John Spencer's designs

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Milan, May 20, 2005.

  1. sirrus
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    sirrus New Member

    Morning,

    I found this advert (attached) in an old Sea Spray magazine and a subsequent web search has led me to this forum, so I thought I would share.

    In another thread there is a link to an email address for more about John Spencer plans, but I wonder if they are just for sail boat plans or for all of John's designs?

    I am quite a fan of the classy, classic lines of John's launches and runabouts and wonder if anyone has leads to finding plans for any of these boats?

    Being new to this community I am a bit shy to just send emails willy - nilly without completing some due diligence first.

    Thanks

    Drew
     

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  2. 2 dogs
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    2 dogs New Member

    Hi , I have been reading these forams with great delight .
    I bought my first boat 7 years ago a Spencer saraband. We sailed it in auckland for two years before bringing it home for some work .
    Oh boy did i open a can of worms , but it is looking better now and i hope to have it back togethere by the end of the summer.
    There is some great write ups about John and his boats in the book , Fast Light Boats.
    I found a copy in devonport one day and had to buy it as it had photos of my boat being launched. If any one knows any other history on Gazelle i would be very keen to find out.

    Mike
     
  3. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Hi 2D.

    You couldn't have bought a better Sarabande if you want to get early info on her - Gazelle was the subject of a NZ Sea Spray magazine test. There's 4-5 pages on her, complete with plans, interior and exterior pics.

    My photocopies are cut off at the year but show the month as April, probably 1970 I think. I've just moved and I don't seem to have brought a scanner with me but I can scan the pages next week if I remember. But they must have Sea Spray back issues at the Auckland maritime museum.

    Does she still have what looks like a varnished transom?

    Cheers

    Chris
     
  4. 2 dogs
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    2 dogs New Member

    Hi Chris
    I have the pages from Seaspray on the launch thanks.
    I got them with the boat .
    My friend who found me the boat and the guy who sold it to me were both frends of john so i was told a fair bit of the history of the boat.
    The transom had been painted once i bought it and allong with the decks and RH side of the cabin all had to be replaced . boy once water finds its way in to ply wood it can do a lot of damage. I have thought of putting a timber veneer over the transom and then epoxy over the the to seal it . dont know if that will work or not.
    Regards

    Mike
     
  5. Martin B.
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    Martin B. Junior Member

    Another Simitar 35

    Hi all,
    There are several Threads on this Forum relating to the designs and craft of the great John Spencer but most seem to have been inactive for a while. So having just discovered this SA Forum, may I add my 2c worth.

    In about 1973 I saw a Spencer Scimitar 35' launched at Royal Perth YC **; occasionally raced against it in a Spencer Serendipity 30'(?) in a couple of W.A offshore events. Whilst being most impressed with the lines of the Scimitar 35', her racing performance to that time had not lived up to the apparent potential of the hull shape. For example, in the Cape Naturaliste and Return in about 1975, the 30' (with a rather inexperienced offshore crew *** at the time) reached the turning mark at Naturaliste at the same time as the 35' after about 150 nm hard on the wind.

    Despite her poor performance up until that time, I still purchased the Scimitar in about 1976.
    The owner/builders probably ran short of funds and purchased stock sails from a well known WA loft – the main was made for a Spacesailer 24' and was so small that there “buckets” of lee helm and little windward control/performance.
    The boom and goose-neck were far too high (the original 5' 4” tall Owners often sailed her standing in the cockpit) . We cut 300mm off the bottom of the mast (easier than removing and lowering the goose-neck hardware) and added 1,200mm to the top of the mast and ordered a new main to fully utilise the longer mast and original boom length (although the boom was still shorter than that shown on JS's ¾ rig sail plan). Nett result, she would now actually stay pointing roughly to windward. Progressively the original loft 'stock' head-sails were replaced with a coordinated suit of masthead sails sized and cut to suit.
    However she made excessive leeway when compared to S&S 34's and similar in our fleet.

