It is a gray, overcast, depressing afternoon – something for which residence in the US Southwest does not prepare its citizens. Since we have received a request for info on Beowulf IV from a journalist doing a book for the next “Little America’s Cup”, the scanner has been warmed up and we thought we’d share something different.
Beowulf IV was launched in 1969, when wing masts combined with soft sails were thought to be king, and before the advent of articulated wings for C-cat propulsion. The concept here was to develop a more powerful and lighter rig. The mast was a very thin walled eight inch aluminum tube with two sail tracks and double mainsails. Rik Taylor made the sails.
By over-rotating the mast and using a differential based mainsail clew control, we could create a powerful, relatively low drag asymmetric sail shape.
The daggerboards were 68 series laminar foils, angled to provide lift for the leeward hull.
Construction of the hulls was on the light side – 1/4” balsa core with a single layer of 6 ounce boat cloth for skins. Bob Noble and Alex Kosloff built the hulls and boards, Norm Riise did the daggerboard design on the mainframe computer at JPL.
In the first race of the 1969 Yachting One Of A Kind Regatta she showed promise, running away from the giant A-scow, then the king of the hill speedwise. This being in light conditions we were looking forward to more breeze.
The next day brought a northeaster, with lots of wind and waves, just what we liked to sail in. Coming back into Belmont Harbor with the rig feathered to slow us down we were hit with a major wind shift, the rig attached, we accelerated downwind, then dug the bows in and pitchpoled, cart wheeling several times. In the ensuing rescue the boat was badly damaged, with the rig going to the bottom of Lake Michigan.
We never really learned how to make Beowulf IV go properly. In spurts, the combination of lifting boards and the asymmetric sail was very quick. But her untimely passing put an end to our learning curve.