Fleet History

Thoughts and musings of Fleet Founder, Kirk Smith

Talks about the early Days

San Francisco Bay is proud to be the home of the first Alerion 28 Fleet. Fleet One was founded by Kirk Smith, who was and remains the guiding influence to our fleet which now numbers over 29 boats. We are a diverse group comprised primarily of avid day sailors joined by a significant number of equally avid racers.  Both groups have found that the Alerion 28 is perfectly suited to the often challenging conditions of San Francisco Bay. Please enjoy our site.


 The San Francisco Bay Alerion Express 28 fleet now has nearly 29 boats, with nearly one third racing.  This fleet was the first one organized in the US.  How did that all happen?  Since I started it, I suppose it should start with who I am, and why I felt we needed at fleet anyway.

I started sailing on a boyhood friend’s Snipe out of Moss Landing and Monterey Bay about 1949, after which my Dad bought my brother and I a Snipe, too. (With a 3 digit sail number no less).  After college and the Navy I crewed on my school friend’s 20 foot Clipper before buying my Rhodes 19 in 1963, which I raced until I bought my Alerion Express 28 ten years ago.  During that 40 years of sailing the Rhodes 19 I managed to win a lot of races including 3 West Coast, 2 Bay and 2 San Francisco YC Club Championships, with my crew of 40 years, Bill Dawson.  I also managed to change the color from green to red by having the boat destroyed in a trailering accident, resulting in a new hull! 

At a boat show I saw a boat that looked beautiful, but it wasn’t an Alerion. After finding out it wasn’t a production boat, I spotted an Alerion in a harbor and sent away for the brochure.  Then like many of us, I took a year to decide to buy one.  When you hit 65 there come those statements about “Only living once and you can’t take it with you”. My order went in 3 days after my birthday, and I flew back to Rhode Island in November to see my boat half built and finally sail on one with Garry Hoyt.  Since I already knew it would be a great sailing boat because it was designed by Carl Schumacher I had not needed a test sail before I ordered one. Since I planned to dry sail my boat, the factory agreed to design an internal lifting device.  The boat arrived in a boat yard in San Francisco the end of January 2003.

Since I am past national president of the Rhodes 19 Association and like one-design racing, I decided to see if I could get enough local Alerions to form a fleet  The Hoyts’ gave me some names and phone numbers, so on one Sunday afternoon in 2003 at the San Francisco YC five of us met, forming the first Alerion fleet in the US.  We established a series of race days, beginning the following January (Yes, this is California, so winter racing is no big deal!)  More importantly we began work on producing a good set of fleet rules, with the original draft being written my Chuck Eaton of our new fleet.  Of course as the first fleet captain I managed to win the first season.  

Besides our racing we had our first “Alerion Fest”, which was a two day affair held at the Richmond YC and attended by over half the fleet.  We had a morning lecture on diesel engines (Which scared me in having some maintenance  done soon afterwards!), an afternoon of fun short racing, a great potluck dinner, a Sunday lecture by fleet member, Ralf Morgan, on rigging, and then an afternoon of sailing accompanied by a professional photographer, doing over 800 shots!  With some of the pictures having a beautiful lighthouse in the background, we all now have great pictures hanging on walls at our houses.  That is what happens when you own such a beautiful boat.

Although I am still a member of the San Francisco YC in Belvedere (The oldest on the West Coast), I am now a member of the Richmond YC and my boat is in a slip, which I find means I am sailing much more often.

Finally, besides being a beautiful boat and being the right size, at least for me, it is a great boat to sail.  Even with the summer SF Bay windy conditions we sail with just 2 of us and never feel we have to reef. When I see pictures of boats with 6 on the rail, I think of all those sandwiches and beer I don’t need to take!





The Alerion 28 Story

By Gary Hoyt

Newport R&D

The name “Alerion” (which literally means Heraldic Eagle) first gained nautical prominence back in 1912, when Nathaniel Herreshoff designed a 26′ sloop for his personal use – and called it “Alerion.” The timeless appeal of this design has spawned a host of imitations but the Alerion Express 28 is cast in a different mold. Rather than attempting a warmed- over re-creation of an old classic, Designer Carl Schumacher has drawn a yacht that retains the traditional look topside, but is completely modern in rig, underbody and construction detail.

