[alberg30] CCA Design Suitabilty for Cruising (very long)

Forhan, Thomas Thomas.Forhan at mail.house.gov
Wed Dec 8 08:23:11 PST 1999

From: "Forhan, Thomas" <Thomas.Forhan at mail.house.gov>

	No messages since Monday. Is the list down, or is everyone busy
building their new bowsprits?

	For the sake of engendering further discussion, I'm copying a post
with a not so positive appraisal of CCA designs for cruising and mentions
the Alberg 30.  I know the writer, he is well reasoned and isn't trying to
grind an axe: Here goes-

	"There was a couple of earlier discussions in the last few weeks on
CCA types as cruisers. I had wanted to respond but my schedule has not let
me. This is a very
	long post on the subject. Much of this answer can be viewed through
a filter that considers where you (and I) live and how you (or I) use our
boat. I think that CCA
	boats have their place in this world and if they appeal to you and
fit your lifestyle go for it. By the same token, I really think that the CCA
boats have become far
	more venerable than they should be. I suspect that I am getting the
reputation as the guy who hates CCA boats. To fairly answer address that, I
should explain my
	view of things. I have sailed almost continuously since the summer
1962 or so and so I grew up with traditional and CCA boats and have sailed
on them, on and off
	for most of my life. I am a still a student of traditional
watercraft. I have worked for Charlie Wittholz who was a yacht designer
during the era of the CCA and who
	worked at Alden during the years that Alberg was there. He also
worked with Bill Tripp Sr. during Tripp's internship. I had teh chance to
hear his first hand view,
	well as Olin Stephens and other respected designers of the period. I
am very much into performance sailing and have a belief that most of us
daysail and coastal
	cruise in venues that favor more modern designs. In my mind CCA
boats are appropriate for certain people but are not good boats for the
average person including
	many of the people who buy them for price or appearance reasons. 

	"The Good News: 
	CCA boats are really beautiful to look at. For the most part they
have graceful sheerlines and ends. Visually, some of the prettiest boats of
all time were designed to
	the CCA rule. Many of the boats of this era were well built and will
be around for many years to come. They often had simple no nonsense
interiors that I personally
	prefer to many of the newer more exotic layouts. People have sailed
these boats to most navigable corners of the world. They have become
popularly held in high
	esteem and have a strong following amongst many traditionalists. 

	"A Brief History Lesson: 
	The CCA rule actually died out as a rule somewhere around 1970.
Boats that were designed to the rule are still being built. In its later
years, (most of the 1960's) it
	was seen as a very poor rule. It had a more or less 25-year life
span. (John Alden died in the 1950's so the CCA boats called Alden's had
little to do with him or his
	genus) CCA over-penalized waterline length, mast height, mainsail
area, draft, beam and light weight. It under-penalized centerboards, and jib
and mizzen sail area. 

	"The shape of the hulls and rigs were generally heavily influenced
by trying to beat the rule. To beat the rule, the typical CCA design had
very short waterlines, short
	masthead rigs with huge genoas, comparatively (when compared to
earlier traditional craft) small mainsails, yawl rigs, shoal draft, and were
very over weight
	compared to earlier and later boats. It is important to understand
that these attributes were not chosen because they make a good sailing boat.
They were not! They
	were chosen to beat a rule, pure and simple, and the rule penalized
attributes that made for fast boats. 

	"Probably one of the best things about the CCA rule was the work
that was done with centerboarders. During this period the Keel/Centerboarder
received a lot of
	attention and produced in my mind was probably the single advance in
yacht design directly attributable to the CCA rule. 

	"Today I often hear people say these boats were an extension of
centuries of traditional design. They were not! The boats that we think of
as CCA types were an
	aberration to the general design principals used to design offshore
craft prior to this period. They have some relationship to onshore and
offshore race boats in prior
	eras (Universal and International rule [not to be mistaken for the
IOR]). But they bear no relation to the design of working craft or cruising
craft of the era. Working
	craft or cruising craft were designs that evolved through trial and
era to be good sea boats. The CCA boats were designed to be good race boats
under a specific
	man derived rule ignoring the lessons of the sea. 

