View Full Version : Classic Racing Sloop

03-01-2000, 08:54 AM
I am looking for plans to study for racing sloops in the 40-60' LOA range. I have started my search but it would be helpful to get some input to focus on some specific designs/designers. I know an obvious answer is Herreshoff, but can you provide me with specific boats to look at. Another boat that I have found that I really like is the Burgess 10-meter class. I would have loved to obtain the one offered in “Save a Classic” but thought that the requirements for its restoration were beyond my limits. Another boat that I have found that I really like is the W-Class W-46, I like its mixture of classic deck and upper hull lines with a modern keel and spade rudder (I am assuming the only way to get a W-Class is to buy one from PYC). My ultimate goal is to build the boat myself (lets pretend I included my skills resume and that I have the common sense to seek professional help where needed - no psycho-therapy jokes please). Why build when I could (theoretically) I could buy? There is a special feeling when you do the work yourself, I experienced this feeling while helping my father and his friends build an aerobatic sport plane. Also you gain a better understanding of the design and become sensitive to its capabilities and its weaknesses (applies to both boats and aircraft). Lastly, I like the thought of being able to make design changes to suit my particular needs and interests.

If anyone has any thoughts on what boats/designs/designers to look into, I would appreciate any input. Thank You…

P.S. How well do these classic sloops go to windward (i.e. degrees off the wind)? I have quite a bit of sailing experience but it has been mostly on modern (fiberglass/composit) one designs, where as most of my dealings with power boats have been wood.

Bob Cleek
03-02-2000, 12:07 PM
Okay, let's assume that you DO have the skills, etc. and the money to build a "racing" boat in this size range. Boy, I wish I could say the same! That said, if you have those resources in place, (but obviously lack the background knowledge to confidently pick the design that's best for you...otherwise you wouldn't be asking, right?) why would you cut corners when it came to the design? "Cut corners?" you ask... yep. If you have the extent of luxuries at your disposal you describe, there's nothing for it but to hire a really good naval architect to do this part of the job for you. You did say you knew enough to bring in an expert when you needed it, right?

If I were you, and I'm not... but you asked, I would contact the several top naval architectural firms around with direct ties back to the classic designs that interest you: Alden, Sparkman and Stephens, Laurent Giles and such. Consult with them. They have all the designs you are looking for in their files and can provide study plans and direction for you. Hire the one that strikes your fancy. It will probably be the firm that has already designed one of your favorites. Have them update the design to suit your particular needs. Build that. You will get the ultimate... a pedigreed custom designed classic! What a dream! Not only that, but by chosing one of the long established firms, your design fees will likely be far less, since they've already got the stock plans on file and won't have to reinvent the wheel. By applying the fantastic new computer design technology now available to the old designs, slight modifications can work tremendous improvements in performance. Follow the advice of your naval architect as if he were your "father confessor." Trust that he doesn't want a crummy boat out there with his name on it.

I would mention in passing that, having sailed some of the sort of vessels that interest you, a "racing" model may not be your best choice. The problem is that those big "racers" are a LOT of work to sail. They weren't designed for ease of handling and require a large and well-experienced and trained crew to get the most out of them, let alone handle them safely. Big boats only multiply the risks geometrically. The big racing rigs weren't designed back then for safety, either. They can get out of control easily with disasterous consequences. The gear is also very expensive. A highly efficient cruising rig is far more likely to make you happy and keep the front teeth of your foredeck crew in their mouths where they belong. There's not much point in building a big old racing boat, anyway, since there aren't enough of her sisters around to race against anyway! If, on the other hand, it's the romance of the big old famous racers you want, there are still a number of them around, Orient, Baruna, Barlovento, Bolero, Dauntless, Santana, Dorade, and so on. Buy one of them and keep her up... you'll be making a great contribution to the history of yachting.

[This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 03-02-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Bob Cleek (edited 03-02-2000).]

