1963 the boat is built

From the book of Ilpo Kauhanen ”Veneenrakentaja Eino Antinoja, Vene tehty menestymään, ISBN 951-664-155-5

Pekka Herlin (1932-2003) the chairman of the board at Kone Oy was a member of the yacht club Merenkävijät since 1947. He raced successfully in the beginning with a Sulka -boat, but sailing was put aside for years because of his work. His grandfather Harald Herlin, was in his days an enthusiastic sailor. He also planned sailingboats. For himself he had planned an American sailingboat in accordance with the 6m rule – Sentan – that was built at Uddeholm Shipyard at Rajasaaressa, Helsinki in 1906.This boat was "a good rough wind boat, that won the Nikolajeffin Trophy three times in the years of 1906-1909 and got the trophy for good." (The Yacht Club of Nyland 1861-1911) (Henrik Ramsay: Memories of a sailor).

Pekka Herlin had the enthusiasm for sailing as a legacy from the family. He started his sailing pursuit again in the beginning of the sixtees. He made a decision to built a new sailing boat and wanted it to be drawn up by a Finnish designer. Pekka Herlin turned to Jarl Lindblom in Turku, graduated engineer, who was known as an excellent boat designer and asked him to plan a fast cruising boat for him. The Swedish designer Olle Enderlein had planned an ocean cruiser for Henrik Lavonius, “Lavona”, which was built in 1959 at the shipyard of Ludwig Wilenius in Porvoo. Mr. Lavonius said he wanted a ”manageable ocean cruiser, that because of it’s speed qualifications did not have to be forced into certain measurements but still fulfil its noble spaces”. The new boat satisfied these demands. “Lavona” was what Pekka herlin thought of, when he gave Jarl Lindblom the conditions for design of the new boat. The lines of the boat to be built also had similarities with five international 5m sailing boats designed by jarl Lindblom for the Maritime Ministry of Argentina in the 1950.

"Lavona" still sails owned by Martti Saikku as "Linda Maria" with OR L-1 on her sails.

Pekka Herlin told Jarl Lindblom the approximate measurements for the imminent boat and wanted above all a fast sailing boat. Lindblom defined the final specifications and materials to be used. the strength calculations were inspected by Det Norske Veritas, and they did the necessary changes to the construction. Even if the basic target was partly a racing boat the new boat was designed purely as a cruising boat, putting aside the compensating rules that were valid at that time. The aim of the design was to create a sailing boat that was as fast as possible – that goal also was achieved. (On the drawings Jarl Lindblom has made notes: “"Aux. Cruising Yacht" for mr. Pekka Herlin.) (Henrik Lavonius’s book: Havskryssaren s/y "Lavona", Merikarhut ry, yearbook 1961.) (Gustav W. Norrmen: Vind i seglen, Borgå 1989.)

The actual construction of the new boat Jarl Lindblom and Pekka Herlin gave to Ludwig Wilenius at Porvoo, because he was known for his excellent work and quality. Pekka Herlin once said: "Besides that ”'Ludde” Wilenius still had three fingers left on his other hand; one of them he then lost building ”Aura”.

Other possible constructers could have been Vator Oy at Jollas and Nils Jonasson at Pirttisaari both in Helsinki. Turun Veneveistämö – Åbo Båtvarf Ab in Turku, that was famous for its excellent quality had already started to produce glassfiber strengthened boats. He met Mr. Antinoja in 1966 during the Skaw Race arranged by the Royal Danish Yacht Club’s 100 anniversary.

Wilenius followed the drawings of the designer, but he had ideas of himself too – among other things he built the ruff depart from the plan. The choice of the material was made according to the orders of Lindblom, and it was very high-quality. The body is mahogany, the keel is iroko, the bows hickory and screws silicum bronze. The deck is naturally made of teak on mahogany plywood. The weight keel is led.

The mast on the original drawing is equipped with upper spreaders and one ordinary pair of spreaders. During the construction phase Jarl Lindblom changed the support of the mast to two pairs of spreaders while the measurements were kept unchanged. The hollow mast was produced from silver spruce and it was installed on the deck into a holder that is non-adjustable. Under the deck the mast is supported by a wide cemented beam, that again is supported by the closet and the construction of the toilet. Jarl Lindblom planned the engine to be placed under the bridge deck but Pekka Herlin thought that the engine is unnecessary. A lot of batteries were placed in the bilge in order to provide electricity. Urheilutarpeita Oy made a complete set of sails of dacron including a nylon –spinnaker.

The new boat was completed in 1963. It was named “Aura” and was registered in the Finnish Sailers’ Association - Suomen Purjehtijaliito – with the number OR L-35. Measurements: Length 12,40 m/40,8 ft, beam 2,5 m/8,2 ft, draft 1,77 m/5,6 ft, weight 5,7 tons and sail area 48 m²/156 ft².

