View Full Version : Boat design for youth sailing (racing)

09-13-2000, 02:31 PM
A friend an I are pushing to establish a youth sailing/racing program at the local club. Soooooo here is the question what would be the recommendation for a boat which is:

1.Easy/inexpensive to build,
2. decent performance which can be changed with experience and age,
3. single handed but with the ability to carry two adults or one adult and two children.

Ian McColgin
09-13-2000, 03:00 PM
Excellent criteria.

Seems to me a couple of years ago WB had a design contest that produced a string of boats that might do you.

Anyone remember that?

Alan D. Hyde
09-13-2000, 03:54 PM
There's still a lot to be said for Snipes.


garland reese
09-13-2000, 09:07 PM
I've been looking at some small performance boat plans lately. There is a boat that is very popular in Austrailia and New Zealand called the NS14. Intended for "family racing" with a crew of two. I think that there was a fleet started in CA a few years ago. www.nwmarinedesign.com (http://www.nwmarinedesign.com) has a version of the design called the delta V. It is very nice....intended for strip/sheathed or cold molded construction....very interesting design and she looks like she'll go fast, and the hull has a lot of flare above the waterline (nearly 6' beam on 13' or so of length).....open stern with lots of floatation will get the right side back up quickly after a capsize (in theory at least). There is an article on setting the NS14 up for use as a singlehander (I don't think the boat balances very well w/o the jib, as is). Once you get the building jig set up, you could build 'em one after the other. There is a link to the NS 14 class pages from nw marine. This should be an exciting little boat. Have a look at the tamer K-12 design too, from NW marine. It can be sailed by one or two (ideal crew is two youths).

Also, www.bandbyachtdesigns.com (http://www.bandbyachtdesigns.com) has the Spindrift series of dinghies. They range from 9 to 12' with the 11 and 12 footers available in sloop or cat rig. All others are cat rigged. Designed as a working tender with good sailing qualities, she'll handle a good load. Construction is very straighforward.......a version of stitch and glue plywood. No jig is required, so you could build 'em all at once and pretty quickly too.
'course...it'd be hard to go wrong with a Snipe (the wooden ones are good lookin' too!).

Frank Spaulding
09-14-2000, 09:21 AM
WoodenBoat number 128 February 1996 has the contest winners for the "ideal Trainer"

09-14-2000, 04:07 PM
How 'bout a Bluejay? I think it fits. Scaled down Lightning. Or, for something with just a bit more jalapeno, a Windmill?

Hard to best the chine boat for what you are looking for. I suspect both have plans available. The snipe would have its points too. I think the Windmill might be worth a look as far as performance, modern plans, and, class support, etc, but don't really know.

I vaguely remember the contest by wooden boat, and that would be worth a look too. Best of luck, and it's really nice to see someone asking the question.

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 09-14-2000).]

09-14-2000, 04:33 PM
I contacted WB awhile back about the "ideal trainer" and they were very helpful as ussual. However, they were less than enthusiastic about the performance of the prototype after it was built. I believe the design is among WB Store's plans for sail sale, but I have ruled it out based upon the intitial comments. Perhaps someone has build and tested one or two of the other finalist "ideal trainers"?

I will look at your other suggestions as soon as I get a few minutes free.


Wayne Jeffers
09-14-2000, 05:50 PM
In considering which sailboat I want to build, the Windmill has sparked some interest, mainly because the wooden ones are still competitive with the 'glass ones.

The class association has a nice web site:


09-14-2000, 06:33 PM
Hmm. The Windmill is narrower than I remembered. I wonder if it isn't too lively for novice young'uns, but maybe not. It would be interesting, if you pursue that way, to talk to them and find out what age groups regularly sail the boats.

09-14-2000, 09:01 PM
I've sailed a Windmill once, while learning to sail, and, if memory serves, it requires an agile, knowledgable sailor. Very tender, and not very forgiving of mistakes. For the novice, I'd think the Lightning would be a far safer choice.

09-14-2000, 09:39 PM
Thing is, young'uns are strong on the agile, weak on the experience.

Ya know what, no matter what ya do, don't let the idea get bogged down in the details. Think 'em out, but move forward. Nothing easier than to lose momentum for a great idea; lost in the rowling, greedy, idea stealer of second thoughts. Best, Ishmael

[This message has been edited by ishmael (edited 09-14-2000).]

Tom Lathrop
09-14-2000, 09:59 PM
Hey guys, the Windmill was designed by Clark Mills for youngsters aging out of the Optimist Prams. Ideal crew weight for strong agile younguns is about 250lbs. There is NO Better boat for teen youth building projects if a performance boat is wanted. Wooden Windmills place high in National Championships each year. 2nd place
this year.

Several years ago, I revised the Windmill scantlings to allow for female mold built composite plywood/epoxy/glass construction. The mold is ideal for building multiple hulls since it contols building tolerances to produce identical hulls with a single set of measurements and panel layouts.

I have a handbook available. The class plans are also required.

