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Focus on design and growth in April 2023 issue of fivepointfive magazine

by Robert Deaves 5 May 2023 07:43 PDT
Shaolin in Hankø - April 2023 issue of fivepointfive magazine © Robert Deaves

There is a strong focus on design and growth in the April 2023 issue of fivepointfive, the official magazine of the International 5.5 Metre Class Association, which has just been published and was launched during the Alpen Cup at Torbole, over the last weekend in April.

There is an extensive report from the 2022 Scandinavian Gold Cup and World Championship in Hankø, Norway. It was a long wait for what turned out to be an amazing event. Delayed by a year because of the pandemic, the 5.5 Metre fleet finally made it back to Hankø in July 2022 for the first time in 13 years to race the Scandinavian Gold Cup, the Class Cups and the World Championship.

The new Dave Hollom designed Jean Genie took both major prizes, the first British boat ever to do so. In a separate feature, Hollom also talks about the design concepts and challenges that went into producing the winning boat.

He writes: "Looking at the results of the 2022 Worlds in Hankø you might be forgiven for thinking that it was a close-run thing and that Jean Genie, the winner, is nothing special. After all, she only won by two points. However, in a fleet of boats that are all very similar to each other, as is the case in the 5.5 Metre fleet, it is very difficult to win by a large points margin as there will probably be one of the other boats in the fleet that is on form and almost always comes second, so points difference is not a good indication of speed. What is a good indication of speed is the gap at the finish between first and second and in the four races that Jean Genie won, in most she was so far ahead that you couldn't read the sail numbers of the next boat, which is a large margin."

The other new design in Hankø was Girls on Film, designed by One2three Naval Architects of Sydney, also for Peter Morton, and sailed by an all-female crew, skippered by class president, Louise Morton. Quigley and Kate Devereux from One2three describe the design process for that boat and the changes introduced for 2023.

Stepping back in time there are also features on two beautiful old ladies, the 1967 classic, Alzira, as well as the 1992 Evolution, Bellagioia II.

It's not unusual to find some fascinating characters in the 5.5 Metre class, but one with perhaps more than his fair share of stories to tell is Gavin McKinney. He is alleged to have taken part in more 5.5 Metre world championships than any other sailor and started his 5.5 Metre days crewing for the legendary Bobby Symonette.

"As a teenager being invited to compete internationally was a no brainer. I would have done it in any boat, but even at that age the 5.5 Metre was a hard boat to forget once I sailed on one. For whatever reason Bobby continued to include me. It was such an exciting and sophisticated boat. Of course, the boats were very different then compared to what they are like today. The boats we raced in the 1970s and 1980s now seem old fashioned, but at the time they felt so modern."

Water has been a big part of Gavin's life, either on or under it. From 1973 he worked in the film industry for many years - feature films, TV series and commercials - working on the underwater sequences for many projects, including five Bond movies. He was the underwater double for James Bond in For Your Eyes Only, and The World Is Not Enough and thinks he is the only person in a movie to be run over by a car underwater, in The Spy Who Loved Me.

The second interview features Kim Chabani as he steps down as Vice President Sailing for the international class association. He didn't have the most typical introduction to 5.5 Metre sailing but affectionately looks back on his years in the class.

He sees a good future for the 5.5 Metre but agrees that achieving a good balance for everyone is never easy. "I hope we can find a good mix of nice venues at the most beautiful places overseas and here in Europe, while taking into account the fact to keep it affordable for a broad range of teams."

Jens Busch and Christina Stenberg talk about the Swedish Sailing Federation's event 'Seglare Minns' (Sailors Memories) #50, which took place in Stockholm, with many 5.5 Metre sailors sharing their stories and experiences.

The final feature, 'Mighty oaks from small acorns grow', by Roger Stollery, recounts how the 'A' class, now in its centenary year, developed from the same rule as the 5.5 Metre.

In addition, there are fleet reports from Australia, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, North America and Switzerland, all highlighting the current growth spiral, in bit modern and classic boats under way in many countries. The development of the North American fleet is of special interest, with the 2024 World Championship due to be held at New York YC in June next year. Following spectacular growth in Australia through holding a world championship there in 2019, it is hoped the same will happen in North America.

This issue, as well as past issues, can be downloaded as PDFs here

An online edition can also be read here

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