The Man Behind The Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta’s FRANK HURD MEMORIAL TROPHY
(The Sunshine Coast Yacht Club is hosting SCOR 2016 from October 13-15 with boats vying for SCOR divisional trophies, but even more so to see their name on the coveted ‘Frank Hurd Memorial Trophy’ awarded by their peers for ‘Performance and Character’. www.scor.com.au)
Ask Frank which way he thought we should go and you would get "Up the Guts with Bags of Smoke ". And if you asked him where the next boat was, the retort he loved most was "hull down over the horizon”, (i.e. 5 miles behind) accompanied by that broad, wide, wrinkly grin and smile and the instruction to young Pete "better go down and get me a beer, I think we deserve one.”
Frank’s yacht ‘Kahala’ was a heavy displacement Swanson design. She was the Qld junior offshore group champion in 2 seasons - the 74/75 and 75/76 seasons and was runner up in both those seasons in SCOR IOR Divisions.
The winner of SCOR in both those seasons was the Bruce Farr new lightweight IOR quarter ton division ‘Waikikamukau’ Skippered by Hugh Treharne, Australia II’s 1983 America’s Cup tactician and Rob Mundle- notable Australian yachting journalist.
It was Frank's frustration with being runner up 2 years in a row in SCOR and the now developed Queenslander (he was a Wagga boy, but always a Local foremost) spirit that set him on a course in consultation with myself to challenge the Sydney boys for the Australian quarter ton IOR championship coming up in Jan/Feb 76/77 that he set off to NZ to select a suitable designer and boat after the 1976 August SCOR regatta. He met with Bruce Farr, then Lawrie Davidson and finally Paul Whiting - the 3 noted top NZ designers at the time.
Whiting had just won the world quarter ton championships in Europe with ‘Magic Bus’. Frank phoned me from NZ and during that call a decision was made to commission a sister ship to Paul Whiting's winning boat – that resulted in ‘Locomotion’. The timeframe was incredibly short. Frank did not leave NZ until the boat was being laid up’
John Anderson - Olympic Star boat 1972 gold medalist - at North Sails Australia Sydney, Frank and I got our heads together on an improved sail plan and rig design incorporating Olympic star boat sail plan technology, which I was also racing on with Max Tunbridge (also a memorial trophy donor). Frank used the Thiess Brothers serious computer to calculate the IOR rating, including sail measurements, not then available with North Sails Sydney. North Sails subsequently used Frank's/Theiss computer for many top Sydney yacht measurements, sail designs and rating outcomes.
“Loco " received a Star boat rig - bendy round NZ 18 ft. skiff section, like Magic Bus’s, and was the 1st Aussie yacht with runners and check stays and back stay and inline spreaders (not the fixed swept back spreaders as on Whitings’ own boat and the Farr generation IOR boats of that time). It provided another break -through with the incredibly flexible bendy rig which was hugely adjustable and controllable through a wide wind range, carrying the heavy No 1 Genoa to 25+ knots, just accelerating faster and higher. She handled like an Olympic Flying Dutchman class dinghy, in the open ocean, an exciting machine upwind and exhilarating downwind. Two spinnaker launchers were incorporated into the deck at the bow, like ‘Magic Bus’
John Bertrand, then owner of North Sails Melbourne, did the headsails and North’s Sydney loft the main. The boat was delivered from the ship to be parked on Frank’s front yard. The billiard table had already been the deck layout-planning base and young Bill and Pete Hurd (21 and 19 years of age, both studying Engineering at Queensland University) had been to Sydney to acquire every fitting. She was launched within 2 weeks for a January JOG championship at Manly. The name ‘Locomotion’ was chosen following the Little Evie song “Locomotion” brought back to the charts by Kylie Minogue.
Paul Whiting had arranged for Frank to fit the first of the new generation of Digital Speedos he acquired overseas and used on his own title-winning prototype. He had also given Frank all his yachts’ "performance data" – a mere fraction of what we have today, but light years ahead at that time. Thus we were able to instantly diagnose in that 1st regatta that we were fast, but not as high as we should have been.
John Bertrand’s headsails patterns were developed for the fatter Farr -1/4 tonners. Loco had a relatively finer entry hull form, great hull form stability in the mid to aft sections and was very light and more easily driven. John recut the jib luffs with more hollow, thus resulting in a flatter entry and we instantly had great height and great speed. If Frank went below, she lost 1/2 knot of speed, so all his navigation had to occur on the rail. Pete Hurd became mainsheet trimmer beside me, then Frank (doing pit as well as navigation), and Bill Hurd headsails and foredeck. All three had to be over the rail.
Frank was an extraordinarily practical and conceptual engineer. I recall walking Botany Bay entrance with Frank so he could get accurate land bearings. Max Tunbridge also took us out & around Barrenjoey Head and Island as Frank wanted to be sure of the narrowest roundings he could call without grounding - such was his engineering and detailed planning.
On a sole night trial after day racing in Manly we headed out the NE channel of Moreton Bay and around Flinders Reef unlit - very scary! Frank came up from below very proudly with this broad grin across his face, with a navigation board and hand bearing compass strung around his neck, wearing a miners light on his forehead and a mandatory yellow (heavy) XXXX can in hand and declared, “Am I allowed to stay on the rail all night and navigate like this?” That's how he stayed for the entire 100 miler off Sydney heads for the Australian Championship win and for the 180 miler off Mooloolaba (7pm Friday night until 2 am Sunday morning) SCOR- IOR championship wins (and overcoming a broken forestay mast fitting at the start of one race and rudder delamination during the Sydney Australian Championship).
Frank loved ‘throwing a Dorothy Dixer question around the noted yachties’ drinking table, to gauge their responses and one of his noted responses was ”You’d better believe”, a more adant version of Tunbridge’s “you gotta believe”.
Frank phoned me a few months before SCOR 79/80, around May/June to say he could not do SCOR this year. I said "why not Frank, are you getting chicken in your old age?” He replied, " nah, I am going to be dead in 12 weeks, the stomach cancer I had 10 years ago has returned”.
I can't say how affected I was. Frank taught myself, and so many sailors, how you organize a campaign. He called a spade a spade (and the bigger the more he liked it). A 'rough diamond' some might have thought, but a beautiful one and never to be underestimated, as were his beloved Pro Hart paintings in his home. His wife Shirley drove him up to SCOR exhibition Wednesday for a final drink and dig with the boys. He managed a schooner of XXXX, but not his usual Jug (or 2 or 3). He passed away 2 weeks later, 12 weeks to the day. He loved Mooloolaba, staying in a fibro shack on the Spit and he thought SCOR was "the best piece of sliced bread you could have!”
And that is the character part of this trophy.
Thus this Frank Hurd Memorial Trophy is in “Recognition and in Memory of Performance and Character"
Peter Hollis (on behalf of Franks Family and the Sponsors)