Newsletter - Christmas 2014
Greetings to you all both SCA members and casual browsers. Once again I had hoped to get a newsletter out earlier in the year with this year’s racing results but a shortage of time means that it will now all be in this bumper issue which also includes, a brief report on the AGM, the resolution of the mast weight issue and the program for 2015.

Mersea Week
After the good turnout of 11 boats for the Suffolk Yacht Harbour classic regatta in June the turnout Mersea week this year was slightly disappointing although not helped by particularly grim weather just before and at the start of the week. Only two boats made it to the line on the second day of racing the first having been scratched due to gale force winds.
Because of the low numbers, the Stellas were combined with the slow classic yacht handicap class. Congratulations to Tim Wood and the crew of L’Etoile #109 (left) for coming first in a class of nine, although I understand quite a bit of the Blackwater passed over and through L’Etoile in the process. Also congratulations to Trevor Spero and local Mersea boat Stella Lyra #75 for coming third in class.

Haven Ports Yacht Club Regatta
This year the last two races of the points series were race at the Haven Ports Yacht Club regatta at Levington in early September. Conditions were exactly the opposite of those found at Mersea with no wind and fog.
Five boats entered and we rafted up on the mooring buoys in the river outside the marina awaiting a start which together with the wind never really came.

While we waited there was a certain amount of rowing between the various boats to inspect other people’s gear and equipment and as the photograph shows some hardy souls even went for a swim.
It just goes to show what a long time ago this all was. The star of the show without doubt was Peter Dyson’s Centaur #100 (below) freshly out of a refurbishment by Avocet Yacht Services (Tim Wood). Just to confuse the historians I believe she was sporting one of Tim’s old damaged mainsails where the sail number is now Mooncoin’s #54 , which is one of the other Wood family boats. Peter had a wedding to attend so Tim was sailing Centaur on his behalf , while L’Etoile was recuperating in West Mersea from a rather too strenuous Mersea Week.
Needless to say no sooner had Saturday’s race been cancelled a light wind sprung up and so we organised an informal race with three Stellas and Woodwind (the large slippery green boat). There was much sneaking along the shallows in light winds. I am sorry to report that Lys #96 did not complete the course having tried the overland route, with the customary lack of success. Mark Montgomery Smith was first in Lodestar #64 and from memory Centaur second with Woodwind third but of course the results did not count and were just for our amusement.

On the Sunday there was fractionally more wind and once the race was started progress was possible until a hard ebb set in and the wind started to drop with the result that the course was shortened. Despite Timoa #91 having established a considerable lead at one point this was whittled away and at the finish there were three boats tacking for the line at the same time. It was unclear as to who was going to win and what the order would be until the fat lady sang. Congratulations to Philip Waring and Stardust #89 on getting first place. Lodestar was second with Timoa third. Lys came in about two minutes later with Centaur fifth. Many thanks to the Haven Ports Yacht Club and particularly the race officers for putting on the event which we hope to attend next year.
The final result for the 2015 points series (Stella Worlds) can be found on the racing page but this year’s conclusive winner of the magnificent West Buxey trophy was Andrew Gilmour with Timoa #91. It is particularly nice to see a new name on the trophy and congratulations to Andrew and his crew. Also congratulations to Tim Wood and L’Etoile #109 who was second and to Mark Montgomery Smith and Lodestar #64 who were third for the third year running.

Also many thanks to you all who turned up and competed at the various events. It takes quite a lot of time and effort to keep these old girls going but I am sure they enrich the lives of not only those sailing the boats but also are a fantastic spectacle for others out on the water. I am no longer amazed by the almost unanimous fondness which the class seems to engender in former owners and crew members.

Officers remain as last year but this will be my last year as Gen Sec so you need to start considering finding a replacement.

The annual general meeting was held on 5th December at the Saracens Head hotel in Chelmsford. As is often the case it was a fairly select gathering but thank you to all those who turned up. Also thank you to the others who sent their apologies but contributed to the mast weight discussions which are now hopefully closed.
Mast Weights
For those not familiar with this story, in 2013 we became aware that two of the boats within the racing fleet had had hollow masts built and there was anecdotal evidence from a mast builder that he had built some others, although we do not know where these are. I understand that when one of these hollow masts was built the quote for building a hollow version as opposed to the solid one was significantly cheaper. The original masts were built of spruce in four sections glued down the middle with the scarf being in the jumper region on one side and close to the spreaders on the other.

Having checked Kim Holman’s drawings, although it clearly states that the boom and spinnaker pole are solid I can see nothing on the drawing which actually says solid wood or spruce for the mast although a glue joint on the mid section clearly points to a solid mast being the original intention.

There was concern that a lighter mast could be providing an unfair competitive advantage in what is supposed to be a one design boat. In a spirit of compromise it was agreed that the two hollow mast boats could continue to race within the fleet until such time as a study of the comparative weights had been made.

This was finally completed in 2014. The original solid masts weighed came out in the region of 51- 55kg but one of the later replacement solid masts was considerably heavier; interestingly off one of our faster boats! Of the two hollow masts one was considerably heavier than the original masts and one was quite a bit lighter at 45kg. It just goes to show that the choice of wood used may have far more influence than any hollowing.
At the AGM it was agreed that the new rule should be as follows:

4.2 MAST:

All masts shall be of wood but may be hollowed. All masts shall have a minimum weight of 50kg to include the mast and all metal mast fittings, including the jumper struts. In the event of a corrector weight being required to reach minimum weight this must be centred at a distance of 250mm below the spreaders. Electrical cables may be run within the mast. Internally run halliards are not permitted.

I understand that the hollow mast which is now under weight is going to be brought up to the required weight by glueing timber into the hollows. With regard to policing it was agreed that we are not an organisation set up to carry out regular testing and measurement but will have to rely on the trust of members. Even so in accordance with standard yacht racing practice any member has the right to protest another boat if they have evidence that it does not comply with the Class Rules.

For the majority of you who have solid masts, we are not going to be running around measuring your mast but based on the evidence we have taken so far they are unlikely to be under the minimum weight now required. Aspiring mast builders please note:

the required mast sections are still those given in Kim Holman’s drawing 4/20. You may not enlarge or reduce them.

In its solid format this has provided a tried and tested mast and if you hollow out too much you may produce a short lived mast! It is for this reason amongst others that I voted against the idea of hollow masts but hopefully this old Jonah will be proved wrong. In any event I am glad that this issue has now been put to bed and we can get on with doing more useful things like sailing these lovely boats. Many thanks to all those who helped out with the measuring especially Tim Wood.
The 2015 Programme (Points Series: 8 Races: 6 to count.)

June 20-21st Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classic Regatta: Point Series (1-3).
Mid July Cruise/rally. Possibly at Heybridge Basin as before. Again details to be confirmed: Either via Trevor Spero or Gen Sec.
August 16th-18th Mersea Week (Sun-Tues) (Points Series 4-6)
August 23rd-28th Aldeburgh Week Not a point series event but if there are enough interested people Andrew Gilmour will try to arrange a Stella start; Contact Andrew (Via Gen Sec)
September (5th-6th I think) Haven Ports Y C Regatta. Points Series (7-8)
AGM November.

If you have the direct e mail address for organisers contact them direct. If not forward them to the Gen Sec who will pass them on.

JOHN SPARKS Gen Sec Lys of Slaughden #96