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Adams 10 one-design racing: The best of both worlds

by Greta Quealy / Adams Ten Class Association of Aust 30 Oct 2022 21:59 PDT

Tracy Richardson, President of the Adams Ten Class Association of Australia, remembers her first impression of an Adams 10 in 2014 like it was yesterday.

"I have a very vivid memory of coming down the marina at Middle Harbour Yacht Club (MHYC) and going past all these big boats and seeing an Adams 10 at the end and thinking, 'Oh gosh, it has no rails,' and, 'What have I got myself into?'," Richardson said with a laugh.

Any doubts she had quickly flew out the window. She has sailed a range of boats over the years but can't get enough of these one-design keelboats, which she likens to a "big dinghy".

"It makes me laugh sometimes, as the Adams 10s go out against a lot of bigger, fancier boats, and we do really well as we're trained to race them competitively in tight class racing," Richardson said. "That gives you a great buzz. You can throw them around a lot more than bigger boats. They're very responsive, and you can take them out in all conditions as well."

Adams 10 fact sheet

  • The Adams 10 is a 10 metre one-design monohull keelboat.
  • 105 have been built.
  • It can have up to seven crew members on board (in a race format).
  • In 2022, Adams 10s are raced out of Sydney, Lake Macquarie, Pittwater, Newcastle, Gosford and Victoria.
  • Many of the current Adams 10 crews started their sailing from the various skiff clubs dotted around the harbour.
Joe Adams fact sheet
  • The Adams 10 was designed in 1972 by Australian yacht designer, naval architect and sailor the late Joe Adams.
  • Adams is also known for designing the Adams 13, 21, 10.6 and 8, the 1973 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours winner ‘Helsal’, and other yachts.
  • Adams died tragically in the Philippines in 2012, aged 81.

The legacy of Joe Adams

When sailing the 1987 built 'Gezzabelle', Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) Commodore Allen Stormon said he felt a strong connection to the Adams 10 class through his late father, John.

John Stormon owned 16 yachts in his lifetime. Allen Stormon said his father "knew and respected Joe Adams" and owned the first Adams 8 and three Adams 10s, including Gezzabelle.

"She [Gezzabelle] has returned home and every time I sail on her, I feel Dad is watching over us," Stormon said.

Like his father, Stormon "loves the simplicity and competitiveness of Joe Adams' designs".

"[Joe] was ahead of his time, and this is proven by the Adams 10 still being competitive against much newer designs of comparable size."

Adams' legacy includes "long-lasting" Australian designed yachts, that no doubt will continue to bring out the best of sailors across all levels in the future.

This year marks 50 years of the Adams 10 class. To celebrate, Adams 10 sailors will hold a celebration dinner at MHYC on Saturday November 19 in conjunction with the NSW Championship.

The appeal of 'one design' racing

It is not uncommon these days to find that, in many sailing classes, the yachts that have had the most money spent on modifications and professional crew often sit at the top of the leader boards.

But the Adams 10 class is sailing at its grassroots best where there is an even playing field, whatever your experience and however big or small your budget.

"For me the one-design rule was really appealing," Richardson said. "You get out there and race against people whose boat is the same as yours. You're competing against people not boats, and I like that."

Drummoyne Sailing Club's Sean Inkley, who bought his 1980 Adams 10 'Whisper' in 2019 with Simon Mapstone, said the one-design rule was the "special factor" that drew him to the class.

"There are no handicaps, there's no messing around with numbers," Inkley said. "Everything is the same and that's the most exciting part because it's not the boat that it comes down to - it's the teamwork and the skill, that's really where people do well."

Lake Macquarie sailor Tom Braidwood, who has raced with and against some of the top sailors in the world, said the strict one-design nature of the class created "great racing".

"It's really tight," Braidwood said. "We've always had a lot of good teams. There's always not much in it. You know the sign of a good one design fleet - if you can get around the top mark just in front of the pack, then you know the pack will eat themselves up and you can sneak away a bit."

Stormon agreed: "It's as tight as the racing in other one design classes; you make a mistake, you get buried. Knowing how and when to change gears is imperative."

Braidwood said the class rules were inclusive for sailors of all ages and physical abilities. They include a 25-knot wind limit, a maximum of three races a day, and no mast head spinnakers. And having up to seven crew members means there's always room for more support. Or in Braidwood's case, his son, Eamon, and daughter, Yardley, who sail Flying 11s at Belmont 16s, can come along for the ride on board his Adams 10 'Backchat'.

Learning essential sailing skills

Eight years ago, in 2014, Tracy Richardson started out on the Adams 10 'No Friends' out of MHYC, and didn't hesitate when the opportunity arose to buy into 1/6 of a share in the yacht. This was an affordable introduction into boat ownership and a great way to grow her sailing skills by learning from the other owners. This shared ownership is found in many of the boats that sail in this most 'Corinthian' of classes.

At the end of 2020, Richardson bought the Adams 10 'Artemis' with her brother-in-law, Brendan Smid. Richardson races with a mixed crew (men and women) in states, nationals and club races, but also runs an all-female crew for women's events.

