The meeting began at 2.00 pm promptly with Colin giving a report on the joint Open Canoe Sailing Group/AYRS North West Local Group meet at Coniston Water in the Lake District on the weekend of 20th to 22nd April. (A separate report is published in this edition of Catalyst).
Mike then gave his impressions of the Northern Boat Show which had been held in Liverpool in conjunction with the Three Festivals/Tall Ship event over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Mike stated the show was a dismal failure with very little of interest. The exhibitors he spoke to were bitterly disappointed by the turnout which had been ‘talked up’ in the press releases by the organisers. It was rumoured that the two principals behind the show had not even turned up at Liverpool! Mike felt that this was the end of a valiant effort to hold a boat show in the North of England.
John S then reported on his impressions of the Beale Park Boat and Leisure Show. He stated that, once again, the boat content of this show had shrunk year on year. AYRS, he said, seemed committed to Beale Park and had recruited several active members. The setting and location of the show was idyllic and he would probably continue to visit it. Adrian pointed out that even the London Boat Show had now been abandoned. The premier show now seems to be Southampton in September. In reply to a question by John Alldred, John Shuttleworth stated that the Makita Cordless Challenge was still in evidence although the joke seemed to be that if you utilised nine cordless drills you could be assured of a victory and win a tenth drill!
A short discussion took place about AYRS sponsoring a similar race where the overall weight of the boat and crew and the maximum permitted power would be stated, thus forcing the competitors to develop an efficient, innovative and lightweight hull shape. It was felt by the meeting that this would not be feasible while Makita sponsored the current competition which was proving to be as popular as ever..
Mike Howard gave a short report on the Tall Ships visit to Liverpool on the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Only fifteen ships attended, most of which were sub fifty metre long ketches, schooners and brigs, which were berthed in the Canning and Albert Docks. There was a decided lack of the very large sailing ships, with the three largest ships berthed at the Cruise Liner Terminal. Mike said he had been privileged to be appointed the Liaison Officer for BELEM, a three masted barque, the largest of the visiting ships. John Shuttleworth, who visited the event on the Sunday, stated that it was more of a family day out than a maritime event. He had enjoyed visiting the BELEM and the steam tug/tender DANIEL ADAMSON. Once again, Mike felt that this event had been ‘talked up’ in the publicity issued by the Liverpool City Council.
Mike then told the meeting of the demise of the AYRS MicroTransat Challenge 2018 project. John Shuttleworth stated that there had been very little reported to the AYRS NWLG about this project, considering it was supported by the group. Mike explained the background to the project and that it was little more than coincidence that had led to fifty percent of the project team being NWLG members. The project team had been made up of every AYRS member who had expressed an interest in the project back in March 2017. Several team members had dropped out along the way for personal reasons. Adrian Denye stated that the final six project team members had all the necessary skills and experience to make the project a success. Mike outlined the skills, two Naval Architects, both with small boat experience and one with a boat building background and one with mechanical and electrical engineering experience; an IT Consultant, who has been studying the event for the past five years; an experienced amateur sailor and Ocean voyager; a long term AYRS member with development skills and a young and aspiring Marine Engineer.
When asked why the project had been terminated, Mike stated that although they had been promised a sum of £5000 from the AYRS Howard Fund, this was insufficient to carry the project through to completion. The terms of the Grant were onerous, the team had to prove an ‘Ocean Ready’ craft before the final £4000 was released, against match funding by the project team. It was disappointing that the AYRS Committee had not appreciated the potential benefits of this project for AYRS as a body and given it it’s full financial backing. Mike stated he had written to the AYRS Chairman, Fred Ball about the issue of financial support. Richard Walker, the Project Director, was hoping for a meeting with Fred Ball in the near future to discuss the reasons behind the abandonment of the project.
