By Brad Robinson
How We Built Victory
In the January 22, 1995, business section of the New York Times, I read an article about Eric Goetz and his boat building business. At the time they were working like mad on a number of America's Cup programs and were "top dogs" in the high performance sailboat building business game. I called them and was introduced to Hal Walcoff, who invited me to visit their plant in Bristol, Rhode Island, and discuss my new A Scow ideas. I visited Goetz in February of 1997 and was blown away with their technology. Also during this trip I was introduced to Dirk Kramers, who became our designer and idea man.
In June of 1997, Dirk and Hal traveled to Minnetonka to sail on Victory ('86 Melges) and to learn more about A Scows.
Dirk started working on drawings and ideas, but because of personal issues on my part, the project was put on hold until the spring of 2000. Rob Evans entered the project at this time. We were looking at building a carbon fiber hull at an all up weight of 1200 lbs. (note: the idea of a lighter carbon fiber hull was dropped in 2002.)
In June of 2000, M100 ('85 Melges) was measured with a laser interferometer by Andrew Williams to determine the hull shape. The computer told us that shape was a little bumpy, but generally okay. However, the shape was not symmetrical which, obviously, needed to be corrected. Other minor changes to the shape were also made to allow the boat to float on its lines properly as an eventual 1,200 lb. design.
BUILDING "A" HULL
To build a new hull, you need a mold in which to build it. To build a mold, you need a plug, which is the hull shape, but made in styrofoam. A plug can be milled using a large milling machine driven by computer programs.
During the Christmas season of 2001, I met long-time Minnetonka scow sailor Chuck Gorgen at a party where we talked about the A Scow project. He told me of a firm by the name of PAR Systems in Shoreview, Minn., just north of St. Paul. PAR Systems manufactures huge 5-axis milling machines used in aircraft and boat plug work. Chuck introduced me to Charles Haberman, who was very interested in making the hull and deck plugs. At this time I was also introduced to Lance Molby, who became our local computer expert and did a wonderful job of fitting all the pieces together.
We started building the hull plug in late February of 2002 along the lines of the current A Scow hulls. The only changes to the common A shape was to better streamline the hull by removing the "bumps" and increasing the hull width at the bow and stern by about 6 cm. The length, width, molded depth, and deck crown measurements are very near common A Scow dimensions. It took a good two months to complete the plugs with all the careful checking we did to be sure we were making class legal tooling.
Thanks again to Charles and Lance.
We had a bumpy time when we started the mold tooling, but were saved by Mike Parks, who formerly worked for Johnson Boat Works for some fifteen years. He went into his own fiberglass repair business when Johnson was sold in 1998. Mike went to work ... and fourteen hand rubbed coats of wax later started building both the deck and hull molds.
We went through some 3,000+ lbs. of fiberglass and resin building the two molds. When the glass work was finished, Rick Bohn of Bohn Welding put some 3,500 lbs. of steel around the two molds ... six full days of cutting, fitting, and welding. The same work also was done for the center truss plug and mold.
On December 9, 2002, Mike and I started molding the deck. The hull came next, followed by the center truss. Lance and Charles designed and water jet cut the bulkheads and side trusses from preformed foam and glass. The net result: "a perfect fit!"
Our design incorporated an improved center truss and sideboard trusses that improve stiffness of the boat and add longevity to the hull.
The center truss and side trusses were glued and glassed in place. The deck fit very well and was also glued and glassed in place. The finished hull and deck were removed from the mold on February 27, 2003.
We then took the boat home to Shed 9 after making stops at Composite One, PAR Systems, and CBF by Pierre (Gerard Pierre), who made the center truss plug. We wanted to show them the finished boat and thank them for their great work.
RIGGING AND SAILING
In April of 2003, Sander Sundberg, the official ILYA measurer, measured both the Victory tooling and boat and found them to be in full compliance with all ILYA Class A scantlings. In other words, there is no question the hull of Victory was built as a class legal A Scow.
Once the boat was home, I really went to work fitting out all my ideas, which were finished in time for a May 4 launching. It happened to be a very cold, wet, windy day.
We got the boat up on its newly rebuilt and painted lift (by Willie Crear). A great, fun party was hosted by Tom and Georgia Burton with all the builders, suppliers, and crew.
Thanks to Hale, Dirk, Charles, Lance, Gerard, Mike and so many others including the fabulous Victory crew who have made this project a successful reality.
In the following weeks and months, we sailed our tails off with practice, race, practice, race, and more practice, both home and away. Although we're all experienced "A" sailors and have sailed together many times, there was plenty of orientation to the new boat and we all wanted to "up our game" along with the new boat. We did not win all the races, but we did increase the level of competition one small notch, just as all those that have proceeded us.
MOVING TO CARBON FIBER AND THE V38
In the fall of 2005, Susana and I decided to move forward with the carbon fiber boat project. After several months of planning, meetings, and trips to vendors, we formed Victory by Design, L.L.C. to give us a proper organizational structure. Following much discussion we decided upon V38 as the name for the new boat.