2011 November 1

Anguilla racing sloop

I  get some unusual design jobs. There was the submarine job. The 116-foot-long Fautasi (super canoe) for the Samoan village was interesting, as was my trip to Samoa. Over a year ago my phone rang one afternoon and the gentleman calling asked, in a deep sonorous voice, if I would be willing to design a Class A racing sloop to compete in the Anguilla races. I asked where Anguilla was then said I'd be happy to design the boat. I had no idea what an Anguilla Class A boat looked like and I had no idea of the class rules. But it sounded like an interesting project and I don't get asked to design many racing boats so I jumped at the chance. My new client, Mr. Carl Richardson, directed me to some website where I could find videos of the boats racing.

Anguilla is in the eastern part of the Caribbean in the Lesser Antilles in the Leeward Islands. It's only 39 square miles big but it is very beautiful and appears to be a wonderful place to vacation. The sailboat racing in their local classes is intense and very competitive. The Class A rules are loose. The boat cannot have an LOA greater than 28 feet. Ballast must be internal and the keel must be a "full keel" type. That's about as specific a set of rules as I ever got. The boats are crewed with between 14 and 22 men and there is a good chance some of the crew will be asked to swim ashore once the weather mark is rounded. Ballast is in the form of heavy iron bars that the crew carries from side to side with each tack.

After watching the videos of the boats sailing it occurred to me that maybe the boats could be faster with less crew and less rig. As you can see by the sailplan the rig is very unusual and huge. I suggested this to Carl but he was adamant that we stay with the big rig and big crew. Obviously, while the written rules were few there was the spirit of the class that has to be adhered to. I designed the boat to displace 11,556 pounds with full crew and movable ballast for a D/L of 236. I was not sure how much of the "full keel" I could cut away and still stay within the spirit of the rule so I gave my client a few options and one was accepted. Unfortunately the local builder who built the boat under a shade tree took some liberties with my lines after I provided full-size Mylar patterns, but that's what happens when you are dealing with an old traditional model and an old traditional builder, Mr. David Hodge. Construction is white pine planking on plywood frames with West epoxy.

I begged my client to let me design a more modern rig for the boat but in the end tradition won the day. The boom I drew is 34 feet long. But I suspect the boom they built is 38 feet long. I'm just not sure. There was not a lot of communication during the build. As drawn the SA/D is 35.5. I have watched several videos of these boats racing and videos of Tsunami racing but I have yet to see a jibe. I imagine it is action-packed. There are no winches on the boats.

There are about a dozen of these Class A sloops racing. The start is a Le Mans type with the boats anchored close to the beach, making shoal draft a premium. My client would like me to come down for the next racing season. I am anxiously waiting for some race results.