The elightened staff of Paris-based BATEAUX magazine considered that the Mini Ton level was too expensive an introduction to what one might call cruiser-racing, and as an alternative dreamt up the rule for what they called the Micro Cup, a very exciting restricted class. This was very sensible and immediately successful, and not just in France.
In Britain Brian Carvill commissioned Humphreys to design what he codenamed Le Weekender, but which the latter proposed should be called the Gem class. Although designed to the Micro rule the boat was intended as much as a sporty family fun boat with reasonably adequate overnight accommodation, albeit in a camping sort of way.
Carvill struck a deal with Mike Parry Yachts of Lymington and the boat was tooled up. The design was immediately successful and twice won the production boat prize in the Micro Cup in France. Over eighty of these boats were built and for a few years that class held a national championship in England. The Humphreys office is still taking calls asking where Gems may be purchased, and the answer is Australia where the moulds ended up. There is a strong following there and there and an active class association. Evidently the Gem is one of the top competitive trailer-sailers and seems to be perceived as a relatively new design.
A standard Gem, sailed by Mike Parry, Stephen Worf and Sylvia Pepin, won the Series Production Trophy of the 1979 Micro Cup, held at La Grande Motte on the Mediterranean in early September. With 42 boats competing it was a satisfying result bearing in mind the intensity of effort devoted to the Micro Cup by many of France’s top boatbuilders and designers. Jean Berret has two designs in series production; Jean-Marie Finot has a design built by Beneteau, andJacques Fauroux, originally a Moth designer but now well established in the smaller level-rating classes, had a number of boats, series-built and one-off, racing in his home waters. In addition, two new Stephen Jones designs were also competing but these were newly launched and relatively untuned.
The Gem has been in full production since February and the class has grown steadily since, with about fifty boats expected to have been sold by next February. The boat which Mike Parry took to La Grande Motte was an absolutely standard boat straight off the production line: indeed her moulders, Spectrum Marine, did not know she was destined for anything out of the ordinary. She was not sailed at all before her departure and was launched for the first timeonly two days before the first race of the important series. Called simply Gem she took three firsts, a second and a fifth in the production division, and in the overall classification she finished fifth behind two Fauroux one-offs (each of them almost 200 lbs lighter than Gem), a souped-up, non-standard Chellenger Micro and an over-grown 505.
As in Roller Coaster’s case, the Gem design concept was framed to produce all-round ability without incurring a compromised performance at any one particular end of the weather scale. Whereas the Micro Cup was sailed in almost exclusively light airs, the design has notched up some impressive results in very heavy airs.
BUILDER MIKE PARRY YACHTS