Why We Don't Have Required Plans

pdracer required hull shape

The Required Hull Shape

With almost every other sailboat class, the way it works is you buy a set of plans that the class sells, and then build that exact boat (or buy one). Their class rules are setup so that all the boats are as identical as they can enforce, so that the only unique part of the boat ends up being the paint job.

The Puddle Duck Racer is the opposite: There are no required plans, I prohibit the sale of pdracer plans, instead we have a hull shape that we all conform to as specified by the Class Rules. We have an emphasis on sharing boat building information and plans for free, duckers are encouraged to learn how to design and configure their boat, connect with other duckers to discuss how to build them, then you build a duck the way YOU want to, and go play & race them the way YOU think is fun. Even though we have hundreds of boats on the water, no two of them are the same.

The feeling of earning the satisfaction of designing, building and sailing your own boat is incredible. You can't purchase this, nobody can do it for you, it can only be claimed through your actions. Above and beyond that, you have advanced your personal understanding of how things work and accomplished a goal which is something you keep personally with you for the rest of your life.


Don't worry about screwing up

She really is the easiest boat in the world to build, even when you design her all yourself. Since the hull has almost no resale value, you don't have to worry about cosmetic issues. The most important part is to start building and get on the water so you can gain real world experience. With that experience and meeting with other duckers to sail together and share information, you will develop new ideas of things you want to try and can start modifying your boat to test them out. The hull is very easy to modify, the internal parts are easy to change and worse case scenario, you can build another hull and move your number over to it. .


If it ain't broke, go ahead and fix it anyway

Modifying our boats is a fun part of our hobby and enjoyed just as much as the sailing and racing part. Doesn't matter if there is a common solution to a problem, often we will over think things and that process seems to reveal the truly unique & simple solutions to problems. Or maybe you want to try a complicated solution just to see if you can get it to work. Some duckers organize competitions based on utilizing limited materials which is a fun design challenge. Doesn't matter, she is your boat, you should explore ideas and try them out in the real world to see what happens. If you don't like the results, then figure something else, make the modifications and try again. Just incase, always take a set of oars so you can row back to the dock.


Innovative Duckers

Since our club pushes everyone to learn and create a configuration of their boat, and duckers join with other local duckers to create events they think are fun, we have a group of the brightest most creative innovators. And that is the reason you continually hear about puddle duckers improvising their way out of any problem, often with just the materials in the near vicinity, and helping other sailors. Ask around and you will see what I am talking about. What the average person thinks is a problem, looks like an engineering challenge to a ducker.


Popular Hull Configurations


BucketEars - the Simple 18 Puddle Duck Racer

End Airboxes

The most popular configuration of the PDRacer is the "End Airboxes", called that because the flotation airboxes are built into the ends. The nice thing about this configuration is that it has a lot of interior room for passengers, drink cooler and your dog. She is very simple and quick to build, you can build her with 2 weekends worth of work, and go sailing on the 3rd weekend.

The drawback of the design, is that if you knock her over on her side, after reboarding you have a few gallons of water to bail out. For pictures of this, see the emergency flotation page. This configuration is best for recreational use.



full length side air boxe pdracer

Full Length Side Airboxes

The second most popular configuration, she has air boxes that extend the full length of the sides. The advantage of this configuration, is that if you knock the boat over during a race and then right it, there is almost no water left in the cockpit. See the emergency flotation page.

The side decks also provide a great seat for when you are hiking out. The disadvantage of this configuration, is that it reduces the amount of inside cockpit space, so there will be less room for people to sit inside the boat.

This configuration is better for hard core racing, and also has been proven to be a able to withstand extreme weather in excursion events such as Scott Widmier during one of the worst weather years of the Everglades Challenge.


full length side air box pdracer

As you can see from this photo, there isn't much to her and she is almost exactly like the end airbox design above, except the airboxes are on the sides. Just as simple to build too. Just make 4 of our hull panels and attach a bottom, then deck over the top. Some people even cut out all 4 panels at the same time.



Examples of Puddle Ducks

Cabin Overnight Cruiser
Cool Paint Jobs
Board Boats (very short hull)
Grout - Join 2 together
Space Saving Hulls
Swoopy Ducks
Teardrop Trailers to carry PDRacers


Free PDRacer Boat Plans


Shorty's Simple 18 PDRacer Plans

The Simple 18 is the easiest type of pdracer to build, you can build straight from the plans or hopefully use them to create your own plan & configuration of your duck. The plans are very simple in nature, because she really is that easy to build.
How to build the Simple 18 (Building BucketEars)
16" high hulls are popular - how to make a hull shorter than 18"
Design Your Duck
Calculate Size Of Airboxes


Free Plans From Duckers

Please review articles that other duckers have sent in. They don't look like conventional plans, but each ducker is sharing the unique solutions they decided upon for their duck. When you combine all the articles together, we have a knowledge base and instructions much greater than any set of plans could possibly hope to offer. Best of all, ducker articles are shared by one community member to another for free, and their contact info is listed at the top so you can email them to get more details & thank them for sharing.

Here are some of the articles to get you started:
Bill MacPherson - Video of Building True North
Joel Rodgers - Raptor
John Kowitz - Ranger
Nick Altizer - The Duck That Stuck
Scott Widmier - Expedition PDRacer for Everglades Challenge Race
Shorty - Loaner Boat Design for 2006 World Championships
Tim Cleary - full length side airbox
Tim Diller - Sea Hawk
Tim {toliver66} - The Royal Duchess
Tom Mauer - Water Dancer



Free Puddle Duck Plans From Professional Designers

Dave Gray - Polysail Camp Sailboat PDRacer
Jim Michalak - Catbox PDRacer
Ken Simpson - Modular PDR
Free Plans for Other Boats

Please note: Some plans may have incorrect dimensions and other problems. Please make sure to use the rocker shape shown on the class rules page and review the other class rules so you will know what is (and is not) class legal.
Basic concepts of being class legal.


Getting Help Building Your PDRacer

You should start off by studying the freely available materials from this website and others. Many duckers are able to build their boats from just those free materials. The next step should be to contact other local duckers to get advice from them, especially since after you build your boat, you can go sailing with them. Here are suggestions for Contacting Other Duckers. There are many great books about building boats.

Make sure to keep in mind how others helped you build your duck, so when the time comes you can help another new ducker build theirs. That way you pay it forward.