Fremantle, Australia, 1987….
…..the America’s Cup challenger series was being dominated by the New Zealand team on KZ-7. They were undefeated except for one loss to Dennis Conner on Stars & Stripes.
The Kiwi boats had been built from fiberglass (and maybe Kevlar?), the only 12 Meters ever built from composites rather than wood or aluminum.
The Kiwis were tight-lipped about why they went composite; aluminum is strong and light as needed, or so everyone thought….
“Glass-gate” raged, competitors accused the Kiwis of cheating. Dennis Conner said it out loud at a press conference while seated next to the very outspoken Tom Blackaller, who for once in his life said “I don’t think you should have said that!”
Of course the Kiwis were livid. The challengers demanded core samples of the hull. The kiwis said no way and the controversy dragged on. Eventually core samples were taken and the boat declared legal.
But a lot of time, energy and thought had gone into the glass vs aluminum issue (who was psyching out whom?) and the kiwi team rolled on-
It’s been said since that possible advantages of the glass hull were increased stiffness and it didn’t “oil-can” the way aluminum hulls did in the big conditions of Fremantle. Others have said that the controversy over the material distracted everyone from looking closely at the hull form (she carried her max beam further aft than other twelves).
Whatever the case she went up against Stars & Stripes in the challenger final and Conner and the boys handed them their only losses of the series- in big breeze and waves, it was awesome. Crazy roundings, blown sails, close finishes, great stuff.
S&S of course went on and beat the Aussie defender KOOKABURRA by 4-0.
Fast forward to 2015 and KZ-7 is based out of the Hinckley yard in RI. Looks like she was trying out a new bow and the old one was left in the parking lot. Much more than a core sample available here!
Any composites experts (Jeff Kent, Oliver Moore, Chad Atkins, anyone else….) care to weigh in? Why is there no core along the centerline? What is the laminate material? What is the core material?
The regatta may be over but I’m still looking for answers!
Seriously, email me.
What’s this have to do with IceBoating? Not much but when I saw this bow at the yard I couldn’t resist.
This rambling essay brought to you by a big cup of Mystic Market dark roast.
Think Ice! T
James “T” Thieler12 Channing St.
Newport, RI. 02840
401 258 6230