    In an effort to see how she actually sailed thru the water (and to admire the beautiful hull lines “actually at work”), we rigged up a temporary trapeze off the spinnaker halyard to the underwater activity on a beautiful clear water afternoon.
    The second problem was instantly apparent; as we went over each wave a large “white” area appeared on the windward side of the keel and sometimes remained there for 2 or 3 waves in succession; you could even hear the 'vapour' bubble collapse. It was obvious that the keel was stalling from the leading edge and destroying the keel lift and increasing the drag.

    I wrote to JS regarding the keel observations/problem and he kindly wrote back saying that he thought the fabricated steel sharp edge keel design was still OK. However we decided on modifications.
    After sketching the existing keel cross section on a sheet of ply and adding our interpretation of the NACA profiles (as per the illustrations seen in magazines but with no dimensions and no internet info in those dark ages), the most practical way to 're-sculpt' the keel appeared to be to use a straight steel pipe approx 1” OD as the leading edge, weld on lightly rolled 3mm plate and oxy-carve it to fair in with the existing keel shape.

    Ancient pre-digital pic below shows the new steel piece having some last minute welding (can just see a welding flash) behind the car; the keel surface has been prepared for welding on the forward end.

    [​IMG]


    At the trailing edge of the original keel, the two pieces of plate were merely edge-welded together and thus a possible source of future failure. For the aft alteration we welded 3mm fairing plates to a 6mm rod in a slight Vee shape and drove it (slogged it with a sledge hammer !) onto the aft end of the keel and 'carved' the outline to suit.
    The coating on the keel was ground off and the two pre-fabricated steel pieces welded on. After fairing up with micro-balloons, coating and anti-fouling it was back to racing.


    [​IMG]


    The resulting lateral area was probably far more than could be considered necessary/optimum even for 1976 but the profile over the majority of the keel area was now approaching something desirable.
    The performance improvement was amazing. The huge leeway problem was fixed and whilst we could not hold S&S 34's to windward in a seaway, we would still be close enough to gather them up and roar past them on the reaches and runs.

    I wrote again to JS with copies of these and other pics and and details of “Matthew Flinders” performance after the mods (which he had not recommended). His generous reply was that he was surprised, but very delighted, at our results.

    Subsequently the original (1” ?) solid steel rudder shaft bent and a heavier 2” OD pipe 'shaft' rudder was made with a 1” dia. pipe for the leading edge located approx 20mm away from the main pipe shaft and faired in with micro-balloons. The new rudder was installed about 1200mm further aft (behind the aft hatch instead of in front of the hatch). With balanced profile, a more rounded leading edge, thicker chord, larger area and new location plus a longer tiller she was now totally controllable down wind.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    The single spreader rig [above] was changed to double spreader to overcome lateral instability of the mast and an aluminium fabricated channel section 'wishbone' frame added inside to carry the chainplate load (which moved inboard a little due to shorter cross-trees on the double spreader set-up) and mast step forces.

    In her upgraded condition Matthew Flinders won the 1978 Mandurah & Return, the Bunbury Return and was 3rd in the Bunbury & Return.

    As for off-the-wind speed, in a downhill Yanchep Race, she clocked over 20knots on the sumlog planing and surfing thru and away from the whole fleet including 42' chine ply Sabres (the W.A. local design). The only yacht ahead was Jack Cassidy's own-design and built 50' ply flyer Evelyn; Evelyn and Matthew Flinders were travelling so fast they both passed Yanchep before the turning mark boat had even left the Marina – race abandoned and a long sail back to Yanchep.

    ** There was a second Scimitar in W.A at the time at RFBYC built as a day sailer rather than a self draining cockpit offshore craft.

    *** Years later the skipper of the Serendipity won a Laser Masters Worlds.

    A couple of asides: I lived in Auckland for 2 years when the mighty Infidel was launched and owned/sailed a Cherub, "Sea Fever" 871) on Waitema Harbour and watched Infidel smoke up the harbour on a couple of occasions.(Chris Bouzaid should recognise this Cherub as the one built for his brother-in-law to a Davidson variation on JS's design).

