Monday, 28 December 2009

Yacht Zeeslang,a good wooden boat

Taken at the RCYC Classic Boat Rally in 2007,I think this may be a Trevour Wilkins picture.Note the very unusual and inovative original coach roof.

Click on all pictures excepting this one to view full size,more pictures below, taken by R McBride with a Canon G11 digital camera.

Taken from the book writen by J.S.Rabinowitz a history of the Royal Cape Yacht Club,Bill signed my own copy for me on the evening the volume was released.

Page 333:

In 1958 came the biggest shock administered to the sailing community in the shape of a Van de Stadt-designed boat introduced by Kees Bruynzeel.We looked at this over-sized dinghy of a boat and declared we wouldn't trust our lives to such a small craft in Table Bay.There she lay at the bottom of the jetty,looking,in our eyes like a glorified sharpie.

Then came her debut-in an ocean race to Dassen Island and back in half gale conditions in july 1958.P111 (Parergon 3)could have been expected to win,especially on the beat into the northwesterly,but the wind blew up a sea that was just too short for her and she pounded her way from wave to wave to Dassen Island,finding,to her surprise,the Zeeslang was holding them.On the way home she beat them by some 40 minutes.

The answer was simple-P111 built along the old designs with plenty of boat below the water could not hold a virtually flat-bottomed boat by comparison,with only a slender keel offering resistance below.
Fred Smithers had been on a trip to Europe earlier and had spoken about this type of boat but we took no notice of him.As to her seagoing qualities:

6 of the 8 starters had dropped out including P11 (Parergon 2) who had lost her mast when the backstay shackle parted.Windsong lost her main and jib and Active retired as her crew was to small to stand up to the conditions encounted.John Goodwin sailing to Saldanha on his Vertue,decided to give up the weather best and returned to shelter at Robben Island.

This race blew away our cobwebs and established the name of Van der Stadt as a designer.It also gave the answer to our long quest for a one design for the club-but not immediately.In march the General Committee approoved the purchase,by the Sailing Committee of plans for a selected one-design boat.

Page 353:

Mr Bruynzeel took an interest in the RCOD and at his own expense had modified plans of the successfull overseas racer "Black Soo" drawn up by Ricus van der Stadt to suit Table Bay conditions.What had finally influenced the club to go for a 'Zeeslang' design was her 33 hour voyage back from Mossel Bay to Simonstown,with Mr Cliff Leh at the helm.

Note,Zeeslang has been known to reach speeds of fifteen (15) knots!

Comments below from a friend,Notty on his memories of Zeeslang.

I think Jeff Smith owned Zeeslang for a while and Jeff was a big mate of Jock Grey and Alan Duncan so he used to sail with both Jeff on Zeeslang and Alan off Sonnet, Julian was also part of that little gang with his original Red Wing and they all really had some fun on their boats, I never actually sailed on Zeeslang but used to hear all the stories about it. Julian was good enough to loan me Red Wing when Sonia's elder sister came out so we could take her for a sail on Table Bay. Not sure when that was but I started sailing from the RCYC in about 1973 I think after buying Sunmaid off Colin Cooper who had been a Lipton Cup winner at one time.
HBYC marina and as restored a few years back by Tommy Walker for Bernard Diebold Zeeslangs owner.

Not many imported boats take off the way this design did,said by many when it arrived in Cape Town to be too lightly built to survive the waters and weather found off the cape,it soon changed peoples minds by breaking records and not itself.

News in a few days back:  17/05/2013.

Dear Roy McBride,

You may be interested in the plans of Zeeslang.

They can be provided by the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam. Inventory number 1994.2573

They are send by We Transfer.

Costs are €15,- admin and €4,- for each plan. There are 3: lines, construction and sailplan.

I hope this info is useful to you.


Daan Jaspers