MECHANIZED MARVEL GOES TO SEA

The fleet that runs west to the Hawaiian Islands this July 4 in the Transpacific race will have to match the speed of a rejuvenated racer named 'Nam Sang,' a thoroughly mechanized marvel which, if engineering makes a winner, ought to sail away from the fleet like a ballistic missile.
July 05, 1959

'NAM SANG': FROM CLUNKER TO QUEEN

Nam Sang, the handsome ocean racer shown below, is one of those rare creatures that reach the height of their strength and beauty in middle age. When she rides downwind, her great spinnaker stands out in magnificent curves against the trade winds of the Pacific. Her deck and rigging, as the illustrations on these pages show, are agleam with the polished metal of nautical fittings so unique that any engineer, sailor or curious landsman could spend a full day wandering her 66-foot length, fingering her levers, winches, lines and related paraphernalia without ever coming to the end of her fascinations. Furthermore, she is a first-rate racing machine, a favorite to win the 2,225-mile race to Honolulu starting July 4.

With Nam Sang, however, it was not always this way. For the first 21 years of her life she was a nautical lemon. Her early record can best be summed up by her performance in her first three Honolulu races: in the 1939 Honolulu race she came in 16th; in the 1953 Honolulu she finished 23rd; in 1955 she was 22nd. Then, two years ago, an amazing change came over Nam Sang. Suddenly her record began to read like this: 1957 Ensenada, third; 1957 Honolulu, second finisher, first in Class A on corrected time; 1958 Ensenada, first finisher and over-all fleet winner. In short, Nam Sang had risen from clunker to queen of the fleet, perhaps the only ocean racer in history to make good after two decades of chasing the other boats home.

Nam Sang's dramatic rise began under a previous owner, Louis Statham of Los Angeles. Statham, a very rich electronics entrepreneur, bought Nam Sang with the idea that nothing was wrong with the boat that a little money wouldn't cure. So Statham spent—but spent in vain, alas, until he invited Edmund Grant, 53, of San Pedro, Calif, to advise on Nam Sang's ailments. Grant is a man who thinks for himself. Among other things, he is a mechanical engineer with 19 years of design experience in the airplane industry, an amateur naval architect who designed and built a successful ocean racer and a racing skipper with a creditable record both on his own boat and on boats skippered for other men. He is lean, quizzical and a gleeful iconoclast. In fact, so much does he love to prick the bubbles of convention that if one did not know of Grant's important scientific contributions, among them the design for the drive machinery on the giant telescope at Palomar, he could give the impression of being a screwball.

At Statham's request, Grant looked Nam Sang over, sailed her and pondered her lines. Then he told Statham what was needed. Statham listened and, perhaps because Statham is also an engineer, he decided Grant made sense. As a result, Grant got the rare chance of redesigning a boat with cost no object.

He began only two months before the 1957 Honolulu race. First of all, Grant decided she needed more sail up forward, and that she could take it without being overcanvassed, so he put on a steel bowsprit, added four feet to the mast, and wound up with a cutter rig that could carry all the head canvas Nam Sang would ever need. Grant was particularly proud of his new spinnaker.

"The bowsprit gave her a god-awful big foretriangle," says Grant. "Under the rules it allowed Nam Sang to carry a tremendous spinnaker. And the spinnaker that Kenny Watts made for us is so good that I won't even show it to people."

The sail question settled, Grant then added $20,000 worth of fittings designed by himself, the like of which had hardly been to sea before.

"If there is one thing I abhor," says Grant, "it is simplicity carried to the point of inadequacy, and that's what most ocean racers have." In Nam Sang's rig, Grant set out to show what complication could do for a boat. Among his specifications for the new rig, shown above and analyzed in detail on the following pages, were double headstays, so that during a sail change the crew could keep one headsail flying right up to the moment when the new headsail started up the wire. "If you leave the fore-triangle bare during a sail change you lose three minutes," says Grant. Typically, Grant does not leave the matter there. His headstays have unique C-shaped fittings at the bottom which allow the crew to move head-sails on and off (see page 55) without the use of a single snap shackle.

Drawing on his knowledge of high-stress metals, Grant has created other fittings which ought to last longer than the hull. For example, the main-halyard gantry, part of Nam Sang's intricate masthead (see page 54), is made from 7075-T6 anodized aluminum, a relatively new metallurgic development. "Every time they come up with a new alloy, they ought to redesign every rig," says Grant.

