Cannonball -Spring 2009
Member Articles (cronological order):
2009 Nationals Commodore's Report, Ernie French
MNC 2009, Martin Casanova
Why Are Our Boats Breaking?, Bob DeRoeck
MNAC 2004: One Man's Story, Gordon Brookfield
Memoirs of an Unlikely Champion, Gib Charles
A Bucc'ers-eye View of BNAC from the rail
of a Mutt!, John Fraser
Finally made it to the MNAC, Vince Jones
MNAC 2003, By
Revival of a Class, Ian Wells
Mutts and Buccs?!, Gib Charles
1973 “Mystery Boat” From the 1973 "Cannonball" -- the Mutineer class
2009 Nationals Commodore's Report
By Ernie French
It’s been two weeks
since we arrived home from an amazing week in Alabama, and I thought I
had better offer my view as Commodore of the Class.
First of all,
as everyone has already said, this group did a super job of putting
together a great week of racing and socializing. It was obvious that
Bea, James, Tate and everyone else put a lot of time and effort planning
and seeing that everything was done right. As an officer, I knew
traveling to this event that everything was taken care of I would be
able to concentrate on the racing without on shore worries of things
that would need to be done. I was not wrong.
Two of the
biggest concerns in racing, are the weather, and will the PRO (Principal
Race Officer) run the races in a manner that gives us a true test of
skill on the water. The weather is the only factor in
sailing that cannot be controlled. Our PRO Keith Kuhlman, however did an
outstanding job of trying to set perfect lines and courses with ever
changing conditions. He understood what we were trying to accomplish in
having good races for the top boats, but also helping the majority of
boats learn and compete. I know that some classes would of
called races off after the start due to major wind shifts like we had,
and that a couple of races were drag races, but everyone sailed hard and
didn’t complain. We got 11 races in when some classes
would off struggled to get in 6.
For all of you
that could not attend, you can see by the scores and from the pictures
that the racing at all levels was close. What you cannot
see, was how close. The top four boats were inseparable,
and had Tate and Rick breathing down our necks waiting for a small
error. Right behind them, and sometimes ahead of us were
Jim and Margaret Davis, and of course Bob DeRoeck and Rey “Hitch Pin”
Garza sailing the infamous “G’s Whiz”. If we are ever to
have a Mutt Museum, two boats that have to be in it are “G’s Whiz” and
Looking at the
scores, it would appear that with only 2 points separating 1st-3rd
after 11 races, that the racing was very close. But again, what you
can’t see is the whole truth in the racing. David Chadwick and Greg Bennett led at
probably the first mark more than anyone else in all the races, but in
shifty and changing conditions it is difficult to be the leader and try
to cover and stay ahead of four boats going different directions. They
were very fast and sailed well enough to win this regatta. I
think Gib and Hunter would agree with me in this evaluation. I
look forward to future sailing against these guys and am glad we are
attracting this caliber of sailor to the
is blessed to have someone with the ability of Hunter Riddle and his
wife Suzanne join in and compete with us. Hunter’s experience showed in
the fact that he won the most races (5). Don’t feel sorry
for him that he was in an old green boat, as it was the lightest boat by
15 pounds and had to add weight. It’s scary to think how
fast he would have been with good sails! (I don’t care who you are that
was funny!!) Seriously, if you want to go faster, call
Hunter at Schurr Sails and he will get you up to speed.
Gib Charles sailed a great
regatta but he was “Lucky”. Let me explain. When Gib
arrived, and we hugged (good friends don’t shake hands) I could tell
that he had been working out (as in rock). At 54, he had been in the
gym. Out of his vehicle jumps a 2o year old unemployed
sailing enthusiast named Mike Ruwitch. Knowing
Gib doesn’t work (retired), and finding out Mike doesn’t work (yet),
I’m thinking maybe these two have been out practicing 8-9 days a week. Once
on the water, it was evident Gib didn’t pick him up on I-70 in Kansas
on the way.
Gib explained at
the awards banquet how he had dedicated the last 16 months of his life,
(since the 2008 Nationals) to making himself a better sailor. He showed
it on the water. I have heard many times in sports over
the years how someone got Lucky. What I have found in any
sport is that the “Luckiest” competitor is the one who puts in the most
time in practice, learning, and effort in becoming the best they can be.
They earn what they achieve. Gib and Mike deserved this
and did an outstanding job earning it on the water. With
only two firsts, their consistent scores showed how to win in a very
competitive group. The best are “Lucky”
for a reason. Congratulations Gib and Mike, 2009 National
Champions and winners of the “Battle in Bama”.
The B Fleet
was simply a disaster. These people were walking around
the parking lot on Monday
and Tuesday morning
acting all lost and unknowing. The minute we have the first practice
race they beat most of us A Fleeters. Sandbaggers. Actually
what happened is exactly what I have been saying for the last 4-5
years. You will underestimate your ability and that there will be people
of all ability’s to compete and learn from.
look at the scores you can see that everyone was in the hunt in a lot of
races. David Rowe
drove down from Michigan with his crew Cheryl Caudill, and finished just
behind Patti Bennett who sailed with different crew and had several
races in the top 6. Ed Hurst sailed well in the last half of the regatta
with sails he made. Susan Wilson and Kerrie Serpa sailed
well and I think will be a force in the future, as will Chris Scott and
his wife KK who had two thirds on the windy last day. In his second
Nationals, Dave Zale drove down from St. Louis alone and picked up crew to finish
in a close 6th just 4 points ahead of Chris and KK. Brad
Osborne and son Cameron made a last minute decision to come and join
us. After a slow start in the first three races, they finished with
scores including (4) 2nds and a 3rd to finish in the
hardware for 5th.