The result is a nimble craft that evokes the past in appearance, but embraces the present in performance. The admiration this Alerion draws at the dock is doubled by the respect she creates under sail. This is a very fast and maneuverable sailboat, which can turn in its own length and is so well balanced it needs only the lightest touch on the tiller.

But while some owners like to occasionally race, most use their Alerions as elegant day sailors. The fact that this classic yacht is easily single-handed has brought many back to the simple joys of “just going sailing” on a responsive, seaworthy yacht – without the hassles of lining up crew.

Many of those who have purchased the Alerion Express 28 are former big boat owners who simply got tired of maintaining a large cruising boat at a time when lengthy cruises are no longer part of their lives. For them, this boat represents a classy way to downsize without compromising pride of ownership.

This is a swift, stable, personal yacht that will turn heads in any harbor, and sails right past most 35′ cruisers. When you’re ready for the best, there’s a graceful Alerion Express 28 waiting for your hand on the tiller.

Things That Separate The Alerion 28 From The Ordinary

Distinctive beauty may be our primary asset. When Sail Magazine asked 5 leading Yacht Designers to select the most beautiful production sailboat of the past 30 years, the Schumacher designed AE28 was cited by two – one being no less an authority than Ted Hood. This is high praise from a high source, and validates our claim that this is “…the prettiest girl at the dance”.

Our second asset is the high quality SCRIMP™ construction by TPI (recently renamed Pearson Composites). Most fiberglass hulls are built by hand layup of various layers of fiberglass cloth, each progressively bonded to each other. Then the necessary ribs and supporting frames are glassed into the hull. There is nothing wrong with this except that these secondary bonds can never be as strong as one simultaneous bond. TPI/Pearson Composites has been a pioneer in creating simultaneous bonding with the patented SCRIMP™ system, which infuses all the fiberglass elements in one unified bond. The result is the strongest, lightest laminate available today, which has a direct payoff in performance.

The third separate Alerion Express advantage is the patented Hoyt Jib Boom. This invention, which received Sail Magazine’s 1998 award for rigging innovation, is a simple but extremely effective way to make the jib perform better. Basically it does for the jib what the boom vang does for the mainsail – holding the clew down offwind, and reducing wasteful twist, as well as providing a built in whisker pole and the advantage of self tacking. It will make your sailing both faster and easier.

No other similar sized boat offers this combination of advantages, and the result is a premium yacht with superior characteristics in appearance, durability and performance, all backed by TPI/Pearson Composite’s 35 years of experience.

The Hoyt Self Vanging Jib Boom

(U.S. Patent #5,463,969)

What the boom is:

A free standing, self supporting, self vanging jib boom, swivel-mounted on the foredeck.

What the boom does:

1. Automatically vangs the jib. No serious sailor would ever sail without a mainsail boom vang. Yet up until now, they have been obliged to sail with unvanged jibs that twist off and lose power offwind. The Hoyt Boom holds the jib clew down, thus providing the firm leech control that keeps the entire sail drawing, on all courses.

2. Acts as a built in whisker pole. Downwind, conventional jibs just flap around and make a nuisance of themselves, resulting in a subtraction of sail power just when your boat needs more sail power. A whisker pole will solve this, but setting the pole requires work on the foredeck and every time you want to jibe, the foredeck work must be repeated. The Hoyt Jib Boom is poled out and jibed automatically by the wind – no foredeck work is involved.

3. Allows jib furling and reefing. Being separate from the jib stay allows the convenience of roller furling and roller reefing. Being self supporting obviates any need for a topping lift. This boom holds itself up, while holding the clew down.

4. Allows self tacking and 2:1 or 3:1 trim power. Because a block or blocks can be carried at the end of the boom, jib trimming effort is significantly reduced, and in most cases can be accomplished with one hand – with no need for winching. The jib boom self tacks with no trim required, which is a real boon for single handed sailing.

5. The boom allows jib camber control independent of trim angle. With the conventional jib any easing of the sheet results in changing the angle as well as the camber of the sail. It is often desirable to change the camber of the sail to fuller or flatter independent of the trim angle, and this boom permits that.

