One of the Coots recently acquired an El Toro sailboat, which promoted me to look for my friend Greg's pictures of the one he bought last fall. The El Toro is an eight-foot pram with one sail, intended mostly for kids, but also raced by adults the world over.
It looks hazardously small with Greg's lanky frame in it! He bought it because he remembered one from his childhood. He says: “I long wanted to get another El Toro as it was the boat that started it all for me, both with sailing and with wood boats.”
His friend Jo took the pictures from her kayak and in almost every one (once under way) he's grinning from ear to ear.
Greg tells me in a note about the pictures:
“Here's the nearly fatal (?!!) maiden voyage of the El Toro, in sequence.”
“Through keen observation, combined with some deft moves, I averted a possible calamity and went on to sail out of the marina to ply the mighty Fern Ridge Reservoir with the other 'yachts'. I still smile when I think how well that little boat did out there and how surprisingly stable it was. Shouldn't come as such a surprise though when I remember that the beam is half the overall length. You should build one of these for yourself. They're super easy to put together since no extensive jig is required, and the mast and boom are made from laminated 1x3's.”
“The inexpensive sails I've seen listed are indeed cheap and as I understand, the sailcloth is heavier than one would want. Sure they're tougher by using heavier sailcloth, but no one is sailing around The Horn in an El Toro!”
Those pictures are a hoot! And the boat is gorgeous. A little pram like that would make a fine tender for Mistral.
Greg's story continues:
“Note the angled mast as I initially try to sail away from the docks.” (Somehow the mast had come out of the mast step, but the failure wasn’t immediately apparent.) “A few minutes later...problem solved, and happily sailing off in my new boat.” (Disaster averted).
What he neglects to mention, but is apparent from the pictures is --- He’s a big man for such a small boat! With the sail wrapped around him like a shroud and the boat bow down, it’s fortunate there were no ski boats blasting by! A testament to the inherent stability of these little racers...
Greg loves his little Bull Ship. In the weeks following I heard from him again:
“Time to get another coat of varnish on my new craft today. It's all mahogany with fir spars still in very good condition with funky 60's brass pulleys and cleats. The hull exterior has a layer of glass fiber over the wood and I'd like to get that finish smooth for the first time in it's life, fairing it out with fresh coats of shiny new varnish.”
Yet another story of a happy sailor and a wood boat!
Length: 7 ft. 11 in.
Beam: 3 ft. 10 in.
Sail Area: 49 sq.ft.
Hull: Wood or Fiberglass
Weight: 60 lbs. (hull only)
80 lbs. (min. wt. Equipped)
Spars: Wood, Aluminum, or Carbon Fiber
This from the El Toro class website:
More than fifty years ago, a need was recognized for a small inexpensive sailboat which could serve as a yacht tender and training craft. The El Toro design was based on the MacGregor Sabot plans which appeared in the Rudder Magazine in 1939. Today, the class has allowed new materials to be used with a considerable improvement in performance. The sassy El Toro now has many of the "go fasts" of larger yachts adapted for lighter loads and the small rig. New El Toros are not as inexpensive as they once were, but the original design considerations have remained. Today's yachts are satisfactory tenders and sprightly racers.
Junior sailing programs at yacht clubs and municipal sailing classes have developed many fine young El Toro captains. High quality racing programs have kept the interest of these young sailors. Often sailors "move up" to larger yachts and are frequently recognized as champions. Many return to the lively tactical sailing situations provided by El Toro racing.
The El Toro has benefited by high quality racing provided by the Small Boat Racing Association. The SBRA has in turn been supplied with sailors in many other classes that have started in the El Toro.