If you don’t
think 1 place in one race can make a difference, you can
see that out of 11 races only 1 place separated 3rd
and 4th. Ginette Hughes and Barb Short won the 1st
race and sailed a great series to finish in 4th just 1 point
behind Bea Pecou and Allyson Lewter. Bea showed she could
perform on the water as well as performing with all of her duties off
the water. Bea and Allyson took the basic information I shared with them
on winds shifts and used it on the course to battle Martin and Marvin
going into the last day. Jerry Thompson has beaten his crew Greg Parker physically
for years preparing him for the windy last day in which they picked up
bullett’s, a 2nd, and a 5th to finish second
overall. Who say’s flogging the crew is not a motivator!
showed the group that flogging your boat also works. The last morning in
contention for the B Fleet Championship, Marvin decides on his way to
the ramp he needs to go the bathroom one more time so he turns around,
taking the boat with him and forgets about the trees between us the
bathrooms. (as a class we should submit this for that
gotta go… gotta go… commercial) Needless to say the mast
comes down. Fortunately a small piece of line was being used to hold it
up and it just broke. They were able to retie it and pop it back up. In
fact Marvin was so fast in getting it back up I suggested he rename his
boat…….VIAGRA! Martin Cassanova and Marvin Jansen sailed
a great series to
win the very competitive B Fleet.
Banquet at a Mutineer Nationals has become a special time because of the
talking about just any special award. TV has the “Emmy’s”,
Movies have the “Oscars”,
Sports has the “ESPY’S”, but we have the best in the
“Vinnie’s” . To win a “Vinnie“ is special. If you win
two.... you’re “Special”.
Vince Jones did another
outstanding job in creating this years “Vinnies”.
Now for next year.
Where? When? Doesn’t matter…….don’t
Headin’ for the
Back to top
By Martin Casanova
After Gib and I won first place in
Fleet A and B respectively during 2009 Nationals in Alabama, Jerry Thompson
asked us to share our experiences on our road to the first place.
I live in the Northeast (Stamford, CT)
where sailing is normally limited to summer and maybe late spring and early
fall. This makes it difficult to practice during most of the year or even
prepare your boat unless you have enough room for it indoors. My boat was in
very poor conditions and the trip was long so I posted my intention to race
with someone else in our website. From this point forward many people worked
hard to make it happen. Bea Picou, James Carr and Tate Beckham worked
their magic and Bea put me in contact with someone that I had not yet met but that
during the event became a good friend, Marvin Jansen. Marvin was kind enough to
offer his boat and to crew for me. Susan Wilson from fleet 34 picked me up at
Huntsville airport. The entire behind the scene logistics and generosity were
the main ingredients that made our participation possible and furthermore be
able to obtain first place in B Fleet with Marvin. (Thank you)
I started to sail in Argentina when I
was about thirteen, living in a boarding school from the Argentinean Navy. For
five years I used to sail almost every day in Grumetes, Balleneras and
Penguins. My first big regatta was representing the school in the South
American Cup for the Penguin’s class. With a less than brilliant performance I
ended fourteenth among seventy five boats participating in the event but this
was enough to hook me for life. I was about fifteen years old at this time and
sailing continued to be my favorite sport from then on. Later, having the
chance to participate in the 2006 and 2008 Nationals, I finished in fifth place
in both cases in the only fleet we had at this time.
Now, In the same way that others did
it to me I intend to share with you in a few paragraphs the most important
concepts I learned not only from the National but from my experience over the
years. I hope you find this useful or at least entertaining.
Ricardo Martin Casanova
The first concept I want to share with
you is the importance of preparing your boat to be as failure proof as
possible. Even before you start the sanding and fairing and many other
good things you should be as sure as possible that your boat will not break.
Often races are lost before the start due to things that will break and could
be avoided with a simple but thorough inspection. This is even more important
if the race will be in a high wind area.
I experienced the importance of this
during the 2006 National in Kenosha, when racing with high winds and seas my
mast almost passed through the deck because the wood underneath was pulverized
because of age. There were two more regattas this day that I couldn’t
race. Fortunately, with Bob Deroeck’s help, we fixed it during the
evening and I was ready to go the next morning. Many other boats had to DNF
after breaking something during this National.
last minute pi:
It was about 8:30 AM. This race was
critical in securing first place. The start would be in about thirty minutes
and we had just finished the last few details before launching.
Marvin and I were ready to go towards
the ramp when “nature called” and we decided to make a last minute “technical
stop” before the big day. With the boat ready for the win and the spirits high
we rushed in the car to get to the nearby restroom with the boat behind. Suddenly, A LOUD BOOM BEHIND US! When we
looked back, Marvin’s nice Mutt didn’t have a mast anymore. We had driven
under a group of trees and the mast had fallen off when hitting the branches.
The tune up, the plans and the excitement fell in an instant.
