August 4, 2015

Racer/cruisers and vice versa

I WAS THINKING the other day that I need another little Santana 22 sloop.  I owned one about 20 years ago. I turned her into a miniature “sport cruiser” and loved her to bits. She was the first successful  design from the board of Gary Mull, one of my favorite sailboat designers. About 800 Santana 22s were built by the Schock company in California in the late 1960s and early 70s. You’d think there would be at least one still around here in reasonable condition, but if there is, I can’t find it in this neck of the woods.

Mull was one who had very definite ideas about the difference between cruiser/racers and racer/cruisers. He didn’t design either. He simply created what he called “good sailboats.”

He was quoted as saying:  “If you call one a club racer, what you are really saying is that it is a racing boat that isn’t quite good enough to race against the real racing boats. It can only do club racing.

“If you call it a cruiser/racer, that’s some sort of hermaphrodite that is neither fish nor fowl, but is probably slower than a racer/cruiser, which is also a hermaphrodite but maybe looks racier than its cruiser/racer cousin.”

Whatever other people called his designs, it didn’t matter to him. Here is what he strove for in all his boats:

* Good looks and performance. “It has to be good-looking and it has to sail well.”

* Good balance.

* An airy, bright, pleasant interior. (“So you don’t feel like you’re going to jail when you go down below.”)

* A comfortable cockpit. (“Where you can work the boat without bashing your elbows or tripping over or whatever.”)

As for cruiser/racers and racer/cruisers, his philosophy was simple: “If you want to cruise for a while, you can do it by simply loading aboard the stores and some clothes, and just do it. If you want to race it, you can do that by off-loading some of the stores and gear and going racing.

A “good sailboat” like this wouldn’t be a successful racer under the International Offshore Rule “because it’s not an IOR boat,” said Mull. “But it’s probably going to be a better cruising boat than 99 percent of the cruising boats on the market, which are caricatures of cruising boats.”

Strong words from a strong character who was one of America’s most talented designers.

Today’s Thought
To me, the drawn language is a very revealing language; one can see in a few lines whether a man is really an architect.
— Eero Saarinen, NY Times, 5 Jun 77

Rumor has it that the Feds are going to replace the dollar bill with a metal coin.
It’s called the quarter.

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