Adapted from a successful youth match-racing design, every feature of the Andrews 21 is keyed toward teaching and training. I sailed the boat in a mild breeze in Newport Harbor, California, its native waters, and it delivered what I expected. The boat was lively, but tractable, and comfortable in every way, whether it be from an emotional perspective—she looks contemporary and aggressive—to physically finding my place in the cockpit. This is a dandy little sailboat anyone can enjoy. It is also very much in the moment for 2014 as a fast-but-stable, small keelboat.
In terms of design, the boat’s deep-slung lead bulb and powerful hull form add up to tremendous stability. For a student’s first-time experience of dynamic balance, this can be a great confidence builder. There is also more than enough performance potential for the Andrews 21 to hold the attention of youngsters coming out of speed-thrill dinghies.
The helm was fingertip light, and the boat tracked nicely on all points of sail, with weather-helm-to-taste varying easily through a full range of adjustments—another important teaching tool. I can’t imagine a better platform for demonstrating how to steer with the sails.
In the cockpit, every working element was positioned optimally. “Talented” people like me can always turn a day of sailing into a spaghetti feed, but the Andrews 21 does as much as any design can possibly do to look after the organizationally challenged, encourage learning and making a good sailing teacher look great.
The angels are in the details. The boom is high—you’d have to be more than slightly careless to get whacked—and the cockpit, at 10 feet long, is large enough to accommodate four students with an instructor working from either the companionway or the transom. The rudderstock is also thoughtfully positioned to leave standing room aft for a teacher.
There are two Harken winches on the cabintop—not because the boat really has to have them, but so students can learn how to load and use a winch—and for those in search of a little extra reassurance, the Andrews 21 is built with positive flotation. I don’t know if the production folks at W.D. Schock get to use the word “unsinkable,” but an instructor could, and probably would in good conscience. Fleet administrators and club officers will be glad to hear that the hand-laid composite hull is solid, not cored, for impact resistance and ease of repair. The use of vinylester resin will help fight against water absorption and blisters.
The deck-stepped mast is built from a proprietary Schock extrusion and rigged for simplicity, but with all the controls for trim, sail shape, backstay adjustment and reefing—that is to say, all the fundamentals of operating a sailboat. For a different level of teaching—to keep race-oriented sailors engaged, for example—there are options for a fixed sprit and asymmetric spinnaker. In terms of power, designer Alan Andrews says, “We can adjust the rig profile to suit specific local conditions. It’s easier to adapt a light-air performer to heavy air than vice-versa.” Do your home waters typically have 9-knot winds? No problem. An 18-knot peak sea-breeze? Also not a problem.
Nervous (or merely cautious) school managers will probably pad the corners with the optional bow and quarter fenders, which our test boat lacked. Putting the boat through its paces, though, I wondered: What could possibly go wrong? Still, as we closed in on the dock, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and handed the tiller to Andrews. “Alan,” I said. “You can take her in.”
LWL 18ft 5in
BEAM 8ft 1in
SAIL AREA 266ft2 (jib and full main)
ENGINE outboard motor bracket optional
BALLAST RATIO 35
SA/D RATIO 28 D/L RATIO 132
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Alan Andrews
BUILDER W.D. Schock Corp., Corona, CA, 951-277-3377, wdschock.com