But not so fast! Showing the classical
“Mutineer” spirit many people rushed to the scene to help. Knowing we were up
for the first place, we even received an offer to use someone else boat despite
the fact that this meant she would no longer be able to race. We didn’t
accept the offer but this shows the spirit.
After a quick damage assessment we
found that amazingly the only part that was really damaged was the head of the
boom that broke in the impact. The reason for the minimal damage (besides luck)
was that under the pressure the jib’s halyard gave up before anything else,
saving us a lot of damage and trouble. Bottom line, we replaced the broken
halyard, put back the boom on place applying some constant pressure with the
boom bang (Laser style) and headed to the water just in time to start.
Since I don’t remember all the races
in detail, I will describe the few things I try to pay attention to and that
seem to work for me.
Having a good start is not the most
important part of the race but gives you a good advantage. Of course it is nice
to be the first to cross the line every time but since this is seldom possible,
I focus on consistently starting reasonably well, with clear air and as close
as possible to the favored side (in this order).
The emphasis I put on starting at the
favored side depends on how off square the starting line is with respect to the
wind. The more off square it is, the more I struggle for a favored side
There are many ways to find the
favored side. I am not looking for an accurate measurement so I sail to
the outside of the pin and stop heading to the wind. At this point the boat
will be either perpendicular to the starting line or pointing more towards the
committee boat or towards the pin side. The favored side is the side your boat is
pointing to and you should try to start as close to this side as possible while
keeping clean air. The less your boat points to one side or the other showing
you the favored side, the less important this factor is and you can focus more
in other things.
If despite my efforts I find myself in
the middle of a crowd struggling for clean air, I get out of there as soon as
possible, even if it means spending an extra short tack to get away.
During the first part of the first leg
my immediate priorities are to keep clear air and point as high as possible.
Since our boat didn’t have internal rails for the jib, Marvin prepared a
simple barberhauler with a line and two hooks that worked well enough for us.
Once I know where I am respect to
everyone else, the next step is to get or keep on synch with the wind shifts.
Taking good advantage of the shifts is critical to being in the front line. If
you don’t know why, play with a pen and piece of paper drawing two boats
sailing at the same time to reach a buoy up wind. Draw one of them following
the right shifts (the shift that takes you closer up wind) and the other just
reaching the lay line and tacking to the buoy and you will see the difference.
It is not only the five or more degrees closer up wind you are
sailing if you are in phase but also the extra five or more degrees
lower the boats who are out of phase are sailing.
Once I get close enough to the first
buoy I try to see which boats may be competing with me for the inside turn and
do my best to position myself to turn as close to the buoy as possible. If
another boat gets inside first, I try to position my boat to disturb its air
and pass it if I can. Just be careful not to lose sight of the overall picture
and end up losing positions just to pass this particular boat (Pick your
We didn’t have a spinnaker but we had
a jib and a nice long whisker pole handmade in "Marvinsland". This
was part of the list of important things we put together with Marvin while
coordinating via email, who will bring what to the race and what the boat
should have. Other important items in the list were telltales for jib and main,
barber hauler, bubble level, boom vang and compass if possible.
The jib with a good whisker pole could
be as or more effective than the spinnaker depending on the weather conditions
and skills. For instance during some of the races we had during the National
the wind was not strong enough to consistently fly the spinnaker. Furthermore,
in some cases the rain made the spinnaker heavier needing even more wind to
fly. In these kind of conditions a well deployed jib will take advantage of all
the available blows all the time while the spinnaker will be hanging from the
mast and flying time to time. Something similar happen if the wind is stronger
than your skills can handle. In the other hand with enough wind AND if you fly
it properly the advantage of the spinnaker is noticeable even in the Mutt. I
say “if you fly it properly” because occasionally we found ourselves passing
boats flying spinnakers due to poor handling. So if you plan to use a spinnaker
practice until you feel comfortable before racing with it.
Once I am on my way to the final line
the only strategy I use is to get there as fast as possible getting as much
speed as I can. A very important factor is to have the boat leveled in the
bow-stern direction, as this will greatly reduce dragging. In light wind you
can slowly pass many boats doing this, presenting as much surface to the wind
as you can and keeping you movements to the minimum. To know if you are
leveled during the race it is best to install a bubble level calibrated on
In addition, (some people may
disagree), I prefer to retract the centerboard all the way up unless there is
too much wind, in which case I only do it partially. With light winds I sail a
bit higher of the shortest course to keep the boat moving, in which case I
lower the centerboard a bit.
When there are waves, (usually in the
same or similar direction as the wind), I try to take advantage of them.
Since they travel faster than the boat, riding them as long as you can gives
you extra speed. This may make a big difference. I experienced this
during the 2006 National in Lake Michigan at Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Once heading to the finish line I just
try to keep good speed avoiding taking unnecessary risks that may compromise my
current position. Consistency arriving among the first boats every time
will put you in a better position at the end than wining for a mile in one
regatta and getting last in the next.
Many of you are already
experienced sailors so I hope these few lines will at least help those who are
starting to race to be better positioned during our next National championship.
Thank you and favorable winds.
Ricardo Martin Casanova
Back to top
Are Our Boats Breaking?
