of Doyle Bouzaid. There are three mainsails. The practise main ex Etchells 22 with a deep reef that allows us to comfortably handle 35 Knots of Wellington wind. When the main is reefed the sailplan transforms into an easily handled masthead rig. The Clear Advantage mainsail has plenty of shape and is used in winds up to 20 knots.

The most impressive sail is the "Cuban" fibre mainsail, built of the same cloth as used in 1993 by the winner of the America’s Cup America Cubed. This sail is as light as a feather and appears to be stretch free, great shape, very powerful and the fastest of the three. Three genoas are used a very light, full and powerful Number 1 made of kevlar mylar laminate. The heavy Number 1 made of Clear Advantage laminate with kevlar reinforcing. The smallest Genoa is a spectra laminate and is used from 22 Knots up.

Three gennakers are used an enormous blue masthead creature, a smaller white masthead and a blue threequarter hoist complete the complement.

We are still learning and feeling our way with sail choice it appears that the Cuban main is faster than the Clear main in all conditions although we are not brave enough to use it unreefed in over 25 Knots. The Genoas are easier to use and fall into three distinct wind ranges, up to 10 knots, 10 to 20 Knots and 20 knots up. Likewise the Gennakers but here the course is more important, with a straight windward leeward we are able to carry the masthead in up to 20 Knots. However we are soon overpowered if we have to come up onto a reach, then its down to the threequarter hoist or just a Genoa.

On an untypical Wellington day of 15 to 20 knots we would find that the T650 is tacking to windward at 38 to 40 degrees to the wind travelling at 5.2 to 5.7 Knots if she is in the slot. There is no problem recognising this, as she will tell you as soon as you get there with an extra 0,5 Knots. Gusts are weathered by luffing and only releasing the traveller if we are truly overpowered. The fine bow sections make her foot to windward very quickly slicing through the waves rather than slamming and stopping, which makes me unpopular with the forward crew.

Once around the windward mark with carbon fibre prod out and gennaker hoisted she rapidly climbs on the plane at 8 knots and accelerates with every gust from there on. Once a downwind pattern is established we watch for the gusts and we time our gybes to keep in the wind pattern, the stronger it blows the deeper we can sail faster and better vmg we can make. This all happens very quickly in the Winter series the committee set us such short courses that we were making the downhill run in under 7 minutes hardly time to draw breath let alone recognise a pattern.

In heavy air the faster we plane and I am talking 14 to 16 Knots and faster the easier Stormy 1 is to steer then it becomes a case of watching the waves and using each one to accelerate the boat. Trim is important and we would have only the gennaker trmmer and skipper on the rail while the other two are in the boat keeping her level.

Gybing is really a piece of cake, two sheets on the clew all you do is release the windward sheet until it is forward of the forestay, at which stage the skipper has the boat headed straight downwind the pull in the new leeward sheet. This is usually handled by two crew one releasing and one trimming on the new sheet. The Genoa is reset on the new gybe.

The take down is accomplished by heading the boat straight downwind and then the gennaker is pulled in to windward, clew first then release tack line and when the foot is controlled the halyard is released. At that stage the boat can be gybed and a true kiwi drop performed sliding the gennaker into its bag down the new weather side of the genoa all ready for the next hoist.

Are we enjoying our sports boat, yes although on a stiff learning curve we have "flashes of brilliance" followed by calamity, caused by our determination to sail the boat in all winds up to 30-35 Knots. However I consider it unwise and definitely not fun sailing sports boats in more wind than that.

At present the biggest challenge is sorting the gear to withstand Wellington’s strong wind conditions. My Monday pilgrimage to Barton Marine and consultation with Mike Calkoen has produced, thicker, stronger, faster gear it will continue until we have sorted Stormy1 completely.

We use the practise main and we reef it, really is more fun that way. We have replaced the ratchet blocks on the genoa with small Anderson winches, especially useful to take the shock loading when the gennaker fills on a new gybe. We have also changed all halyards from 4 to 6mm spectra, changed the mainsheet from 6mm spectra to 8mm polyprop, changed the cam cleats from plastic Ronstan to alloy Harken. Believe it or not this prevents the gennaker halyard slipping through the cleat and dropping under the bow when the boat is travelling in excess of 16 Knots down the bay in a white squall. Practise has shown that it is much more fun to continue at 16 Knots than to round up and drop the crew in the drink.

A new command is to be heard across the water. HOLD ON signals the imminent round up or broach usually caused by some piece of Auckland gear yet again meeting its Wellington nemesis. However the cry will be used less frequently in the future as both the gear and the crew become more experienced.

Speaking of which the boat is quite safe. Stormy1 has positive buoyancy under the cockpit floor, in any breeze we all wear flotation vests and when she wipes out the keel bulb comes to the surface and will not lift out unlike our previous trailer yacht Stormrider, which required a crew to go out onto the centreboard to pop her back up again. And prevent her capsizing. The entry into the cabin is high enough to be clear of the water when she is heeled over with the spreaders in the water. The trick is to stay on the high side analyse the situation and command the crew while keeping dry during these moments of chaos. What do we need for the future?

More sports boats on the water, bring out those old Elliot 6.5s and fit prods to them, recut the sails and get out there and enjoy the fun. Or better still get 4 keen sailors together each borrow or beg $7,000 and buy or build a sports boat. They come on the market at around the $25,000 mark but be quick as they do sell quickly. Designs to note are Elliot 650, & 7m Sports, Thonpson 650, & 750, Dibley 650, Ross 8m.

More suitable facilities to launch the boats a crane in a sheltered corner of the boat harbour or Chaffers with a pontoon, Evans Bay launching ramp is really the pits very exposed no pontoons and far too gradual a slipway with a drop off at low tide. If anything will put me off Sports boating it is the Evans Bay ramp.

Sports Boats have brought me back in touch with the essence of sailing, the exhilaration, concentration, reaction, thrills and fun of sailing a truly high performance yacht at a cost, which is eminently affordable. To experience the same thrills in a 36 footer would cost ten times as much. This is why the sports boats are catching on both here and overseas. Get a Sports boat now and come and have fun

Charles Clark

PS The name Pria Pism had to go and Stormy 1 reminds us of that other radically fast trailer yacht Stormrider that we inherited from Terry Christie.

Editorial courtesy of Boating New Zealand, March 1997 - Written by Sarah Ell

fter turning heads with his 8m trailer yacht Tom Tom Taxi, Auckland structural engineer and yacht designer Steve Thompson has become a self-confessed "two-boat wonder" with the launching of the first Thompson 650

Pria Pism, as the new boat is named, was on her maiden sail when first spotted by Boating, but just weeks later she already has the national trailer yacht title notched on her transom. Thompson prepared the design last winter for joint owner Phil Haughton, better known in yachting circles as Fizzle, a partner in Doyle Bouzaid Sails. Haughton had previously owned a couple of 6.5m Elliott designs.

"It had to be able to do everything light wind, heavy wind, upwind, down wind. For me that means a narrow water line, but the biggest thing then is getting stability. You get that from crew weight and ballast, rather than from hull form. It's a narrow boat, so it doesn't have much hull form anyway." While the boat is narrow on the water line, the topsides flare out into little "wings", to attain maximum trailerable width and get crew weight out as far as possible. As Pria Pism is a certified trailer yacht, hiking is banned, so the acceptable stance is ankles under the straps. bum over the side. Thompson's main focus was on upwind performance - "any small boat will go well downwind" - following on from the success of Tom Tom Taxi in that area. (For those interested, the Taxi was bought by well-known New Zealand yachtsman Chris Bouzaid, now resident in the United States. He has added a carbon rig and new sails, "and is enjoying a second childhood with it," according to Thompson.) Sparmakers C Spar and Doyle Bouzaid also had input at the design stage.

"It is quite innovative to have a carbon rig in a little boat," says Thompson. "The major benefit to the boat is the stiffness of the rig, rather than the weight saving." The 650 is designed for home construction, and is aimed particularly at syndicates of younger sailors, in their mid-20s, with a few practical skills and the desire to go fast and have fun. The material cost to build a Thompson 6.5, including spars and sails, is around $20,000NZD. "Most young guys can get together a bit of money, beg or borrow it. At least they're going sailing." Pria Pism was built by Haughton and co-owners Andrew Turton (Turtle) and Matt Craig, with a little help from their friends. The hull was built in a week last winter, before all three partners went to the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii, then Turton and Craig put on the deck and finished the boat this summer. Thompson says a minimum of boat building skills are required. "As long as you know someone who knows a bit about (boatbuilding), you'll be okay. In a partnership there's usually a boatbuilder and a sailmaker, or some multi-skilled people. "The design itself a compromise based on ease of construction and affordability for young people to build themselves," says Thompson. "While it might be nice to put a bit of round in some panels, most garage floors don't come with round in them, so you end up with flat bulkheads and a flat floor."