How is this invention different from “regular” jib booms?

Regular jib booms can be found on many older boats, but they never provided clew control, and would dangerously hike up and lose power offwind (like a main boom without a vang).

Jib boom extender. Several SF Bay Alerions have successfully installed a local version of the light air jib boom extender (a factory option) which is far superior to the factory version, weighs less, is less complicated and costs less.  A G-10 plate (a high strength composite) is attached to the underside of the foredeck on the center line, just forward of the bulkhead using Plexus high strength adhesive.  A stainless post with a ball end is attached to the plate. 

Jib boom extender - below deck Jib boom extender – below deck

An Edson rudder post collar with a tiller arm made by KKMI out of G-10 extending parallel to the boom is attached to the boom a few inches below the foredeck.  On the arm another post with ball end is attached.  A stainless gas spring of specific length for each installation, with a pressure of 150 pounds, socket ends, is connected between the two posts.  When the boom is on the center line, the spring is compressed to the maximum. 

Jib boom extender Jib boom extender

When the sheet is released the spring pushes the boom out.  A knot in the sheet at the correct place prevents it from going through the cleat, thereby preventing the boom from going out too far and damaging the gas spring.  Two knots are required for double-ended sheets.

Jib boom extender Jib boom extender

Works great.  If a boat already has a factory system this is probably not worth the time and expense, but if a boat has none, this setup is definitely better than the factory version.

Around The Buoys:

Tests with the Alerions have proven that a small jib with the Hoyt Jib Boom will outperform large genoas, because a small jib that works full time on all courses will beat a large, overlapping jib that works only upwind. Once you’ve tried if you’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t have one.

For more information on Alerion Express 28s and some outstanding photos of these boats, see the manufacturer’s (Pearson Composites) website at:


The following two Reviews – although very old – are included to provide a historical perspective of the  Alerion Express 28.

Practical Sailor Review – 1992

The first Alerion was the 26-foot mahogany planked daysailer Nathaniel Herreshoff built for himself around 1912, and which now reposes at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. Many years later, in the 1970s, his grandson Halsey Herreshoff built a 25-foot version, a one-off that made its way to Florida where it was admired—and bought—by Alfred Sanford, father of Nantucket builders Alfie and Edward.

The Sanfords liked the boat so much they sought out the plans (Nathaniel’s, not Halsey’s) and began building a cold-molded carvel-planked 26-footer. The boat was faithful to the original, but half a foot beamier (for the inclusion of a modest interior), a bit shorter on the waterline, and with a small cutaway in the aft section of the keel. Like the original, the newer Alerion pointed high and was fast in light air, but was still capable of handling heavy weather. Halsey, meanwhile, produced about a dozen of his 25-foot models, in fiberglass, which reputedly were also good sailors.

The Sanford Boat Co. launched its first Alerion in 1978 and eventually built 20, raising the price over the years from $21,000 to $44,000. Edward Sanford says there are still several around, and owners have included such notables as America’s Cup winner Bill Koch and singer Jimmy Buffet.

But a wooden boat, even a sweet sailing one like the Alerion, is not for everyone, so in the late 1980s Ralph Schacter, a sailor from Southport, Connecticut, commissioned West Coast naval architect Carl Schumacher, designer of the Express 27, to draw a boat that combined traditional appearance with modern materials and contemporary “go-fast” thinking. The result brought so many comments and inquiries that Schacter joined with Holby Marine of Bristol, Rhode Island, to build the boat on a production basis. Holby built seven of the Alerion-Expresses in 1990, then sold the molds to Tillotson- Pearson Industries the following spring. By late 1992, some 25 had been built.


Schumacher, a member of the California-Santa Cruz- ULDB school-of-design, might seem an odd choice to update a traditional design. But Schumacher’s Alerion-Express is a happy hybrid (if such is possible) of the traditional and the contemporary, even if it’s truly an Alerion in name only. “This is a modern yacht, not a warmed-over re-creation,” Schumacher states in company promotional material.