The recent BNAC/MNAC 2004 at Fort Walton
Beach had great sailing weather with plenty of wind on most days. But, there were numerous mechanical failures
on both the Bucs and Mutts which resulted in lots of DNF's and DNS's. Tuesday morning saw the highest winds which I
estimate were around 20 knots sustained with gusts to 25 knots. There was also a brief period of high winds
during the third race on Thursday as a squall moved through the race
course. Most days the winds averaged
about 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots.
Yet, even in these moderate conditions our boats were breaking.
In this article I will attempt to detail by
manufacturer the breakdowns, analyze the cause, and make recommendations on how
owners should prepare their boats for racing and daysailing in moderate to high
wind conditions. About half of the Buc
and Mutt skippers at Fort Walton Beach responded to my request for details of
Any one who has taken a good look at the new
Nichols Buccaneers realizes that Nichols reengineered just about every system
on the boat prior to starting production in January, 2004. The quality of their engineering and their
construction was fully demonstrated at FWB by the low number of Nichol Buc
breakdowns. The only significant
Nichol's breakdown I'm aware of was the failure of the lower pintle on Greg
Twombly's boat. Nichols uses high
quality, extra heavy duty Racelite pintles and gudgeons. However, some of these Bucs have only a
single fastener on the lower pintle.
Whether Greg's boat had a single fastener or two that were just two
small is not clear to me. In any case I
recommend that Nichols relook at the fasteners on the lower pintle and that
Nichol's Buc owners refasten their lower pintles with machine screws a minimum
of #10 size in each pintle strap hole.
To allow the rudderblade to go fully down use flat head machine screws
countersunk into the inside of each aluminum cheek. Then apply lock nuts on the outside of each
Aside from damage caused by skippers playing
bumper boats the only other significant failure on a Nichols Buc was the loss
of a rudder when Kat Smith capsized. The
Nichols Bucs have a spring retaining system.
The problem with the two most common types of rudder retainers (spring
system and pivoting stop system) is that neither is 100% reliable. Over time the spring ends up too far in and
will not engage the pintles during a capsize.
Periodically the spring has to be pulled backwards to restore it to the
design position. The pivoting stop
system can fail because the fastener has become loose and the stop pivots
during a capsize. I recommend that all
boats install a simple rudder retaining line as a backup. The $4 cost for a snap shackle and a few feet
of 3/16" line can save a lot of dollars and aggravation after a capsize.
Dave Spira lost the clevis pin on the lower
end of a shroud. The pin was inside a
shroud cover and somehow Dave and crew managed to discover the problem and insert
another pin before the mast came down.
It is probable that the ring came out, though there's a remote
possibility the clevis pin sheared. This
incident reinforces the common recommendation to check all rigging pins and
rings prior to each sail.
I received reports from four skippers racing
Cardinal Bucs and they had no major manufacturer-specific problems. They had a number of general hardware
failures that I'll cover in the "General Problems" section that
follows. Justin Hull had his centerboard destroyed by the "safety"
boat trying to right his capsized Buc by towing it upright with a line attached
to the centerboard. The fleet was lucky
not to have more shattered centerboards.
I noticed a number of capsized Bucs with crew standing on the very end
of the board trying to right the boat.
These centerboards are not designed for that kind of load applied to the
tip of the board. When trying to right a
Buc while standing on the centerboard I suggest always standing with your feet
right against the hull. Then to get
sufficient leverage reach into the hull and grab a jib sheet or spinnaker sheet
from the uphill side, haul in until the sheet "locks" in a block,
then lean backwards using the sheet as a trapeze. This method is effective for righting a Buc
or a Mutt and will keep your centerboard whole.
Two Wellcraft skippers submitted
reports. Kyle Smith had no problems with
"Home-Grown Tomato". Our new
Commodore was not so lucky. On Tuesday
Scott's 1/4" rudder pivot bolt sheared which severely bent the rudderhead
cheeks and caused a capsize. On Thursday
while using a replacement rudder one of the 1/4" bolts holding the lower
pintle broke, causing the other bolt to bend severely. By Friday Scott noticed that the gunwale had
permanently distorted upwards about 1/2" at the port chainplate. The backing plate under the rubrail lip was
only about 2" long. Nichols had the
foresight to increase the length of this backing plate to about 6". I suggest all Wellcraft and Cardinal owners
that have backing plates less than 6" long to replace them with ones at
least this long and to consider increasing the thickness of the plates as
well. Note that Scott’s gunwale
distorted upwards over a 6-8" span which may indicate that there may be
design or construction problems that go beyond the backing plate. There is a possibility that the glass layup
on this portion of the deck is inadequate or that the joint between the hull
and deck pieces is inadequate. Since the
backing plate is recessed within the lip, I suggest Wellcraft owners consider
removing the backing plate, adding more glass along the channel, then
installing a longer, and possibly thicker, backing plate. Also, if possible try to view the hull/deck
joint from the inside to see if there is any indication of joint failure. If so, is there access to add glass
connecting the hull to deck at the chainplates from the inside? Unfortunately, mechanical problems continued
to plague Scott even after the racing ended.
On the trip back to NY he had trailer tires blow out on two
occasions. If it wasn't for bad luck,
Scott, you'd have no luck at all.
and TMI Bucs
I received reports from only four Chrysler
and TMI skippers. None had any
significant mechanical failures, but a number had general problems.