The Spindrift series by B&B yachts are also great little boats but may be small for your needs. I've seen the WB Trainer that won the contest and would not consider it in the same league with either of the others. A Spindrift won WoodenBoat's race against 60 competitors, some of which were much larger.

09-14-2000, 10:13 PM
Hey Tom,

Good to hear what you bring. A good contact. 250 lbs, so, we're talkin' teens. I wonder what the original correspondent had in mind. Wish he'd change his moniker as it is difficult to spell/remember.

What do you mean when you say a female mold for ply composite building? Am I not seeing something?

Ross Miller
09-14-2000, 11:23 PM
Just guessing, but maybe it's a mold into which one lays pre-cut panels of ply, to be taped and filleted on the inside, removed from mold, then finished off? If not, why not?

[This message has been edited by Ross Miller (edited 09-15-2000).]

Chad Smith
09-15-2000, 07:36 AM
Here is a link to some small inexpensive boats to build. http://www.bateau.com/plans/small/small_index.php3 I am builing the Sharpie and it is inexpensive to build. The Caravelle might be better suited for your needs, but it will cost a little more. By the time I finish the sharpie I will probably have about $400 to $500 into her. The Caravelle is estimated to cost about $1100. He says it can be built for about $800 with wooden spars and homemade sails.

Chad Smith

Tom Lathrop
09-15-2000, 07:54 AM
Ishmael, Ross is correct. The technique was developed in Scandinavia (Norway, I think) in the 1950's and is covered in detail in a 1963 book by Richard Creigh Osborne. Maybe his feloow Brit John Smith could find a copy. In those days they used polyester resin to join the panels and had to be very careful to avoid joint failures. With epoxy, it became a marvelous building method. Of course, it is frowned on by some on this forum who still drive Model T's but it can make wonderfully strong and lightweight boats.

The hull panels are cut from either layout sheets or templates and fitted to the interior of the open framework mold. If these guys live close enough to coastal NC, I have a mold hoisted in my shop that they could use.

I have been involved with Sea Scouts in building Windmills and would not be a bit concerned that the boat is too lively for teens. That is just our old bones talking since they can handle this kind of thing much better than adults anyway.

09-15-2000, 08:09 AM
Interesting Ross and Tom. Never thought/heard of it, though after I asked the question I imagined what it must be. Still trying to sort out the advantages over a male mold. Tom?

Boy, the loan offer of a redi-built mold might turn my thoughts to the Windmill. Looks like a really fun boat. If I read the class synopsis right, why no spinaker? And yeah, old creaky bones make the thought of the windward leg in a breeze...tired sore and grumpy. Best, Ishmael

Tom Lathrop
09-15-2000, 12:54 PM
In a boatbuilding class at the local Community College, we build dinghys over a male mold and I use the female mold for Windmills so I am familiar with both methods. Both can turn out boats that are equal in quality if appropriate cautions are taken.

The female mold is best for boats that must meet rigid class station measurements since the final exterior shape of the hull is completely determined by the shape of the female mold. All interior components can be installed before the then rigid hull is pulled from the mold so the shape is absolutely fixed by the mold. The mold is built using the actual class station measurements at each measurement point.

Hulls must be pulled from the male mold with no interior parts installed and can be pretty wiggly unless fixed in some other (female) jig to hold the shape. If permanent parts of the hull are included as part the mold then this can be minimized but then these must be set up each time which introduces the possibility of error and lack of uniformity between hulls pulled from the same jig. The male mold builder must translate the class station measurements to the interior of the planking and further translate through a baseline plane that exists in the air above the upside down mold and then to a reference plane on the floor. This process lends itself to more errors in setting up the jig than the female mold. It's a traumatic experience to tell a builder that his new boat has to be modified in some basic way to meet class standards.

There are personal preferences involved but this is my story and I'm sticking to it.

09-15-2000, 01:04 PM
Thanks Tom,

I can see the reason clear as paint now. I've never had occasion to worry 'bout building to a class rule. Would you say to the original correspondant that, assuming he/she doesn't borrow your mold, they will have difficulty building acceptable boats over a male mold? It does seem building the female mold might be a bit more involved. Maybe I just h'aint got my head aaaall the way 'round the proposition yet. Could be a consideration for a small program. Best, Ishmael

Tom Lathrop
09-15-2000, 04:11 PM
Building a boat, most any boat other than quick & dirty types, requires some accuracy in layouts and measurement. The male and female molds require the same accuracy of measurement. I think the female is a bit easier to set up although if multiple boats are to be built, it will probably be built more robust. The fear is from unfamiliarity rather than reality.

09-15-2000, 05:59 PM
Ismael/Wayne/Tom- Windrift sounds very interesting especially with Tom's offer. Unfortunately, I'm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan- just a few miles away from N.Y.

Setting up a female jig is interesting. Since I envision a production line volunteer building program this method might be ideal- if I could figure out exactly how to do it.

I'm not sure Windmills would work if the program included 6th and 7th grade kids. Also, what do you think about the Windmills as rental boats during times they are not being used in the kids program. Also seem a bit more expensive than other options.

