Hosted by: Perth Dinghy Sailing Club
Phlipnhel as in “Flip’n’hell”
Design by Phil McNeill, built by Phil McNeill and Neil Deverall
South Pacifics Champion: 2008-2009 & 20012-201
Sanders Cup Winner: 2004, 2006, 2014, 2015
New Zealand Nationals Winner: 2006, 2009, 2013, 2015
Kingham Trophy: 2006
At the time of building “Phlipnhel” what were your main design objectives? And how did you plan to achieve these?
My goal was to build a Javelin that was fast in all conditions and have the downwind speed advantage of “No Name Required” – my first Javelin design. I wanted it to be safe in the breeze as No Name Required Jav 359 was a bit of a handful in the breeze as was Bax’s boat The Unknown.
To make it safer, I used lots of rocker and a very narrow transom. The rocker helps to avoid nose diving and the narrow transom allows you to sink the back of the boat, lifting the front and reducing the tendency to nose dive.
Most skiffs are designed for maximum water line upwind in a breeze and flat aft sections for speed planning downwind in a breeze. To achieve this with a Javelin requires minimum rocker and high chines at the mid length measuring point, which makes them prone to nose diving and they stick in light weather. I designed Phlipnhel with the front half of the hull for light weather and the back half for heavy weather. The rocker allowed me to either sail on the front half of the boat or the back half of the boat depending on the conditions. The front half has very U’ed sections that provide a lot of bouyancy with minimum wetted surface. It also has the advantage that the boat is happy to sail bolt upright in semi wiring conditions, whereas a V’ed hull such as No Name Required wants to flop either to windward or to leeward, making it difficult to maintain speed in semi-wiring conditions. The only consideration to heavy weather sailing in the bow sections was to keep the chines very straight and narrow to help cut through waves. The back half was designed for heavy weather and is straight and flat.
I believe that the change that has made the biggest improvement, was significantly lowering the chines at the mid length measuring point. This has resulted in flatter sections in the middle of the boat, which allows the boat to carry weight much better, and again reduce nose diving. This has also help get her up on the plane earlier, and she stays there longer.
Upon launching and sailing “Phlipnhel” how did she go? Had you meet your design objectives?
The light weather design objective was definitely met. The boat was very fast in light weather and will carry big crew weights. Even with the likes of Hamish Hey up front at 110kgs, I still expect Phlipnhel to win light weather races. The boat did not perform downwind in a breeze as well as I had hoped. It is fast but I believe No Name Required is significantly faster. However having a Javelin that doesn’t want to nose dive all the time is awesome, so it is definitely safer in a breeze than No Name Required. Originally we struggled in choppy upwind conditions in 8-10 knots. I’m not sure if this was due to a rig issue or our fore & aft trim, but we seem to have overcome that now.
The midpoint lowered chines created more lift forward, which tends to make the boat plane with the bow up and stern down, so we have to move forward in the boat to counteract that, although it didn’t seem to slow it down, it just looked and felt wrong.
Since launching “Phlipnhel” have you made any modifications? What was the aim of the mods? Were they things you needed to change, or somethings you could see you could get more out of the boat?
Since launching Phlipnhel, I have lowered the chines at the transom by 10mm to try and improve downwind speed but I’m not sure if it achieved anything because the change was so small. Before we head to Perth at Christmas, I intend to widen the transom to make it more like No Name Required and hopefully to achieve the same speed. I’m hoping it won’t negatively effect the boat handling but as we seldom sail in really strong winds anymore, I don’t expect it to be a frequent problem. Unfortunately the modification will add weight to a Javelin which is already significantly overweight.
What are her good points? Are there conditions where she really goes well?
Her best point is that she is easy to sail fast, with smooth transitions between modes. She goes well in all conditions with no particular favourite condition.
Are there conditions where you feel she under performs? Or are their any instances where she jumps up and bites?
The best thing about Phlipnhel is that she never jumps up and bites. As far as Javelins go, she is easy to sail in every condition.
What are the 3 key things to get right in building and setting up a Javelin to sail?
One of the biggest challenges to a Javelin, is to get the layout of control lines and sheets right. Every boat is set up differently so there is no tried and true system to follow. Since launching, I have changed a few things, but I’m very happy with how everything works with the current lay out. In saying that, I still have a few ideas to try.
The other key thing is to get the rig right, especially the correct mast stiffness.. Phlipnhel has suffered since launching with mast issues and after a decade of experimenting we finally seem to be on top of it.
What makes the biggest difference is simply time on the water, trying to improve everything from boat handling to gear changing to boat speed testing and then of course the racing tactics etc. I learnt a lot of that through my 470 sailing, but in recent years the biggest improvement has been in my tactical racing. I wish I had known this stuff when I was racing 470’s! Unfortunately for you young ones ie those under 50? I think that as you get to the geriatric stage in life, you start making up for your lack of physical ability with brains and deviousness. Or it could be that I am confident in our boat speed in all conditions, which lets me relax and think smart, see what is coming and play the chess game accordingly.
