NZL 49er Peter Burling/Blair Tuke, blue bibs (for second boat overall) rounding top mark - 2012 49er Worlds, Croatia Nikola Sisko
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter for 13 May 2012
Sad news on Saturday, with the passing of Frank Bethwaite, the genius of high performance sailing science, who was without peer in his field.
While most will think of Frank as being an Australian, he was actually born in New Zealand, being bought up in Wanganui, before flying in World War II, and then joining TEAL (now Air New Zealand) after the war. He moved to Torbay, on Auckland's North Shore and rose to the rank of Captain with TEAL, before being enticed across the Tasman – where he combined his aeronautical experience with his love of sailing.
I first came across Frank back in the mid 70's when I purchased a set of foils from his company Starboard Products. They were superb foils, and you could really feel the difference they made to the boat. They were almost too good to get wet and would not have looked out of place in a trophy cabinet, or wall display.
And, yes, I went back for a second set for my next boat, and was equally pleased.
Our paths crossed again with the development of the 29er when Frank came to Auckland looking for ideas and feedback on what people were looking for in the boat.
We also ran a series of eight articles penned by Frank, in Sailing New Zealand magazine, which updated his standard text, High Performance Sailing, and backgrounded a lot of the thinking that had gone into the development of the 29er.
Frank was 80 years old at that stage – but would have easily passed for someone 15 years younger, and was as sharp as a tack. He is one of those few people in sailing who can digest an incredible amount of data, look at it in a number of ways, co-relate it to the various speed and design factors that make for a fast boat, and then extend his thought process into the next step and stage of the project - all with the aplomb of a hungry teenager working his way through a fridge full of food. It was just a completely natural process to Frank.
He wasn't always right in his assumptions, but that was never an issue for Frank, as changing direction in the light of new information was as easy as changing the gear in a car – that was how he learned and honed his thinking.
Frank was very serious and intense – quite professorial. You got the impression that his mind never stopped spinning. He was always thinking. Always questioning both himself, and what the latest data meant.
The podium at the 2012 49er World Championships - Photo Nikola Sisko Nikola Sisko
Along with many others in the sailing world, we had tremendous respect for Frank and happily got dragged along in his wake. His book High Performance Sailing is the one book that anyone serious about succeeding in sailing should read.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family.
Great news from the Julian Bethwaite designed 49ers, where the New Zealand crew of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have finished second in the 2012 World 49er Championship – repeating their effort from Perth in December 2011.
The most impressive result came from a rookie New Zealand crew of Marcus Hansen and Josh Probeski, competing in their first major regatta in the Olympic Mens Skiff. They finished in sixth pace overall, winning the double points scoring medal race. We have reports from the crews in this edition of Sail-World.com's newsletter.
Another good result from the Star crew of Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner who have placed seventh in the Star Worlds in Hyeres. They won the penultimate race, and have qualified New Zealand in its tenth Olympic event. They didn't sail in the first round of qualifying in Perth, last December.
2012 Champion of Champions - Photo by Suellen Hurling Royal Akarana YC
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