Monday, November 17, 2008

Tillerman's "Guess who's coming to dinner" contest

I've created this blog mainly as a response to another writing assignment from blogger Tillerman. www.propercourse.blogspot.comThere may be other uses for this blog but for right now lets dig into Tillerman's assignment .... who would you invite to a very special dinner/party? For this party you can get to mix the living and the dead, the friends and the strangers.

Tillerman's a dinghy sailor, I am also a dinghy sailor. Where Tillerman immerses himself in the one-design Laser class, I am usually found in some class where people design or build their own equipment, whether it's hulls, sails, blades, etc.

So my dinner party would definitely have an abundance of what the English call "boffins", in this case those who like to experiment with sailboats, preferably small racing dinghies.

Large parties work best and hopefully all guests are voluble, completely free with their opinions and willing to listen. Wives/ girlfriends are always welcome and indeed are essential. Unfortunately, I don't know any female sailing boffins so my guest list is definitely sexist.

You must start with your COF - Circle of Friends, boffins which in this case would be Bill Beaver, John Z, George Saunders, Steve Clark, John Kells, Bob Ames, Bob Blomquist, Paul Miller with some left coast COF boffins such as Erich Chase, Del Olsen, Fran DeFaymoreau (4 Naval Architects in this group and everyone has built, in most cases, multiple racing dinghies). I would also add local acquaintance, Aussie Tony Arends. I'd also invite boffin Bill Boyle but he doesn't seem to do parties very well.

Now onto to the special guests;

Austin Farrar - UK deceased - Austin was the premier designer in the International 14 class in the 1950's, was the first one to put a wing mast on the C-class catamaran "Lady Helmsman" founded the sailmaking firm Seahorse sails and was involved in a myriad of experiments. To use that overused phrase; Austin was always an "out of the box" thinker.

Ben Lexcen - i.e. Bob Miller - Australia deceased - Top designer/sailor in the Australian 18 skiffs. Designed the Contender which won the IYRU singlehanded trials in the early 1960's. Designed the wing keeled Australia II that wrested the America's Cup from the Americans. From everything I read, Ben Lexcen was a larger than life character and you need some of those at a party. Here is a video of Ben Lexcen's 18-footer design, Taipan.

Ian Howlett - UK - designed America's Cup 12 meters, IOR tonners, premier yacht designer. House designer for most of the Topper companies dinghy designs. Final kicker in my book is he races an 11' British Moth. What other big name designer gets his jollies from racing an 11' dinghy?

Bruce Kirby - CAN/US - Top designer in the International 14 in the 1960's and 70's. Designer of the Laser. Designer of the Canadian entry into the America's Cup. Designer of the successful Noank Sharpies shoal draft cruisers. I met him in the early 1980's and came away with the impression of a personable, self effacing fellow with loads of stories to tell.

Tom Shnackenberg - NZ - The boffin in charge of New Zealand's America's Cup dominance. Not sure how forthcoming he would be at a party like this but, if he opened up, the stories he could tell...

Eric Arens - US - Eric is actually in my COF but I rarely get to see him. I crewed for Eric in Int. 14's in the 1970's. Eric still sails Int 14's today as crew - age mid 60's! Eric has been commodore of both Severn Sailing Assoc and Richmond YC, is a senior US sailing judge and loves the give and take with interesting people at a party. He's retired now but was a PHD physicist at NASA Goodard Space Center.

Jeff Linton - US - Jeff is a pro, has won several World Championships, has won US Sailing's sailor of the year award, but also designed, built, and races a Classic Moth. Jeff and his wife, Amy, have a wealth of stories to tell. Jeff is very approachable which is not always a characteristic you find in professional sailors.

Chris Thompson - AUS - Chris has written an unpublished history of dinghy sailing, a superb tome of research and writing. Chris races the original Windsurfer and Lasers. I would need someone to keep Tillerman occupied!

Mystery guest - It's got to be one or two of the Frenchmen involved with the design or building of the Vendee Globe 60 footers. Not sure who? as I don't know the players. Someone with good English as this is a Anglo-centric party. Someone who can bring the wine maybe?? What glorious machines those Vendee Globe 60 footers are and the French need to be recognized for driving these designs to the pinnacle they represent in ocean racing.

Other's on the invite list (but I 'll spare the details);
Jo Richards - UK
Phil Morrison - UK
Paul Bieker - US
Bruce Farr - NZL
Chris Benedict - US deceased.

1 comment:

Tweezerman said...

Day after this post I got a look at the latest issue of Woodenboat magazine and they have an article on Ben Lexcen and Taipan. Talk about a mind meld.