Old Quarter Tonners -Magic Bus

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by steveo-nz, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. steveo-nz
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    steveo-nz Junior Member

    Hi Guys,
    Just doing a little research into some of the old Quarter tonners, I have found some information in the usual places but one boat of interest is the Whiting former World champion boat "Magic Bus" from 1976

    The last references I can find for it is that it was located in the San Francisco area, wouldn't mind getting in touch with anyone that may have more info/pics
    or preferably know where it might be laying these days.

    I believe that there were a few racing in that area about ten years ago.....???

    1 person likes this.
  2. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Magic Bus

    EARLIER IN 1976 Murray Ross, a dinghy sailor from Javelins and Flying Dutchman, approached Farr asking for a Quarter Tonner. Farr wanted to give Ross a modified 45 South but this was not what Ross had in mind – so he went to Whiting instead. This young designer was fascinated by yacht architecture and at school had spent time carving half models under his desk. From the age of 14 he was designing, often awakening his younger brother Tony at midnight with his pencil scratching. When his teacher claimed that bloodhound was a type of dog he was incredulous and later told his father D’arcy, “Everyone knows Bloodhound is a Camper and Nicholson design, the largest yacht steered by a tiller and owned by the Duke of Edinburgh.”
    Ross wanted maximum downwind and reaching speed from the proposed boat, but more sail area than Farr’s 727 for light conditions and better performance to windward – an area where he had noticed the Farr design suffered. Ross also wanted to bring new dinghy sail handling concepts to the new design, for example: the headsails were to have wire luffs which were flown free behind the forestay and were to be tensioned with a drum winch below deck. And the construction of the boat was to be in Airex foam core and sheathed in fiberglass – a method that was new to this country in 1976. The result was Magic Bus, a single purpose racing boat with a very Spartan interior, so minimal that one crew member wisecracked that, “it was a relief to come up on deck.”
    In New Zealand trials Magic Bus won easily over Farr, Mull, Peterson, Holland and Lidgard designs; only in close reaching did the Farr 727’s show equal or better performance with Pinto, skippered by 18 foot sailor Ted Bland, narrowly beating Magic Bus in one race. Whiting said, “The reason for being overtaken while shy reaching was my own mistake – when setting up Bus to gain a good rating allowance, I placed too much weight forward. But with weight removed from the bow, Bus was faster. It verified that bow down trim, although beneficial for rating, affected performance too much to be worthwhile.”
    At Corpus Christi Magic Bus and Fun arrived together, both lightweights looking similar in profile with long raking transoms, wide sterns and huge mains and small headsails – a contrast to the rest of the large fleet. A few overseas designers had ventured into fractional rigs but with headsails and mains of similar areas, more of a non-masthead approach. Fun differed from Magic Bus because of no hull distortions, longer waterline, narrower overall beam and more sail – while being the world’s first lightweight centreboarder. Magic Bus won the first two races, sailing upwind with the best moderate to heavy displacement boats but stretching away easily on the offwind legs. Fun came second in race one and sixth in the next, always fast, especially broad reaching when the breeze freshened and the board was lifted. The Farr 727’s were outclassed and found it difficult to keep in touch upwind – although their reaching performance lifted them belatedly through the fleet. Magic Bus won convincingly and was the only light displacement boat able to stay with the masthead yachts in winds under five knots. Davidson was a little disappointed after the series and said, “Magic Bus won with Murray Ross steering but after the contest was over, they struggled to sell the boat in the USA and in the end gave her away for ten grand US, whereas, and this was the proof of the pudding, we sold Fun for twice that. Next year Fun was North American Champion and Magic Bus was nowhere – they needed Ross and the Kiwis to make her go.”
  3. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Magic Bus images

    Couple of jpegs of Magic Bus and one of the later development Whiting/Ross Half Ton centreboarder, Newspaper Taxi - which was very similar to Bus.

    Attached Files:

  4. steveo-nz
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    steveo-nz Junior Member

    Thanks Gary, hadn't seen those pics before, some interesting comments on the design and construction.