Colored lines—each color indicating a function—are another example of Grant's flamboyant ingenuity. Working out his own color code, he got hold of a batch of chemical dyes and for several weeks cooked evil-looking brews in a vat outside his home up on the Palos Verdes peninsula until Nam Sang had a full complement of colored line. And colored lines she needs. For when Sailing Master Grant decides to jibe the spinnaker, Nam Sang's crew may handle no fewer than 15 lines in getting the sail around.

The rebirth of Nam Sang has been a long and expensive process. In the first six months alone it cost Lou Statham $60,000. It would be a mistake, however, to think her performance thereafter was a foregone conclusion. You can spend a million dollars on a clunker and still have a clunker. Statham and Grant were gambling, one with money and the other with reputation.

But the gamble paid off. Nam Sang went into the 1957 Honolulu race with her 31 winches, reaching strut, twin coffee-grinder winch and Sailing Master Ed Grant perched in the cockpit, serenely confident that his mechanical masterpiece would perform with distinction. So confident of his designs was Grant that, contrary to some very sensible Honolulu race practices, he did not bother to send a man aloft even once to check the rigging for chafe. Thanks largely to his ingenious designs, the rigging came through without a sign of wear as Nam Sang wiped up Class A and came close to winning the entire race.

Clearly, Grant had something to say to the sailing fraternity. And Lou Statham, who was on the 1957 race, had something to say to Grant. So impressed was Statham that, in mid-Pacific, he offered the free-thinking engineer a job with Statham Instruments Inc.

The present owner, Bob Robbs, president of A. B. Robbs Trust Company in Phoenix, Ariz., is just as enthusiastic about the new look on Nam Sang. Robbs will be at the helm when she hits the starting line off Los Angeles this week and, whether or not he invites Grant into the investment business, he is grateful to his sailing master for bringing aboard his incredible bag of nautical tricks.

"Confidentially," said Grant, "I need some tricks. I think ocean racing is going to be dominated by the light-displacement boats like Legend. If those big canoes are handled properly, they are awful tough competition for comfortable, heavy-displacement boats like Nam Sang. They beat us last time. But I don't like the light-displacement hulls. They roll in the big swells. I am more than average sensitive to motion. I get seasick. So, for those light-displacement boats that I don't like but which I am forced to compete with, I need every advantage I can get."

THE MAST

On masthead (right) spinnaker-halyard sheave (1), main topping-lift sheave (2) and main-halyard gantry (3) all pivot to prevent chafe on wire halyards. Gantry locks mainsail headboard, reduces strain on mast by eliminating downward pull of main halyard while sail (4) is at masthead. Sail locks in place when upper lug of headboard link enters labyrinth of gantry, as shown in cutaway drawing (5), and moves as diagramed from position A through B to lock at C. To lower mainsail, crew first pulls on halyard, raising lug so it drops out of labyrinth to position D, thus freeing sail.

On lower mast (left) double tracks (6) guide spinnaker poles as chain hoists (7) move poles independently up and down mast. Inboard ends of poles (8) fit over unique Grant-designed gooseneck fittings (9) which ride track together with spinnaker outhaul blocks (10). Winch handle (11) at base of mast cranks sprocket winches to drive chain hoists. On most other boats poles must be hoisted or lowered with cumbersome tackle or on crew's shoulders. But Nam Sang's twin chain hoists simplify pole handling during complicated double-pole jibe popular on long downwind race to Honolulu. To jibe, crew fits second pole onto gooseneck at deck level and cranks it into place opposite first pole already in use. Outhaul on second pole is trimmed and outhaul on first pole is slacked to complete jibe without disrupting steady pull of sail. First pole is then cranked down. In double-pole system as used on Nam Sang both windward and leeward spinnaker sheets and spinnaker outhauls remain continuously attached to spinnaker (see illustration pages 52-53) so jibe can start quickly.

THE POLES
Reaching strut (top) gives crew control over spinnaker pole when Nam Sang is on a reach (see illustration pages 52-53). Without Grant-designed strut, pole becomes unmanageable when brought near headstay, since in this position spinnaker guy pulls pole back into mast rather than trimming tip of pole aft. Strut gives spinnaker guy good pulling angle on outboard end of pole, even when pole is resting on head-stay. Guy (1) runs over sheave at end of strut. Topping lift (2) keeps strut level. Special gooseneck (3) invented by Grant for both spinnaker poles and reaching strut holds inboard end of strut to mast (4). Gooseneck has male and female parts locked together with pin, cannot be shaken apart by rough seas. Outboard end of spinnaker pole (bottom, at right) has quadruple Swedish hook fitting. Upper hook is for spinnaker outhaul block (5). Afterguy (6) attaches to aft hook, downguy (not shown) to lower hook (7) and foreguy (not shown) to forward hook (8). Extra hook (9), on starboard pole only, holds topping lift, to keep spinnaker pole out of the water when Nam Sang starts yawing.