Above the waterline, the new boat is, if anything, more “classic” than its namesake, with increased overhangs and a fine rake to the bow (Herreshoff’s original 26-footer had a relatively long 22-foot waterline, making it slightly stubby in appearance). The nine-foot-long cockpit is the same as the original, but Herreshoff’s 7′ 7″ beam has been increased to 8′ 2″ with three berths (four in the latest design) added below.

In place of the old bunter rig is a Hall Spars aluminum extrusion, fractionally rigged mast (the same section as on the J/27), fully battened mainsail and small, self-tacking jib.

But it’s below the surface that Schumacher’s mark is evident. Herreshoff’s short keel (2-1/2 feet) and centerboard combination (5-1/2-foot draw with the board down) has been replaced with a racer-type elliptical keel and equally modern spade rudder on a basically flat bottom. the design, coupled with lightweight foam core laminate construction (instead of Nat’s mahogany-on-oak), makes for a low-resistance boat that’s swift, especially off the wind.


Tillotson-Pearson has gained a reputation for high-quality construction, and the craftsmanship on the Alerion-Express maintains that standard. This is a good-looking, well put together boat, with no rough edges and no sign (to our eye) of slipshod technique. With a base price of $33,000 in 1992, this level of quality should be expected.

Hull and deck are vacuum-bagged end-grain balsa covered with uni- and bi-directional glass (of Tillotson’s own formula) and a layer of vinylester resin to deter osmotic blistering. Construction techniques have reduced the weight several hundred pounds from the Holby model, according to chief engineer Phil Mosher. Like all TPI boats, this one comes with a limited 10-year warranty against blistering. The hull and deck are through-bolted and bonded with 3M 5200.

This is an attractive boat: the hull is white with an inlaid 1/4-inch gold stripe; the deck is gray nonskid. An afterdeck adds to the traditional appearance. There’s enough wood to catch the eye—a teak toerail, teak handrails and teak and Thiokol sole the length of the cockpit. Exterior teak comes sanded and oiled. There are four fixed Bomar ports on the cabin house, and a smoked Lewmar deck hatch. All fittings are quality, from the Lewmar winches to the Harken fairleads and jib track.

The Hall spar is keel-stepped, and TPI had reinforced the area over the external lead keel with a solid fiberglass transverse floor. The rudder stock is carbon fiber with Rulon bearings; the prop shaft has been changed from Holby’s stainless steel to carbon fiber composite.


Schumacher designed the Alerion-Express to be a quick, lively sailer in keeping with the spirit, if not the form, of the Herreshoff original. TPI intends the boat for the experienced sailor, rather than the novice, who expects good performance but with a minimum of fuss and few if any crew. “Everyone who has bought the boat has had larger boats,” Mosher said.

With its light weight, shallow bottom and low-drag keel and rudder, we expected the boat to be nimble, and it was. In 12 to 14 knots on Narragansett Bay, the boat quickly accelerated to hull speed under its big, fully battened main and 100-percent jib. With a total of 352 square feet of sail (206 in the main, 146 in the jib), the Alerion-Express is not over-canvassed, but carries plenty of sail for its weight (for a sail area/ displacement ratio of 20.97, which is quite high). The boat has a PHRF rating of 141 (now 168 on SF Bay), slower than the J/ 27 (120s), but considerably faster than similarly sized cruiser-racers, including the C&C 29 and Beneteau 29, both with ratings in the 170s.

The tiller is very light, with just a touch of weather helm, the Alerion-Express tacked through 80 degrees easily and rapidly, with no searching for the groove on the new tack.

Because they feel there is insufficient form stability in the hull, engineers at TPI are contemplating adding a lead bulb to a glass fin to increase righting moment and, perhaps, performance to weather. (Editor’s note: The bulb was added and the ballast is now 2200 lbs.)

“The Alerion has a lot of initial tenderness,” Mosher said, adding that it is “not tender at all under sail.” The 2,000 pounds of ballast gives it a ballast/ displacement ratio of 45 percent. The displacement/ length ratio is a moderately light 168.