Garland- Spindrifts seem interesting. As with Windmills, they seem to have an established racing class. Cheaper to build. Would you go with a 10' cat rig, 12' cat rig or 12' sloop rig?

David Carnell e-mailed me about his variation of Bolger's Featherwind. See
<http://home.att.net/~DaveCarnell> interesting and inexpensive. But no class in case the kids ever want to travel to challange other clubs. Perhaps I'm thinking ahead too much.

Yes "Just do it" needs to be the moto if this is going to get done.

Thanks all.

PS: OK, how do I change my moniker on the forum? How about KP?

09-15-2000, 06:18 PM
From now on, to me, you are KP. A Yooper close to N.Y.? I don't get that, but assume a mistake. Where are ya anyway? I spent some time in Marquette a few years back. Best, Ishamel

garland reese
09-15-2000, 06:30 PM
A mumbr of years ago, sometime in the '70s, the local boat club here in OKC built a bunch of San Francisco Bay Pelicans and raced them for while. They are no longer around, but the Pelican plans can still be had from Mrs. Short, Cap't Short's wife. The first Pelican was launched in 1959. These are not the prettiest little boats, but they are safe and capable and have good capacity and are easily built. www.ns.net/~jheidgr/pub/pelican.htm (http://www.ns.net/~jheidgr/pub/pelican.htm)


J. C. H.
09-15-2000, 10:27 PM
I seem to remember a boat at the Maine Boatbuilder's Show some years back that was designed pretty much for what you have in mind. It was a kind of funky plywood number cover with, of all things, wallpaper (called wall-grip by its designer). It was designed to be initially extremely inexpensive to build, with all-lumberyard materials (including, I belive, a Tyvek sail). As skill increased, the rig and hardware could be uprgaded to honest-to-god racing gear, resulting in a fairly spirited planing dingy. I think it was originally intended for the community boat-building thing, but I've never heard anything coming of it. I've completely forgotten who the designer was, but if there's any interest I'll dig through my stack of old magazines and find the article that appeared in Maine Boats and Harbors.

Tom Lathrop
09-15-2000, 10:49 PM
KP, I don't know how the coincidence worked out but the male mold that I mentioned in our boatbuilding class is for a Spindrift 10. We have turned out something like 100 boats from this mold in the past 10 years. Parts of the mold have become splintered with the temporary drywall screws and have been replaced but it is still in use.

The panels are traced from templates, cut out and screwed onto the mold with temporary drywall screws. The seams are then dressed, epoxied and covered with glass tape. Take out the temporary screws and remove the hull from the mold. We don't worry about measurement tolerances on these boats.

The Spindrift 10 is the smallest boat I have sailed that is a real sailboat for an adult and not a toy like the 8 footers. For kids of the age you are interested in, I think the 12 would be best for a crew of two. A competent kid could handle it single if it was rigged as a cat. For double handing, the sloop would be much better since it gives the crew something interesting to do other than hanging out.

The Spindrifts would be quite a bit cheaper and quicker to build than the Windmills.

Although the Spindrift is designed for stitch & glue construction, I'd build a male mold and templates if I had a building program for kids.

Wayne Jeffers
09-15-2000, 11:16 PM
KP -- Sorry if I've led the discussion off on a tangent of sorts. I have no first-hand experience with Windmills, but they would appear to me to be too much for 6th or 7th graders. I posted the link because someone else had mentioned the Windmill, it's one of three designs I'm seriously considering, and I think their site has some nice information.

Actually, I wonder whether it is too much for this 51-year-old and his partner. (I won't tell her age.) We have limited experience sailing, but neither of us is timid around the water. But that's another topic, again.

I think Dave Carnell's boat has a lot of merit for your purposes. It's another one I've been considering for my first sailboat. Kind of low tech/high performance? Personally, I would include air chambers or other floatation sufficient to make it self-rescuing if I build it. For my purposes, it offers the attraction of making for easy experimentation in different sail plans, etc. Since the waters in SE Ohio are not very big, a Windmill wouldn't have much room to stretch its legs, perhaps, and Dave's design might be more practical for me.

As you can see, I haven't made up my own mind yet. I've built more boats with my imagination than I have with my hands.

Best of luck in your endeavor.


09-16-2000, 05:45 AM
Odd as it may seem the Barnegat Bay Sneakbox had an extensive racing history in the 20's and 30's with very large fleets racing on the Jersey shore with especial emphasis on the Junior racing fleets. These boats were reputed to be fast and very safe for the youngsters. There are a couple of booklets on the sneak at the site and one on its racing history especially. Regards.

09-17-2000, 04:17 PM
Ishmael- Yooper close to N.Y. (tongue in cheek (or Cleek?)). Marquette is just up the road a bit. I'm in Escanaba. Born and raised in L'Anse. Lived all my life on one of the GREAT Lakes but never sailed until 8 or so years ago. Now I'm hooked.

Sounds like Spindrift is my answer. Unless I get realllly cheap and decide on Dave's plan.