	"All of that said, where things get even more confusing is that many
people lump almost any traditional boat from the 1950's into the category of
CCA designs. It's not
	that simple. 

	"The Bad News: 

	"Short waterlines, poor underbody and keel shapes, inefficient rigs,
tight interiors space, old engines and poor hardware. Some of these can be
addressed with money
	but most can't. More specifically 
	Short waterlines length does a lot of things, the most obvious being
it makes a boat slow. It does this in a number of ways. There is the obvious
reduction in hull
	speed that occurs with shortened waterline length. The CCA boats
were often designed to pull the bow wave forward and stern wave aft as the
boat's heeled. This
	gave them a longer sailing length when heeled and as such more speed
than they were rated to have. As a result they were designed to be sailed
heeled over. It
	means that to get speed you are constantly sailing with larger heel
angles than you would on a more modern design. We know from testing and
empirical observation
	that in reality this longer sailing length does not work as well as
designing a boat that has its displacement spread out over a longer static
waterline. In order to carry
	the boat's displacement on the short water line the hull has to be
comparatively full. This fullness creates a lot of drag that would not be
there in a longer waterline
	length boat. The evidence of this is found in comparing more
traditional cruising boats of this era with the shorter waterline CCA Boats.
In their day the more
	traditional cruising type boats were often faster boats on all
points of sail than the CCA boats, they just could not correct out in racing
over the CCA boats. An
	example, of this would be Ticonderoga which set quite a few elapsed
course records that remained in effect for years if not decades. 

	"But the short waterline really impacts other sailing
characteristics as well. These are heavy boats by any standard and, as
mentioned above, all of that weight is
	carried over a short waterline, which requires a very full canoe
body. In the CCA boast this displacement is often carried into the submerged
ends and into a deep
	canoe body. These shape factors effect the performance of the boat
in a number of ways. It results in a stubby underbody and it means that
relatively little keel area
	with the majority of this keel is operating in the disturbed area
adjacent to the hull. The result is fairly large amounts of leeway. (It's
not hard to observe this. Sail up
	to the stern of CCA era boats on a on a modern design. Set your
course parallel to the CCA boat and sight an object on shore. As you watch
the amount of leeway
	becomes pretty apparent. Do the same with modern boats and after a
while you get a very real sense of the relative leeway individual boats.
These CCA era
	keelboats really slide a lot. Many of the CCA centerboard boats were
much more comparable to modern boats (sometimes better) and actually with
	rigs, are quite potent to windward. In my experience it does not
matter whether you are in rough conditions or flat water these observations
hold true. The piece of
	the equation I don't have is whether this matters to you. In fairly
it may not. As a weekender in confined waters, It matters a lot of me. 

	"Many of the venerable boats of this era had what I would call fin
keels with attached rudders. There are many on the BB that will disagree
with this term. To me a
	boat on which the bottom of the keel is less than 50% of the boat's
LOA is a fin keeler. Other's disagree. Semantics aside, when you look at
many of the popular
	production boats of the era, the water line was often 75% of the LOA
and then the forefoot would be cut away further and the rudder post raked to
the point that
	there is relatively little keel length. If you look at one of these
boats with an attached rudder and compare the length of the keel with fin
keel with detached rudder of
	that era (Cal 40 or Islanders of that era) you'll see that there is
little difference in keel length between the two. In my mind there is
nothing worse than a fin keel with a
	rudder attached it have few of the advantages of either full or fin
keels and all of the disadvantages. Today people tend to refer to these as
full keels they are not. In
	my experience they neither tracked like a genuine full keel nor had
the maneuverability or lightness of control of a detached rudder. They had
more weather helm and
	the rudder being closer to the center rotation created more
resistance for the amount of turning accomplished. I find that these boats
are more tiring to steer. 