    Gary Baigent, loved your “Light Brigade” eBook.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
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  6. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Great info Martin, thanks for posting.

    Can you recall how the modified Scimitar went upwind and downwind against boats like Brutta Faccia or the 1104s when they arrived? I see Pilgrim in the background in the sailing pic you posted, and would that ketch be Starfire?

    Can you recall the name of the Serendipity and was it Colin Dibbs'? The Serendipity is a 28 footer although for some reason the 'glass ones are often called a 29. How did the boat go generally and what was it racing against?

    I have a modified Serendipity and have been meaning to change the leading edge for years now for the same reason that you identified. It's interesting that from your experience the Serendipity did not suffer upwind to the same extent as the Scimitar did. Mine has a spade rudder (ex Cape 31) and Etchells rig and while she hasn't really been raced for years, in her last regatta she went around the track with good Peterson 30s; a bit lower upwind but faster downwind.

    Can you recall any other WA Spencers? I think I saw a 37 that came across when I was a kid. The WA offshore scene looks like fun; in Sydney it's now just a big boat game and even a Sydney 36 or Mumm 30 is out the back of the fleet.
     
  7. Martin B.
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    Martin B. Junior Member

    Hello CT 249,

    Yes, the ketch to leeward is Starfire of Perth; did have one sail on her from Geraldton to the Abrolhos Islands about 1972 or 73 – hated sailing on such a heavy vessel with all the enormous loads on every rope. Sailed twice during Cockburn Regattas over New Year on Graham Young's Queeeg (?) sister to the mighty Love & War with wire internal genoa sheets and sheet turning block aft; made a point of not ever putting myself inside the wire loop in case a block let go and one of me became two halves of me.
    Yes, the blue yacht would be Pilgrim and the other two are some of the local S&S34's by the look of it. Did a Geraldton Race on Keith Turner's Hellfire (ex Guy Fornaro) S&S 34, I must have been weak 'cos the headsail winching was as heavy as the tiller !
    Give me light displacement every time.

    The wooden Serendipity I did the first of my longer offshore races on was Colin Lovelady's Avaganda but before going offshore we had a trial sail on the Swan for the previously only-river-racing crew to find out how to change a headsail whilst on the wind ! Also ocean raced a couple of times including Naturalist and Albany Races with Jim Grainger on his Hal Wagstaff reverse sheer early Half Tonner Tangaroa (ex Dudley Rowland). In the longer offshore races of the mid 1970's the fleet included at times Roly Tasker and probably the early Siska (the modified 40 square metre one), a Bondy' Apollo (the orange near flush deck one), various (WA) Sabres, Hotspur S&S36, down thru the fleet of 34's incl UFO's, S&S and others to the smaller Scimitar etc and, in the Albany, Custom 30's, the first Swarbrick S80.

    Re other Spencers:-
    D. Hill's Sjofarer Scimitar 35 at Royal Freshwater was built with a day cockpit not self draining, only raced occasionally but we were directly against her in a 'Royals' inter-club teams race and were significantly faster (probably more racing tuning/experience).
    Sailed from the Abrolhos Islands back to Geraldton on Neil Kane's Seeker a Spencer Sequoia, with much more curvature in ply sides and proportionally more beam than the Scimitars but have never seen the Sequoia design info: - 37' – 42' ? . She was lovely looking but not a high performer – not sure about her keel detail as I never saw her on the slips at SofPYC. Maybe she was the one which went east; I recall the cockpit had a semicircular aft end which was rather unusual.
    There were one or two of the 25' Spencer Stiletto's sailing on the Swan.

    Glad you corrected me about the Serendipity being 28' – that was how I recalled it too but got mislead by Internet info on the glass versions saying 30' (it was 40 years ago so I have an excuse).

    Getting back to the keel mods. After fixing the basic sail-plan fault, and before the keel mods, MF would make about 10 degrees of leeway compared to say S&S34's despite actually pointing generally on the same heading and going slightly slower thru the water so at a windward mark we were waaaay behind. On mainly windward courses, say out to Rottnest Island in the short ocean races, the 34's would be long gone, on their hooks and crews at the pub before we made the finishing line. Next day on the Return to Freo Race we would generally be well up in the fleet with the 40+' at the coast turning mark then struggling on the longish windward leg to the North Mole trying to hold off the 34's.

