The First Canting Keel

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Doug Lord, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Found this on SA by Gary Baigent. Seems that "Fiery Cross" designed by Jim Young may have been the very first canting keel racing sailboat:

    Magnificent Red Herring, enlightened outside the box thinking ... but sorry to spoil the fun because here is the original that inspired the boat, Jim Young's Herreshoff based (but Jim altered) with wider beam, Fiery Cross, launched in Auckland in 1959. Here's a quote from the forthcoming book on Jim Young:
    "Fiery Cross was/is the only double ender of that length, 45 feet that I know of. The ability to sail to windward is related to power. Long and skinny is more related to high maximum speeds and very few boats sail at maximum speeds, and very few can sail at maximum hull speeds up wind; that is a real challenge for a designer. The America’s Cup monohulls can achieve this because about 80% of their weight is in ballast and that gives them so much power that they can sail to windward at hull speed, about 11 knots. But some beamy boats can do this too even though they produce more drag. Their wide beam gives them stability and therefore the power to drive up to hull speed. Fiery Cross could exceed displacement speeds and she was sufficiently fine in the ends for the waves not to hold her back, not like Freya, which was a beautiful hull but all that beauty was to no avail. There were a lot of advantages in having a narrow boat like Fiery Cross. She had a sliding window by the galley so you could just empty the teapot over the side.
    In L. Frances Herreshoff’s book Common Sense of Yacht Design, he advocated the system of canting the keel to windward to get the stability of a beamy boat, but in a narrow hull and without the drag of wide beam. I thought that a great idea. It would add greatly to the sensation of sailing, great for cruising or reaching up to Kawau Island and up the northern coast. So I built her with that set-up in mind and you can see in the photograph of the hull being turned over of a hollow where the keel fin was recessed. I knew that if you wanted speed then the boat would have to be long. And to keep costs down the hull would have to be narrow, plus having light gear with a light rig and everything else light and inexpensive. And the type of hull itself was the same as Herreschoff had advocated in his book, a double ended hull. I had some correspondence with him because the boat he drew was the same length, 45 feet, but had only 6 foot (13.7 x 1.8 m) beam with 6.5 foot (2 m) draught. And I wanted to make this boat 7 foot (2.13 m) beam and so I wrote to him saying I was interested in his ideas but wanted to increase beam and asked him what he thought of that. He was full of enthusiasm and pleased to see someone carry out his ideas."

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  2. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Talk about long and skinny. 45' long by 7' wide!
  3. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Found this from Steve Clark on SA also-really cool stuff:

    Posted 23 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

    I know about Fiery Cross. Nothing I wrote was intended to eclipse the import of Jim Young's pioneering boat.
    There is nothing unusual about long skinny boats, and you are going to go a long way back in time before anyone can claim to be "the first" because logs are fundamentally long and skinny. The deal is that ,"all things being equal" the additional sail carrying power of beam and ballast more or less equals the drag caused by beam and ballast. And if you look at it squarely, most keel boats sail about the same. To do better, you have to break some of the connections. This is what the canting keel does, it gives a narrow light boat the righting moment of a heavier wider boat without the drag associated with beam and ballast. Red Herring looks awfully narrow and clean, but what you don't see is the quivallent of 20 guys my size hanging from trapezes on the weather rail.

    I had seen some pictures of Fiery Cross and understood her to be a pretty fair representation of the boat that LFH included in the Common Sense of Yacht Design. I also understood that the experiment was somewhat of bust and that she spent most of her years sailing "un-canted." As something of a curate of all things canting, I would love to see or have more images of the boat and reports of her sailing.
    Is she still in one piece? that her in the background of the photo?

    Over the years as Dad talked to people about the idea, the objection was pretty much always the same. with the keel canted, the boat will have little or no lateral plane and will not sail very well. Keeping the foils vertical is as important as keeping the rig vertical.
    Dad understood this and therefore included centerboards in the design to provide the necessary side force. In his early sketches, these were usually asymmetric bilge boards, not entirely dissimilar to what is found on V-70s. I think Dave talked him off that ledge by suggesting that SOMETHING had to stay put from tack to tack. So it's the shifting ballast AND the centerboards that make Red Herring original.