	"The short waterlines result in more pitching. This too is easily
observable watching a mixed fleet of boats going to windward. I have never
liked the CCA boats in a
	chop. I don't like the motion and I think that the motion saps
speed. I keep hearing from owners of CCA types that they disagree. Having
sailed both types back to
	back, a well-sailed modern design is faster and easier to sail and
IMHO much more comfortable in all conditions. (When I am using the term
'modern' many people
	think of the IOR designs. This is not what I mean. IOR, especially
middle period IOR produced a lot very mediocre boats that really suffer from
their own brand of

	"I really do not like the typical rigs on a CCA boats which heavily
depended on huge jibs for drive in anything below moderate winds. The boats
were designed for
	170% to 180% genoas on boats with very big foretriangles. After
watching the sail size on CCA boats in the bay, I concede that they seem to
be getting by with
	smaller, maybe 140 % to 150% genoas but they require these sails in
winds that I can comfortably sail with my less than 110% lapper. They rigs
were short and the
	spars very heavy. This resulted in a further reduction in stability
and the overly stiff spar eliminates being able use the mast as a tool for
sail shaping. 

	"Then there is the weight issue. In and of itself weight does
nothing good for a boat. Many of these boats were heavy in ways that really
did not help comfort, or
	carrying capacity, or stability, or strength. They were just heavy.
In many cases this works against comfort, or carrying capacity, or
stability, and strength. 

	"I have always found CCA Boats wet when compared to more modern
designs. The low freeboard and full bows tended to put a lot of water on the
deck. The full
	bows were a fad that resulted from an effort to extend the sailing
length at smaller heel angles. These comparatively blunt bows do poorly in a
short chop and send a
	lot of spray on board. In my mind a bigger problem is the tendency
to take solid water aboard. 

	"Others have talked about the lack of room on board. 

	"The hardware of the era could be quite solid but was very primitive
in design compared to modern gear. There was often much greater friction and
less mechanical
	advantage. If the boat has not been upgraded the hardware may be out
dated or unsafe by modern standards. Even good hardware has a limited
lifespan. Much of
	the hardware of the day was inferior to modern gear and some like
reel winches are just plain dangerous. (Want to feel my broken ribs?) 

	"Then there is the economics of older boats. No matter what you do
to one it will only be worth so much. During a previous discussion I have
talked guys who
	objected to my analysis. In the most extreme case one fellow
described the changes that he (and prior owners) made to his boat. He
described changing the rig to a
	carbon spar (Taller and double spreader), all new standing and
running rigging, all new deck hardware, new sails, repairs to the deck and
topsides where "time had
	taken its toll", Awlgripping the topsides and deck, modern
electronics, replacing an atomic 4 with a diesel, replacing the pressure
alcohol stove with a propane stove,
	refinishing the interior including replacing a rotted bulkhead, new
wiring and plumbing, and replacing the cushions. He went on to tell me that
he thought his boat as
	good as any modern boat. Well it may be but he spent a lot of money
making up grading a 35-year-old boat and he is still stuck with an outdated
rule beater hull

	"The reality is that most people would not do half the things this
guy described. But when you look at these boats there are rarely less than
$20 to 25 thousand
	between a really super boats with everything done and a project
boat. Do even a quarter of the items on that list and you can easily eat up
that gap. Unless you
	intend to live with the boat more or less as it is, the sheer
economic of buying a project boat is seriously questionable. But even a
reasonably good boat from this era
	can be very expensive to own. 

	"I guess the bottom line to me is a very subjective thing. I like to
sail. There are a lot of days with winds less than 8 knots where I like to
sail, or days with over ten
	knots winds in the gusts but something less in the five knot range
in the gaps. I can easily sail in these winds and be fine. If I owned a CCA
era boat, I would not sail.
	Its that simple to me. There are creeks and tight areas that I think
nothing of beating out of. I make good progress on each tack and loose
little on the tacks. I would
	not do that with a CCA boat. I know there are guys who love their
CCA boats. Some who said they liked their CCA boats do not even have CCA
boats but
	actually have cruising and RORC boats built in the CCA era. In any
event I strongly suggest that you spend some time sailing a CCA boat in your
home water and
	also compare that to a similar price and quality boat of a more
modern design and then you can fairly make the decision for yourself. If you
buy the CCA boat at
	least you will have done so with your eyes open. 

	"Lastly I mean no disrespect to the guys who love the old CCA boats.
I appreciate their love for their boats and the effort that it takes to keep
these old girls looking
	nice. I admire the seamanship that it takes to get the most out of
these boats and when I see one that is well sailed I can only doff my cap to
a true sailor." 

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