Gordon Brookfield's rudder blade sheared in
half on the run into the yacht club just after finishing the race on Tuesday
morning in high winds. The break
occurred just below the rudderhead and the reason was obvious. The glass on one side of the foam core was
1/8" thick and that on the other side was 1/16" thick, a good example
of Chrysler's lack of QC. While it’s a
bit of work, I suggest Chrysler owners consider beefing up their blades between
the top of the blade and 3 inches below the bottom of the rudderhead. Additional glass cannot be simply added to
the outside of the blades since that will make the blades
non-specification. I suggest removing
the foam core from this section and replacing it with plywood or solid
fiberglass. This entails considerable
work, but is likely to prevent a number of DNF's and DNS's in future
regattas. The only other significant
failure was due to Gordon's jib furler jamming with the jib half rolled
up. The original Chrysler tube-on-tube
system was a way for Chrysler to save a few bucks in the 1970's. But, because there is no external
line-retaining collar, the reefing line jams easily unless there is a constant
force applied on the jib sheet. While
any furler can jam under the right (or wrong) conditions, the modern furling
systems with retaining collars are much less likely to do so. We did have a problem with having no
Elvestrom bailers on the boat. After we
lost our bailing bucket during a capsize, there was no way to rid the boat of
hundreds of pounds of water. We finished
the race, but were not sailing competitively.
If you want to race your Buc or Mutt competitively, you need two
Rey Garza had spent a lot of effort preparing
his boat for racing. It paid dividends
since he had no equipment failures.
John Allison made Scott Laundry's luck look
good. John had all of the "big
four" Chrysler Buc and Mutt failures in one regatta. The only exception was he did not have a
chainplate system failure and this was probably due to the fact he replaced the
chainplate bolts with 1/4" bolts prior to the first race. The three typical failures he did experience
were underdeck rig tensioning wire block pullout from the hull, rudder failure
(pintle strap sheared off), and the centerboard top pulled off. In addition the mainsheet block pulled out of
its swivel pivot.
Ernie French raced on Adam's Smith's boat
after working on it for two days. The CB
gasket came off on Thursday and Adam spent the next day and a half
bailing. I don't think it's necessary to
convince Adam of the need for two Elvestrom bailers. The mainsheet block also pulled out of the CB
trunk. I consider this one of the
"big four" failures, under "centerboard trunk"
Gib Charles's Wellcraft survived fairly
well. Gib took a shortcut installing jib
car track on the seats by using self-tapping screws going into the plywood on
the underside of the seat. Murphy's law
always applies to sailing and his track pulled out. Fortunately, Gib never removed the old tracks
on the seat back and he was able to just switch the jib sheet cars to these
tracks and still finish the race in first place by a large margin. Gib's other failure was more common, failure
of the hiking strap. His strap came
loose from the buckle, and Gib pitched head-over-heals into the water, causing
the boat to capsize. Dave Chadwick also did a cartwheel when the plastic end
fitting on his hiking strap snapped.
Chris somehow managed to prevent a capsize while Dave came to the
surface and climbed back in. Similar
gymnastics have been performed in the past by Bryan Lanier and Justin Hull to
name just two. The forces applied by two
studs trying to keep a Buc or Mutt down in 20 knots are quite high. All components in the hiking strap system
including buckles, end loops, fasteners and backing plates must be heavy
duty. The fiberglass in the vertical
bulkhead where the endloops are attached is often quite thin. If so, just installing larger backing plates
will not do the job. Additional glass
needs to be added to those portions of the bulkhead.
Big Four For Chrysler Bucs and Mutts
I mentioned the big four mechanical failures
for Chrysler Bucs and Mutts in the last section. I'll provide a bit more detail here.
Failure of the CB trunk system can be from
the top fiberglass piece pulling off, the mainsheet block pulling off, or the
fiberglass flexing and cracking from insufficient support. If the boat is to be sailed hard, a solid,
wide CB cap is required to strengthen the entire structure and reduce
flexing. Over time the plywood at the
top of the "inner" CB usually rots and the numerous long #10 wood
screws holding the top fiberglass piece to the plywood pull loose, breaking the
thin fiberglass around the pop rivets holding the top and bottom CB pieces
together. The solution is to take the
system apart and replace the plywood.
The mainsheet block usually pulls out because Chrysler used steel nuts
on the ends of the SS machine screws.
These nuts usually rust away and the mainsheet block can pull out in
8-10 knots of wind. The solution is,
again, take the system apart and install a proper backing plate and SS washers
and nuts. One item that puzzles me is
that most Mutts have an aluminum "bridge" under the mainsheet block
to transfer the load directly to the lower portion of the CB trunk. Yet, the Buc with a larger mainsail load does
not have such a bridge. Does anyone have
any explanation for this difference?
The second of the big four is chainplate
system failure. The chainplate bolts
used by Chrysler were 3/16" diameter, but the threaded portion was long
and was inside the chainplate holes.
This means that the effective diameter of the bolts is only about
1/8". This is clearly too small for
the load as demonstrated by the common "veeing" of the bolts and a
number of cases were chainplates have pulled out under load. The other frequent problem is significant
distortion of the hull around the chainplates due to inadequate plywood and
glass structural support. I suggest
upgrading to 1/4" bolts, adding an external tang to better distribute the
load to the hull, and adding two horizontal stringers to each chainplate area
running about 10" on either side of the chainplate.