    Beatings will continue until morale improves.
  4. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    And this from Steve Clark about Red Herring-found on SA:

    Posted 20 August 2012 - 10:36 AM

    Red Herring is my boat!
    She was built in 1980 by Goetz Custom (Hull 22) and was the last "solid wood" boat they built.
    She is cold mold cedar on stringers and frames.
    The keel can be canted and lifted, but not at the same time.
    She is 55'long, 8'3" wide and weighs 9500 lbs.
    Those of you keeping score at home will recognize that this gives her a displacement length ratio of about 27, which isn't just light, it's super ******* light.
    She draws 9' with the keel down and 6' with it pulled up.
    We leave it down most of the time.
    The keel can be canted 35 degrees, this is done with hydraulics driven by an electric pump with two huge gel cell bater8es. We can sail for just over 24 hours before recharging.
    Fastest we have ever gone is 20 knots. It was 0DARK30 during a Solo/Twin when Lars said "Too bad we can't do this when it's light." I replied," If we could see, we would be too frightened and would stop."

    Red Herring was designed by David Hubbard. The concept was all Van Alan Clark Jr. He got the germ of the idea from L. Francis Herreshoff's "sailing machine" in the Common Sense of yacht design, but quickly identified the flaws in Herreshoff's proposal and identified a way to address it. As Dave succinctly put it: to segregate the righting moment and lateral resistance functions of the keel into two appendages. Thus she has a strut with ballast on it to keep her upright and a daggerboard to keep her from sliding sideways.

    When I was a kid, Dad and I talked about boats all the time. When you have a number of kids ( I'm #4 of 6) you have special things you share with each kid. I was Dad's "boat kid." He drew on the back of paper place mats at Howard Johnson's when we were stopping for a hot dog. As often as not, it as something that would eventually turn into Red Herring. When I brought home my first International Canoe, he went for a short sail and said "That's it. I'm building the skinny boat."

    As originally launched she was a cat ketch with rotating masts and fully battened sails. She had two two centerboards a keel and a rudder. Keel canting was done by winches attached to massive 6:1 block and tackles, and she really didn't work so well. Unfortunately my dad died in 1983 so he never really got to do much in terms of refining the concept. We knew it worked, but really didn't know how well. After Dad died, Dave had her for a few years, and I took possession sometime around 1988. I have been nibbling away at it ever since.
    I redesigned the sail plan. Moved the main aft 30" to bring jibs aboard, and a mast head asymmetrical. After a very loud and expensive noise, had GMT make some very nice light carbon masts to replace the heavy aluminum rotating spars.
    Next I decided the centerboards were too small, and so installed a deep canard daggerboard. The keel was originally a wood/ composite blade with a fairly low aspect ratio bulb, when I decided I didn't trust it anymore, I had Duncan MacLane and Paul Bogatai design a good one that was machined out of steel with a modern looking bulb. Finally this year, the rudder was upgraded from something that looked OK in the 1970s to a deeper hotter **** blade with a carbon [post that weighs about 1/2 of what the old blade did.
    On board accommodation has never been a big feature of the Red Herring experience. Her cross section is a bit smaller than a
    J24, so that's about what you get, stretched out a bit. There is a head with a door, but if you are my size, it's a challenge to wipe with the door closed. On the other hand, there is a stove with an oven, which makes hot coffee cake and danishes possible, which is about as civilized as it gets. You cannot stand up in the saloon except in the hatch. There is a nice aft berth under the mizzen, but you can't sit up anywhere except under the hatch. Ezra Smith and I designed some sea hoods this year to make her a bit more habitable in the rain and Blizo and the team at Aquidneck Custom did a wonderful job of fabricating them as well as the new coamings that make it all work as part of our 30 year refit.

