Having watch this item with interest for the last few weeks, and reading Ivan’s contribution to the discussion, I can hold back no longer and nor resist putting finger to key board.
Love at First Feel is in fact the sister ship to Fighting Machine, Johnny Miller hulls (basically a Mk IV Hull flared mid ships at the waterline) decked by Neil Marsden in 1990. Neil did complete a third boat which was a Windebank X, but that is an entirely different story.
Although wooden decked, these boats are incredibly light and at the Hong Kong Worlds in 1995, Fighting Machine was the lightest boat to be weighed during scrutineering and we had to carry extra lead.
I must say that I am not a fan of the centre consoles fitted to the Ovington boats. They are far too bulky and restrict the room available for the crew, particularly in light airs and when trying to have a snooze between races. If helms (predominantly the owner) had to sit in the front of the boat, these centre consoles would probably have been ditched years ago!!
Control lines can be far better placed on the side tank side ,away from interfering helmsmen who should be concentrating on steering the boat and not playing with bits of string. That should be the crew’s job.
Indeed when Neil Curry Curry and I had a new boat in 1997, of which I was co owner, we specifically ordered the boat without a console. Interestingly (or not I suppose), Brian McKee from Northern Ireland picked his new hull up on the same day as us, and he too had chosen to have no console, the first two boats without since Ovingtons had been fitting the offending items.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph of what we fitted, but it featured a tall stainless steel post for the mainsheet attachment to induce lateral pull.
One other aspect was the height of the mainsheet jammer which was quite a bit lower. The jammer in Fighting Machine is lower, and having sailed the boat, Neil felt the lower height was more comfortable and easier to operate than the standard Ovington height. It is entirely possible, but I can’t quite remember, that the height was copied from an early “Bumpy” Ovington IX, which simply had the piece of timber across the boat upon which to mount the Jammer and a few controls. I actually think this is almost a good as system as any.
However, my favourite is the one fitted on Brett Dingwall’s boats. They don’t impinge too far into the crew’s quarters, and control lines can be fitted in an accessible manner (who could imagine Charlie Apthorp resisting pulling a few string).
But the absolute must have, having sailed with Geoff Baylis, is what was called in the 505, a “Loveday” Loop, or alternatively in the Flying 15, a “Zimmer“. Absolutely brilliant as something for the crew to hang on to when sitting to leeward in light airs, something to grab hold of when getting into the boat, particularly at somewhere like Hayling, and perfect for providing lateral pull on the mainsheet and reducing the direct downward pull. Signicantly these can be retrofitted to almost any boat, whatever their current system. And best of all for Chris from Bass, the aforementioned Mr. Curry now has one of Geoff’s old boats with the “Zimmer” fitted, so he can easily go and have a look.
To conclude, you can see from the picture that Fighting Machine is currently in the process of receiving a little long overdue TLC. But be assured, both she and her sister, Love at First Feel, are going to be back on the circuit in 2013!!