8 Metre World Cup, Norway
August 11 2017
The RPAYC 8 Metre VARG, Australia’s sole representative at the World Championships at Hanko Island, Norway, reached her destination safely after a marathon 20,500 nautical mile voyage and is now rigged, measured and fully certified to compete in the 10 race regatta in which she will face 28 crack boats from 10 countries.
On the eve of the regatta it is impossible to make any meaningful predictions on her performance prospects, however she has already captured the hearts of wooden boat aficionados from around the world. In a fleet of truly magnificent yachts, she is one of the most beautiful examples of the boat builder’s art.
The Wilson brothers, who built her over six years at Port Cygnet, Tasmania, used only the very best Huon Pine in her construction, much of it over 1,000 years old. VARG was originally designed and built by the great Norwegian naval architect Johan Anker in 1924. Renamed NORN and with Lord Forster, Australia’s seventh Governor General at the helm, she won Cowes Week in 1925, effectively making her the fastest 8 Metre yacht in Europe. Sold to the Albert family in Sydney she had an outstanding racing record winning many of the major trophies at the Alfreds and at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
In 2007 the pathetic remains of the original boat were acquired by Kraig Carlstrom and his wife Carolyn Mason who set about reconstructing her exactly as she was in 1924. In a world now dominated by mass produced plastic yachts, it is a rare joy to see a magnificent yacht whose long and slender lines take us back to the halcyon years of yachting.
But here in Hanko, VARG is certainly in splendid company. In more than half a century of writing about yachting all over the world I can honestly say I have never seen so many really stunning classic wooden boats in the same place. Each of these lovely boats has been cherished by owners and crews who care very deeply about maintaining a presence at the highest level of the sport.
Norway’s King Harald is here in his 1937 Johan Anker designed SIRA. The green hulled SIRA will no doubt be hard to beat on her home waters with the King and his crack crew in top form. But the beauty of the International Rule is that, while it has encouraged healthy design development over many years, it has also nurtured the classic boats of yesteryear. Some of the older boats date back to the turn of the 20th century and still carry gaff-rigged sails. There are several coveted trophies which will all be the subject of intense competition.
We took VARG out on the race course on the Skagerrak today to tune the rig and make sure that all the gear is in order. She behaved beautifully and in this splendid setting, surrounded by dark green pine forests, and a forbidding granite coastline, she seemed entirely at home. This is where her life began in 1924 and it seems entirely fitting that we should have brought her here on this auspicious occasion, the regatta that marks the 80th birthday of Norway’s revered sailor King. I will continue to keep Alfred's members informed as the regatta goes forward. Wish us luck.
Follow the action here: http://www.8mr.org/event/world-2017
Written by Bruce Stannard.