    On Friday she was sliding along very nicely until the jib blew up. Which means that sailed most of the long beat with the Spandex 130. Not really a jib that goes upwind very well, being too big for the breeze and too stretchy and impossible to sheet in all the way because of the cap shrouds. But what the hell, there are lots worse ways to spend TGIF time.
    Red Herring is more of a reaching monster than an upwind device. Usually 40' sloops kick us around uphill, but we get them back the second we can start the sheets a bit. If the wind goes further aft, and we have to really run square, we get crushed again. The only races that are any fun on this boat are ones where there are opportunities for odd angles that modern racing sloops aren't optimal for. Herring has a PHRF rating of -3. On balance I would say that is fair, Once I do the next round of sails, it will probably be lower. I don't really care, the only reason to have a rating is so I can see if any of the changes we make are making the boat faster or slower, and the only way to do that is to race it now and then.

    So yeah, she was way ahead of her time, but has been eclipsed by the modern canting keel boats. On the other hand, Dad thought this was the better formula for sailboats, and the performance of the Volvo 70s and others simply confirms that he sure was right about that. Sailing her is one way I remember my old man.

    Beatings will continue until morale improves.
  5. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Fiery Cross

    More from Gary Baigent quoting from Jim Youngs soon to be finished book:

    "I built Fiery Cross using double diagonal on stringers but because she was a long boat and I was working on her on my own during spare time, I couldn’t handle long planks. This was the time when reliable, synthetic, totally waterproof glues had recently become available. I got advice from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which was headed by Jack Brook, a yacht designer in his own right. He advised me the only reliable glue was Aerodux Resorcinol Urea, a sort of purple coloured glue. And so we used to go through drums of the stuff. And I built Fiery Cross using that method, double diagonal so I only needed to use short planks and thin wood – which made it easier. But I made two mistakes, not serious but silly mistakes. The stringers I gathered together at the bow and stern so around the middle of the boat, they were spread quite well apart - and at the bow and the stern they were far too close. I should have made them parallel to the sheer all the way. Why I didn’t think of that, Lord knows? But I started that method of construction. Des Townson refined it when he built Serene by using smaller stringers on closer spacings. Also John Lidgard built the first Stewart 34 Patiki ,using that method of construction and he wrote an article in SeaSpray in which he acknowledged I was the first one to start this method. But Des refined it by having smaller stringers closer together and running them parallel to the sheerline - so they were all the same distance apart all the way around the boat - and by being closer together, you didn’t have to have fastenings between the stringers to pull the skins together on the glue. Des later developed an electric glue spreader; a wonderful labour saver – I used one for years.
    Being in the design and build business, I had to attract attention to my work and product, so when Fiery Cross was launched I decided to go racing, to advertise. The word quickly got around that Fiery Cross had a swing keel and pretty soon I received a letter from the Yachting Association requiring that I sign a declaration that guaranteed we wouldn’t operate this keel while racing. But the keel was fixed anyway because I couldn’t afford the cost of the gear to operate it. Fiery Cross was in this configuration for some years. Movable ballast was illegal in those days but today, part of the liberation of monohull yacht design has been that many have extreme draft with motor driven canting keels that can be lifted close to horizontal. Also they carry daggerboards to replace the lost resistance to leeway of the acutely angled canting keel plus, among other modern changes, asymmetric spinnakers (which are really not modern at all). But the rule makers still prevail. Look at the Americas Cup monohulls, millions spent yet the boats can’t go as fast as a man can run. I also have reservations of multihulls with full wing rigs that require cranes to erect or lower the hard sails; something that is of little practical use to the average sailor.
    Later I felt I could design a boat that had harder bilges and a bit more beam than Fiery Cross but I wasn’t prepared to go to the risk of having too much beam - because of built in thinking applied right across the board at that time. In those days the crews sailed their boats with them laying over a long way, a lot further than they do today; just look at those photographs of old keel boats, the lee rail with about a foot of water over it,
    crews standing half way up to their knees in white water while hauling in the headsails. But those yachts would also lift out of the water too and this is what happened with long ended boats if they didn’t gather speed. I remember Bill Couldrey saying to me, “I can’t understand these lightweight boats, when they lay over, you’d think they’d float up out of the water.” Yet he ignored or dismissed what actually happened on long ended yachts.

