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  1. #1
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    Farewell to Ron E Spells - an obituary

    Thursday, 15 December 2011

    Ron Spells from Seatrek to Upho

    Ron waited until he was 45 years of age before commencing sailing - in a monohull - but that was 1965 and still early days for multihulls. He couldn’t have known then that he would be sailing catamarans for over 40 seasons.

    Ron has been daysailing the Solent in recent years in his bespoke catamaran Upho, built for him 30 years ago by Derek Kelsall. This year he did motor down the Hamble once in the Spring having recovered from surgery, but whilst Upho will be refitted for future seasons Ron Spells died 7th December 2011, aged 91.
    Ron mixed cruising with occasional racing and whilst racing notable successes have been:

    Winner Multihull Burnham Week
    Winner Overall Nore Race
    Winner Bridgedeck Multihull Round the Island Race.
    He has competed in 6 Crystal trophies. 35 RTI Races, Poole Bar Race,
    Nab and other local races. He has cruised many Channel & Bristol Channel ports.

    Ron took an interest in Multihulls because the superior speed would cover a greater cruising range than a monohull, particularly the sluggish Hillyard he had been sailing. He was also always interested in innovation and multihulls fit the bill. He purchased a Snowgoose from Prout Catamarans and this was built with a lighter lay-up. Ron’s boat was called Seatrek. He sold that on to a Hampshire Yachtsman who pitchpoled her during the RTI Race, towed under whilst inverted she was lost.

    Ron had home-completed a lighter version of a Snowgoose made with foam-cored bulkheads and rather Spartan inside. Called Spelian she had an extra 10’ on the mast height. Whilst completing the hulls Ron would lay-up the lightweight bulkheads in his garden and then drive to the hull with the bulkheads tied to the projecting bits of his car. Longer and taller than any car it was presumably good fortune that no vehicle ever approached from the nearside. Roland Prout was a good friend as well as boatbuilder and always a most charming companion. He joined the crew of Spelian on one particularly foggy Crystal Trophy. Roland had a very impressive new watch with diver’s bezel etc., but he was peeved he had to ask colleagues to read the tiny numbers. Tahiti Bill Howell was a relaxed character who also crewed with Ron. Bill was most unassuming and you would never have imagined he was such an experienced single-handed Transat man, but he was clearly an excellent helmsman.

    Spelian was a very fast cruiser and made passage to the Scillies, Ireland, France. She was sold on to a Northern Ireland citizen who raced a good deal. This catamaran also was capsized, in a Loch, fortunately near the shore and a handy group of off-duty firemen hauled her upright.

    Ron had purchased a new Iroquois from Sailcraft of Brightlingsea.

    She was an uncompleted sale but had the distinction of being a “stretch” of an extra metre in length (all at the stern). Iroquois are a sprightly design but the extra length gave her an excellent turn of speed. Sailed round to the East coast Spelian II won her class in Burnham week.

    Ron was interested in the development of catamaran design so with a view to competing in the Round Britain Race he commissioned a new catamaran from Derek Kelsall. This used two slim 38’ trimaran outrigger floats with 4 dagger boards. The bridgedeck configuration was cleverly designed with watertight compartments to float the vessel if inverted and then facilitate righting of the vessel end over end when the bows were flooded. This exercise was never proven fortunately, but she has been a most seaworthy and seakindly fast cruiser/racer. Upho has occasionally clocked 26kn, but more regularly would maintain 16kn on the reach and 10kn to windward.

    Sailed round to Canvey Island, Upho won the BYC Nore Race.

    In 1985 when Ron was 65 and with a crew which included his 14 year old granddaughter, Upho won her class in the RTI Race. Ron entered the RTI Race 34 other times and has sailed the rig off the boat twice. Each time it has been with a generous spinnaker set. If you bury the leeward bow it only needs sundry component failure to ditch the mast over the bow, though that does usefully avoid a capsize. Each time the whole rig was recovered in fairly good order without assistance & Upho returned to the Hamble under her own power. A testimony to his seamanship.

    Another eventful but unsuccessful race was an entry in the Nab Race starting from Cowes. On the start line a trimaran went about immediately in front of Upho, which on the wind at 10kn had little options in trajectory. The helm (not Ron) chose the gentlest route of mounting the trimaran, which was over the cockpit of the trimaran. Slipping back from a 30% overlap all seemed well but Upho became progressively sluggish. It was then apparent that the raised outboard propeller of the trimaran had punched a hole right through Upho’s starboard hull underwater. Ron did a wonderful job of packing quick-drying cement into the hole whilst suspended by his ankles and below water. A quick pump-out & another return to port under her own steam.
    Ron was fortunate enough to be active about his house and garden until the last week of his life. He daysailed 20 miles in April this year to Chichester. In the last month of his life he took great interest in arrangements for Upho to sail around to Portsmouth for a lift-out and the various arrangements for a refit.

    He will be much missed by all who knew and sailed with him.

    Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von
    www.mocra-sailing.co.uk

  2. #2
    Registriert seit
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    Multihull Sailors,

    Ron Spells - As a client to design and build for and as a shipmate, they do not come any better.
    Lots of discussion of design options and relaxed sailing/racing. Upho was one of 8 - 10 of our
    designs I raced in the Round The Island. Ron got a lot of satisfaction from his sailing in the So-
    lent area and in the small multihull community gatherings. I can echo Peter's comments.

    One of the few disadvantages of moving to the other side of the World is keeping track of people.
    I often wondered if Ron and Upho were still sailing. Thanks Peter for the notice and our condolen-
    ces to the Spells family.

    Ron had owned a cruising Prout and wanted a cat which was more interesting to sail. It was a low
    budget, custom project, at a time when we had a couple of regular hull moulds at 23 and 28ft.
    I don't know if anyone else has done this but it is surprising how you can take a fiberglass hull
    and change its shape or put in a section to lengthen or widen and then change the shape. Do-
    ing this taught us a lot about shapes and a number of both cats and tris were built this way,
    between 28ft and 46ft. By spreading the deck, we had a cat or tri main hull. By pulling the deck
    edge inwards, a lot further than I ever imagined initially (tumble-home) we got a great tri out-
    rigger or racing cat hull. We could not predict the shape precisely but got close enough to be
    sure the hulls were suitable. More rocker was introduced by spreading the deck width. Less
    rocker by pulling in the deck width. One mould will produce both the main hull and the outrig-
    ger for a tri. This was prior to KSS, but probably sowing the seeds of KSS shaping. The one
    major experiment we tried on Upho was four dagger boards. We had used trim boards on
    tris and found it a convenient arrangement to balance the sails, with main board biased fo-
    ward. Upho, we found to be relatively insensitive to which boards were in use, which I could
    never fully explain.

    Happy boating, Derek Kelsall

    Mit freundlicher Genehmigung vonmultihulls@steamradio.com

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