Failure three is the rig tensioning system
under the foredeck. The pulley system
often pulls out from its attachment point to the hull, usually causing the mast
to come down. As mentioned above, if you
want to race competitively, it is best to upgrade to a quality jib furling
system. Most owners that replace their
furler change the rig tensioning system at the same time. But, regardless of the rig tensioning system
you use, each component of the system must be capable of withstanding loads
equal or greater to those of the side stays and the chainplates. This means instantaneous loads of 500 pounds
or more should be expected. If any
component cannot handle these loads, it needs to be upgraded.
Failure four is the rudder system. The old cast aluminum spiderweb rudderheads
crack so often that if your's hasn't, you're living on borrowed time. It's just a question of WHEN. I suggest anyone who wants to race
competitively replace their spiderweb rudderhead with a more robust
design. The cast aluminum tiller
rear-ends that attach to the spiderweb rudderheads also tend to crack. Recycle this aluminum along with the
spiderweb and upgrade to a stronger design.
I already discussed rudderblade reinforcement. Pintle and gudgeon failure is also
frequent. A few years ago Bill Bartell
suggested I upgrade to Racelite extra heavy duty pintles and gudgeons on my
Mutt and I still consider that excellent advice. Nichols apparently does as well. I suggest spending the money on these fitting
and not having to worry about them failing again.
There is actually a fifth "big
four" that applies only to Mutineers.
The mast support system usually fails due to rot of the plywood under
the deck. Owners should replace all
rotted wood and install a compression post to transfer the load to the front of
the CB trunk.
I suspect there were a number of additional
mechanical breakdowns at FWB amongst the half of the skippers that did not
report their breakdowns. I noticed at
least one broken spiderweb rudderhead on the ground that probably had a story
There were numerous breakdowns that were not
specific to Bucs or Mutts or the manufacturer, but they still created problems
for the competitors. Hiking strap
failure has already been discussed. A
number of skippers had problems with jib furling systems jamming. Tiller extensions caused problems due to
failure and also jamming in the corner of the cockpit, causing loss of
control. One boat had the spinnaker pole
end pop out of the tubing. It was just a
friction fit. These ends should be
epoxied into the tubing.
On three boats the swivel or strap at the
base of the mainsheet block failed with the block breaking loose from the
base. Dave Chadwick brought up an
interesting point when he mentioned that while his boat was only 9 years old,
it has been sailed hard and he was finding that much of the hardware was
wearing out or failing. Dave has
suggested that skippers of older boats or boats that had been driven hard replace
the hardware. This is an expensive
proposition but one that serious racers should consider. Richard West also experienced hardware
problems with worn jam cleats failing to hold lines under high load and a
Harken rachet block breaking.
One of the major problems at FWB was crews
not being able to self-right their boat after a capsize and resume racing. Some of this was caused by excessive water
between the hull and deck, which highlights the importance of having watertight
integrity on all Bucs and Mutts. All
potential routes for water to get into the between-deck area must be adequately
sealed. Spinnaker socks on the Wellcraft
and Chrysler boats should not be overlooked.
The sock must be securely fastened to the snout and also to the entry
point into the cockpit, both with a watertight seal. The sock should also be watertight to force
all water entering the snout to pass directly into the cockpit where the
bailers can suck it out.
Another reason for crews not being able to
self-right capsized boats was poor technique, probably caused by lack of
experience righting a boat in moderate to high winds. But, that sounds like the subject of a future
article in the Buc/Cannonball.
You do not need a new Nichols Buc to be
competitive. Eric Oster and others have
demonstrated that. But, if you want to race competitively, you need your boat
in solid condition and fully equipped with two Elvstrom-type bailers, a
reliable jib furler system, rebuilt CB trunk and mainsheet block supporting
system, an upgraded rudder system with robust pintles and gudgeons, reinforced
chainplate system, and good quality hardware.
Failure of any of these systems can knock you out of a race. Aside from a solid boat only good sails and
racing skills are required. Doesn't
sound too difficult, does it?
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MNAC 2004: One Man's Story
By Gordon Brookfield
I'll give you my report, probably in more detail than you want, and due to my rose-colored glasses and my failing memory, the accuracy of this report is probably better than 50% and less than 80%. Since it is my story, I'll start back in March when I decided to go to Fort Walton Beach, and put out a feeler looking for someone to sail with me. Bob DeRoeck replied which both excited and terrified me. What was I going to do with someone who actually knew what he was doing sailing with me? I instantly decided that he would be master and I would by the deck hand...GOOD DECISION. Bob and I exchanged e-mails and photos, and I began to make some of the changes he suggested, the biggest was making a new rudder head and tiller using his plans. The results are a thing of beauty. I also made up a really fine spinnaker/whisker pole using his ordering information.
Bob volunteered to fly into Charlotte on Saturday, June 19th and help complete the rigging of my boat for using his wonderful above-deck spinnaker snout. He worked adding ratchet blocks, spinnaker halyard block, moving main sheet blocks on the boom, adding an outhaul arrangement, and more. Sunday we were on the road for almost 11 hours but we arrived safely, with no road incidents. (I had replaced my wheel bearings, added new bearing buddies, and we checked the wheels frequently while enroute).
