SIGHTINGS california condor takes flight In the last two years, commissions for custom boats have been fewer and farther between for naval architects and yacht designers. But you’d never know it if you’d visited Berkeley Marine Center during that time. Late last month, owner Cree Partridge and his team were putting the finishing touches on a new Jim Antrim-designed Class 40 for Bay Area sailor Buzz Blackett and partners Liz Baylis and Todd Hedin. Named after Condor, a Redline 41 that Blackett’s dad campaigned on the Great Lakes years ago, the new boat’s 15-ft beam will help make it a powerful offshore machine. If the boat’s ready, it will show its stuff at this year’s Pacific Cup. Like California Condor’s namesake species — which saw its first wild-born chick Condor hatch last month after decades of decline — hopefully the boat is a sign that the endangered Northern California-built custom boat will recover. As long as there are owners like Blackett around. Blackett, an attorney by weekday, looked at his boat’s near-sistership, Sue and Barry Senescu’s Dana Point-based Antrim Class 40 Yippee Kai Yay, built by Columbia Yachts, and was impressed with the build. “They did a great job on that boat,” Blackett said. “But custom boatbuilding in Northern California has been moribund-to-dead, and having the boat built in the Bay has made it easier to be involved.” Blackett has managed the project — putting in many a late night along with Antrim, Partridge and Pineapple Sails’ Kame Richards — and said he’s been extremely happy with everyone involved. On the gruntier end of the labor spectrum, the build has allowed local Richmond YC young bucks like David Rasmussen and Max Fraser to earn some sailing money while they pick up valuable composites skills. A relative newcomer to the local racing scene, the Class 40 box rule has been wildly successful in Europe. Over 100 boats have been built in the last four years. The simple rule places restrictions on materials — carbon is allowed only in the rig and prod while only e-glass and foam cores or plywood are allowed for the rest of the structure — in order to contain build costs and produce fast offshore-oriented shorthanded boats that basically look like miniature IMOCA 60s. The boat will carry a double-spreader Hall Spars carbon rig and Nitronic 50 rod for the standing rigging. California Condor will be very similar to Yippee Kai Yay, but with one key difference — in order to fit in Dana Point Harbor, the latter’s keel is some 18 inches shorter in draft. “There might be one or two modes where that will be an advantage, but overall this boat will be faster almost all the time,” Antrim said. As launched, the boat will not be Class 40-legal for two easily changeable reasons. Per the rule, the sail inventory is limited to eight, including a storm jib and trysail. Spinnakers are restricted to nylon only — no laminate — and all other sails must be woven or laminated polyester — except two, which can be any material. Carbon battens are prohibited. Given that it won’t be sailing any officially sanctioned class events — which all originate from Europe — the boat will carry an all-carbon working-sail inventory, and in the interest of stiffness, the rudders are carbon instead of e-glass. The rule also allows the boat to carry up to 400 gallons of water ballast, symmetrically distributed off the centerline, which means the equivalent of eight 200-lb guys can be packed up on the weather side when needed. The deck was built in a female mold, while the hull was built on a fenceboard plug, which resulted in a time savings of about two weeks and a 10% reduction in the tooling costs for the hull plug — roughly 10% of the cost of the finished product. With this method, long “planks” of foam and glass were laminated on flat tables and tortured into place before being edge-glued together. The outside skins of the hull were laminated to the planks, then the hull was faired. The hull was turned over and the interior received another layer of glass before being faired. continued on outside column of next sightings page Page 84 •
• May, 2010
the boat We’re not talking about the skipper or crew losing weight — which is usually a good thing, too — but the boat itself. The net result of boats — and people — losing weight is that they become faster and more nimble. People can lose weight by eating more veggies. In fact, by eating mostly veggies. Boats lose weight as a result of their manufacturers’ using building innovations. Thanks to the public relations folks for Catana Catamarans, the self-proclaimed “world innovation leader in luxury perfor-
Spread: Buzz Blackett, Todd Hedin and Liz Baylis’ brand new Jim Antrim-designed Class 40 ‘California Condor’ should be sailing by the time you read this. Above, left to right: the glue joints in the hull ‘planking’; it’s dusty work for 29er stud Max Fraser, but it’ll do when you’re trying to earn some traveling scratch for this year’s 29er Worlds in Argentina; the 4-inch diameter gate valves for the water ballast transfer plumbing; the boat name artfully rendered in relief on one of the boat’s carbon rudders.
The May 2010 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.