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The Juxtaposition

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 4 Oct 2020 14:00 PDT
The Yamaha 9 sailing dinghy - do you know something about it? Anything? © Christian

When the images of the dinghy you see here arrived, I had just been watching the Australian Sailing Team training aboard their Nacra 17 foiling cats. Here were two boats about as far apart as you can get. Very quickly it reminded me of the diversity inside of sailing, and a lot of that is brought on by the diversity of craft we use. From gaff rigged wooden gem to foiling kiteboard, IMOCA 60 to F50, dinghy to keelboat, it's pretty far and certainly really wide.

The next thought process to envelope me was how much the orange dinghy reminded me of something from The Jetsons, with perhaps more than passing resemblance to an amusement park ride, such as the teacups from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, or similar. The colour, and then all those radii, along with the contrasting non-skid placed it squarely in the early 70s.

It's funny, because a Porsche 911 2.4S from that era in orange with pascha trim commands a huge premium now, yet by the late 80s and into the 90s you could not give them away, and many were swapped out for the far less in-your-face Berber, or the ubiquitous pinstripe. It's a shame, because the really cool ones were like tartan, as interpreted by someone on acid.

At any rate, after all of that had crashed through my head, like some weird, ethereal pinball game, I was blown away by the exemplary condition of the vessel in question. Christian is our sailor with the question, and he wrote to me, "Hello John. I just bought a Yamaha Sailing Dinghy. From what I've been able to find online is that it (could) have been built in 1972? It is a Yamaha. 8ft 10in. X 4ft 7in. I have never seen one like it."

"I have 45 years + of sailing globally, but this little one is new to me. I now live in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Finally moved ashore, and have a house by a lake. So if you or anyone knows anything about this little guy, then I would greatly appreciate it!"

Yes. Think about it. Back then Honda had just made the Z, and were about to get into the first Civic, and Mazda were trying to make the Wankel work. At that time Yamaha were known for their brilliant castings (Toyota still use them to this day), and the first of the steel tube, inline four cylinder, four stroke (heavy) beasts that were to be the forebears of today's superbikes. Even outboards were not on the menu then, so just how do we get a sailing dinghy from a household brand of such global might?

By now the only thing I could say was 'incredibly intrigued'. So going back to Christian for more information he said, "Well I came to find this 'unknown by all' sailing dinghy on Facebook. It was lying next to a shed in amongst some farm equipment, high in the hills above Lake Okanagan. The person who I bought it from knew nothing about it."

"Even my very good friend, who is from Japan and is about half way around the world now on his 32' gaff rig ketch, has never seen one. His name is Toimo Ikegawa, and he's one of Japan's great sailors. Still no luck... So just how this 'Yamaha 9' (as it says on the plaque) got up in the hills, on a farm in BC, well I have no idea."

Christian's own story is also quite the tale. "I'm just one of those guys who got hooked at a young age on travelling and sailing, simultaneously. I'm originally from San Francisco, and spent four years in the US Coast Guard (1966 to 1970). In June of '70, I jumped on a 110-year-old Baltic Trader from Sweden lying in San Francisco Bay, and sailed off to Hawaii. Never looked back for the next 45 years."

"In short, Coast Guard ships, and cargo ships into the South Pacific. The usual run, West Coast USA, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, and New Zealand. There were also some deliveries from Hawaii back to the States, 15 seasons in the Caribbean, Atlantic crossings, 14 years in the Mediterranean based in the South of France, and now I'm here in British Columbia at the age of 74, with a boat that nobody knows. Perfect!"

Christian concluded by saying, "I love the radius on the inner hull that allows you to sit anywhere comfortably. It would be great to find out what sail plan it had. I've been searching for days, even wrote to Yamaha Marine Division - nothing."

Talking with our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, during the week, we also wondered if you wanted to send in photos and details of other unknown vessels or designs? So if you know anything about Christian's Yamaha 9, especially that sail plan, or have your own unique vessel to put to the world, then please let us know.

Now Mark definitely has personified the diversity in sailing of late. In the last couple of weeks he's been on the Scow, the XOD (a classic Solent One Design) with his father and brother, the RS Feva with his children, his windsurfer, and also on a Swan he sails on with friends at his local club. He's even been out photographing the UK Moth Championship, and the regional Youth Sailing Championships.

Yet it may well have been the WASZP that stood out the most when he set himself the ambitious target of a foiling gybe inside a day's training. It's a great video to watch, so take a few minutes and see how you too could be having a blast right off the beach, especially here in the Antipodes, now that the season has officially kicked off this weekend.

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's sites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, thank you for keeping a weather eye on Sail-World. Your increased patronage and sensational, heartfelt comments have made our crew work even harder to bring you the best from all over the globe...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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