New low-cost "hardware store" racing class; input on proposed rules

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Petros, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Petros; here are a couple of true stories about ugly boats.

    Way back inthe day, the St Petersburg Yacht Club was hosting the Windmill nationals. That was a large and hotly contested class at the time.

    A couple of young guys worked at Johnson Sails (St. Pete/ Clearwater) at the time. There was a clunky old derelict Windmill in the shed in back of the loft. It was all there but the hardware had been stripped, and the sails were pretty ratty. (You can tell where I'm going with this, right?) Clint Johnson, the boss, gave the boys the use of the boat if they wanted to try to fix it.

    The guys were impecunious and could not afford Harkens or any such. They needed turning blocks so they spliced up some sail cringles for sheet turning. They cobbled up a few other things such as door hinges to substitute for gudgeons and pintles for the rudder. Of course they spent some after hours time in the loft to repair the bagged out old sails. They were after all sailmakers.

    The boys won the Nationals handily with that clapped out old boat, much to the chagrin of the competitors in high dollar boats.

    Somewhere near that time I was building a moth sized tri. The main hull and one ama was done. I was very anxious to compete in an upcoming regatta but there was no time to finish the boat. The boat became a proa with unpainted two by fours for akas. It was an awful looking thing. I just had to go racing so I showed up with the ugly duckling and became the object of derisive comments.

    The all class races included some pretty elegant boats. It was a light air day. I won both races because the little proa was very well suited to light air. The stuffed shirt Corinthean type race committee was angry at my apparent lack of boaty decorum and refused to give me my trophy. Later, cooler heads prevailed and I recieved the cup a week afterward.

    Money is not everything. Some say it is way ahead of whatever is in second place...but I digress. Sometimes junk boats perform well.
     
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  2. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Hey lister and Hyoit, blue tarps are pretty handy, and can make perfrectly good sails:

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    Ttvek sails too!

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    That is me in front with the Tyvek junk rig, and a blue tarp rig giving us a good run right behind us in the Quick and Daring Lake union challenge last 4th of July (we won that race).

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    I would say that anyone who thinks a boat needs stuff bought only from a marine supply store, show an extreme lack of imagination.
     
  3. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Great idea...

    Wonderful idea Petros!. A development class, with cost control, (which is never easy), great! Does it need Bermudan rig, lug or gunter might allow timber spars, cheaper and nearly as fast? A development around Tom Dunderdale’s Tiger Lily design perhaps?

    May I respectfully suggest that 16 foot is too long! Such a boat will be quite heavy and many are three person or trapeze balanced. If it is built from plywood, it will probably leave very few useful offcuts, for bulkheads etc. This will increase cost. A good two person design 12 to 13 footer will be half the price, can readily be built in a garage and will travel on a box trailer instead of a dedicated launching trolley/trailer combination. Cheaper, means more boats, more boats means the design will mature faster (if the rules allow) and the opportunity for the class to buy product on behalf of builders, again saving cost. The KISS principle will win in the end.

    The Cherub was great, but has gone vastly high performance.

    No, it won’t go to the Olympics, your class will be shunned by the high and mighty, but ordinary sailors will flock to it. I can readily see a fleet building here in Australia, in the current boom a lot of folk are working fly-in fly-out and need to occupy their alternate weeks of leisure.

    Good luck
     

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  4. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    White dwarf,

    That looks like a great little sailor, but I would never want to limit creativity. How do you develop "around" an existing design? I want it wide open in terms of design, construction method, type of sailing rig, etc. No limits except size and cost.

    It occurred to me to limit it to 14 ft, just for to limit costs. In this state you do not need to register any boat shorter than 16 ft without a motor, so that was my length limit. I have built many light weight boats in the 16 to 18 foot length (kayaks, canoe,etc, including the trimaran in the picture above). Larger boat usually means more utility, but yes, more weight and cost. You do not have to build it to 16 ft, when you are up on plane the WL is much less anyway. These boats should be fairly light and easy to plane.

    I will consider it, perhaps a compromise: 15 ft?
     
  5. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Petros,

    Develop around a design is the basis of many Australian and New Zealand classes. The Cherub is a case in point. As I understand it, "Cherub" was John Spencer's design for an earlier class, open 12 foot I think, but it did so well that it eclipsed the earlier concept and they drew up rules around it. The NS 14 is another example. Kiwis and Aussies will tell you that is why they have a lot of good designers. More opportunities where the one-designs do not predominate.

    They usually do it with a fixed length, key rig parameters and certain stations defined with fairly generous parameters. Sometimes hollows and concavities are restricted. Its easier with chine designs...
     
  6. JRD
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    JRD Senior Member

    It was the Pennant class as I recall, but you are exactly right. The historic open classes were a great melting pot for the the racing yacht designers we know so well now, Farr, Davidson, Spencer, Young, Murray, Lexan etc. (Ditto for designers in other parts of the world) Sadly there seems to be so much less scope for a bit of grassroots R&D in the modern sailing/racing scene, with exception of the skiff classes, moths and NS14s, none of which are especially affordable for the average guy to develop in this day and age.