    After the keel mods, we at least managed to hang in re the actual heading-made-good but still slower thru the water particularly if the seas were steep and lumpy. But on a round-the-buoys or windward, reach and return like the Mandurah Race we could make up the windward deficit on the return which often started in light offshore E to SE) airs in the early hours then freshen to the renowned SW sea breeze (the Freo Doctor) in the afternoon when we would cream at 12-14knots past the heavy 8-9knot displacements. Only raced against Guy Fornaro's Brutta Facia a couple of times and definitely would have struggled to see him in the distance on a windward course although in two newspaper cuttings I still have we were in front of B.F. !
    Probably our most direct competitor in the shorter offshore races was the first Adams 10 (long open cockpit day sailer ) in WA; very nearly equal. They were only the slightest bit faster on the wind, we were probably a tad quicker on the reach courtesy of a longer waterline.
    The first of the Swarbrick S111 appeared about this time, again nice looking but did not set the world on fire performance-wise at that time; they were a bit faster than us particularly to windward. Can not say I recall racing against a (Farr?) 1104 lthough Jim Grainger had one (I fitted the winches to it in about 1976 but never sailed on it myself)

    From my experience, I could definitely recommend a keel mod for your Serendipity if it has the sharp leading edge MF had as-built. Try the trapeze trick and have a look at what is actually going on under the water. Given 40 years of hindsight I would consider removing the steel keel, cutting it up with an oxy torch, weigh all the steel bits, buy that weight of extra lead and have the keel re cast as all-lead. (Thought about that back in 1974 but took the quicker/easier solution of more steel fabrication.) My keel originally looked like that in Post #23 although I would say mine was slightly narrower fore&aft across the shank. During communications with JS re my keel, he very kindly sent me a roll of drawings for his then new 28' and 32' plywood designs [with outboard rudders and cockpit right back to the transom if memory serves correctly] similar to, or actually those mentioned above in earlier Post #60. The plans he sent showed stacked and laminated timber keel top section with cast lead hanging below.

    Today one would probably go for a tall narrow (vertical ?) fin say 600mm wide x 1.7m tall with NACA cross section and all the lead in a big torpedo on the bottom ! [or a bit smaller for a Serendipity c.f. a Scimitar] But IMHO the key bit is to have a rounded leading edge – as mentioned in my previous Post I used plain ordinary (steel) pipe and it worked a treat on both keel and rudder.
    If you PM me I have just found a pic of the underwater after the new relocated rudder installation which made a huge difference in handling.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  8. Limbo
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    Location: Melbourne

    Limbo New Member

    Help with boat identification ~ Much appreciated !

    Hi everyone,

    I've been searching the internet for john spencer yacht information and this forum popped up !

    Its seems to be a great wealth of knowledge and i'm hoping someone might have the eye for detail and be able to help me out in identifying what exactly my boat is.

    I have owned this boat for a few years now and it is a pleasure to sail on the right day, The guy i bought if off a few years ago didn't really know all that much about it or its history as it was his fathers an he has obviously passed on all his son really knew was that it was a spencer.

    I'm no expert myself for all i know it might not even be a spencer but from the few bits of information i've managed to sniff out its a Spencer Stiletto although it has Sareefe written down the side of it ?

    I seem to get constant comments on the height of the mast given the size of the boat which i haven't accurately measured yet but its definitely in the 27 - 30 foot area length wise.

    If anyone thinks they can pick the year / make or has any information it would be really appreciated ! I'm currently about to pull the boat out in the next month, do a antifoul some new ropes give the old petters engine a service that kind of thing.

    I would love to hunt down the original specs design weight etc etc .

    Thanks in advance for any help !!!


    Me & the boat at Queenscliff Marina

    [​IMG]


    Couple of Hardstand photos from the original ad

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    THANKS FOR READING ! CHEERS !
     
