'RAGTIME' LOOKS SOUTH, TO TAHITI!
by New Zealand Marine Artist Jim Bolland
In the August 2007 edition of ‘A Brush with Sail’ I ran a story about Geoff Stagg and his history making, John Spencer designed ‘Whispers II’. The interest in that piece of Kiwi sailing history was amazing, with comments and questions coming from around the sailing world. Although Geoff was the subject of that story, many of those who wrote to ‘BWS’ wanted to praise the late John Spencer and many wanted to know about other Spencer boats, especially ‘Infidel’, the late Sir Tom Clark’s, 61 footer launched in 1964. Although ‘Infidel’ was sold to a US buyer in the early70’s and renamed ‘Ragtime,’ there is still a generation of Kiwi sailors who follow her continually amazing exploits with fond affection. ‘Ragtime’ continues to be a living memorial to her designer and builder and like NZ based ‘Whispers II, ’continues to have a succession of owners who care for her in a manner befitting a grand lady. A lady who still really knows how to boogie!
Ragtime is restless, and maybe a little homesick. With a record 14th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii fresh under its wooden hull, the 65-foot ocean-racing veteran will return to the South Pacific waters of its birth in the 13th Tahiti Race starting from San Pedro in June 2008
Owner/skipper Chris Welsh of Newport Beach, Calif. said the resurrection of the race after a 14-year hiatus was too tempting to pass up.
"For a West Coast sailor, Tahiti is Everest," Welsh said after filing his entry. "I felt it was compelling, like here's the race, you've got the right tool to do it, and who knows how many times in your life you'll have that all at once?"
Other early entries are Doug Baker's Andrews 80, Magnitude 80, from Long Beach, and Allen Hughes' Open 60, Dogbark, Seattle. Another high-end Long Beach boat, Bob Lane's Andrews 63, Medicine Man, is verbally committed.
The 3,571-nautical mile race will start Sunday, June 22, at 1 p.m. off Point Fermin in San Pedro, cross the equator and finish at the historic Pointe Venus lighthouse on the north end of the island of Tahiti, six miles east of Papeete.
The race has been run intermittently a dozen times from 1925 to 1994. The record is 14 days 21 hours 15 minutes 26 seconds---an average speed of about 10 knots, modest by current standards---established by Fred Kirschner's Santa Cruz 70, Kathmandu, in 1994, the last time the race was run.
Ragtime, long admired for its sleek, black, low profile hull, was designed and built in New Zealand in 1964 by the late John Spencer. Originally christened Infidel, it was brought to Long Beach in the early 70s, renamed and in 1973 sailed by a local crew of eight that stunned a skeptical racing community by snatching Transpac's Barn Door prize from the record holder, Windward Passage, by 4 minutes 31 seconds---still the closest first-to-finish in race history. Then followed another win in '75!
For the complete article, click here.
Visit Jim's website to see his paintings of the America's Cup as well as Commissioned works he has painted.