    So I decided it was time to sell Fiery Cross and get into a more conventional boat that might attract more orders for yachts. But I could not waste all the trouble I’d gone to without finally swinging the keel. The swinging mechanism could be unlocked so I decided to try letting the keel swing to leeward, then locking it to one side, then going on the other tack with it locked to windward where it could generate that extra power. I’d been talking to Des about it and he was naturally very interested so we met him in his Serene when he anchored off Bean Rock lighthouse. There was a light breeze from the North-east. We thought she would flop over to one side with the weight of the rig so we very gingerly released the keel and nothing happened. The boat just stayed upright. And of course, in hind sight it was obvious; once you released the keel, you transferred the effective weight of the ballast from the bottom, six feet down, to where it became the equivalent of internal ballast. With 2 ½ ton of lead inside, we were still going to have plenty of stability. So we had to force this arm around to one side to get the keel to swing and the boat listing. After a struggle we managed to get it fully canted to the 22 degrees limit. We started sailing with the keel to leeward and the boat laying over in this light breeze. She had bad weather helm and if we allowed the boat to go into the wind, she would stop, she’d stall, and you couldn’t get her sailing again with the rig to one side and the boat with no way on. As soon as the wind got into the sails, she’d round up into the wind and you couldn’t steer her away. Later, the breeze freshened and that was a little better but we still had extreme weather helm. This was another lesson in the obvious. So we tacked and at last, with the keel canted to windward, she started sailing correctly, but we also found that when the boat was upright or slightly leaning to windward, she’d develop lee helm. So this was another lesson. We now know today all these things but then we had to work them out for ourselves. I mean, a wind surfer puts the rig out to one side and it rounds up, pulls it to windward and it bears away. Push it forward and the boat bears away, bring it aft and so on - it’s all there. But it wasn’t obvious then. So, it really taught me the fact that if the boat lies over too far and gets out of balance, you have to put too much helm on to hold her on course, which is like pulling on a brake. And before that people used to believe that the more a keel boat leaned over, the more it wanted to come upright and the better it went, developed the most power that way. But .that power was eaten up by the fact that the centre of drive was so far to one side that the correcting action of the rudder to hold the boat on course, created more drag than the developed power. It ate up all the speed, the power to go fast. And if it went over far enough the rudder would stall and the boat would round up, which is what happened to Tango when she was first built with her too small rudder. It’s amazing how you don’t see things that are so simple. Somebody thinks of something, so absolutely simple, you think, why in hell didn’t I think of that? Simplicity is the hardest thing to find.
    But with the boat set up properly, the transition in Fiery Cross was unforgettable; a feeling of power and constant speed and if an extra puff came, she would leap ahead, also the motion was softer too, when driving her hard in 25-30 knots wind and a sharp seaway running. It was very satisfying. So after I got the keel swinging, we did a whole
    season with her setup like that - but only cruising and not racing. There was an enormous performance difference, and even though the keel was swung to windward she could point higher and sailed faster because the faster you sail, the less area you need in the keel anyhow. So even though there was less effective area it was still enough to resist leeway. When we finally sold Fiery Cross to Hugh Aimer he wanted me to replace the swinging keel with a conventional fixed one."

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

  6. Luc Vernet
    Joined: May 2004
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    Luc Vernet Senior N.A.

    How typical!

    I am trying to sell the (although not very original anymore) idea or modern twin keels for a current project, and to which would be added two retractable asymmetrical boards (inside the keels) to further improve the lift when beating to windward without increasing draft (when boards are up), but NO! They ALL want single, central keel, with "classic" centerboard. If the wetted area will be (very slightly) lower, the lift will be much lower thus increasing leeway (and drag), the boat unable to beach upright, the rolling motion at anchor, beautifully reduced by twin appendages, much higher and the hull design more conventional too.

    How hard it is to get people accepting to get off the beaten track!
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