  9. Martin B.
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    Location: Mandurah, Western Australia

    Martin B. Junior Member

    Hi Limbo,

    Yes, your Sareefe is a Spencer Stilleto (about 25' o/a length). The hull shape and underbody is quite recognisable as by the master chine designer JS. Likewise the cabin profile, proportionally higher than that of the 28' Serendipity and 35' Scimitar to achieve a reasonable headroom [probably around 5' 10" in the units of the design era] is Spencer.

    As for original design data, lines and sail plan, you may be lucky and find a home builder still with a set of plans but contact M Spencer - see Post #17 on page 2 of this Thread [click on his name for his profile and a route to email contact], he may be able to help you.

    If you can locate archives for 'Sea Spray' magazine, you probably would find a write-up of the Stilleto design when it was first released/built; many of JS's designs were introduced in that way.

    For a wonderful document on NZ designs and designers google "The light brigade by Garry Baigent" - contains a wealth of info on the development of the NZ "school of fast yacht design" and quite a bit on the contribution of John Spencer.
    Another interesting Spencer thread see http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showtopic=7335&hl=%2Bjohn+%2Bspencer%2C+%2Bragtime+%2B%26amp%3B+%2Bcherub

    How does Sareefe perform ? What is the construction detail of the keel ? If she has a sharp leading edge to the keel then read up the mods and reason behind them in the above post(s); if you have a cast keel with a nice rounded leading edge then you should have a quite a good windward performer and a reaching wizz.

    Is that a fixed blade prop just ahead of the rudder skeg? What engine does she have ?
     
  10. Limbo
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    Limbo New Member

    Hey thanks for the response Martin, Performance wise i cant really give you a solid answer on whether my spencer is quick in comparison to other boats of its size to be honest ive never really been on any or even sailed a monohull until i bought this one, I've always been into 14-18' catamarans and i've had a few over my youth all of which would leave the spencer standing still ;)

    But when i noticed this keel boat for sale i must admit it was more of an impulse buy rather then anything... I had been planning on buying a weekend cruiser that packed a bit of a punch at the same time to have little weekend trips around port phillip bay here in Melbourne and this spencer popped up at the right price.

    As for the keel construction details to be honest i would have no idea in the few years i have owned the boat i haven't had it out of water yet the pics you see of it on hardstand were from the sales ad when i bought the boat and it had just been freshly antifouled a month or so before i bought it, the last couple of summers i have just been going for a little dive under the boat and giving it a scrape to keep the hull clean.

    In the next month or so I will be slipping the boat for a fresh coat of paint and to change the prop seal which i think has seen better days so i will be sure to take some more before and after photos, get some accurate measurements and pay close attention to all these little things so i'll make sure i have a good look at the keel while its out.

    The motor fitted in the boat is a little petters diesel which if need be gets you from point a to point b, The motor gave me a little trouble last summer when i went to start it after sitting around for winter on my swing mooring it was seized up and for the life of us we couldnt get it to start, after a big couple of days work and finally cracking it i pulled the motor out of the boat to find the flywheel was jammed up from corrosion i would suggest no one had really touched the motor since it was installed.

    Unfortunately lack of funds in my pocket last year and the cost of hardstanding a boat in williamstown these days forced me and a mate to pull the motor out while the boat was on the water right on the ferguson street pier in Williamstown, all the yacht owners and club members in the area couldn't believe there eyes and by the end of it we had collected a big crowd of sticky noses.

    our engine crane consisted of an old boat trailer with a modified ute loading crane welded on, made the night before while we had a few drinks.

    anyway heres a few pics have a laugh.

    http://lostinlimbo.com.au/custom/boat_motor/

    Cheers, Andrew
     
  11. jamez
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    jamez Senior Member

    Just found this thread, interesting reading. There were plenty of Spencers around in the early 70s when I started sailing keelboats as a kid. It is a shame to now see them deteriorating on moorings around the place. There are a few nice ones that have either been looked after or (more likely) been restored, like the Stiletto below.

