Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Opening Day ceremony today will mark the public unveiling of one of the most exciting new projects in the yachting community of Western Australia and Australia in recent decades.
BW8 afloat at the Royal Perth YC
For two years a dedicated group, representing five of WA’s major yacht clubs and Yachting WA, has been working on the design and construction of a new modern keelboat to meet a broad range of challenges that the sport and those organisations face in the future.
The result has been the selection of a new design, a Bakewell-White 8 metre yacht, to become a common club keelboat amongst the major WA clubs, and to be the platform on which a range of regatta and interclub racing, and sailing development and training activities, will occur at those clubs.
Today will see the unveiling of number one of six Bakewell-White 8 yachts presently under construction for delivery to RPYC. This will be the first public showing of the yacht – made appropriately to the many sailors and visitors who will attend the RPYC 2006 season start.
The origins of the project go back to 2004. The then Commodores of Royal Perth, Royal Freshwater Bay and South of Perth Yacht Club’s recognised the increased benefits that a fleet of identical keel yachts across the clubs would have for the sport and that this would far outweigh the situation if each club chose a different design as they replaced existing club owned yachts.
An obvious parallel existed in the ever popular arena of teams racing and dinghy training around Australia where the Pacer dinghy has become the universally adopted boat, and where fleets of these are now owned by many yacht clubs across the country.
The three original clubs invited Fremantle Sailing Club and East Fremantle Yacht Club to join the project, and invited Yachting WA to facilitate the process under a joint Memorandum of Understanding.
With two nominated representatives from each club, an 8 month process was undertaken which, instead of trying to select a suitable yacht, took the initiative of focusing on coming up with a common brief which described and prioritised the type of usage and purposes which the vessel had to suit and meet, and from which the market place could hopefully provide the solution. This was done from the Club perspective but also with an eye on an anticipated private market need for something new.
The requirements included being suitable for youth, women and open events, being configured to accommodate novices and experienced sailors; to be able to be used for the whole range of training and development programs; to suit interclub racing, match racing, fleet racing and teams racing; to be capable of attracting national and international regattas; to be a modern design which is stable in performance and able to handle a wide range of wind conditions; and to be easy to maintain with simple and effective control systems.
The five clubs conservatively identified a joint requirement over the next few years of 20 plus boats to replace existing club owned keelboats and to meet their growing demands.
An Expression of Interest was distributed to a wide list of highly regarded designers, naval architects and boat builders around the world, and to class associations and kindred yachting organisations. Many responses saw a range of ideas in design put forward to meet the criteria laid down. The selection of a preferred option saw a lengthy and professional approach, and the announcement of the Bakewell-White 8 did not occur until later in 2005.
Today marks the next significant milestone in the BW8 Project with the launch of the first production yacht.
It is a hallmark day for the major WA clubs, the designer, the builder and the successful suppliers to the project. The reception the boat has received from outside WA is growing, with interest from east coast club’s, and from New Zealand and Asia
ONE BOAT - ONE DESIGN
The project leaders took the bold step of agreeing to produce a keelboat that would be controlled as a tight one-design keelboat. The success of other one design classes was analysed with an eye on amalgamating the best methods to ensure absolutely identical performance from each and every yacht produced.
As part of achieving this, exclusive licenses with the builder and sailmaker have been agreed.
These, together with computer cut material packages for construction layup, precise mast section engineering specifications, a rigid set of class rules, limits on permitted fittings and fixing points, defined rope and rigging sizes, one design sails incorporating fixed computer design, fixed dacron cloth weights and quality standards, and detailed measurement certification, are but some of the major features of the one design controls being implemented for the BW8 class.
The original clubs in the project have agreed to form the Bakewell-White 8 Class Association for all prospective owners, and will take the role of the founding members and guardians of the class rules and of any future design modification.
An acknowledgement of those who contributed goes to John Anderson, Mark Fitzhardinge, Peter Backshall, Denys Pearce, Chris Jones, Jodie Earnshaw, Peter Burtenshaw, Sellwyn Castles, Greg Omay, Nobby Clark, Vern Tidy, Stuart Walton, Peter Gibbs, Tony Carter, Guy Skinner and the Project Chair and Coordinator, Rupert Leslie.
ROYAL PERTH's SAILING PATHWAY
Royal Perth Yacht Club is a dynamic progressive club dedicated to the enjoyment of sailing, producing champions, staging world-class events and ensuring that the sport of sailing is accessible to everyone. It has long recognised the need to provide facilities and programs that encourage the community into the sport of sailing whereby neither age, ability or boat ownership come into play; a simple willingness to give it a go is enough.
Their sail training program is extensive, offering youth and adults the opportunity to gain basic or comprehensive skills in either dinghies or keelboats. A range of courses provide the skills and safety knowledge to enjoy the sailing experience. The Keelboat course (for 16 years and over) offer the additional incentive of one of RPYC’s famous Twilight Cruises on the Swan, where the hardest role to play is arranging the dip platter and opening the drinks.
RPYC’s commitment to the sport has seen the development of pathways for young people which is affordable, flexible to meet varying needs, and which can lead into elite programs and the opportunity to compete at national and international levels.
The pathway begins with the introductory Optimist or Pacer dinghy. The Optimist class is currently the fastest growing class in Australia with 150,000 Optimists sailed in over 110 countries. It is a single handed boat suitable for a seven year old to easily sail in light wind or a fourteen year old to gain substantial racing experience. The Pacer is an all purpose two handed training boat ideal for both children and adults and is one of the most common training boat on the Swan River.
The next step in their pathway provides several options. The first is continuing as a single sailor in YA preferred fleets such as the Lasers, and the second to pursue the doubled handed classes such as the 420’s and 470’s. A third option, which can compliment normal dinghy racing and one which RPYC strongly supports, is that of teams racing and match racing.
Match racing is an exciting and easy-to-follow race between two identical keelboats. It is a short but gruelling race format that sees a complex ‘one on one’ battle of tactics and strategy with on-water umpires. Teams’ racing is also short and sharp with two teams of 3 boats each. Superior boat handling, tactics and rules knowledge are put to the test. Speed is not always the goal, boats will often slow right down to try and block an opponent a