THE BOW
Bowsprit box (below) contains forestay lever (1) which engages and locks steel lugs on lower end of movable stay (2); ratchet winches (3) for adjusting headsail tack down-hauls (5); headstay winch (4) which simultaneously tightens one headstay while slacking the other. Headstay turn-buckle fitting (6) is slotted (see enlargement at right) so special headsail hooks (7) can slide onto lower end (8) of headstay. Headstay winch operates through lever (9) at base of each headstay fitting. When Nam Sang is under way, bowsprit box is sealed with cover (see illustration pages 52-53) which protects crew from winch gears inside.

SAIL TRIM

Nam Sang sail-trimming gear includes a hundred Swedish hooks (left) which eliminate use of snaps and shackles. Hooks fit into each other when joined at proper angle (1) but cannot be separated while under strain (2). Running-backstay deck fitting (below) can be moved quickly from slack position (3) to taut position (4) by pulling on line attached to fitting. When stay reaches taut position, crewman hauls fitting aft until teeth on lock wheel bite into holes at after end of track. Crewman then throws lever, which gives wheel final half-turn to take all slack out of backstay. Lever then snaps into locking device (5) to keep backstay in position until boat tacks and stay is returned to slack position.

Bolt keeps mainsail shackle (1) under pressure, grips cloth (2) even when sails are luffing. This design eliminates need for conventional marlin lashing, which rots and chafes on long races.

Coffee-grinder pedestal (1) has unique system that transmits power to only one of twin winch drums (2) at a time. When port handle turns clockwise (above) pawls (3) in port drum engage teeth on interior of drum, cause drum to rotate while similar pawls in starboard drum slip so that drum does not turn. When starboard handle turns clockwise, starboard drum rotates, port drum is idle.

PHOTOEZRA STOLLERCompact coffee grinder: Single coffee-grinder winch astern turns twin drums which haul spinnaker guys and genny sheets when sails need trimming. PHOTOEZRA STOLLERHigh-stress stay lever: Rounded teeth of backstay lever wheel bite into matched holes and keep windward backstay taut in support of the 74-foot mast. PHOTOEZRA STOLLERFitted Swedish hooks: Swedish hooks with matched openings are attached to sails, lines and deck fittings, allow quick shackling of running gear. PHOTOEZRA STOLLERMultipurpose bowsprit box: Steel bowsprit box encloses headstay-tension winch, headsail tack downhaul winches and locking lever for forward position of forestay. PHOTOEZRA STOLLERMatched mast hoists: Double bicycle-chain winches are used to haul inboard end of spinnaker pole up the mast. Chain hoists carry two poles simultaneously, will raise pole 13½ feet above level of deck even while spinnaker is set and pulling. PHOTOEZRA STOLLERPOWERFUL SPINNAKER PULLS "NAM SANG" AHEAD IN HONOLULU RACE TUNE-UP PHOTOEZRA STOLLER"NAM SANG" SKIPPER A. B. ROBBS PHOTOEZRA STOLLERSAILING MASTER EDMUND GRANT ILLUSTRATION1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
ILLUSTRATIONLower mast
6
7
8
9
10
11
ILLUSTRATIONUpper mast
1
2
3
4
ILLUSTRATIONReaching strut
1
2
3
4
ILLUSTRATIONSpinnaker pole
5
6
7
8
9
ILLUSTRATIONBowsprit box
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
ILLUSTRATIONSwedish hook
1
2
ILLUSTRATIONRunning backstay
3
4
5
ILLUSTRATIONMainsail shackle
1
2
ILLUSTRATIONTwin-drum coffee-grinder winch
1
2
2
3
DIAGRAM5
A
B
C
D

THINKING MAN'S RIG

Maze of mechanical refinements which have changed Nam Sang from also-ran to top contender in Honolulu race and which are shown in detail on the following pages are: lower mast with spinnaker-pole chain hoist (1); upper mast (2) with its main-halyard gantry lock, pivoting sheaves for spinnaker halyard and mainboom topping lift; spinnaker pole with quadruple Swedish hook fitting (3) on the outboard end; reaching strut (4) with open spinnaker-guy sheave; bowsprit box (5) containing headstay tightening winch, headsail tack downhaul winches and forestay forward-position lever; Swedish hooks (6) on all sheets, guys and halyards; running-backstay lever (7); mainsail shackles (8); and twin-drum coffee-grinder winch (9) for trimming genoa sheets and spinnaker afterguys quickly when boat tacks or jibes.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)