03-06-2000, 12:25 PM
Bob, thanks for replying (I was hoping that you would, conspiracy issues aside, your advice and critisism is valued. It helps keep us pipe-dreamers from floating to high into the clouds, and offers us possibilities that may be more practical and feasable).
With that said, I want to appologize if I came accross to "cocky" about my abilities, I am not, but given that I are a engineer, I don't always speaks (put into words) so well... I feel my most valuable skill is the willingness and eargerness to learn. My second valuable asset is time (not that you could tell by my current schedual). My current situation has my wife, my son, and myself located outside of Philadelphia, PA for the next 1.8 years while my wife fininshes her PhD in Biomedical-Engineering, after which, we will be relocating (preferably back to upstate NY but things may change...) In the mean time, I am telecommuting from my home office. Once her degree is complete, I would like to do graduate work in naval architectural/ marine engineering. I would like to suppliment my current solid/surface modeling and analysis (FEM strength/modal/flow, and Mechanism kinematic/dynamice) background with furthur knowledge of fluid flows relating to foils, I.E. Hull and Keel design. My dream is to apply these skills towards IACC, Whitbread (Volvo), or similar type performace boats...

So what the @#&$! does all that have to do with me wanting a classic wooden sloop? Why do some of the racing engineers at Ford (one of my previous employeers) own classic Mustangs or even Model "T"s? I realy like the look and style of the classic racing sloops. Even more so, the type of hard work sailing that they demand is the type of sailing that thrills me (I am an adrenaline junkie. Just think how much nicer it would be for myself and my friends/crew to be sailing a classic sloop accross the bay instead of anoying the shoreline with sounds from jetskis. No, I don't own one. The only way a would is if I land one with my Penn and 4oz CASTMASTER!)
My origanal thoughts, before I placed the origanal post, was to find and restore a classic racing sloop from likes of Alden or such. Although very familiar with modern designs (Farr, Johnstone, Melges, etc..) I am lacking in knowledge of the classics. I do posses an above average level of woodworking and other (fiberglass)skills, not professional level, but I am confident in my understanding that I could complete (over time) all of the skills outlined in several wooden boat building books (although planking does scare me some). I have also built some small boats (cold molded kayak, round bottom tender) as well as performed some fairly extensive repairs on some large wooden motor cruisers (replaced planks, new transome and framing, as well as some cracked frame repair do to some replanking that was too tight (replanking was performed not by me but by a professional?).
The one problem with wooden boats is the fear of destroying a classic durring restoration. My concern is that the proper restoration of a classic would be more involved and difficult than starting from lines and lumber. How do you tell if the classic is too far gone that a none classic repair (epoxy laminated frame/keel repair/etc...) would ruin her pedigree? At what point would I not be shunned for upgrading rigging and use of modern materials just to have a classic still on the water? Mind you that I am not trying to cut corners, it is just at what point do you say that the Model "T" should be restored to origanal versus be changed into the "Hot Rod". Or in boating terms, in order to save the burn-pile-bound classic can I feel free to use whatever modern restoration techniques are available or I am in a restore as origanal ONLY world in which I am more likely to be perswaded to start from scratch.

Sorry for being so long winded, I am just trying to give my entrie position. Luckily I due have time to research and possibly find the classic racing sloop of my dreams. If for none other reasons, I would want a racing sloop to live on so that the sailing skills required for such a boat can live on, much like the skills to set a square-rigger...

Thanks for any input and for putting up with my writing...

-YF Scott

Ian McColgin
03-06-2000, 01:16 PM
Scott, Your idea the building from start could be faster than restoration is excellent and I really like your tone. So, this is not a sloop, infact no boat was built to the design, but check out the 55' ketch LFH designed as a 1,000sqmtr yacht. Taylor's 30 Good Boats book has study lines.


03-11-2000, 08:20 PM
You might want to look at the "six meters". The are a classic post war racer that are enjoying a resurgence right now. Some old ones exist in england but many new ones are being built. Currently there are racing fleets across "the pond" and in the greatlakes region. These are fast boats with sleek lines and I believe they only require three people to race. They are readily identifiable by they're keyhole shaped cockpit. If racing isn't your thing you might want to consider Joel Whites 23ft double ender. It's a sloop with narrow beam,outside ballast w/centerboard,and very fast(and classic great looks). You can find it in 40 woodenboats I believe. It can also be single handed-
Good luck

Don Braymer
03-13-2000, 12:14 PM
Restore a classic or build a new one...