    Anyone know where it is now?
  5. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    remember Whiting well
    particularly the boat that sank on the way back Ts/Nz, in which he lost his life
    They were bizzy gluingthe bloody deck back on, after Syd/Hobart, and then headed NZ----------------------------
    , ran into a Tas Storm
    \cant remember name, Smackwater Jack?
    Some key sailers flew home, amongst them , some key Am Cup guys
    I was in the Tasman, same time, on Chitral, 15000 tonnes, , boy was it ON, 80 knts for days
  6. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    There is another guy here in the states who has been looking for a historic QT to restore. He has tried to find Magic Bus and some others, but has not had any luck yet. He has been looking on and off for about 2 years, and has posted here on this board.

    There were at least 2 sisterships to MB out here on the West Coast. One was in the LA area and sank during a Whitney Race back in the late '70s or early '80s (IIRC). There is a rumour that it was an insurance job. The other used to sit in a slip in Marina del Rey for years, sitting high on her lines without any of her internal ballast (sold for scrap value). I used to think that boat was MB, but others have told me it was not. I don't know where that boat ended up. The leads I had I gave to the fellow who was looking for a boat, but he could not find it.

    Fun (the Davidson of the same era) was bought for a song and kind of hacked up by the new owner. I hear the Schumacher '79 NA Champ Summertime Dream is rotting in SF, but the owner will not return any phone calls from people who want to buy it. The Peterson fractional centerboarder that Dave Ullman sailed in '78 or '79 (BLITZ) was sitting on her trailer for years in Marina del Rey in the 80s, but has also disappeared.
  7. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Newspaper Taxi sank off Tasmania in a Three Peaks Race a few years back. They hit something with the rudder and she filled up; one of my stepfathers owned it when I sailed it and I can remember the top bearing frame of the rudder being the subject of one of his very dodgy repairs.

    I've got some articles and diagrams of the Bus but they are in storage up the coast.

    Best source of info could be googling the guys from the very active "Runaway Bus", a higher freeboard version that's still racing in the very hot looking UK 1/4 ton class.
  8. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    Was NT still a daggerboarder when she was lost?

    Are there any old 1/4, 1/2, or 1T around AUS that are still daggerboarders? I know a lot of the class of '77 and '78 around the world ended up with keels on (Mr. Jumpa, Jenny H, Pendragon, Candu, etc).
  9. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Not a centerboarder

    Newspaper Taxi had a keel when CT249 (he is my brother) was on it. Although it would be fun to track one of these boats down Newspaper taxi was built lightly and reminded me of an old Laser - soft. The amateur composites designer in me would think that the boats were designed too lightly to get many cycles out of their laminates before they were sold and superseded.

    Maybe some of the production Farr 727s would be okay to buy. The Farr 1104s were available in either solid glass or foam. I met an owner who had problems with a foam one. If I had to go cruising on a mono a centreboard 1104 would be fun. A friend who was right into the scene back then - sailed on Condor with Peter Blake in the Fastnet when they beat Kialoa, Americas Cup 1980 and 1983 didn't like the centerboarders. He was also the hand on Scarlet O Hara and remembers the crews on really big centreboarders standing on the boards when they capsized - maybe that is why they went to keels.


    Phil Thompson
  10. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    centreboarder stability

    Here is some stuff that might be of interest (and illumination).