Because of the off shore races “Aura” was measured in the RORC II –class. “Aura” sailed well and is an excellent tack and cruise boat. The sail area of the boat was reduced twice cutting off the main sail boom. The intension was to get a more favourable rating rule. Because of the large sail area and the long and slim waterline “Aura” got a rating, which did not result in very good positions, even if it had the best time in the race.

Naturally Pekka Herlin was displeased with this situation and he started to consider finding a new more competitive off shore sailing boat. He studied international articles about new off shore racing boats, their features and success rates in races. This is when he became aware of the new British boat “Firebrand” designed by Sparkman & Stephens.

Decision to build a new off shore racing boat

Until 1965 the Gotland Runt –race had reached an established format. The start had been moved from Visby to the face of Sandhamn. The goal was still in Sandhamn. The same year Airisto Segeksällskap I Åbo (Airisto Yacht Club in Turku) celebrated their 100 years. In order to honour this celebrating Yacht Club the Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet, that organizes the Gotland Runt –race, decided to have the goal of the race in Finland at the island of Utö. After the race all boats sailed to Turku where they docked in Aurajoki and took part in the ceremonies. There is also a TV” documentary “Aura tuulenhenki” (Aura spirit of wind) that has been shown February 20. 1966.

Pekka Herlin participated with “Aura” in this Gotland Runt –race. However he was not satisfied with the results of the race. In the first part of the race from Almagrundet to the south peak of Gotlland, to Hoburg, there was unfavourable winds and they had to tack and here Aura dropped behind many competitors. Instead in the latter part of the race from the south peak of Gotland to Utö Aura sailed nicely passing by many of their competitors. Aura arrived in 11. position out of 22 competitors in its class. When analyzing the results of the race you can notice that boats designed by Sparkman & Stephens were superior on the tack parts and they also won the RORC –class II and III.

As a conclusion of this race Pekka Herlin decided, that Aura has to be replaced with a modern off shore racing boat and it will be designed by Sparkman & Stephens. Pekka Herlin had analyzed among others in the Yachting World –magazine, the “Firebrand” built for the English Dennis P. Miller and their success rates in races. Base on his investigations Pekka Herlin came to a conclusion that the design of his new boat has to be based on the “Firebrand”. He was in contact with Olin Stephens directly and negotiated with him about the design of a new boat.

Based on the experiences he had from “Aura” Pekka Herlin set the foundation for the design. The new boat should “carry” its sails well. This was a necessity had to be good in tacking in tough winds and heavy seas. Therefore he demanded that the keel weight proportion had to be over 50 %. Olin Stephens went against this demand, saying that he had not previously designed a boat where this weight proportion is over 47 % of the total. Because the purpose of the design was to create a successful off shore racing boat, it was natural, that the boat had to have a rating which is as favourable as possible.

In the spring 1966 Pekka Herlin presented at the annual meeting of the Merenkävijät Yacht Club the demands regarding the new boat. I addition to the basic demands mentioned earlier the following points were noted:"--- besides the general demands for the safety and the ability at sea of a sailing boat it has to, at least satisfying comply with among others the following, demands which are important especially in racing:- from the point of efficient sailing a large deck area is an important factor, and therefore a so called “flush deck” could be appropriate for this purpose- the deack area should be organized so that the different activities disturb each other as little as possible, especially worth noticing was the fact that the steering and the boat and the care for the sails has to be separated from each other- also the different functions under the deck, as sleeping, preparing of food and navigation has to be separated as much as possible.

Still can be mentioned that there are room for 8 persons; fore cabin 2, main cabin 4 and stern cabin 2. The toilet is next to the fore cabin. In the main cabin are the pentry and the dining area and in the stern are the skippers cabin and the navigation space. The navigation table is large enough for a unfolded nautical map.

From the deck you so into the boat there are three entrances: stern into the capten’s cabin, middle into main cabin and fore into the fore cabin. The design of the interior emphasizes especially the need for ventilation. This is the reason why there are no doors in the cabinets.

Finally Olin Stephens agreed to the keel weight proportion that Pekka Herlin demanded but said at once that the new boat would be designed depart from the “Firebrand” with divided under water lateral surface and a “negative” flat stern. Pekka Herlin accepted the plan and the necessary changes were made to offset plan because of the under water lateral surface.

1967 - 2000
Second, third and fourth owners did not have Aura too long. Fifth owner bought Aura in 1979 in a slightly bad condition. Aura has always been in Helsinki and that is were it stayed for next 21 years also. Fifth owner sailed with Aura 21 years, and also maintained Aura extremely carefully. That is most likely the reasons why Aura is in such fine shape today.
(written by Hannu Peltonen, slightly edited and condensed by Mikael Aminoff)