Our experience in moderate, steady wind was that the boat did tend to heel initially, to about 17 degrees, but then established itself and stayed there. The degree of heel was not unpleasant at all, although from a marketing standpoint it might prove a deterrent to the “mom and pop” sailor, or a family with young members (we imagine the boat would appeal to some well-heeled first-boat buyers as well). But for the experienced sailor moving down in size, the boat will be a delight to sail.

The swept-back, double-spreader rig (37′ 5″ above the deck) has continuous rigging for easy adjustment.

In addition to the upper shrouds, there are single lowers and intermediates. The backstay is adjustable as well via a line led under the afterdeck to the after edge of the cockpit. Former racers will appreciate being able to bend the spar to optimize performance.

Current models have the mainsheet fitted to a Barney post (which doubles as a pedestal for a nice teak cockpit table). This may be a concession to the racing-minded sailor, but we found the post an obstruction, especially during tacks, that defeated the roominess of the cockpit. Future models will offer end-boom sheeting through the traveler as an option.

The whole setup—fully battened main fitted with lazy jacks, self-tacking jib and all lines led aft through rope clutches—is intended to concentrate operations in the cockpit and generally make life easier, especially for the single-hander. Our particular main proved difficult to raise (even cranking the #7 winch) and lower; maybe it was sticky sail slides. The Shore sail was fitted with special load-bearing slides at the battens to make hoisting easier, but we still had problems. On the other hand, one Alerion-Express owner said he routinely raises his UK Sailmakers main by hand. The Alerion-Express comes with a Hall Quick-Vang for easier adjustment. Generally, the fully battened main requires some careful trimming of the boom, backstay and at the batten adjustments at the luff. The self-tacking jib is sheeted to a car on a custom Harken track. Because the track is short, sailing wing-on-wing requires use of a pole. Fortunately, there’s a grooved storage area outboard of each cockpit seat, making storage of the poles and other gear easy and convenient. Harken roller furling for the 100-percent jib comes standard.

The Alerion-Express, like its early namesake, is a vaunted light-air performer. Mosher said it will reach hull speed in five knots of wind, a claim we find credible. One owner we spoke to said his boat points high, reaches beautifully and is only a bit cranky dead downwind. Initial tenderness or no, Mosher said he’s been out in 30 knots with no difficulty—“It doesn’t fall on its ear.”


Because of the nine-foot cockpit and shallow hull, there’s not a lot of room down below, but enough to qualify the Alerion-Express as an overnighter and occasional weekender. The hull and bulkheads are an airy white, set off by wood trim and a teak and holly sole. The interior plan is simple, with a V-berth in the bow. Unfortunately, the portable head is located beneath it. The current plan has a settee berth to port in the main cabin with a small seat between two storage compartments on the starboard side. The arrangement doesn’t make a lot of sense, so TPI plans to replace the seat/storage area with a starboard settee.

A 38-gallon ice box inside the companionway does double duty as a step down. Behind the cooler, access to the engine compartment is easily achieved by removing either a front or top panel. The engine of choice, which cost an extra $5,300 in late 1992, is a 9-hp. Yanmar diesel, noisy in the extreme at low revs, but which moves the boat well. (Editor’s note: In early 2000 a Yanmar two-cylinder (2YM15) became standard. Very smooth and quiet)

Ample natural lighting flows through the four elliptical ports and the smoked 19″ x 19″ hatch forward; we can’t be sure, but we suspect the three small interior lights make for dim lighting—fine for relaxing, possibly hard on the eyes for reading. A 12- volt DC system runs off an 80 amp-hour marine battery, controlled by a Bass electrical panel with six circuit breakers. There’s a standard Guest battery switch.

The interior is a bit cramped for headroom, a problem TPI hopes to improve somewhat by converting the hatch to a double-slider. The house designers are also contemplating widening the companionway by nine inches. Cockpit hatches to port and starboard provide access to the aft regions below; there’s further storage under the afterdeck.

Life on the Alerion-Express is meant to be lived in the cockpit, which is deep, comfortable and dry— except for occasional spray to remind forward passengers they’re under sail. The seats are wide and comfortable, especially with the addition of cockpit cushions, but if anything the cockpit is a little too wide forward. That’s fine when the boat sails flat, but heeling makes it necessary for a shorter person (say, under 5′ 9″) to scrunch down uncomfortably to brace their feet against the opposite side. On a long beat this could cause lower back fatigue.

