Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Need for Speed

I met Robert Ditterich back when he was building a Waller 540. I'd never heard of the Waller design, which is no surprise, Robert lives on the flipside of the globe. There is a substantial amount of skinny water in and around Australia, so boats with shallow draft have an advantage long capitalized by designers.
My love affair with traditionally designed and built boats is largely due to their simple and exquisite beauty. Traditionalists like me tend to hyperbole about how these old hull and sail types are the equivalent to new production designs. You hear often about how a lug sailed dingy traded tacks with a Laser all afternoon.
That may be the case, I wasn't there to verify any of those accounts. A fact I can verify is, if you want a boat that performs well in all conditions and is fast to boot, you need a design like Robert's Waller 540.

Ok, so I like a good turn of speed. I was reminded of this a couple days ago when we went for a row in Port Townsend Bay. The weather built up to a bluster on the way home and rowing with some difficulty, we kept pace with a couple walking the path along the shore. Until recently, human and sail powered boats have been what an old sailing mentor of mine called "slugs on the water".

But now we have boats that will sail at the speed of the wind. Hard to wrap your mind around, isn't it? This morning, the question of velocity came up again while reading Earwigoagin and an account of how the Gougeon brothers built an i550 design by Chris Beckwith, for this year's aborted Everglades Challenge. The i550 is an 18 foot sportboat, built for racing, a boat designed to go as fast as the wind. Why be satisfied with five knots when you could be going ten?

Last month, on a whim, I drove to Bainbridge Island to check out a guitar. The owners lived in one of the swank neighborhoods circumjacent along the island's waterfront. The woman was a musician and her husband was a cabinetmaker and a sailor. They'd built their home themselves.
It took me four hours to buy that guitar.
On the way out, I was shown their sportboat. The way they'd been talking about her speed, I expected a motor boat, but was pleasantly surprised to see a very fast looking sail design, 28 feet long, with kevlar and carbon fiber everywhere. This boat had recently spent a couple seasons eating up the competition around Seattle.

Wow. Then there is the story of Webb Chiles' ongoing circumnavigation in his Moore 24, Gannet. Webb has an appreciation for small, simple boats and demonstrates they are capable of much more than we give them credit for. He also has a need for speed. His Gannet is similar in size to my Belle Starr, but in fifteen knots of wind, he is sailing at a spectacular ten knots.
I would be back there, somewhere, making nearly five........

 Whoa, doryman! What happened to "less is more"?

Whew, got a little carried away there. On a less astral plane, let's consider the cs20. B&B Yacht Design has here a boat for everyman. Performance in a builder friendly design.
I've had the privilege of sailing with Randy Jones on his Core Sound 17, pictured here. A boat that sails itself and practically builds itself, too.
The Core Sound 20 is bound to be that much better.

Who knows what may become of this?........

The only photo I can take credit for is the last one. The others belong to friends mentioned and to them I extend thanks.


robert.ditterich said...

Slow Guitar Buying might just be the next big thing, to compensate for fast sailing. Nice instrument, especially to travel with!

The Waller is with me no more. She has a new owner in Queensland who has been watching her over the years.

doryman said...

I remember when you sold the Waller. I'd like to know if she's still being sailed.
The guitar is a Martin Backpacker. Made of real wood (spruce and mahogany), it has a very pleasant tone, size not withstanding. When it travels, it will be with the utmost care.

robert.ditterich said...

As we speak, Paul is having someone install a big pole tube in the bow (as designed by Waller) to carry a Gennaker kite. He'll love it... he is a more experienced sailor than me. I hope I get a pic from him of her with all these extra feathers.

doryman said...

Maybe there's a story there? Paul might be persuaded to share his experience of the boat?