Good question, worthy of debate.

I am reliably informed that an equivalently constructed identical vessel to my restored Alden would cost more than 5 times the amount I have invested.

However, I would count myself lucky that we have not run into major structural failings that were not well documented during the purchase period. Also we are not done bringing her to "perfect like new" shape.

Construction and materials costs are fairly uniform per the cube of the waterline length, where as the cost to purchase varies wildly, and can even be found to reverse beyond a certain length. (People are very afraid of very large old wooden boats, and the yard storage or slip costs are significant.)

The spread in your length of vessel consideration may well determine your decision. At 40 feet, your cost to build might be less than your cost to buy and restore. At 50 it might break even, and at 60 it might be the reverse.

Before you do either, look at all the drawings and pictures you can, and see what length you fall in love with. Stop by the left coast, and walk through mine if you wish. The time and money spent in research will be most effective time and money you spend on this project.


Don Braymer
03-13-2000, 12:33 PM
I forgot something. If you ever intend to
sail the boat over distance, it will take a crew, and they have to sleep and eat and use the head.

The proportion of distance sailing versus day sailing is something you have to consider up front, else you will have the wrong boat for your purpose.

This impacts the old "how many does it take to sail her" question. America's cup vessels have 17/18 sailors and no berths.

Older racing designs had similar goofy arrangements. It would be a shame to spend possibly in the hundreds of thousands, have a beautifully correct older racing design, that takes 6 to sail, but cannot be used for a weekend jaunt.

If you do plan to go real distances, in the ocean, were the wind blows, it typicaly takes 2 people times 3 shifts. So I would base accomdations at 6 berths if you want to do this type of thing.

I know a million people will write in and say that it only takes one or two or three.

Please note that the people who tried without enough crew, and are now dead, will not write in.


03-13-2000, 02:40 PM

Don Z.
03-13-2000, 08:31 PM
I've been thinking about this all day. I like the idea of a six meter, but I think that is a bit small for the 40 to 60 foot mentioned in the first post. Seems to me that an eight meter would be closer, and, most sixes are all out racers, where the eights are more likely to have an interior and therefore be cruised.

New York 30s come to mind. And perhaps some of the "quicker" Aldens (if I had the book in front of me, perhaps I could give a few design numbers).

But the more I think of this, the more I'm leaning towards Vortex, the Swede 55 written about in WB#100. Something like 50'LOA, 10' beam, 55 square meters of sail area. Basic, if not quite Spartan interior. 10 knots on a reach. Tacks within 70 degrees. I think, if I were able to build a 50 footer, and did not get side-tracked with the thought of a Schooner, I would build this boat.

03-15-2000, 03:26 PM
Thank you for your input. I am in the process of obtaining more information on the 6 meter and eight meter class yachts. After an initial look these are exactly what I am looking for. Although the 6m is slightly shorter than what I initially wanted, the smaller size may allow me to start my project sooner. Another plus for the 6m is that there is an active fleet on Lake Ontario, which is likely to be my next location. I have not ruled out the 8m or any other boat for that matter, I am still looking and will keep you posted as to what I find. Maybe I can find the perfect restoration project and keep a classic alive?

-YF Scott

donald tofias
03-28-2000, 11:46 AM
saw your interest in our w-46 footers --check out our web sit www.w-class.com (http://www.w-class.com) or www.rockportmarine.com---good (http://www.rockportmarine.com---good) luck with your project--the first two w-46 yachts will be launched on sat. july the first--rockport, maine--join us --donald tofias--w-class racing yachts--

03-28-2000, 03:33 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Sorry for being so long winded, I am just trying to give my entrie position. Luckily I due have time to research and possibly find the classic racing sloop of my dreams. If for none other reasons, I would want a racing sloop to live on so that the sailing skills required for such a boat can live on, much like the skills to set a square-rigger...

Must have something to due with being an engineer! http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif BTW I art one too http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif LOL

You're going to discover the same problem I have, actually even worse since I'm into multihulls. Racing boats typically make terrible live-a-boards there's simple not enough room/width.

