sportsboats and keelboats

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by schwing, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. schwing
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    schwing Junior Member

    I was under the impression that sportsboats where a fairly new development in yacht design. Saying this i cant find any information on the origins of such designs such as the 1720, mumm 30 etc. can anyone shed any light on this when did sportsboat classes begin? where did the idea come from and are there any articles around relevent to this issue? Also what defines a sport boat?

  2. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest


    It seems to me a "sportboat" has come to mean any of a familiy of high powered keel boats that may or may not use trapezes and/or wings to get the crew outboard.
    Tha being said go to and click on forums and you'll find a "Sportboat forum"
  3. Milan
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Milan Senior Member

    They are relatively new development, made possible by advancement in light boat building materials, but they are longer around then many people knowing just recent boats think. There were some boats from the end of the 50's begin 60' who came pretty close to qualify as a sport boat. One example would be Van de Stadt's hard chine plywood Black Soo (Zeeslang).

  4. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Dear Schwing:

    At the severe risk of looking like a fool, I will tell you what I think I know. For the longest time (100s of years) there were only two classes of 'small' boats. There were workboats, which were the vast majority, then there were yachts.

    A yacht used to be a ship of state. Kind of like the 'air force one' of its time where nobles and royalty entertained one another during the few times they weren't trying to kill each other. A yacht could be the size of a ship or much smaller. It's most noticeable feature was its fine finish and 'spare no expense' appointment. A small yacht could cost up to ten times what an average work boat the same size would.

    It seems that somewhere in time racing started. My guess is it started in the work boat community. The skippers of these boats took great pride in thier seamanship and often thought themselves better than one another. What better way to prove it than to beat one another to the fishing grounds. That's were I think it started. Soon there were Sunday races which were done around courses well within sight of land. This was important. This way betting was possible. And all this money changing hands was bound to attract the attention of the nobility (after all, wealth extraction is thier business).

    Soon the nobility joined the fun. First, it was the old 'land nobility', but not long after the industrial revolution started, they were joined by the 'new nobility', the capitalists.

    At first they raced standard work boat types, bejeweled, of course, with the most expensive fittings and appointments possible (there was more than one way to compete). Soon they were figuring out ways to make thier boats go faster. After this whent on long enough, a new class of yacht was born: The racer. It was designed almost exclusively for speed. Such boats were uncomfortable and often unseaworthy, so something had to be done.

    What was done was the rating rule. The rating rule was to be a rational system of handicapping fast boats so that slower boats had a chance to win. Such rating rules were intended to encourage sound building and design practices. Boats that strayed too far from the rule's norm were severely penalized and often didn't win. The rule got faithfully followed until. Until some clever designer found a chink, a flaw, a loophole in the rule which, if exploited, would make his creation much faster than the rule predicted it would be.

    Where one went, others followed. Soon boats designed to a certain rule ended up having a certain 'look'. When I was nearing adulthood, that 'look' was the IOR 'look'. Shallow, beamy hulls with pinched ends and short keels and masthead rigs. These boats had their vertues. They moved along well in light winds with relatively, by today's standards, modest sail plans. Thier beamy hulls had decent accomodations in them and, when slightly modified, made usable cruisers. And these boats were considered the most seaworthy types around. After all, the best designers in the world were working on them.

    But all was not well in paradise.

    There were two problems, especially as the 1970's came to a close. One was the rise of so called 'fast cruisers'. And the other was the Fastnet Disaster.

    'Fast cruisers' were designed and built exclusively for cruising. But they were designed to do so as fast as possible. They often had the bad habit outsailing nearby IOR boats of the same size. But, because the very elements that made them fast were penalized by the rule, they could not race. At least not in 'mixed fleets'. So they started racing each other as 'one designs'.
    All the while that was happening, the Fastnet Disaster happened. After that, the notion of the superior seaworthyness of the IOR boats was thoroughly discredited. Soon there would be a new rule.

    The 'sport boat', I believe came about at the very end of the IOR period. It was designed not to be cruised, not to be raced, but just simply and exclusively to go fast. I belive the first one of those was the now conservative looking J24. In a good downwind tack, it planed routinely. Later boats came on the scene with wing decks and some even had moveable water ballast. In short, it was anything goes. Anything that mades it go faster, that is. Such boats are known for thier narrow hulls, vast sail plans, and deep bulb keels.

    Much of this, as I recall, started in the 1980's.

    I hope I have answered your question.

  5. casavecchia
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    casavecchia Senior Member


    what about the TEMPEST ?
  6. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    "SPORTBOAT" is actually a meaningless label. There is no actual definition for what qualifies and what doesn't. So it is hard to say when it started and when it didn't. The definition changes with the times.

    As Casavecchia mentions, the Tempest was a keelboat with trapeze and planing ability back in the 1960s. I'm sure there were others.

    Look at Herreshoff's Common Sense of Yacht Design. His "Sailing Machine" definitely would have been a sportboat for the time.

    In the mid-1970s in California there were the Moore 24 and Santa Cruz 27, later Olson 30, Wilderness 30, etc. Before them were the prototype racers Grendel (George Olson, 26' 2000 lbs) and Magic (Bill Lee, 30' 3000 lbs). Again, I'm sure there were others. These were really quick boats for their time, but today aren't considered "Sportboats".

    My boat was a prototype based on the Australian Blazer 23 linesplan, a 28 footer weighing less than 1800 lbs, with trapeze, circa 1980.

    Some debate whether a Mumm 30 is or isn't a sportboat. Ditto the J80, and others. Some say if it doesn't have a prod it isn;t a sportboat.

    Without a true definition it is only a buzzword at this point.

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  7. cyclops
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    cyclops Senior Member

    I am stuck in the time machine of a " Gentelman's racer, 2 seat."
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