Cape Cod PDRacer Challenge

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, it was a dark and stormy, really... some time this past January I stopped into a professional colleague's embroidery shop on business. While there, knowing that I had sailed in the past, he asked if I would ever be interested in building a small sailboat to 'race'. Now, I am game for just about anything, but not really knowing why he was asking, I hesitantly answered like any prudent man with four young kids and a loving wife at home would..."Ssure? What do you mean?"

"Come upstairs and look at these two hulls I helped to built with my kids and some of their friends."

My first thought that I kept to myself (until now) was "Who in their right mind builds a boat UPSTAIRS?!...let alone TWO!!!"

Once upstairs, I saw my first (two) PDRacer hull(s) and was immediately hooked, even before my friend David described the Puddle Duck gestalt. I think I asked something like forty questions in five minutes, each of which David tried to answer before I asked yet another. He urged me to go to "the very great website," where I could find all the answers I needed. He said that he would like to "finish" the build and thought if I would think about building one it might motivate him...then we could "RACE"! Well, I "didn't pass GO, and I didn't collect $200" but I did drive straight to my neighborhood garage where my friend Jeff, judge of silly ideas, works in his family's business.

I knew that when Jeff was younger he was a competitive yacht club racer. He also likes "projects" in the winter to keep himself (and others) out of trouble. He had recently told me that his mostly annual surfing/camping trip to Hawaii had been cancelled...SO, I figured I had the perfect spirit lifting project to undertake. Mind you, I am still only about half an hour from having seen my first PD hull, and had yet to be to the website. After a brief description he seemed interested in the PD concept (as I understood it). While he cleaned up for the day I commandeered his work computer and pulled up "the very great website." Well, about fifteen minutes and two beers later, that would be each, we had committed ourselves to each building a PDRacer for "The Winter Team Meeting".

I am the nephew of a guy called "Houghty" or "Coach". Houghty, a PE teacher and coach, back in the late 1960's opened Jasper's Surf Shop in Eastham, MA. He "fathered" many surfer/beachbum sons and daughters and with his monday night pick-up softball "league" many teammates/players. The "Winter Team Meeting" is an opportunity for many to get together and catch up and BS. Jeff's and my minutes old plan was for each of us to make a mostly complete 3D hull to bring to the "Winter Meeting" (planned for very early March) and use them as recruiting tools to get other equally pompous, know-it-all, competitive, smarty pants, blowhard, non-boat builders to build themselves we could RACE! Rigs, sails, and some gear wouldn't be too much of a problem as when Jasper's Surf Shop closed up shop a few years back my Uncle Houghty bequeathed to me the rental fleet of Sunfish, sailboards, and an AMF Puffer, and parts...or people could make it all in true PD fashion.

"Winter Meeting" was six weeks away, so Jeff and I started our own "race". I knew that he started work before the lumberyard opened, so I beat him by buying my plywood and 2X4's first. He, however, was able to buy his during lunch break, and since he works much closer to home than I do, was able to loft his plans before I got home from work. Score one to one. This went on, with no clear winner, for almost a week with cutting plywood pieces, ripping 2x4's, glueing, and prepping to try to get our "hulls" 3D. Then, I didn't know it, but he had (I think took) a day off, and proudly left me a message while I was AT WORK that he had attached his transom to the outside hull pieces and had also attached the inner sides of his floatation boxes to the transom. Advantage Jeff...but not for long. I stopped on my way home to inspect the progress, and over a beer or three, I gleefully announced that I was pretty sure that he had lofted his bow angle improperly and had cut the improper angle and now had to correct it before he attached the bow plane or forever possess a "non class legal" Puddle Duck. Advantage me.

Over the next weeks we did play nice and actually helped each other out quite a bit. In an economically unsustainable move we redeemed a growing pile of returnable bottles and cans for nickels, which we then spent on building materials. My very smart brother had said from the very start that this whole undertaking stank of a thinly veiled excuse to hang out and drink beer while telling our spouses that we were building cute little boats that our children could sail in during the summer. Of course, all of the above was true. Jeff took over and held onto the lead in the race to our show and tell at the "Team Meeting". We were able to show off two different 3D hulls. There was a plethora of presumptions, plenty of pontificating, and piles of prognostications as to which boat might prove faster and why. We were able to convince three more friends to commit to building boats for an eventual race? regatta? smash up derby.

Our hope is that we will have an annual event and that each year more people will build PDRacers and join in. Hold on, Legal has just advised me that we are NOT HOLDING an event, but that there is nothing wrong with individuals, with their own boats, showing up at Great Pond, on Great Pond Road in Eastham, Massachusetts on Saturday, June 9th, 2012 to coincidently sail all at the same time, that being 11:00am.

Fair winds,
Nicolas Nobili
PD Hull #666