SAIL’s Best Boats 2014: Paine 14

After 40 years of sailing his beloved Herreshoff 12 1/2 Petunia, designer Chuck Paine figured he knew what he had to do to improve what many aficionados call “the perfect boat.” His new Paine 14, now being built by French & Webb in Belfast, Maine, is 10 percent smaller than the old 12 1/2 and 40 percent lighter, with modern appendages and much of its underbody cut away. Though it retains all of the charm of its predecessor, the Paine 14 is considerably faster under sail and much easier to trailer—an important consideration for those who like to take their daysailing on the road.

Our judges were particularly impressed with how easy it is to rig this boat. The standard Marconi rig (a traditional gaff rig is optional) is flown from a simple freestanding carbon-fiber mast, and the mainsail is bent on with simple Velcro straps. The self-tacking jib is hoisted on its own luff. 

Unlike its famous predecessor, the Paine 14 can easily be sailed under mainsail alone and is unsinkable, with enough positive flotation hidden away inside to keep the cockpit coaming well above water when the boat is swamped. Hulls can be ordered in economical fiberglass, or you can pay considerably more for an epoxy cold-molded wood boat. Both types of hulls weigh the same, so Paine 14s can easily race together on a one-design basis wherever and whenever they happen to congregate.

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