    Petros, I think this is a great idea. I hope it is well supported. I think every reader here has their own ideas and there could be endless debate as to the right set of rules. If you have a keen bunch of people ready to go, get on and build some boats I say. Build the first one with $300 and see if anyone likes it, increase the limit if required until you have a boat that appeals to the users while still being affordable.

    For what its worth, I think that a 14' boat will more easily fit the budget and the average car garage during the build.
    I may have missed it in earlier posts, but with such an open approach to the design and materials you should have some minimum safety requirements and add in a requirement for bouancy/floatation aids with a mandatory capsize test before they are allowed to race.

    Good luck with the venture, I will be following progress with interest. I assume we will soon be seeing some pics from your garage....:D
     
  7. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Petros,

    Cost control is very tricky for several reasons. Time, skill and money can all contribute to the quality of a boat. Pair a boatbuilder and a sailmaker with access to trade discounts and facilities plus a bit of time and $300 gets a lot more boat that a normal garage production.

    One of the big costs of running a boat is the rig. One rule I experienced (Portsmouth Victory Class day boats) was a rule which allowed replacement of a sail after a minimum of three years. In event of damage the Committee could make exemptions. It worked very well; the class prospers after 75 years.

    Worth considering?
     
  8. rapscallion
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    rapscallion Senior Member

    I freaking love the idea! Make the competitor's save the recipts, have them only shop at Home depot or some such store, and have fun! The people who don't want to compete won't. I would. I would love to participate in a development class, but spending tens of thousands on small boats seems insane to me. This is a chance for a guy like me to participate in a development class without spending a mint.

    Like someone said before, anyone can make a fast boat if you have the cash, but making a fast boat on a deliciously low budget requires talent.

    Polytarp sails, polyester meant for car bondo, thinnest plywood there for the hull,
    I think it would be a blast. I mean, who could take themselves seriously racing a polytarp sailboat with paint stirrers for batens? I love it! All the fun of development without the ostentation associated with the cash required to play.

    I just want to tinker and race, and have fun talking about the crazy contraptions we built after. Let the boatbuilders and real designers hang out somewhere else if this is too low brow for them.
     
  9. lumberjack_jeff
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    lumberjack_jeff Sawdust sweeper

    In principle, I think this is great.

    In practice, the limitations may or may not be right ($300 may be too low, and "chain building centers" may also be too limiting.

    Count me in Petros. I'll PM you with my email address.

    I suspect you'll see few boats over 15' due to the fact that it's the practical upper limit for two-sheet side panels.
     
  10. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Thanks for the support of the idea, that is exactly the motivation behind the contest: allow creative freedom on a limited budget, so price is not a reason not to participate. It is intended to be a low budget contest, but more than the $50 limits sometimes used in local events (I have actually competed in a few $50 sailboat races, but that involved allowing salvage). I also think there needs to be a statement in the rules about using construction methods available in an average home workshop, just to keep out those that might invest in $20,000 worth of tooling to build a $300 boat.

    Anyone who attempts to enter boats built with wholesale or bulk purchase price materials costs would be disqualified. My original idea was to allow shopping at only national hardware store chains, but using mail order anyone can get just about any materials, sometimes at good prices. So the qualifying costs would be that all suppliers have to be available to anyone at that price, not wholesale or special deals, not bulk purchase prices, etc. So if anyone anywhere can buy the materials in small qualities at regular retail prices, it will qualify.

    Another thought on boat size, how about: maximum hull length 14' with maximum overall length of 16' including all appendages.

    I really appreciate all of the thoughtful input, with a good set of rules it would be ready I think to "sell" the idea not just locally, but where ever else they build and sail small boats. With consistent sets of rules than the possibility is open for local, state and even national contests eventually. And as we make available boat plans from the winners, than we would likely get even more people entering the competition.

    Rapscallion, once we finalize the rules perhaps you can look into getting a local chapter started in Wisconsin.
     
  11. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

  12. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    Actually I had thought of a height limit from the water surface to top of mast of 20ft, but decided that would be too hard to measure. So the limit will be mast length only.

    Can not really stop people from doing stupid things with boats based on design rules.
     
  13. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Then maybe should just put a warning to watch for power lines in the challenge rules.
     
  14. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    that issue would be part of the planning of the race committee. hopefully experienced race planners will consider these kinds of issues when they plan a race or regatta.
     

  15. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I recently when to various state web sites to see about registration costs for small unmotorized sailboats, and it varied all over the map.

    My own states does not require registration for any unmotorized boat under 16 ft, this was also true in Florida, Maryland, and several had no requirements if it had no motor at all (AK, Delaware). Many states like Illinois, California and N J exempt it from registration if it for racing (some even allowed any operation related to testing a racing boat).

    Many states had much smaller limits, 8' in CA, 12' in Georgia and NJ, 14' in Ohio.

    In states where all boats have to registered, none of the registration fees were very much for smaller un-motorized boats, typically from $9 to $35, some offering discounts for multiyear registration.

    I did not visit all of the state web sites, but this is a pretty good sampling. There appears really no guidance here if any one length is an advantage in terms of cost over another in terms of creating national rules, each participant will have to deal with their own state rules as required.

    The smaller the better, but much under 14' does not have much utility as a day sailor.
     
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