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Old 01-14-2013, 03:18 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2013
Home Port: Seattle
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Default Crusing in a racing hull?

Guys I know that this is likely a dumb question, but I lack experience in the area of prolonged cursing and would like your input....

I've been looking at boats for a few years now waiting to find the right one. I live in Seattle and would like a sturdy craft that can take me around Puget Sound as well as eventually up and down the Pacific Coast. I do dream of making a trip down below the equator, etc. I have some experience with owning a 26ft sloop, crewing on a 36ft sloop as well as a short stint on a 70-footer. However all of these boats had more traditional designs - full keels, deep V hulls, etc.

From time to time I run into some of these hot-rod sailboats, sometimes are outrageously low prices! I usually steer clear because I want something that can be solid, go out there for months and years if needed, etc. However, I have once again encountered a stellar deal on a fin-keel, spade rudder racer with a shelf of trophies. My question is, what makes such a boat an undesirable cruiser? People cross the Pacific in them under race conditions, why would it make a bad bluewater cruiser?

Obviously the cabin accommodations are sparse, but I actually like the open the design and can deal with it. Having a fin/spade bottom is obviously less solid if (when) I hit something with it and the deeper draft will keep me out of some places and make for a sketchy passage in others. However, that too is something that I can deal with. I suspect that the hull design will mean a heavier motion on the waves – is this true? I would really like to know how much of a difference will this make? Will it be less capable of handling rough weather? Will I be chumming the fish the whole time?

A sea trial will only last a few hours and will likely be in some bay with nice weather. I really lack the experience of being on one of these boats and would like your feedback on what it would be like to spend weeks or months on the open seas in one....

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:41 AM   #2
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Hi. It's not a dumb question at all. The simple fact is that racing boats are made tough. They are subject to extraordinary stresses and need to be designed to cope. The need to carefully check a boat which has been campaigned becomes more important with each passing season. The boat may look great, but it may be on the market because it needs a major overhaul following years of hard racing.

Comfort in a racing boat is not a major consideration. They are designed to go fast in the waters they were designed to race in, and usually they are designed to be sailed by a larger crew than a cruising boat. So, in many cases a lot of extra gear needs to be added to make them safe for short handing.

The great strengths of racing boats are in their bulkheads, at attachment points (backstays, forestays and chain plates, rudder and keel), but other areas may be much lighter than on a cruising boat. Consequently, installing portlights to liven up the living space below, may catastrophically weaken a thin structure which is dependent upon solid panels for structural strength and stiffness.

For day sailing and overnighters, the motion of a racing boat may be of no concern. However if you are sailing, particularly in poor weather, for a prolonged period, the motion of a race boat may make the crew (probably 2 or 3 people, rather than 6 or 7) extremely tired. Tired crew are not good crew. Have a look at this link: Motion Comfort Ratio It is concerned with the great Ted Brewer's Motion Comfort Ratio. If you correctly enter critical values in the fields provided, it will give you a number. The higher the number the more comfortable the boat will be on a passage. For a detailed explanation have a look also here: Ted Brewer Yacht Design This is where Mr Brewer explains his philosophy regarding boat design.

While it is not necessarily a great comparison, think about going on a drive in a Toyota Camry as opposed to a fully kitted out rally or race car. Fast, uncomfortable and twitchy requiring a high level of skill versus a nice family outing in a good, safe, predictable vehicle.

Second hand race boats can be excellent value, but they need a very careful survey and knowledge of just what level of comfort you are buying into.

Having said all that though, my current boat is a Breeon class racing boat designed and campaigned in the Fastnet and Santander races and a veteran of more than 10 Middle Sea Races in the Mediterranean. It was built in steel in 1963 and, with the benefit of a full refit, is now an excellent cruising boat which this year, will take me across the Pacific.

Hope this helps.

"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 01-14-2013, 06:30 AM   #3
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Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
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Sounds like you've got an ocean racing boat--that's great. I also know a few others who cruise with ocean racers and have enjoyed themselves, yes. They're all highly skilled sailors though--people who wanted the little extra performance and like the challenge.

Fair winds,
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 01-14-2013, 05:52 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2013
Home Port: Seattle
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Auzzie, thanks a ton for your detailed reply - it was much more informative than I ever hoped for. It's so rare these days that forum questions recive quality answers - most times it's lucky if the responder has read 50% of the question. I could likely spend 10 hours researching my questions online and would not find many of the details that you posted.

Thank you!
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Old 06-28-2014, 08:12 PM   #5
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Auzzee, another excellent post! Avery well written response. Thanks for posting it.
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