Sailing 572

When I set out to build #572, I was hoping to hit a hull weight of about 60 lbs. She currently weighs in at 60.4 lbs, so Im pleased on that front. I also had concerns whether the experimental construction would hold up to the stresses of active sailing. Im not quite done building #572 yet, but have had several opportunities to sail her and see her sailed. So far so good!

My first sail of #572 was brief I trailered the boat up to our local lake, picked her up off the trailer and carried her down to the waters edge over my shoulder. This was my main reason for building a light hull the ability to quickly and easily launch her solo.

The basic hull design for #572 is pretty straightforward. I used a swooping shearline, starting at a 15 bow and tapering down to a 12 stern (measured from the bottom of the hull). She has foam inserts under the seats in lieu of airboxes and a few strategically placed cross braces to resist hull twist.

I use a simple kick-up rudder with a bungee cord for a downhaul. The rudder ended up being quite a bit shorter than I had intended (I cut the arc on the wrong side of the rudder and had to trim that off). This has turned out to be no problem. I know the rudders for my other PDRacers (48 long) are excessively long. I have had no control issues with #572, and believe that the reduced rudder size is one reason she sails faster than our other hulls.

The pivoting lee board is similar to the rudder design. Again, a bungee cord is used for the downhaul. In fact, the downhaul stays in place + is tensioned just right so that the board can be pulled up fully without uncleating the downhaul. The leeboard is a bit smaller than those on our other boats (44 long and 9-11 wide). Despite the smaller board, she seems to point a bit better than our other hulls.

I installed internal stiffeners for the UltraPly bottom. In retrospect, this was a mistake. The stiffeners make it a bit tricky to get comfortable when sitting on the floor (in light winds). Im not sure the stiffeners are even necessary, given that the bottom is sheathed in 6 oz fiberglass cloth + polyester resin.

The mast step and partner on my other hulls ended up adding far too much weight. I tried to economize with #572 without making the setup overly complicated. The step is a ply / cedar board / ply sandwich. The partner is a 5/8 piece of marine ply fastened to two cedar cross braces. I will eventually cover the foredeck with 8 oz. polyester fabric but may make some adjustments to the partner location first (to reduce the extreme rake of the mast).

I wanted to make sure that the snotter and downhaul lines were easily accessible from the cockpit. I put a couple of jam cleats on a stiffener, which puts the lines in a convenient location. The deck fabric will extend back to this stiffener.

Im using a 59 sq ft Leg-O-Mutton sail with this boat. The mainsheet is attached to a block centered on a line (pseudo traveler) attached to each side of the stern transom. From here, the mainsheet runs through a block on the boom (using cheap aluminum carbiner clip so that the mainsheet can be attached and detached from the boom w/o having to run it through the blocks).

The lightweight hull has really changed the way I sail. Our other hulls are all significantly heavier, and are quite steady on the water. Although #572 is stable, she is a bit more tender and sensitive to crew weight distribution. I find myself moving around the boat a lot more to keep her sailing level. It can be a bit tricky to rig her -- she has a tendency to take off from shore. The low freeboard design makes for some interesting moments on the water. Ive not capsized her yet, but have buried the rail several times + ended up with a wet seat.

Weve sailed #572 side-by-side with #504 (another relatively light hull sporting a 76 sq ft balanced lug). On most points of sail, and in most wind conditions, #572 is the faster boat. She also points a bit higher. Her performance in light wind has been excellent, and weve had her out in 15 mph gusting to 20 mph with no structural problems.

Perhaps the best thing about having #572 is just having one more boat in the fleet. Sailing is so much more fun with multiple boats. On any given day we can have three PDRacers in the water. As soon as I get another mast made, we will have four operational PDRacers in the family. The fifth is undergoing restoration.