SMALL BOAT REVIEW
The original designer of the Raven envisioned a boat that could beat the Star, and some describe the Raven as the original sport boat.
The Raven By Dave Ellis Photos courtesy Ritch Riddle
SPECIFICATIONS: LOA: 24’2” LWL: 21’7” Beam: 7’ Draft: 5’ 4”/ 7” board up Sail Area 320 square feet Spinnaker: 230 square feet Weight: 1170 pounds
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“What is that boat?” So wondered participants in the 2012 Good Old Boat Regatta in St. Petersburg. It was the oldest boat in the fleet of Good Old Boats. It was obviously an older design, with a low-aspect rig and rakish lines. And it won the spinnaker class going away. Fifty years ago it would have been obvious that this was a Raven. In 1947, Roger and John McAleer got into a discussion of what a boat of over 21 feet should look like to beat the Star boat and Indian, the boats of choice in their New England sailing area. Roger had raced boats ranging from the Snipe to the big R-Class keelboats and had an idea of what made for a fast boat. Since this was his first design, he had no uncertainty about what he was going to draw. “Uncertainty,” he wrote “comes from the experience of not having been always right.” He knew he wanted lots of sail area. “Sail area can always be reduced, although hectic at times,” he opined. He wanted most of the sail area to be in the mainsail, as the big overlapping genoa jibs are only there due to the “free” area allowed under the rules. He wanted a longer boat and it had to be a centerboarder. A model was built, and some minor cosmetic changes made. The prototype hull was built in a Riverside, RI, basement in 1948. The hull was plywood, a material perfected during World War II. The rounded chines were of strip planking. The designer was getting married when the first sail occurred, but he could hear the excitement in his brother’s voice on the telephone at the end of the day. The first race with the prototype proved that not only were they beating the Star and Indian, but much larger boats like the 210, as well. With a new rig and a lighter plywood boat… The first Raven after the prototype had a little more roundness to the bottom, and using molded plywood, was a little lighter in hull weight and had a better rig, now sportwww.southwindsmagazine.com