SPEED MAKES EVERYONE A TACTICAL GENIUS!
playlist: Javelins Sailing (All Videos)
playlist: Boat Building
If you have or know of any videos to be added please let us know by commenting and we’ll add them to one of the above playlists or create a new one just for it.
As most of you will be aware John Spencer, the designer of the Javelin died in 1996.
I thought it would be appropriate to have something to remind us of the man behind the class.
“A brilliant designer and superb craftsman, John’s lifelong passion was to get as many people as possible particularly youngsters – onto the water in their own affordable boats.”
“Knowledgeable in many areas, complex and multi-talented, well-read, or quick mind and keen humour, popular and generous, many believe that only Johns modesty and dislike of publicity kept him from being a national hero.”
“He was the champion of the amateur boat-builder. Next to affordable, his boats had to be simple and fun. They were always fast.”
“In his final years John returned to his roots – to his affinity for small boats, dinghies which kids could build with their parents. Earlier generations had grown up with Spencers Flying Ant, Cherubs, Javelins and Frostplys. Now kids and their parents were discovering his Jollyboats, Firebugs and Firebirds.”
“Internationally John is best remembered for his series of radically fast, lightweight but strong keel-boats. Yachts like Infadel (now Ragtime), Buccaneer, New World, Whispers II, Sirius and many others changed forever the old concepts of a performance off-shore sailboat.”
“More than anything in his life, John abhorred ‘bullshit’. Expensive ways of doing things which could be done as well, if not better, in an affordable way were the worst ‘bullshit’ of all.”
Timeline, of the Javelin design
- 1957-58 – The Javelin was designed along with a “much-improved” Cherub.
- 1960 – More cherubs on the water, an improved Javelin and new keel boats
- 1962 – He was building a number of Javelins, Cherubs and powerboats up to 6.7m
Prolific Letter Writer
John was a prolific letter writer, often sending and receiving as many as 17 letters in a day, to and from all corners of the world.
Some excerpts from his more than 300 letters to Peter Tait:
“One and a half weeks to go to the pension. Will believe it when I see it on the bank statement. I wonder if they pay it before or after. I suppose they would not pay it in advance in case you dies before the fortnight was up.”
“Social Welfare department informed me today that my first ‘guaranteed’ retirement income will be deposited in my bank account tomorrow and henceforth every 2nd Tuesday. I brought after much hesitation this afternoon, a plastic bottle of $19.95 gin to celebrate. It is as good as any other London Dry but had one and decided I had lost my taste for it. I guess it’s all just habit but why can’t I get a habit for fruit juice?”
Reproduced with permission. – Boating New Zealand, April 1996
Flying Circus is getting a bit of an upgrade. Here are some photos of her new rudder being built by Andrew Howden (boat builder).
Andrew can by contacted via Howden Boat Builders
Jim White bought a set of plans off John Spencer. Originally, he wanted a Cherub, but John reckoned that Jim was too heavy for one of those and that the 14-foot boat he had just drawn – a Javelin – would be better suited. Jim obtained the plans for the price of two pounds.
Jim had never built a boat before taking on the construction of Gidget.
The total cost of building Gidget was around 280 pounds.
Gidget was launched in 1958 or 1959. Jim owned her for three seasons with Don McGowan skippered for him. Gidget did not have a sail number.
The dates below are confirmed, except where stated they are not. There are a few holes at the moment. If you have any suggestions or requests please let us know by commenting below.
Traveler Series: North Island Sprints
dates: Sat & Sun, 17th & 18th October 2015
host: Rotorua Yacht Club
South Pacifics training: Auckland (venue to be decided)
dates: tbc (early November, maybe even Labour weekend)
host: (to be decided, but somewhere in Auckland for sure)
Just because you can: Napier Summer Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 28th & 29th November 2015
host: Napier Sailing Club
Just because you can: Sir Peter Blake Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 5th & 6th December 2015
host: Torbay Sailing Club
South Pacifics: 45th Australian Javelin Championships & South Pacific Championships
dates: 28th Dec 2015 to 4th Jan 2016
host: Perth Dinghy Sailing Club
Just because you can: Napier New Year Regatta
dates: 1st to 3rd Jan 2016
host: Napier Sailing Club
Nationals: Might River Power Regatta
dates: Fri, Sat & Sun, 18th, 19th & 20th February 2015
host: Lake Taupo Yacht Club
Sanders Cup: Whangarei
host: Whangarei Cruising Club
note: All boats welcome, regional representatives only qualify
North Island Champs: Evan’s Bay Regatta
dates: Sat & Sun, 9th & 10th April
host: Evan’s Bay Yacht & Motor Boat Club