What you might look into are craft like Briliant that are have way in between.

A monohull speed is governed by its length a number one. So what you want is the longest boat you can get. Also keep in mind that marinas charge you buy the length! So that increases $$$$ as well.

You meantioned a square rigger. Have you thought about a split rig. This may be easier to manage with kids aboard.

hope this helps.

03-31-2000, 09:00 PM
Previously, it was postulated that boats of
the International 6m class are sailed with
a crew of 3. They require a crew of 5:

- helmsman
- running backstays
- mainsheet trimmer
- jib trimmer
- jib tailer/foredeck

There's no room for any more. Everybody
works; nobody rides.

But they are a blast to sail.

You might also look for a Universal Rule boat -- a Q-boat might be just the ticket for you (~50 feet LOA) and quick like the wind.

10-17-2000, 06:32 PM
I Truly love your idea.
Combinbing old glory with adrenalin of tommorrow.

This night I got into a old Volvo 240 ( Really crappy looking Swedish car ) with about ( I found out later ) 340 HorsePowers.That did indeed surprise me.

Hope you will do something in that area.

Patrik Elfving

Don Z.
10-18-2000, 12:32 AM
I've been thinking about this a lot... Read it, realized that it's an old thread... was going to reply, decided not to, and then thought "what the heck..."

First idea: Spirit Yachts in the UK.

Second idea: Why not find an NA? Yes, there are many good ones... but I want a classic looking boat... Not one that has touches from the IOR in it someplace, or IMS, or whatever other rule... Even the old R, Q and P boats were built to a rule... is there ever really a "clean sheet of paper" approach?

Yes, there are many ways to skin this cat, and I don't pretend to know the perfect answer... I do know this... I'm looking for the "perfect boat". NAs have all their own ideas... Ted Brewer says there is a lot to be said for a well designed gaff rig, taking modern materials into mind... but I've never seen one designed. I love Bolger's 39 foot racing schooner, but it's about 5 feet too long for me... and I want a slightly different interior and a fisherman staysail... there are so many choices... a good NA is a good idea, but I'd like to be involved in the process...

As far as restoring an older classic... yes, of course... but a new one can be better... Let it look beautiful... but remember that a beautiful '63 Corvette can be blown away by a new Honda...

Me, I want the best of both worlds...

Jack C
10-18-2000, 10:03 AM
Okay, since the classic designs are near and dear to my heart as well, I'll join in with my valueless opinion.

Contrary to what a few others have said, the older racing boats are actually pretty easy to sail. I've sailed old and new 6 Meters and by far the easier to run are the older ones. Although I really enjoy the feeling of the meter designs, for a cruising boat I'd prefer the lighter Sq. Meter types. Uffa Fox made the connection that the lighter meter style boat is more weatherly, and proved it a number of times in nasty English Channel conditions in a 22 sq. meter. Knud Reimers put together the hands-down prettiest collection of the Sq. Mtr. designs.

The older International Rule designs are good, too. I raced against a N. Hereshoff designed Q-boat (with a reverse transom...even Capt. Nat did them). One morning the Q had trouble with their engine so the skipper and one of the crew spent the entire race replacing a hose and bracket. The other 2 crew ran the boat through the breezy conditions and placed 2nd. Try doing that with a modern racer!

One major point about displacement. The Q-boat and a Swede 55 are about the same length, but because the Q is heavier there is a bit more room down below. But the Q, 10, 8, and 6 Meter are definitely wetter to sail.

Great stuff to think about.


10-18-2000, 10:19 AM
Thank You for your input,
I am still in the looking and research process, although I did contact S&S about some of their stock Meter (Metre) designs.
When I have a little more time to type, I will submit another post concerning the particular requirements I seek. (Wet suites me just fine.)

In the mean time, to be able to do more than just read and type, I have aquired an International Lightning resurection project. Hope to finish it before I move back to western NY (18 months). More on this project later as well...

-YF Scott

10-18-2000, 01:47 PM
"..., I would want a racing sloop to live on ..."