    Pic taken Auckland Harbour 2 Jan 2014
     

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  12. pogo
    Joined: Mar 2010
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    Location: Germany Northsea

    pogo ingenious dilletante


    Hasn' t Richus already been there in '49 ?
    ULDB , single chined, Finkeel , balanced spaderudder , fractional rigg ( 3/4dinghy style) , able to plane and WINNER!


    http://vandestadtzeevalk.blogspot.de/

    http://www.rnyc.org.uk/history/veteran/zeevalk.htm

    http://www.boatshop24.com/nl/zeevalk-zeevalk-/zeilboot/109756

    Have a look at the canadian Shark 24 , introduced in 1959. Still produced in Europe and still fast and seaworthy.

    http://www.shark24.org/membership/whatisas.htm

    http://www.google.de/search?q=shark...kGMbGtAaOlYCICQ&ved=0CE8Q7Ak&biw=1024&bih=672



    pogo
     
  13. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    Location: Sydney Australia

    CT 249 Senior Member

    Yep, Van de Stadt was doing similar and brilliant work even earlier. Spencer said that he obtained higher performance through greater beam and the use of masthead rigs which gave extra sail area.

    The renowned boatbuilder John Guzzwell wrote that Spencer's construction methods were much in advance of Van de Stadts'. That's no reflection on VDS, who paved the way a couple of decades earlier.

    Both were great designers, although it seems that in their original form a lot of their boats struggled to keep up with the more powerful conventional boats.
     
  14. CT 249
    Joined: Dec 2004
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    Location: Sydney Australia

    CT 249 Senior Member

    Martin, your earlier post lead me to try to track down Avaganda. When I was a kid I saw a Whiting half tonner, with a lairy paint job like that of Newspaper Taxi, over here for the 1977 Half Ton Worlds; I assume that may have been Colin's later boat? The owner of the third-placed boat for that worlds (2269/That's Life) is also a world-class Laser Masters sailor, funnily enough.

    There's a boat called Avaganda still racing at Claremont, I see, but I assume it's the Whiting. However checking Claremont YC's gallery leads me to this;[​IMG]

    Definitely a Serendipity, now apparently called Jolly Roger (not the Viking 30 of the same name) but possibly Avaganda in an earlier life? There are some pics from on board in another gallery on the CYC site. All the pics of immaculate Stilletos makes me glad to see that this Serendipity is looking a bit worn just like mine. My gradual renovation started with the engine, rigging, trim and interior and hasn't reached the topsides paint yet.
     

  15. Martin B.
    Joined: Aug 2013
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    Location: Mandurah, Western Australia

    Martin B. Junior Member

    Hi Chris,

    I phoned Colin Lovelady over the weekend to clarify some details.
    His JS Serendipity design, which opened his and my overnight offshore racing “careers” in the 1973 or '74(?) Cape Naturaliste & Return Race, was named “Outlaw”. She was built by Eric Moyle in Perth.
    “Outlaw” is still in Perth so assume she is the Serendipity now called “Jolly Roger” at Claremont YC.

    Col apparently was at, or involved with, the Half Ton Cup in '75 or '76' and subsequently had a Whiting 32' Half Tonner “Avaganda” built in the same shed and at the same time as Alan Nichol's “Bodega” - originally painted green - for a shot at the '77 Worlds in Sydney. Don't recall the original paint job on “Avaganda”.

    Col said Alan N. carved a large hunk of lead out of the top of “Bodega's” keel whilst she was still in the Shop so she was lighter and a bit faster than “Avaganda” in light weather although the former was very touchy in handling.
    Somehow “Bodega” got thru measuring for the Australian selections/championships but failed the self-righting test when officially measured in Sydney for the '77 Worlds. Alan had to put the lead back in the keel to pass the test and qualify.
    “Bodega” was usually moored at East Fremantle YC just down the road from Alan N's home and I used to see her occasionally when watching my sons in the Pelicans and Flying Ants [JS again !] at EFYC although “Bodega” may have been on RPYC's register.

    Have sent you a PM with more details.
     
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