Monday was the measuring session. Bob did it all, virtually single-handedly. Sails that had been checked last year were not rechecked. Of the boats that I know were weighed, all of the Mutts were at least 40# heavy and on up to 65# overweight. Bob found that the rudders had a whole lot of variation in length, and in fact, mine was the only one of the mutts that matched the spec. Bob is creating a log of non-conformities as well as a log of failures experienced by both classes of boats. There were plenty of these. After the measuring, Bob and I snuck out between violent thunderstorms and tried out "G's Whiz". We cycled the spinnaker up and down, tested the hiking straps, and in general, checked out the functioning of everything. All was A-OK. Bob and I, and Rey and Maria went out to a Thai restaurant for dinner that night.
We went out for race #1 amid white capes and 20' seas, OK, small waves. Bob was unbelievable with his starts. We crossed the line as leaders in 5 out of the 6 races we ran. The winds were howling and we were screaming along. There was no thought of flying the spinnaker on our boat. All was going well and we were in the hunt when it became necessary to gibe. I, of course, leapt from the low side to the high side...NOT. leaping was something we quickly discovered was not in my arsenal. Anyway, my 220 lbs located on the wrong side of the boat gave the expected results, my first training lesson in capsizing. (It also won us the award that I display proudly on my mantle, the first Garza Award). Well, while floundering around (I should probably say whaling around), Bob had me swim to the bow and hold it. Guess what, the boat headed into the wind, Bob scampered over the top from the inside of the boat and popped it right up. He commented what a great sea anchor I was! The next task, after he just climbed effortlessly aboard was to get me back in the boat. I still wanted to be a sea anchor, since I had found something I could do well.
The rescue boat came over but we shoo'd it away, and Bob reached over, grabbed my belt, and landed me like a large Tuna. The boat had about 6" of water in the cockpit. About 10 minutes before the capsize, I tripped for the 70-11th time on the bailing bucket rope, so Bob had me untie it and he put the bucket in the stern, saying, "If we capsize, we may lose it". Prophetic. Anyhow, we continued racing, and when we were the last ones on the course, and the winds were getting worse, and the rain was going sideways, the committee boat came out and told us that we had officially finished in 3rd. We later discovered that we got third because John Allison had failed to cross the finish line. He actually sailed to a second place finish.
We came about and headed in on a very fast reach, and in a short time on this heading, the rudder snapped off right across the blade right where it met the rudder head. Bob was able to grab the broken blade and steer a little, and we got the attention of one of the safety boats who towed us in. When we got ashore, Uncle Jim offered us a rudder blade that he had brought for the auction. Bob got it installed, and we went back out for the second and third races. Instead, we bobbed on perfectly flat water in a dead calm for 2-1/2 hours. Bob and I got towed out to the start. We were a little late, and the breeze died when we were about half way there. We all got towed in. Again, Bob and I won, with 3 tows in one day.
The annual meetings were held, first with the BCA and then by ourselves. The BCA announced that their regatta would be held in Burlington Vermont in 2005. When the MCA got together, the subject of location, which we had been discussing previously, came up. Both Gib and Rey doubted that they would drive over 2000 miles, after driving about 1500 for each of the last three years. I guessed that Vince and Mary would attend, and thought that I might also. Bob DeRoeck would attend but he would race his Buccaneer. It seemed obvious that the Mutineer class would not be well served at this venue at this time. Ernie offered up his facility in Nebraska, and that is being investigated. Gib and Rey felt that they could get more boats there out of their two areas than we had in Fort Walton. The other subject that came up was to have the event be the annual gathering of the MCA with the NMAC as a featured event, but with either a 'B' fleet or a cruising class for the social sailors with the old sails and no spinnakers.
Wednesday was a great sailing day. We sailed three races, and Bob and I finished 4th behind Gib, Ernie and Rey in the first race and third behind Gib and Ernie in the other two races. Again, Bob was stellar on starts. We had no major problems, except Bob was beginning to wonder about me when I slipped and sat in his lap for the third time. I was totally beat at the end of the third race, and had discovered that I was not real happy about holding the jib sheet without benefit of cleating for the whole time. What a fine set of blisters I had on both hands. At least they were symmetrical. The standings at the end of day two were Gib, Ernie, and Rey and us tied for third. Rey announced that he had wrenched his knee and was not going to race again. If John Allison hadn't had the worst possible luck, he would have had no luck at all. He was unable to finish any of the three races. The day ended with the Cheeseburgers in Paradise" cookout with Gib and Rey doing yeoman duty on the grill. The keg of dark beer did not have a chance to get warm. The silent auction for the Leukemia Assoc and the raffle were also a big success, followed by music provided by some of the group. I missed that so someone else will have to comment on it.
