Monday, November 7, 2011

Star Olympic Racing Class

In 1906 George Corry, the leader of a small group of yachtsmen from New York City asked his friend, William Gardner to design a small, inexpensive, chine-built sail boat with a keel.

In his 1931 log, Mr. Gardner noted: "When I designed the Star, my aim was to produce a boat that was fast, handy, seaworthy, and that could be built at a moderate cost. These qualities I was evidently fortunate enough to have obtained."

The original Star cost $260.

In the fall of 1910, Francis Sweisguth, Gardner's draftsman and one of the original Star skippers, drew plans for the boat.

The Star became an Olympic racing class in 1932 and has produced champion skippers such as Paul Elvstrøm, Dennis Conner, Robert Halperin, Buddy Melges and Fredrik Lööf.

The Star, as originally drawn by Sweisguth, was a gaff rigged boat with a long boom, typical of racing sailboats of the day. The luff of the mainsail was 24'11" compared to 30’6" used on modern rigs and the foot of the mainsail was 18’4" compared to 14’7" today. In the late 1910's and early 1920’s, Sweisguth modernized the rig from a gaff to a Marconi. During that time, a boat might use either rig.

The Star class gave us sailboat racing as we know it today, with such modern design considerations as:
Jumper Struts vs. Headstay
Tuned Wooden Spars
Synthetic Sails
Jib Luff Wire Systems
Jib Sheet Systems
Boom Vangs

The Star can have a dazzling array of sail controls. The boat being restored in Doryman's boatyard has a half-moon shaped traveler set in the deck, just forward of the cockpit, for it's boomvang!

It is built of 12" spruce planks over fir frames, with some very nice tongue-in-grove joinery. A very sound boat, built in the mid-60's and still competitive today. When complete she will be ready to join her sisters on the modern racing circuit.

LOA: 22ft 7in(6.9m)
LWL: 15ft 6in (4.7m)
Beam: 5ft 7in (1.7m)
Sail area: 285sqft (26.5m2)
Displacement: 1479lb (671kg)


Baydog said...

Such a nice job on the restoration! And one dopey observance: It's one of the only classes where people have inserted the word 'boat' after the class name. You never hear 'Snipeboat'.

doryman said...

I make a commitment to these old boats that they will outlive me.
Thanks for noticing.
This boat is hard to describe to people - the claim that "I have a Star in my shop" usually draws empty stares.
I refer to it as "the Star Class boat", since it apparently has no name.
No title, no name, no history. But when she leaves here, she'll have her life back.

RobertTheBald said...

There is a pretty good Star fleet here in Olympia, Washington. They sail under the South Sound Sailing Society (check out and once a year there is the Black Star Regatta (in the spring I think) for "older" stars, the woodies and pre-i-forget-the-hull-# FG Stars. It's not too far away and I'm sure they would like some new faces/boats....

doryman said...

I knew some folks, in Olympia, who were starting a Star fleet about ten years ago. I'm happy to hear it's a real deal.
Maybe someone there would like a (very) good deal... this boat is for sale.