2007 January 6
January 2007

Classic cruiser

In the 1930s yacht designers wore white shirts, ties and vests to work. They smoked pungent pipes and they took long, flexible wooden splines and sprung bold sheerlines with impunity. The art and science of yacht design was still mostly art. But we have come a long way. Haven't we? The 56-footer that used to go to weather at 7 knots now goes to weather at 9 knots. Heck, that's a 2 knot increase in the last 76 years.

But for some sailors it isn't all about boat speed. Stormy Weather was one of the most admired early Sparkman & Stephens designs. An agile ocean racer of her time, Stormy Weather was once described by Uffa Fox this way: "Stormy Weather is one of Olin Stephen's favorite designs, and her lines show her to be beamy and powerful, yet easily driven and therefore fast. A type that should gladden the hearts of those who go down to the sea in such small boats." It doesn't surprise me that S&S was approached and asked to do a modern version of Stormy.

Anna, at 56 feet LOA, is slightly scaled up from the original 53-foot, 11-inch Stormy Weather. The character of the sheer has been maintained along with freeboard, tumblehome and the contours of the cabintrunk. The look is pure vintage S&S. It's hard to imagine a better looking boat if you like these kinds of boats, and I do. It's not that easy to marry a modern underbody to antique topsides. Anna's stern has to be narrow with a hint of concavity to the counter. The U-shaped bow sections of that new Baltic would look hideous drawn out into Anna's spoon bow profile. A compromise shape must be found that allows the designer to maintain the original end treatments. The D/L is 254 and the L/B is 4.3, indicating a narrow boat of moderate displacement. The rudder is a deep carbon spade type and the keel is a moderate aspect ratio fin drawing 8 feet, 3 inches.

Back in the day when the designers were burning holes in their vests with their pipes they liked to put the galley forward. I have heard this was because the paid hand did the cooking-when he was allowed out of the fo'c'sle. Anna's interior was designed by Martha Fay Coolidge of Round Point, Maine, and the first thing she did in Anna's layout was to move the galley aft to a position adjacent to the companionway. It's a small galley. It's a small interior given the LOA, but consider that this design gives away 14.67 feet to overhangs. The rest of the layout is very traditional. There are settee berths and pilot berths in the saloon. There is one large head forward and there is an owner's stateroom aft. There are two companionways so you can enter the saloon area without going through the owner's stateroom but I think most of the time the aft companionway will be used. There is very little elbowroom in this layout and it will have an overall feel similar to the original Stormy Weather.

If you are going to carry off the vintage look you have to apply the aesthetic to the deck layout. In this case the cabintrunk and cockpit coamings are pretty much identical to the original. The dorade vents feature tall, pipe segment, old-fashioned vents on oversized boxes. Al Mason once paid a visit to me. I knew he worked for S&S back then so I asked him the formula for dorade box volume. He said, "Just draw it so it looks good. Then make it twice that big." There is a butterfly hatch over the saloon. The anchor is stowed in a well forward on a tilt out arm so that it will be hidden when stowed. The most fun part of this deck layout is that Anna will be tiller steered. This will be a test of the boat's balance under sail. Stormy Weather was tiller steered, as was Dorade originally.

Stormy was a yawl but Anna will be a sloop. This is a big change and the design brief I have says this was done to improve performance. I don't know. Yawls can look pretty good and you can always furl that bitty mizzen when you are beating. Anna's SA/D is a healthy 19.1. Anna does make a beautiful sloop and I see no reason that the rig should not be thoroughly up to date.

The Brooklin Boat Yard is building Anna in cold molded construction. Anna will have a saildrive and some find saildrives a bit too non-conventional. I like them and what I find funny is that Stormy Weather had a V-drive and Uffa Fox felt that V-drive was a bit too radical.

Anna's beauty will certainly enhance the waterfront environment.