Best Boats

Yacht Design Program - Just Launched

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It's a rare and wonderful thing to have three different American companies all working on new boats in the 30-foot range at the same time, let alone in such straitened times as these. And, as if to illustrate the rich diversity of boat design and construction, each of these boats is aimed at a different subset of the general sailing population.

Truth to tell, one of these builders isn't exactly a company, it's a school that trains people for careers in the technical side of the marine business. Steve Dalzell, who runs the Landing School's yacht design program, drew the LS-30, a sleek racer-cum-daysailer, to provide hands-on boat-building experience for the school's students. They build the boat in epoxy composite, and it has a carbon rig, a 10hp diesel inboard, basic but functional accommodations and a displacement hovering around 4,000 lbs. The LS-30 has had a few race outings on the East Coast and by all accounts it is a terrific sailing boat-a stiff, stable race-winning weapon under colored sails, but docile enough not to scare the family under plain sail. Beam is just 7ft 6in, so trailering is an option. The sticker price is around $95,000, including sails; the school plans to build only two boats a year, so best reserve yours early.

I've always liked the clean lines and functional attitude of the Harbor 25, the tidy daysailer built in California by W. D. Schock. Tom Schock tells me that you'll find Harbor 25s as far away as Japan and Europe, as well as tucked away in many of the country's premier sailing centers. Now the company is working on the first Harbor 30. Just as the Harbor 25 was the answer to customer requests for a Harbor 20 (the company's original daysailer) with bunks, the new 30-footer was developed in response to demands for standing headroom and more-generous accommodations.

Designed by Tom's brother Steven, the Harbor 30 fits the increasingly broad modern definition of a "daysailer," but that seems to me too confining a niche. Going by the drawings, this is a boat that I would be happy to take away for a weekend or even a week or two of solo or two-up cruising; there's a galley, an enclosed head and bunks for four. There's a choice of shoal or deep-draft keels to suit both gunkholers and performance nuts, and the signature Hoyt jib boom makes for easy shorthanded sailing.

A few years ago, Newport, Rhode Island-based designer Rodger Martin came up with a novel design for the Outward Bound school: a 30-foot sailing/rowing boat loosely based on the sharpies that once were a common sight around the shallow waters of the East Coast. Now he has revisited the concept in his new Presto 30, a shoal-draft trailerable cruising boat commissioned by the Union River Boat Company, based in Buckport, Maine.

Sharpies were typically flat-bottomed, with slim hulls and a pair of free-standing masts. Martin's take on the concept displaces a hair under 4,000 lbs and has a beam of 8ft 5in. It will float in just over a foot of water and has a swing keel and kick-up rudder. The carbon spars with their wishbone booms weigh 40 pounds apiece and can be stepped by two people. They're sealed for extra flotation, and fit within the boat's length for trailering. This is a camper's boat; the cockpit seats are long enough to sleep on, the stove can be used in the cabin or in the cockpit, and headroom is achieved with a pop-top.

There's a choice of powerplants, from a retracting outboard to an electric drive. As far as sailing performance goes, the Presto won't outpoint a fixed-keel boat, but Martin says it will embarrass plenty of bigger boats off the wind. This is not surprising, given the sporty look of the almost square-topped sails. All in all, this is one of the more versatile designs I've seen in a long while. Including sails, but not a trailer, the Presto's sticker price is a reasonable $85,000.

Martin has a number of high-performance ocean-going boats in his portfolio, but the Presto really seems to have captured his imagination. By the time you read this, hull #1 will be in the water (look for it at the Annapolis Sailboat Show) and being enjoyed by her new owners-one of whom is none other than Rodger Martin.

RESOURCES

The Landing School

www.landingschool.org

W. D. Schock Corporation

www.wdschock.com

Union River Boat Company

www.unionriverboat.com

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