Please select your home edition
Edition
Ancasta Ker 33 728x90

The American Tea Cup Regatta - where it all began

by Rob Kothe on 13 Jan 2011
Start - Laser Worlds 2010, Hayling Island, UK © Richard Langdon http://www.oceanimages.co.uk
As sailing tries to broaden its base, the most desirable Olympic boats for the new and developing sailing nations are the single person boats, one-designs which are relatively inexpensive to build, the Laser and the windsurfer.

Almost 200,000 Lasers have now been built.

The boat's history began in 1969 when Canadian yachting journalist and boat designer Bruce Kirby was commissioned to design a dinghy small enough to be carried on a car roof rack. The design was for a camping equipment supplier, however that original design was never taken up.

The plans remained in Kirby's file until the following year when One Design and Offshore Yachtsman magazine, of which Kirby was the Editor, held a regatta for boats under $1000 at the Playboy Club at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. It was called 'The America's Teacup Regatta'.

The first prototype, weighing in at 109 pounds, was named the 'Weekender' with sail number TGIF, the abbreviation for 'Thank God It's Friday'. (That was Hans Fogh's idea - he was another Canadian Finn sailor and the sailmaker and the first sailor to helm the dinghy.)

This week Kirby described the early days of the Laser.

‘There were two boats of note at the Teacup Regatta, one was the Weekender and the other one was the Windsurfer.

‘The Weekender was brand new, on that weekend. It had never been in the water before - literally, it had never been launched. In fact the hull and the masts arrived separately – but the windsurfer had been around for about three years.

‘The kid who sailed the windsurfer in the America’s Teacup Regatta was Matt Schweitzer, the 14 year old son of the inventor of the windsurfer Hoyle Schweitzer, who filed for a patent on the windsurfer in 1968.

‘It was really funny because young Matt had to a 720 in one race and of course he just spun the board with his feet and kept on going. It was the darndest thing. The middle of the boat never moved, just the ends of it spun around twice and he just kept on going.

'‘Our prototype boat in that America’s Teacup Regatta weighed only 109 pounds, it was 25 pounds under what turned out to be the proper weight. Hans explained that it had too much weather helm and so the builder Ian Bruce, built a second boat with a mast slot, so the mast could be moved back and forth while we played with the helm on the boat.

'In November of 1970 at the Royal St Lawrence Yacht Club, Ian asked a science student at McGill University ‘have you got any ideas for a name? We’ve got this boat ready to be produced and we don’t have a name for it yet.’

'Weekender was the only name we had and none of us really thought that was the right name.

'This young lad said ‘why don't you call it something scientific the young people will identify with?’

'And Ian said ‘do you mean something like Laser?’ And the kid said ‘yeah, that would be a great name.'

'Ian yelled down the table at me ‘how about Laser?’ And I said ‘that sounds pretty good.'

'And so it was the Laser...

'The first legal boat that weighed what we decided was within the range had the mast and everything in the right place, was built in December 1970, my boat was the boat from which all other Lasers has been copied. I sailed it for 18 years.

'We put a 100 on the sail, because of the two prototypes that had gone before. I eventually changed that to a zero because it didn’t make any sense to have a 100 on the sail and the builder had forgotten to put a number on the hull, which you have to do.

‘The number on a Laser used to be underneath the bow - the bow-eye on the old Lasers, the number used to be under that. Later the number had to be put on the transom, I think the US Coast Guard specified that.

'We sold 141 Lasers at the New York Boat Show in 1971 and on she took off from there.'

They certainly did take off and by the time of the Australian launch, one of the images used in the campaign was hull 6222 and one of the first boats sailed in Australia was 8000.



Kirby continues.

'In 1989 the Mystic Seaport regatta (at Mystic Connecticut) asked could they exhibit it (my boat) and its been there ever since.

'Mystic is a magnificent museum but it is nearly all old stuff – timber boats.

‘And among the exhibits is my good old Laser Zero. I think it was the first fiberglass boat in the museum.

'It was hand laid up and it was very nicely built, very stiff. It held its stiffness and quality for years and years. It was sailed hard - a lot. I think it is probably still a good boat. It started off Tangerine Yellow, but the sun took its toll and in its last few regattas the colour was listed as awful orange.'

Kirby concluded by saying ‘And now we are ticking to Laser number 200,000. But that is another story……’




Footnote: 81 year old Bruce Kirby is still an active sailor, although he no longer sails Lasers. He is off to his third Sonar World Championships in Scotland in 2011.


[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]

Zhik Dinghy 660x82Helm Events 660x82Barz Optics - Kids range

Related Articles

America's Cup - Kiwi lodges Appeal against Jury in San Francisco Cup
Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case taken against the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. On October 28, 2016, US District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed Mitchell's claim against the five-person International Jury on the basis that it was lodged too late.
Posted on 2 Dec
A Q&A with Nick Bice about the recent changes for the 2017/2018 VOR
I caught up with Nick Bice, the VOR’s director of boats and maintenance, to learn more about the VOR’s new directions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s director of boats and maintenance, deliver a keynote speech to an audience of marine-industry professionals and official Volvo Ocean Race suppliers at the 2016 METS trade show in Amsterdam. I caught up with Bice after his presentation to learn more about the new directions that the race is taking for its thirteenth edition.
Posted on 28 Nov
A Q&A with Sharon Green about the prep work that ensures great images
I talked with ace photographer Sharon Green to learn more about the prep work that goes into each image that she snaps. I caught up with ace photographer Sharon Green at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn more about the behind-the-scenes preparation work that goes into each image that she snaps. While some of Green’s tips are specific to professional shooters (e.g., helicopter time or juggling multiple camera bodies), plenty of amateur lensmen will be well served to consider Green’s racecourse-proven tips.
Posted on 23 Nov
Dockside with CQS - radical, revamped supermaxi up close
The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday - the White Island Race which will double as Rolex Sydney Hobart Qualifier. Originally the 90ft Nicorette designed by South African Alex Simonis, the new project to upgrade to a 100ft supermaxi has been led by Brett Bakewell-White (NZ) and Bakewell-White Yacht Design.
Posted on 22 Nov
Gladwell's Line - President Croce caught at helm in Perfect Storm
No real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way an eight-year term After a year or more punctuated with issues that should not have happened, it is no real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way through what should have been an eight-year term. Also gone is one of his lieutenants, Chris Atkins (GBR) as Vice President, who remarkably polled 13th out of the 15 candidates.
Posted on 15 Nov
Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep