Chesnut brown mahogany, copper coloured underwater body, inclined stern. Stretched keel and an effective rudder blade. A serious spar on top. This boat was the nightmare of the square metre boat sailors at Lake Constance in the eighties in the first version.
Contra as a modern 30 sqm boat
At that time, Dr. Klaus Mueller from Überlingen, had boat designer Friedrich Judel design a 30-square-metre-boat and had it built by the Michelsen yard in Friedrichshafen from moulded mahogany. This frightens the sqm boat scene on Lake Constance. The designs of the bearded Friedrich Judel and his colleague Rolf Vrolijk have a reputation on Admiral’s Cup regatta courses, at that time the sailing Grand Prix.
30 sqm boat with slightly more comfort
Initially, the boat had a class-compliant keel with an attached rudder and a sqm boat rig with 3/4 headsail height. At the time, Friedrich Judel explained his design in a factual manner: “The boat should appeal to sailors who love the classy sqm boat lines but want more comfort aboard. So the deck was raised by 30 centimetres. We try to compensate for the resulting disadvantages (stability, wind resistance) by optimising the lines and keel shape so that this design is comparable in performance with the considerably lower conventional 30s. In order for the boat to be approved for regattas, the design was submitted to the Swedish Square metre boat association for classification, which was granted. The boat is built strictly according to the regulations. All components are dimensioned so that the weight and centre of gravity comply to conventional wooden construction.”
A true 30 sqm boat?
In other words, not a flat-bodied racer from the 1920s with elegant overhangs that nostalgics and Lake Constance sailors are familar with, appreciate and love. Instead of the charming spoon bow, there is a modern one. The stern is wider and lifted lower out of the water. Above it is a modern yacht with the side view of a cupper. Now the question of whether this is a sqm boat cannot be decided based on the looks. The dimensions simply have to comply with the rule of 1925. Swedish designs by Arvid Laurin, Peter Norlin and Håkan Södergren or by Ian Howlett in England are examples.
The keel is also different. It is not part of the hull in the conventional S-shaped form, but sits at a right angle under the U-shaped hull, just like a modern boat. However, Contra weighs about half a tonne more than a typical Lake Constance Thirty of the Bijou type with the same sail area. This is due to the 30 cm raised hull with the same wall thickness of at least 18 mm and the prescribed rib spacing. This makes light wind sailing difficult.
The Contra Affair
As an easer person and ambitious owner, Mueller has the boat prepared by the two top Flying Dutchman sailors Eckart and Joerg Diesch. There are two different stories about the debut. According to one, Contra sailed up and away from the fleet of conventional 30 sqm boats. Other observers recall that Contra was by no means as declassifying as feared. So the advantages or disadvantages of the Judel design could have been watched and evaluated over the course of several sailing summers.
The International Association of the 30 square metre boat Association e. V. does not have this composure. Instead of seeing a revitalisation and enrichment of the class through a different kind of design, they fear a battle of materials. Mueller seems to have fuelled this fear with his full-bodied announcement that he will start with a sweepingly faster Thirty. In order to protect the local Bijou-type, which has been the standard class on Lake Constance since the beginning of the 1970s, and the fleet of classics, the building regulations are changed 1985. Contra is excluded from racig. Mueller does not accept this. He has spent a lot of money on a boat that conforms to international rules and is claiming 170 thousand marks in damages. The dispute is fought out to the bitter end with some stubbornness and truly german thoroughness.
Friedrich Judel recalls: “We did not promise Mr Mueller a generally faster boat. The speed simulations at the time showed one or two advantageous situations. But there were also negative sides. That Mueller picked out one of the advantageous situations and peddled it was probably not so clever in retrospect.”
Dispute all the way to the Federal Supreme Court
The legal dispute is conducted through three instances in Tuebingen, Stuttgart and then up to the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe. It becomes so abstract that only those with legal knowledge still understand what it is all about in the very end. On 12 March 1990, the German Supreme Court BHG decides the so-called “Square metre boat verdict” (BGHZ 110,323 ff.). It becomes the subject of a 401-page habilitation by Mathias Habersack at the University of Heidelberg in 1995. That Square metre boat verdict has since become the subject of examinations for prospective lawyers on the topic of association law.
In order to conclude the financial aspects, the case goes back to Tuebingen via the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart, where 85 thousand marks in damages and a personal claim against the president of the association responsible at the time, or alternatively the liquidation of the class association, are threatened. After a tough struggle for a settlement, the Class Association pays 35 thousand marks, financed by the remaining members. Many square metre boat sailors leave the class accociation at that time.
The Contra Affair is momentous for the 30 sqm class until today. The question of whether the 30 sqm boat is a construction class or a one design is answered unclearly by the Class Association. In its statutes, it refers to a construction class, but only admits newbuildings of the Bijou type. Recently, it has also made the admission of classics to race on Lake Constance more difficult with relaying, silencing and bureaucratic hurdles. At the European Cup of the Thirties, which is held every two years alternately in Sweden or on Lake Constance, all 30 sqm boats are exceptionally allowed to race in local waters just for that event for a few days, otherwise not.
Mueller tunes Contra with a long double spreader spar of a 40 sqm boat with runners and check stays and a modern keel. The blueprint for the fin is a result of a towing tank survey for an ambitious cupper project by Judel/Vrolijk. A scaled-down version is being made for Contra with a 5-axis milling machine. For health reasons, Mueller has to part with his sailing toy after a while with a very heavy heart. That boat which was only allowed to show what it could do briefly on the 30s regatta courses.
Contra as a 30 sqm boat
|Length over all||12.20 m|
|Length waterline planned||8.80 m|
|Beam waterline||1.76 m|
|Planned displacement||2.7 t|
|Real displacement||≈ 3.1 t|
|Measured sailarea (mainsail + 85 % headsail ∆)||30 m2|
|Headsail ∆||11.2 m2|
|Main luff P measurement||11.48 m|
|Main foot E measurement||3.55 m|
|Headsail hight I measurement||8.70 m|
|Base headsail ∆ J measurement||2.60 m|
|Cabin height||1.55 m|
|Hull 5 layers cold moulded mahogany|
|Deck foam cored, teak covered and plywood|
|Stainless steel keel fin with lead|
|Design No. 305 by Friedrich Judel, Judel/Vrolijk Design 1983/4|
|Michelsen Werft Friedrichshafen 1985|
Contra as IMS Bodenseeracer GER 3132
|Beam Waterline||1.92 m|
|Draft net/gross weight||2.04 – 2.10 m|
|Displacement net/gross||3.2 – 3.9 t|
|Spar length above deck||14.15 m|
|Main luff P measurement||13 m|
|Main foot E measurement||5 m|
|Headsail hight I measurement||11.5 m|
|Base headsail ∆ J measurement||3.50 m|
|1. converted small motorbike gasoline Zuendapp two-stroke engine|
|2. Zwocylinder fourstroke gasoline Yamaha F 15 engine with Saildrive 330 in separate box behind rudder (permitted on Swiss lakes & Lake Constance), installed 2008, 50 kgs||11 kW / 15 hp|
Photo on top by Alexander Lutz: Contra at Michelsen yard/Friedrichshafen. Publication of drawings courtesy of Friedrich Judel.