Boats & Gear

CRUISER-RACER CONFUSION: Scow Bow Revolution 29 and Gunboat G4 Capsize

Revolution 29

This is something I ask myself quite often: can a modern truly cutting-edge high-performance racing sailboat also be a cruising boat? In certain ways, of course, the old ideal of the true cruiser-racer, per the glory days of the Cruising Club of America rating rule and boats such as Carleton Mitchell's famous yawl Finisterre, evaporated many decades ago. Yet still it is an ideal that both boatbuilders and boat owners incessantly aspire to somehow realize in a modern context, and it is fascinating to watch how these aspirations manifest themselves. Take, for example, the Revolution 29 (see image up top), a new cruising design developed in France that is directly based on David Raison's radical scow-bowed Mini 6.5 in which he won the Mini Transat in 2011.

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GUNBOAT G4: A Cruising Cat That Flies (Literally)

G4 foiling

For those of you who don't happen to follow Gunboat CEO Peter Johnstone on Facebook, here's a hot piece of late-breaking news: the world's first foiling racer-cruiser catamaran has just gone airborne (see photo up top). That would be hull no. 1 of Gunboat's new 40-foot G4, which was recently launched in St. Martin and is now being worked up to compete at Les Voiles de St. Barth (April 13-18) and Antigua Sailing Week (April 25-May 1).

I am sure Nat Herreshoff is dancing a jig in his grave. This is exactly the sort of cutting-edge boat (see, e.g., the catamaran Amaryllis, circa 1876) that he loved to create.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Ketches, Yawls, and Schooners

Yawl quarter shot

I like to use the term "split rig" to refer to any sailplan on a boat where sail area is divided between two (or more) masts, rather than crowded all on to one mast, as with a sloop or cutter. On ketches and yawls, as I'm sure you know, the taller mainmast is forward and the shorter mizzenmast is aft. What distinguishes a yawl from a ketch is more a matter of debate, but I'm firmly in the camp that believes that a yawl has her mizzenmast abaft her rudder. Mizzens on yawls also tend be rather short. On a ketch the mizzen is forward of the rudder and is usually significantly taller. In a classic schooner rig, the taller mainmast is aft and the shorter foremast is forward. On some schooners, however, the masts may be the same height.

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FOOD BOAT: Pizza Pi to Go From a Rebuilt Motorsailer

Take out window

Gourmet food trucks are very trendy these days. Witness last year's popular film Chef, about a gourmet chef who rebuilds his reputation peddling Cuban sandwiches out of a truck after getting into a debilitating social-media spat with a powerful food critic. So why not a food boat? Enter Sasha and Tara Bouis, a young couple who spent two years fixing up a hulk of an old motorsailer and rebuilt it as a floating pizzeria, called Pizza Pi (as in the mathematical term). They just started peddling pies this past November at Christmas Cove off Great St. James Island, between St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Bareboat charterers and transient cruisers take note. You should grab a bite here if you are in the vicinity.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT EVOLUTION: Multihulls and Other Alternatives

Jim Wharram

Our most recent ruminations on this topic focused on some of the popular dedicated cruising-sailboat designs that dominated mass-production boatbuilding as the industry started growing and maturing through the 1970s. It is important to remember, however, that even as fiberglass production techniques were thrusting sailboats into the heart of the 20th-century consumer economy, some cruising enthusiasts, as always, were determined to stay outside the mainstream. Many of these modern alternative cruisers favored unusual offbeat boats. One of these was James Wharram (see photo up top), who in 1954 designed and built for himself an extremely crude 24-foot plywood catamaran he called Tangaroa.

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CLEAT OF THE YEAR AWARD: Antal's Sexy New Super-Handy Roller Cleat

Antal Roller Cleat

I don't know if you guys have noticed or not, but deck-cleat technology, once a mundane and very static science, has become increasingly sophisticated in the last few years. Most developments have swirled around the concept of the retractable cleat, which are increasingly common on new boats I see at shows. Their utilitarian justification is that they won't catch working lines or wandering toes when you're sailing and/or strolling about on deck. Which is a worthy attribute. But in a world where designers are trying to make sailboats look more and more like sleek out-of-this-world spaceships, with as little evidence of working parts on their decks as possible, it would seem these cleats are also part of a larger not-necessarily-functional nautical fashion trend.

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FRIVOLOUS BOAT GEAR: What I Didn't Get for Christmas

Amphibious drone

I did drop some broad hints this year about maybe getting an aerial drone from Santa Claus, thinking I might like to shoot some aerial video of Lunacy under sail, but these seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Instead I got unguents. Which is fine by me, as by the time I do finally get around to (maybe) getting a drone, the ongoing drone wars no doubt will have led to the marketing of even cheaper, better drones with more advanced capabilities. Consider, for example, Exhibit 1: the brand new soon-to-be-released amphibious HexH2o drone, which can not only land on water, but can also shoot video of what's going on under the water after it has landed.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT EVOLUTION: Early Fiberglass Cruisers and the Westsail Cult

Cruising ketch

In our last thrilling episode in this series we discussed the classic cruiser-racers that dominated sailboat design through the early to middle part of the 20th century, including when the first production fiberglass boats appeared in the 1950s and '60s. These boats were mostly built to the old CCA rule, which remained the primary rating rule in American sailboat racing until 1970, when it was supplanted by the International Offshore Rule. The IOR was promulgated to encourage international competition by resolving differences between the CCA rule (so called because it was created by the Cruising Club of America) and the Royal Ocean Racing Club's rating rule, which governed racing in Great Britain and Europe. Whereas the CCA rule had explicitly sought to encourage development of boats that could both cruise and race, the new IOR was more focused on performance, and as a result racing and cruising designs eventually started to diverge.

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2014 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Garcia Exploration 45, Seascape 27

Garcia 45 sailing

Day two of this year's test-sailing program looked to be a bit snotty weather-wise, with the forecast early on showing wind gusting to 30 knots, rain, and a good chance of thunderstorms. Great conditions, in other words, for trying out the new Garcia Exploration 45. As things turned out, the weather was actually a bit more moderate than that, but we still enjoyed sporty conditions out on Chesapeake Bay during our first test sail, with the wind blowing about 20 knots true.

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