Minor criticism aside, the boat, inside and out, is functional and reasonably comfortable. the optional teak table that sits on the barney post is an inviting call to stay topsides. Removal of the post, however, which we’d prefer, means end-boom sheeting, which performance sailors probably won’t like. It also raises the question of where and how to set up a table for the brie and chardonnay.

Robert Perry Review – (199?)

As I look back through all the volumes of SAILING, one of the thoughts that strikes me is where are all the old boat designers today? Some, like my old drinking buddy Gary Mull, are dead. I didn’t know Carl Schumacher well but I knew him and I was saddened when I heard he had died at such a young age. Carl had a good eye and he knew how to draw a fine sailing boat. His Express 37 remains one of my all-time favorite boats. I have no idea where some of the other designers went. I know where German Frers went. It seems that many of those confident yacht designers that were going to set the world on fire and show us how it’s really done have just gone quietly away. Maybe they found real jobs.

In the mid-1990s the typical small family cruiser-racer or racer-cruiser had become a complex boat. Vendors were convincing sailors that they had to have everything in order to be happy and enjoy sailing. Ralph Schacter had another idea. He knew that most sailors went out for a day, sometimes just an afternoon or evening, and did not need things like shower stalls, refrigeration, windlasses with all-chain rode and hot-and-cold running water. But they did need a head and a place to sleep on weekend overnighters. Picking the name of Nate Herreshoff’s own daysailer, Alerion, the Alerion Express was born with pretty hull lines drawn by Carl Schumacher. The era of the big, comfy daysailer had begun.

I say “big” because at that time my own idea of a daysailer was a Thistle class or any number of small dinghy one-designs. Schacter’s idea was that these new daysailers would be big enough to be keelboats with near the level of comfort found on the majority of production cruiser/racer types.

The look of the new daysailer would be traditional, with low freeboard, some overhangs, a svelte cabin-trunk that gave slightly less than full standing headroom and a long cockpit. But below the DWL this traditional appearing boat would be modern with flat rocker, a moderate aspect ratio fin keel and a partially balanced spade rudder. The D/L of the Alerion Express 28 is 168 and the L/B is 3.46, putting it on the narrow side of “medium.”

The focus on this design was the cockpit and the laying out of the running rigging so that one person could easily sail the boat. There is nothing revolutionary here except the fact that most cruiser/racer types put more emphasis on interior comfort and this resulted usually in tight, cramped cockpits. The Alerion would be tiller steered with the mainsheet led to a barney post in the center of the cockpit.

The rig is fractional with swept spreaders and a self-tacking jib. In 1994 Garry Hoyt became involved with the project at the invitation of Everett Pearson, president of TPI. Hoyt worked to refine the boat, adding his Hoyt jib boom. I really like the Hoyt boom. It is a huge improvement over the self-tacking track just so long as you don’t mind this big pipe living on your foredeck. I could live with it. The SA/D is 20.97 and that’s enough to keep you ghosting along in the light stuff. Hoyt also changed the keel to a fin and bulb.  I think that this sail area coupled with a healthy ballast-to-displacement ratio of 168 will result in a stiff and fast ride.

I couldn’t begin to tell you the boats that this design inspired. In fact, I think the Alerion Express gave birth to a type—day-sailers—that today is well established and does not mean what it meant 30 years ago. The gentle sweep of the sheer is balanced by moderate overhangs and freeboard that is low by today’s standards. Beam is narrow, and the hull shape looks to be moderate in all aspects. Below the waterline the design shows a modern fin keel and a semi-balanced spade rudder. To me this is the most exciting mix of design features. Take an attractive, classic topsides look and blend it with performance characteristics below the waterline. The result is a boat that has the romance of yesterday and the performance of today.

The Alerion-Express is currently being built by Tillotson-Pearson in Rhode Island. All gear is first rate and the overall look is one of a sophisticated and refined small yacht.