The hull is of strip-plank cedar over temporary, computer-cut frames, and fibreglassed inside and out. The internals and bulkhead are made up separately of foam and glass "again on the garage floor", as Thompson puts it, then glassed into place. The only exotic material used is a little bit of carbon fibre at the chain plates (a system engineered by High Modulus), and for the forestay fitting. "There is no stainless steel in the boat at all. Using carbon actually keeps costs down - if you get chainplates made up, they would be $150 each, but a square metre of carbon costs $50, and you probably wouldn't use all of that," says Thompson. ''My theory is that we have lost the art of building our own boats, the John Spencer thing. We should get back into that, and be able to build cheap, simply constructed boats that go fast." A second Thompson 650 is currently being built by sailmaker Rodney Keenan and partners, and another is to be built in Napier. Plans have been sold for a third boat.

First Glance

The first thing which springs to mind when first sighting the Thompson 650 (after the name, that is), is "that looks like fun". When Boating first spotted her, she was tearing up and down harbour under her bright orange fractional gennaker, scaring the Squadron's youth training fleet in their Elliott 5.9s - or per haps inspiring them.

On closer inspection, the Thompson is quite dinghy-like - open cockpit, no winches, light lines. Down below there are two nominal berths, to meet trailer yacht requirements, but otherwise she is a pure racer The rudder is hung from a bar across the transom, which is completely open. On this particular boat, water tends to enter the cockpit when the boat is heeled, but Thomson intends to make a minor alteration to future plans to correct this. "We'll raise the cockpit floor a little bit. The cockpit sill goes out to the bottom of the hull, and I knew it would be problem. It is a good indicator of keeping the boat flat and the weight in the right place, however." Running across the cockpit is the traveller, aft of the block for the 5:1 purchase mainsheet. For'ard of the mainsheet block is an in-floor hatch for the out board motor. Blocks for the gennaker sheets are the only gear on the gunwales, so all crew have a comfortable seating position. The 2:1 jib sheets run to the cabin top with a pair of parallel tracks each side, with the gennaker prod control lines on the edge of the companionway. The main and jib halyards are "downstairs", and the masthead and fractional gennaker halyards run to the back of the mast. The centreboard is raised and lowered with a home-made davit, topped with a trailer winch. A pole with a winch on top fits into one of the holes for the davit when sailing in moderate breezes, for a bit of extra purchase when trimming the gennaker. "We tried very hard to keep it simple and uncluttered," says Thompson. "The idea is to have low loads and light gear."

The boat is simple to sail, light on the helm and responsive to gusts. The ride is fast but relatively dry, the hull flare deflecting spray away from the crew. Joining us for our test sail was round the world yachtsman Ross Field, who has sailed the boat several times at the invitation of Haughton, a sailmaker for Field's 1993-94 Yamaha campaign, and Richard Bouzaid, a Yamaha crewman. "It's very impressive," says Field. "What impressed me most was its upwind performance. Downhill, anyone can put up as much sail as possible and go as fast as they can a lot of lightweight trailer sailers go like dogs upwind, but this one is very quick." Field says once he has finished "swanning around the world" and other racing, he sees himself getting a launch and a small performance boat like the Thompson, "for Wednesday nights, trailer sailer events - even longer races like the Gold Cup events.

"There is definitely a future for this type of boat."

Both the owner and designer are also pleased with the yacht's early showings. Thompson and Haughton are unanimous in agreeing that it has exceeded their expectations, and Haughton is disappointed that due to a change in the partnership (Turton has joined the crew of the American maxi Falcon 2000), he now has to sell his new toy. "So far, it's proven to be extremely good in all conditions," says Thompson. "We haven't had it out in a real blow, hut the only thing that will change is a lumpy sea, and all small boats are going to be affected by that - there's nothing you can do about it. "Her performance uphill in a breeze is very good - she is- not unlike Tom Tom Taxi in that respect." Thompson has several other sports boat projects on the drawing board and further advanced, including the Viper 830, a development of the Tom Tom Taxi, to be built by Viper Marine in the United States and Europe. Thompson will import and distribute the boat here and in Australia and Japan. He is also developing a 7m production boat based on the 650 - "an inexpensive, very basic racing boat, with the same sort of hull form and characteristics, but faster." "There's always a market for a boat that's quick and fun. You can't go wrong."