    Smackwater Jack after launching, began by easily beating the brand new and impressive heavy displacement S&S 50 foot design Corinthian in light winds – which annoyed some of the blazer wearing set. Ross thought the Smackwater Jack’s daggerboard definitely helped the boat sail very high to windward in the light conditions but was quick to downgrade conventional boat owner fears by adding, “I’m not sure they are that big an improvement – if you put a keel on any of the new boats, they would be just as potent.” After the first Dunhill trials, which Smackwater Jack won, the rear guard set out to stop the yacht and Smackwater Jack was disqualified because of not having a category 2 safety certificate, then later was found to have insufficient cabin headroom. This meant late night alterations but this was nothing the crew was not used to (the boat, once the bare hull was received, was put into the water in five weeks) so the attractive original cabin shape was torn apart and a boxy adaptation made to meet the rules which would allow them to sail in the One Ton trials – which they also won. Later came the Southern Cross trials and the Whiting/Ross boat was expected to compete but the team was broke. Ross was frank, “We would have entered if only to get some more tune-up races but we couldn’t afford the $150 entry fee.” In the One Ton Cup, even though critics and disgruntled competitors of other conventional yachts had tried to thwart Smackwater Jack, the boat was still expected to take the Cup – but Red Lion won the series with a 2,1,1,4,3 placings. Moderate to light winds suited the light boats but a heavy weather race inflicted damage: Jenny H fell off a wave and fractured a forward ring frame which allowed topsides and stringers to collapse, Australian Farr board boat Hecate withdrew while Red Lion and Smir-Noff-Agen revealed damage when examined after the race and Smackwater Jack leaked and gave up.
    This damage was perfect calibre ammunition for those who abhorred the new wave yachts and special emphasis was made on “capsizing” when the light boats broached under spinnaker. At one stage the Lidgards on Smir-Noff-Agen set a spinnaker in 50 knots of wind – so it was not surprising that the boat wiped out. The Australian Farr Wild Turkey was alongside surfing at 18 knots under main and jib alone and when they saw the Lidgards set their spinnaker and immediately get flattened, expected to never see the sistership again – but Smir-Noff-Agen recovered and went on to win the race. Jim Lidgard said to Sea Spray, “If we lift the board too far when off the wind, we start to roll but no more than a conventional keelboat. We had a couple of broaches but that was crew fault
    Young’s Heatwave had rig problems, “Just before the 350 mile start in a rising south easterly gale, we fractured a spreader. Greg Elliott went up the mast to make a quick repair but by the time we got going, the fleet was out of sight in driving rain. Then strands parted on the forestay but everyone wanted to carry on, so we did, risking the rig, slogging on our own to Canoe Rock – to see committee boat Sirdar heading for shelter. We headed out to Channel Island knowing we were well back and after rounding near dusk, we set the spinnaker. The log reached 22 knots with the boat lit up like daylight from phosphorescence as we charged through the night. At daybreak we had caught the fleet and were very close to the leader. Seeing us overtaking them and into fourth place forced them to also set spinnakers. Everyone was pushing hard and it was a wild ride. We had a few broaches – but then later the wind fell away. Heatwave was not good in the light and I made our situation worse by going the wrong side of the course – and so we ended up a poor fifth. But I was happy, we had shown that Heatwave was the fastest of them all in a blow.”
  11. steveo-nz
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    steveo-nz Junior Member

    Thanks CT,
    If you get a chance at some stage to get that stuff from storage wouldn't mind seeing some of it.

    Thanks for the other info guys, very interesting.

    I believe the Magic bus is some where in San Francisco now days, not sure what marina of it is still being used......
  12. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    Some of the early '70s IOR boats are still stiff and going strong here in SoCal. The early ULDBs (Moore 24, SC 27, Olson 30) from the same era are as stiff as they were on day one. My 1980 built cold molded sportboat is plenty stiff. So rescuing these old boats could be a viable option, much like restoring classic cars.

    Most of the daggerboarders were converted to keels after '77/'78 when the IOR rule changed. If the rule hadn't changed we would have seen a lot more lifting keels. The small, fractional boats designed as board boats weren't as bad as things like the masthead Holland 2 tonners that were basically still pintails. When the keels were lifted on those in a breeze very interesting things happened.
  13. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    I would also like to see whatever info is available on these great old boats.

    If anyone finds Bus and doesn't want to bid on it themself post about it here. I have someone who is looking to buy and refurbish one of these boats.
  14. Ramona
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    Ramona Senior Member

  15. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    If that boat was in the UK it would probably be snapped up to contend in the 1/4 ton racing there.

    If it was here in the USA I think I know at least one person looking at it.

    However, in either place the asking price for that clapped out old boat seems excessively high. I would think half that would be in order, and then only if it included a road worthy trailer.
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