From the log of Harry Allen, San Francisco Bay Alerion Express 28 Fleet

June 5, 2012

Problems and Solutions

Harry and Carol Allen sail and race Arabella in San Francisco Bay, a body of water known for its heavy air and big seas.  He has collected the following problems and solutions from his own experiences as well as the collective experience of the other 28 owners sailing in the SF Bay Fleet, especially Ralf Morgan, skipper of Ditzy and manager of a local boatyard that services a number of Alerions in the fleet.


Stuffing box:  Stuffing box on some non-saildrive boats incorrectly installed, scored the shaft, leaks too much.  Shaft replaced and stuffing box replaced with dripless shaft seal.

Prop size, design: One boat with Yanmar 2YM15 and saildrive recently learned that the factory installed prop (13×9) was smaller than the size recommended by the engine manufacturers (Yanmar) so it was replaced with the larger (15×12) recommended prop and performance reported to be substantially (6.5 knots at 2600 rpm) improved.

Several boats with shaft drives have replaced the feathering Martec prop with a folding Max prop (or Gori) which gives much better performance, especially backing. (Editor’s note: slightly increased drag under sail)

Mast and Jib Boom

Mast step not on centerline:  Mast had to be removed and step reset on centerline.

Main sail cars: Some boats with fully battened mains have had problems with Fredrickson or Ronstan cars on the mainsail.  The cars consist of the car frame, some balls, probably Delrin, some small plastic spacers and some stainless screws.  Sometimes the plastic spacers get worn out which may increase friction getting the sail up.  On a couple of occasions the screws have come out at inopportune times, once falling into the sail track and jamming the main in a half-hoisted condition ultimately resulting in moderate grief and expense.  Solution is to check the cars occasionally, replace worn parts, put thread lock on the screws. Spacers come in several very slightly different sizes and shapes and have to be very carefully checked to make sure the right replacements are used for the particular groove in the mast.

Jib outhaul issues.  On the foredeck just aft of where the jib boom goes through the deck there is a pad eye to which a block for the jib outhaul is attached.  The size and quality of this factory installed item has varied over the years, but on many boats it is a small Schaeffer stamped pad eye.  The jib outhaul is the most heavily loaded line on the boat and the pad eyes on a few boats have failed under load at inopportune times, usually in breezy conditions and bumpy seas.  The remedy to prevent failure is to replace the pad eye with a Harken swivel block with a stainless steel backing plate under the deck or use a larger Schaeffer cast pad eye with reinforcing plate with a high load block by Ronstan or others.

The factory installed cam cleat for the jib outhaul is inadequate and impossible to deal with under load if the wind is blowing at all.  Most local boats have replaced it with a rope clutch which leads to the winch.

(Editor’s noteThe jib outhaul was designed to be doubled – led from the double block assembly on the boom end through the clew cringle and back to the d-ring on the block assembly.  Many owners tie the outhaul directly to the clew cringle.  Doubling the line reduces the load on the turning block and at the cam cleat by one half. See photo.)

Jib boom lifting: The forward end of the jib boom is held in place under the foredeck with a threaded bolt going through a triangular piece of  plywood or composite material about 1/2″ thick which is glassed into the forepeak.  The bolt goes vertically through a big composite plug inside the end of the boom, down through the triangular piece where there is a flat washer and nut on the underside of the triangular piece.  There is no bushing around the bolt between the bolt and the triangular piece.  The bolt does not have a smooth shaft with threads only at the end where the nut is, it is threaded along its entire length.  Over time the threads cut into the unprotected triangular piece, wearing the originally round hole into an oblong hole.  The result is that the forward end of the boom is no longer fixed in place.  This can be detected by putting the boom on the centerline, going on the foredeck to the mast and lifting up on the aft end of the boom.  If the hole is not worn the boom will not lift up.  If the hole is worn the boom will lift up, on some boats as much as two inches or even more, and you can feel that the boom is rising at the aft end and the forward end is wobbling around and moving about instead of being fixed in place.  The effect of the oblong hole is that when the boat is sailed off the wind and the jib boom is out, the aft end of the boom rises up, adversely affecting sail shape and there is no way to correct it since the sheet will only pull the boom in, not down. An even more compelling benefit of fixing the wobble is actually upwind, since the back of the boom lifts less enabling more options/control of the jib leech. The remedy is to remove the boom and the ball, which can be tricky (and expensive if the $500 ball gets damaged in the process), ream out the oblong hole, insert a hat bushing, metal or composite, replace the bolt through the bushing with a bolt  with a smooth shaft and reassemble.