The question was asked why the team did not complete a craft with lesser ability to prove the systems, etc. Mike stated that the team had determined that there was little point in pursuing this course of action. Mike stated that a comprehensive study of the equipment and the likely failure of the 23 previous attempts at completing this challenge had led the project team to this conclusion. This prompted the question of how much the project was to cost. Mike stated that to prepare, test, launch and recover the craft was estimated at close to £13,000. Asked to break down some of these costs Mike stated that the Weather Station alone cost £650 to £700. The Power Budget had taken Richard and Mike three months to reconcile. The deck area was to be covered with individual marine solar panels to give a high level of redundancy. Mark Hillmann suggested a towed electrical generator, similar to a Walker Log. Mike said they had not considered this option as it was easily cut loose. Mark suggested this device might be utilised to increase the redundancy factor. Mark pointed out there was only twelve hours of daylight in the Tropics. Mike said this had been taken into account along with cloudy days and shadow generated by the wing sail in their Power Budget calculations.
Adrian Denye then took over and explained how he had built the prototype hull and its likely use now that the AYRS MTC 2018 project had been terminated. He stated he was interested in turning the hull into a junior trainer but he did not intend to make any dramatic changes so that it could revert to its former role if required in the future. The question was asked how it could accommodate a young person’s weight. Adrian stated that the hull was designed to a displacement of 65 kilograms. Mike pointed out that, in fact, the batteries for the autonomous version weighed in at
22.5 kilograms. Adrian also stated that he believed that the rigid wing sail was the future but it had to be developed into a more user friendly form. Adrian said he was also interested in using his craft for the development of a wing sail which incorporated an upper area which could be made to feather automatically to reduce the power of the sail.
Mike told the meeting of his disappointment at the lack of content of Catalyst 53. He had written to the Editor, Simon Fishwick, expressing his dismay at the omission of the AYRS NWLG Report on the Winter Meeting, the detailed content of the AYRS AGM and subsequent Winter Meeting and Richard Walker’s application to the Howard Fund. Mike said he had been amazed to find that in Simon’s reply to his letter, that the volume of the magazine was governed by the postage cost for a 100 gram document. Mike said he had written back to Simon stating that, surely, it was the Editor’s job to keep the membership informed of all past, current and future events and projects. For an additional postage cost of approximately £150, which allowed for a document weight of 225 grams, this should not be an issue for an organisation with assets of £58,000. Mark stated he felt that Catalyst 53 showed a lack of commitment.
A discussion on the difficulty in recruiting people to serve on the AYRS Committee led to several members expressing their experiences. The lack of will to undertake these onerous positions seemed the most popular reason, although the increasing legal obligations of officers of the Society may contribute. Mark stated he got the impression from the AGM that the majority of the Committee would be more than happy to resign if someone else volunteered to take their place. John Shuttleworth stated that in an organisation to which he belonged they had supplemented the committee system with Advisory Groups comprising only of members interested in promoting specific aspects of the organisation or specific projects within it.. Mark stated that his experience in the Cumbria based ski club was that members were very willing to volunteer if the task in hand benefited the majority. When building a ski tow, almost 50% of the members turned out to help construct it.
On a lighter note, Colin McCowen outlined his plans for a World record breaking Hagerdoorn hapa machine. He gave an illustrated talk outlining the development of Didier Costas’ hapa design and his own design which he had demonstrated to the members at the AYRS NWLG Summer Meeting at Manley Mere.. A number of members pledged their support with offers of practical help.
Mark Hillmann closed the meeting with a summary of his progress on his self righting Proa, He has completed the scale model and is presently testing a number of sail designs, the first of which he admitted did not perform well. Mike asked him if his Proa was a standard MADNESS design. Mark said he had bought a kit from Fyne Boats in Kendal but had increased the width of the bottom to give more displacement. He also stated that he hopes to move to Windermere permanently in the near future but will not be selling his cruising boat, which he keeps at Maryport, until the Proa has proven itself at full scale.
Mike concluded the meeting about 5.30 pm by reminding the members about the Summer Outing to Winsford Flash Sailing Club on Saturday the 11th August, the Autumn and Winter Meetings as well as an outing planned for October to the Science and Technology Museum in Manchester.
Present: Adrian Denye, Colin McCowen. John Alldred, John Shuttleworth, Mark Hillmann and Mike Howard.
Apologies: Steve McKenna, Brian Shenstone and James Nielson
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