The Artemis all-female crew have had enormous success in the four years they've sailed together, winning the 2021 and 2022 Sydney Harbour Women's Keelboat Series, and the Australian Women's Keelboat Regatta on ORC and EHC on borrowed Adams 10 '2Xtreme'.

Richardson attributed much of her success to the competition and camaraderie in the Adams 10 class.

"If you race in the Adams 10 class, expect to sail against some really experienced, confident, competent racers. It's been fantastic for me to learn to race as I've been around really incredible, very experienced sailors - fantastic role models to learn from."

Braidwood also praises the veterans of the class, who never fail to bring high-quality sailing to the course.

"The old guys who have been sailing for a long time, sail really well. You'll be there, fighting really hard, and you see these old buggers going along quite well," Braidwood said with a laugh.

Experienced sailors love the class

As a professional sailor for almost 20 years, Tom Braidwood's life was jam-packed with some of the most exciting and prominent races on the international sailing calendar.

He has competed in four Ocean Races, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race - arguably one of the toughest races, crewed in multiple America's Cup campaigns with Syd Fischer AM OBE, and Mini Transat races. And this year Braidwood will compete in his 25th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on board David Griffith's JV 62 'Whisper'.

Due to family commitments, Braidwood stepped back from the professional sailing circuit. Braidwood, who works on tugboats at Newcastle, has been able to spend more time at home on the lake, sailing his Adams 10 'Backchat', which he had his eye on since he was a young bloke. Braidwood co-owns Backchat (1989) with Jason Akers and is an Adams 10 Class Association Committee Member.

Braidwood has won three Adams 10 National Championship titles on board Backchat. He is looking to bring that trophy home again when he and his crew, including his wife Belinda, travel to Pittwater for the 2023 National Championship, to be hosted by RPAYC on February 3-5, 2023.

Affordable and competitive

Braidwood said one of the attractions of the Adams 10 one-design class was its affordability.

For a reasonable price, Braidwood was able to buy Backchat and then refurbish it, getting rid of "countertop winches and crap everywhere".

"I think any Adams 10 in flat water can be as fast as any other Adams - clean bottom, good sails and get the boat down to weight," Braidwood said.

"The guy who has a good day, he'll beat you. A lot of the boats are very evenly matched. At the end of the day, it comes down to this: as long as they've got good sails and the hull's good."

States and Nationals

Tracy Richardson will be raring to go when MHYC hosts the NSW Championship on November 19-20, followed by the Australian Championship at RPAYC.

She said at the nationals, the Artemis crew "tends to get put in [their] place as the calibre of sailors is just really strong".

Stormon and his Gezzabelle crew have high expectations for the Australian Championship at MHYC in February 2022

This February, he said a fleet of around 14 Adams 10 would battle it out on Pittwater. He is hopeful the home advantage will help his crew climb to the top of the leader board.

"[Our goal is] not to come third again," Stormon said. "No seriously, we have never been higher than third at the nationals, so we want to better that result."

The NSW Championship and the Australian Championship are both sponsored by sailing and water sports brand Zhik. The Adams Ten Class Association of Australia is excited about the support that Zhik is providing to the class.

Social scene

Richardson praised the versatility of the Adams 10 class; one day she and her crew might compete against America's Cup sailors while on another they're chilling with a bevvy in hand during a twilight race.

"My crew and I are having a fantastic time," Richardson said. "We use Artemis for all purposes - take it out for twilights, have a laugh, have some beers, kids come on board sometimes.

This balance between fiercely competitive racing and a lively social atmosphere also appealed to Braidwood.

"We pride ourselves on the Backchat team. We are always the last ones at the bar at the end of the night," Braidwood said in a mock serious tone.

Buy an Adams 10 or join a crew

For those interested in owning an Adams 10, the Adams 10 sailors would be more than happy to help in the search for the right boat.

"One design racing is such an amazing experience," Richardson said.

"We know that there are others out there that would love to come and join us. We're keen to get some new boats, some new owners and old boats involved and want to support people who are interested in doing that."

"New kids on the block" Inkley and Mapstone, were humbled by the support they received from other Adams 10 sailors after they bought Whisper. The boat had been set up for offshore sailing and was in need of a major refit to be ready for inshore fleet racing.

"To have those guys who have been doing it for a while to provide super valuable information to us, it really sped up the process," Inkley said. "That's one of the great things we love about the Adams 10 class."

For more information on the Adams Ten Class Association of Australia, see: https://www.adamsten.com.au/ or contact them at adams10association@gmail.com

Upcoming events:

  • Adams 50th anniversary celebration - November 19 at MHYC: https://www.eventbookings.com/b/event/adams-yachts-50-year-celebration

  • NSW Championship - November 19-20 at MHYC: https://www.mhyc.com.au/sailing/regattas-championships

  • MHYC's Seven Islands Race - November 26 at MHYC: https://www.mhyc.com.au/sailing/online-entries

  • Australian Championship - February 3-5, 2023, at RPAYC: https://rpayc.com.au/sailing/regattas-championships/

  • Sydney Harbour Regatta - March 4-5, 2023, at MHYC: https://www.shr.mhyc.com.au/

  • To follow the Adams 10 on Facebook, see: https://www.facebook.com/Adams10m

  • To follow the Adams 10 on Instagram, see: https://www.instagram.com/adams10racing/

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