Jib boom extender: Several boats have installed a local version of the light air jib boom extender which is far superior to the factory version, weighs less, is less complicated and costs less.  A G-10 plate (a high strength composite) is attached to the underside of the foredeck on the center line, just forward of the bulkhead using Plexus high strength adhesive.  A stainless post with a ball end is attached to the plate.

An Edson rudder post collar with a tiller arm made by KKMI out of G-10 extending parallel to the boom is attached to the boom a few inches below the foredeck.  On the arm another post with ball end is attached.  A stainless gas spring of specific length for each installation, with a pressure of 150 pounds, socket ends, is connected between the two posts.  When the boom is on the center line, the spring is compressed to the maximum.

When the sheet is released the spring pushes the boom out.  A knot in the sheet at the correct place prevents it from going through the cleat, thereby preventing the boom from going out too far and damaging the gas spring.  Two knots are required for double-ended sheets.

Works great.  If a boat already has a factory system this is probably not worth the time and expense, but if a boat has none, this setup is definitely better than the factory version.

Jib traveler. Some boats with jib booms have added a traveler track like the one used on boats without jib booms.  The jib boom is sheeted through a block on the traveler car.  This comes in handy when you are trying to move the jib boom to the upwind side for wing and wing.  Just pull the car to upwind side.  It’s easier to get the boom across without sailing by the lee.  Upwind, the traveler allows for a better jib sheet arrangement where the jib sheet actually pulls the end of the boom down instead of towards the centerline. This allows for two basic modes going upwind, without closing off the slot. Light air mode is jib sheet tight which pulls the end of the boom down and jib outhaul eased which makes for a fuller rounder jib while still allowing for leech twist. Heavy air mode is jib sheet eased slightly, allowing the jib boom to flex up with the jib outhaul tight. This flattens the jib while still allow leech twist and control. Obviously, you have lots of trim options in between. At no point does the end of the jib boom ever want to be more than an inch or so inside the edge of the cabin top. The one thing we never do is to use the jib traveler to pull the car inboard going upwind! All this refinement does add extra lines into the cockpit and requires remembering to release and trim it, so it makes this simple boat somewhat less simple.

Sheets and Control Lines

Mainsheet cleat: The mainsheet cleat can be difficult to release under load. On one occasion this resulted in a serious T bone collision during a race.   Some boats have replaced it with a Harken trigger cleat. Others use an Oxam cleat as used on catamarans.  They like it but it is expensive and has tight tolerances if something goes wrong.

Jib Sheet.  Some boats have replaced the cam cleat for the jib sheet with trigger cleats.  Others use the Spinlocks.  Some boats have double-ended the jib sheet to Ronstan swivel mounts on each side of the cabin top so it is easier to adjust the sheet from either side of the boat.

Traveler and Backstay: Some boats have re-rigged the traveler and backstay controls, leading them forward.  On one version, they are brought forward under the side deck alongside the cockpit where they exit through cam cleats behind the teak splashboard or under it so they can be controlled by helmsman or crew.  In another version they are led under the cockpit floor and up through the barney post.  On some boats which have done it this way, the two traveler controls and one backstay are on separate swivel mounts with cam cleats on the barney post and can be controlled by helmsman or crew.  On other boats, the traveler controls are on the post, but the backstay control is on a small cam cleat on the arm below the mainsheet cleat using a special Harken apparatus designed to have these two controls together at the helmsman.  These are good for racing, probably not much use otherwise, although removing the traveler apparatus from the aft of the cockpit eliminates the problem of a slack mainsheet catching on the traveler cam cleats during a gybe.

Clogged deck drains. Deck drain hoses under cockpit side deck become clogged with algae, bird droppings, etc. and were replaced with sanitary hoses of the type used for heads.  May have worked, jury still out on this one.  Newer boats seem to come from the factory with white sanitary hose.  Older ones had clear plastic hose.