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

John Birch Sunstone at idirect.com
Wed Dec 8 10:34:23 PST 1999


Well, well, this should get things going on the list.

I guess our A-37 Sunstone's Line Honours against over 50 boats in our Club's
Open Regatta in '95 beating one for one, X 102, X 95, Comfortina 42, 4 C&C 33s,
a C&C 34 plus a medley of other boats was just due to rating with it blowing 18
knots, in flat water, on a 12 mile olympic course with 2 mile legs.

Oh, I said rating but I forgot this was boat for boat physically beating them
before the rating was factored in with 3 weather legs too boot. Heavens, with
the rating factored in they owed us so much time, I only wish my bank account
was so large.  I guess our friend has never heard of crabbing a boat to weather,
that's how you deal with the increased leeway of the design and not getting
greedy on pointing - foot and point, foot and point.

One thing I'll never forget was the look of joy on the faces of our crew as
Kristen played the traveller  down and up with the full main bladed out and our
25o of heel and full genoa - the first race of the new Joe Fernandes sail
inventory.    With Dirk and Mike playing the genoa in and out in concert to the
main and June's excellent navigating and foredeck work, Sunstone swam with a
bone in here teeth and with the joy of a dolphin.  We shellacked the competition
with their exotic sail cloths as we were in the same division and start.

Certainly, coming into port in an ugly boat is so much more satisfying if it is
a "new and improved" fin keeler with all the joys of spade rudder failure
awaiting and driving the back of the keel up through the bottom in a hard
grounding.  Not to mention pounding going to weather in a chop on the flat
bottom of the hull or moving a piano to the weather rail to keep the boat
tracking straight instead of rounding up  with each gust.

Yes and it is a good thing to see that reel halyard winches were never fitted to
more "modern designs," as if it was a design criteria of Carl's.  No better to
change winch designs every 5 years to make it a challenge to get replacement
parts and thus avoid the risk of a winch wearing out in say 30 years.
We all know the dangers of reel winches, most of us have gotten rid of them as
they are a hazard, but of course only full keeler's had them.

Yes it is true that a heavy rig is a pain in the back to step and unstep, better
to have it come down the fast way.  After all roll moment of inertia is just
some Fancy Dan way to make masts that last longer and therefor will need that
irksome cleaning and TLC from time to time and when it makes an old boat too
stable from those nasty things call waves.

Better to have things slam, bam and get-a-new-one - after all its insured.

All he says must be true after all it is conventional wisdom that modern boats
are superior as there are so many for sale and everyone wants them.


Perhaps Voltaire was right, "God is not on the side of the biggest battalions,
but of the best shots." ; )

But then I've only been sailing since '65, so I guess he knows more than me
(us), after all he must take his hat off quite a lot.  ; )


Forhan, Thomas wrote:

> 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
> modernized
>         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
>         problems.)
>         "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
>         design.
>         "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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