Naval Academy 44

The latest addition to the fleet combines proven principles with contemporary practicesSpend any time at sea and you quickly learn that conditions can change rapidly out there, and not always in predictable ways. That truth has always played a key role in educating the midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, and for most of the past 50 years a key part of their experience has
Author:
Publish date:
HR-080500-FSnavy-01

The latest addition to the fleet combines proven principles with contemporary practices

Spend any time at sea and you quickly learn that conditions can change rapidly out there, and not always in predictable ways. That truth has always played a key role in educating the midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, and for most of the past 50 years a key part of their experience has been to spend time sailing on the Academy's fleet of 44-footers. While the design of these yachts has changed over the years—the first fleet, 44-foot yawls designed by Bill Luders, was followed by 44-foot sloops designed by McCurdy & Rhodes—the mission has remained unchanged: To use sailing to build leadership skills and learn the benefits that come from working as a team.

These sloops (the Navy calls them Sail-Training Craft, or STCs) work hard; some of them log as many as 250 days a year under way, including competing in major offshore races. This is why the Fales Committee, the group that reviews all aspects of the Academy's sailing program, decided a number of years ago that it was time to take a fresh look at the program and consider a brand-new design with specifications that would include new technologies, equipment, and any improvements in gear for sailhandling and trimming.

Some things, of course, would not change—for example, overall length and stem and transom profiles would be the same, as would the navy-blue color of the hull and belowdeck accommodations that provide berthing and living spaces for a crew of eight midshipmen and one or two officers. "An important consideration in maintaining these benchmarks," says Cdr. Jay Cavalieri, the Academy's Director of Sailing, "was that the new design's profile, which had proven itself over the years, would be instantly recognized, even from a distance, by every former midshipman."

"But there have also been some genuine improvements," says Pedrick Yacht Designs's Gram Schweikert, the principal designer for the project. "Although we had to consider that every change to the platform would be an evolutionary adjustment, we have managed to lengthen the waterline slightly over the previous models despite the restrictions that are imposed by the stem and transom angles. We also tweaked the hull shape slightly and removed the skeg that was on the earlier designs." Schweikert concedes that with a half-load displacement of around 30,360 pounds, the new Naval Academy 44 must be considered "fairly heavy by modern standards."

The hull laminate schedules, developed by an in-house Academy naval-architecture team led by Paul Miller, are relatively thick, especially in the keel sump (these craft are, it must be remembered, used primarily as training vessels), but the glass materials in the hull and deck are state-of-the-art. There's a Corecell core, and vinylester resin is used for bonding via the SCRIMP process. A 21/2-inch plastic toerail, capped with a stainless strake, runs the length of the topsides at about the same height as the cove stripe that was a feature of the earlier yacht. The toerail is not an aesthetic device, but is there to assist all docking maneuvers.

The cast fin keel has a slightly deeper draft than the earlier models, resulting in a lowered vertical center of gravity and thus increased stiffness. An efficient spade rudder makes the yacht more maneuverable under sail and power.

While the rig's general proportions remain unchanged, there are some interesting improvements. "We've raised the height of the boom and also made it a little longer," says Schweikert, "and that has allowed us to move the main traveler from its former midboom sheeting position on a track mounted on the bridgedeck just aft of the companionway hatch. That location made it a potential safety hazard for anyone moving through the companionway."

In the new design, the bridgedeck is eliminated and the traveler moved aft to a position just in front of the wheel. The primary and secondary winches are in the same location as they were on the previous 44s, even though cockpit layouts on contemporary raceboats tend to be configured a bit differently. "The overriding issue here," says Schweikert, "was to have a working area where eight people can all learn to maneuver the boat and the sails. The winches, for example, are positioned so everyone has a chance to do something—grinding, tailing, and so forth—and to see the tangible results of those efforts under sail."

"The yacht handles very well," said Cavalieri after helping a crew of middies deliver the first 44 to be launched from the Rhode Island builder to the Academy's Sailing Squadron dock in Annapolis at the end of October. "Of course, as with any new yacht, it will take a little time to sort out the small details so we can get up to the speeds we know we can achieve."

SPECIFICATIONS

NAVAL ACADEMY 44

Designer: Pedrick Yacht Design

3 Ann Street

Newport, Rhode Island 02840

Tel. 401-846-8481, www.pedrickyachts.com

Builder: Pearson Composites

373 Market Street

Warren, RI 02885

Tel. 401-245-1200,

www.pearsoncomposites.com

LOA44'4"

LWL36'9"

Beam12'8"

Draft 12'8"

Displacement30,360 lbs (half load)

Ballast9,700 lbs

AuxiliaryYanmar 54-hp diesel w/ 2-blade Maxprop

Fuel65 gal

Water175 gal

Sail area-displ ratio16.77

Displ-length ratio276

Related

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more