That is the boat lives on, not as in a live-aboard. The boat would be used for racing primarily, and occasional day/weekend sails.

-YF Scott

10-18-2000, 02:55 PM
Glad your still looking http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>As far as restoring an older classic... yes, of course... but a new one can be better... Let it look beautiful... but remember that a beautiful '63 Corvette can be blown away by a new Honda... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I know a few Vette owners who would differ on that point ...

John B
10-18-2000, 11:58 PM
My old yacht is about the size and style of an early 8 metre.(it isn't one though)
As a bermudan rig it was easy as pie to sail and I regularly used to sail it single handed although normally 2 handed. Since converting it to gaff last year it is a bit more work but we still sail it 2 handed.( look at the Waione helicopter photo i posted last week if you'd like to see it) (we were 2 handed on that sail)
to get the best out of them for racing you need crew but they just don't need to be hard to sail. quite forgiving in fact.
I'm afraid there's not much room in them though ,.

on the other subject,i wanna 63 vette.or a 61 or a........

[This message has been edited by John B (edited 10-19-2000).]

10-19-2000, 01:22 AM
I lot of the ( eek ) "modern" cruisers have the same rig as the classic cruisers, though they are tailored for less hands aboard.
<LI>shorter rig
<LI>roller fuller jib
<LI>all lines lead to the cockpit
This is what I looked at when I designed the yet to built rig for SWIFTWOOD. It's a ketch, but I have the disadvange of not being able to leave leave the cockpit!

So hear lies the question:
How well can a "classic racing sloop" be rigged for cruising?
Can you do it and still maintain the old rigs charm?
Can you have two rigs?
The large (60ft) trimarran are sailed with both a large crew and single handed in races accross the ocean!
Like this one designed by Nigel Irens
the same man that designed ROXANE and ROMILY
http://www.nigelirens.demon.co.uk/ROX2.gif http://www.nigelirens.demon.co.uk/ROM.gif
He's got cruiser designs too
So it is possible to do.
Or there's the new W-class boats as well
[ Yes Corvettes are nice http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif let me know offline and I can set you up http://media4.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif ]

John B
10-19-2000, 02:55 PM
A furler isn't the death of a classic boat. 2 pins and a bit of wire to replace it and you are configured for a classic boat event( if you wish)( the pilot cutter has one set "flying")
same for lazy jacks.... personally I think they are invaluable.
As for sail area/ single handing, a cutter head solves all.
The thing that surprises me about leading lines aft is the extra friction. I could always haul up Waione's 400 ft main easily, and use the winch for the last ft( at the mast). I'm continually amazed at just how difficult it can be to set a mainsail on a modern with halyards at the cockpit. Often they seem to need one at the cockpit winch and one at the mast sweating down the halyard at the same time. unacceptable .

We sailed for 7 years without a motor and when we wanted sail up or down it had to happen, no arguments. And come to think about it ,it always did.

Mike Field
10-19-2000, 06:22 PM
And after tall that, Scott, and when your analysis is all finished, don't forget to plug into the equation the old saying --

"Fools build boats for wise men to buy."

It points up what Don Braymer said about a five-times increase.

As a practising engineer, you may perhaps be able to afford it all. (I hope you can, and I indeed rather hope you go ahead.) But for me, a lapsed engineer, that old quote would be the knock-down, drag-out, dead-end, full-stop idea-killer.

Mike Field
10-19-2000, 06:22 PM
And after all that, Scott, and when your analysis is all finished, don't forget to plug in the old saying --

"Fools build boats for wise men to buy."

It points up what Don Braymer said about a five-times increase.

As a practising engineer, you may perhaps be able to afford it all. (I hope you can, and indeed I rather hope you go ahead.) But for me (a lapsed engineer as distinct from a practising one) I'm afraid that that old quote would be the knock-down, drag-out, dead-end, full-stop idea-killer.

Sorry if this sounds too pessimistic -- just meant to be pragmatic. It would certainly be lovely to hear of a new classic being born.

[This message has been edited by Mike Field (edited 10-19-2000).]

10-19-2000, 06:37 PM
May be a bit off topic, but anyone know the location, current condtion of Finnestere?