Boats & Gear

OPEN 60 DELIVERY: From Portland to Marblehead with Rich Wilson

On deck GA4

I narrowly missed my last chance to sail on an Open 60, way back in 2001 at the Heineken Regatta, when Josh Hall and Gartmore turned up a last-minute no-show due to family issues, so I was pretty psyched about getting aboard Great American IV (ex-Mirabaud) with her skipper Rich Wilson late last week. This was his first outing on the boat this summer, a delivery jaunt from Maine Yacht Center in Portland to her home mooring in Marblehead, a distance of about 100 miles. Also onboard was Jonathan Green, a local Massachusetts racing sailor (on the left in the image up top) who is assisting Rich in tuning up the boat for next year’s Vendeé Globe start in France.

Unless something pretty dramatic happens, Rich, who last ran (and finished!) the Vendeé Globe in 2008-09, will (again) be the only American sailing in the race. At age 65, he will also be the oldest competitor in the race’s history, a fact he doesn’t necessarily like to dwell upon.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Converting a Sloop to a Slutter

Sophie as cutter

I mentioned the concept of a "slutter," a sloop that is converted to a cutter by adding a removable inner forestay, in my last post on this subject and thought I should expound a bit on the process of the conversion. It is a popular upgrade, particularly on bluewater boats, and of course being able to hoist a staysail can also be handy on a coastal boat. My old Golden Hind 31 Sophie was a sloop when I bought her, and I converted her to a cutter rig with a removable inner forestay, although she became a true cutter, as I also increased the height of the mast and added a bowsprit to enlarge the foretriangle. In the photo up top you see Sophie post conversion, during her very first test sail, flying both a large genoa and her staysail, which in fact was something I rarely did, as it was difficult to tack the genoa around the staysail.

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GREEN 37: New Centerboard Yawl Design by Jay Paris

Profile and sailplane

Just heard recently from Jay Paris, N.A., who has been SAIL magazine's technical advisor since before time began. He sent drawings and details of an intriguing upscaled version of the 32-foot centerboard yawl he designed and built for himself. (For details on that boat be sure to check this post here.) He calls this new design the Green 37, as he claims it "reduc[es] the environmental impact of construction and operation in terms of accommodation, payload and performance." I'm scratching my head over that a bit, but in all other respects I find this a fascinating concept and would love to see one of these built someday. Knowing Jay, there are all sorts of clever details in here that won't be readily apparent until they are fully realized in three dimensions.

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CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Sloops, Cutters, and Solent Rigs

Big sloop

In our previous episode in this series we discussed what I like to call split rigs--ketches, yawls, and schooners--where a sailplan is divided among two or more masts. Cruising sailors once upon a time preferred such rigs, at least on larger cruising boats, because each separate sail requiring handling was smaller and thus more manageable. These days, however, by far the most popular rig for both racing and cruising sailboats is the simple sloop rig. This has a single mast supporting a single Marconi mainsail with a single headsail supported by a single headstay flying forward of it.

Its advantages are manifest: there are only two sails for the crew to handle, each of which can be hoisted with a single halyard and trimmed with a single sheet. While sailing, there are normally only two lines--the jib sheet and mainsheet--that need to be controlled at any given moment. And because there is but one headsail flying forward of the main, tacking a sloop is easy, since the headsail, even if it is a large overlapping genoa, can pass easily through the open foretriangle.

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NEEL 65: A Whole Lotta Trimaran Going On

Neel 65 forward

We all knew this day was coming. With the recent launch and test-sailing of the new Neel 65 the concept of "cruising trimaran" has officially metastasized into the upper stratosphere. I was impressed with its smaller sibling, the Neel 45, when I got a chance to sail one in France a few years ago, and I'm wondering if this new beast has achieved what must be considered the Holy Grail in multihull design: over-the-top accommodation space combined with decent sailing performance.

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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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