When I arrived, Bob and Rey had decided that we should take a cruising day (Thank you, guys!) and skip racing. Dan Jones joined us, while Michael Boley and his son went off to hunt for treasure in a computer sponsored scavenger hunt using GPS information from the web. We had a wonderful sail, (I put the jib cam cleats back on the boat). We went down the length of the bay, put up on a beautiful beach where I dove in for a couple of minutes, and then we ate lunch in a pretty little park, right by Dan Jones' hotel. This left Gib, Ernie and John racing. John was able to prove that he belonged out there with a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd place finish. Gib got the other two firsts. At the end of the day, with one throw out race, Gib was perfect with 6 wins, Ernie was second, Rey and we were still tied for third, and John was one point behind us. John decided that if he raced on Friday, all he could accomplish was to knock us out of third, (remember, Rey was not going to race) and John's boat hat broken again. He decided to take his family out for a cruise instead. All of us except Dan and family went out to a nice seafood restaurant where we had a good meal, a few pitchers of beer, and some great conversation.
John was willing to loan us his new mainsail, and neither Gib or Ernie objected, so we got to try the boat with good sails. What a difference it made. In the first race we challanged Gib several times, (to no avail-but it was fun), and we outdistanced Ernie by a fair amount, so we finished 2nd to Gib. The last race of the regatta started out like the previous one, and would have ended the same except that when we pulled out the jib after dousing the spinnaker, I neglected to put tension on the furling line, so instead of winding around the furling drum, it wound around beneath it, on the inner tube. The jib jammed about half way towards being furled, and wouldn't move either way. Bob went forward and cleared it, but by the time we were sailing again, Ernie and Adam were back in front of us. Bob and I almost came home with another trophy, Adam's boat impaled on my bow. It was as close to a T-Bone as you can come without colliding, thanks to Bob's quick reactions. We did manage to pass them again, but cagey Ernie discovered that every time he tacked, Bob tacked to cover his air, and on each of these maneuvers, Ernie was able to pick up 5 or 6 yards. He beat us to the finish line by about a boat length.
We all went to a cozy seafood restaurant for the awards banquet. It was a wonderful party with lots of laughs and great stories. Vinc's awards were unbelievable. As I said above, I will always treasure the first Garza.
So, Bob and I finished 3rd. You might say by default, but I prefer to believe that we would have finished third or fourth even if John and Rey decided to race on Friday. My boat stayed together well, Bob sailed very well, and was able to devise strategies that minimized the disadvantage he had with a very unlimber crew. His spinnaker worked wonderfully, and we gained on everyone when flying it. It was an exciting week of intense action. The congeniality of the entire group and the intense desire to see that everyone got back on the water after a breakdown was something that is probably unique in the sailing world.
Thanks everybody. It was a real adventure.
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Memoirs of an Unlikely Champion
By Gib Charles
To grossly paraphrase Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz: "Oh s**t! We're not on Long Pond anymore, Ken!"
That's how I felt staring at the "ocean" someone had misnamed "Lake" Michigan when Ken Miller and I arrived at the North Shore Yacht Club for the "North American Championship” regatta. The wind was 15-20 knots, the swells were 3-4 feet and dark clouds were coming from the west … but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Hi. My name is Gib Charles and, I confess, I sail a Mutineer. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado. A friend gave me my first Mutineer, it came with his house in 1995. I liked the basics of the boat: it's size; comfort; the fact that it had a main, jib and spinnaker; that it could be launched in very shallow water (a necessity on my pond) and that young kids felt comfortable IN it. My kid's were 3 and 8 and didn't want to go out in my M-Scow because they felt insecure sitting ON the boat. I gave away the Scow and started working on the ‘74 Mutt. Two years later I saw an ‘83 Mutineer for sale with all of the upgrades I had read about (spinnaker launcher, wire furling jib, Harken hardware, inboard jib tracks, new style rudder head, etc.). I bought it, swapped the parts I wanted to keep from the old boat, and sold Mud Puppy for close to what I had paid for the newer one.
Last year I began racing my new Mutt in regional regattas. I loved the combination of mental, physical and technical intensity and teamwork. I even won a one day Portsmouth regatta in 20 knot winds – I was hooked!
I soon set my sights on Highland Park. I ordered new sails from North Sails through Greg Fisher; faired my hull, centerboard and rudder; read Rig Your Dinghy Right and did everything my time and budget would allow.
This spring I began looking for crew willing to travel 1000 miles and spend a week with me. I was lucky that Ken Miller, 74, who lives on the lake I sailed, was both available and willing! Ken has sailed for 55 years and has owned 20 different boats and he has no fear. We sailed a warm-up regatta two weeks before Highland Park in a mixed Portsmouth fleet that included two Buccaneers who were also going to BNAC. On day 1 the winds went from 0 mph for the first two hours while we drifted under postponement to a 52 mph blast followed by 25-30 mph sustained. Between races Ken and I went over to windward in a lull, then went turtle. But we also won the Portsmouth fleet that day beating the two Bucc sailors who would probably prefer to not be named (D.S. took 2nd in the A Fleet and G.T. took 3rd in the B Fleet at BNAC). A mixed confidence builder.
Fast forward to NSYC, Saturday of race week. I don't have to weigh my Mutt, but I'm curious how over weight she is. 506 pounds! She should be a Bucc at that weight! 96 Pounds too heavy for a Mutt. A blow to my confidence.
Ken and I decide to go out on the lake to see what big wind with big swells feel like. Our home lake, Long Pond, is 1 mile long and 1/4 mile wide and we launch from a very shallow sand/silt beach. I decided to launch from the NSYC dock for a rare treat and botched it, hitting the metal pier and crunching the nose of my carefully tuned racing machine. My confidence drops two more notches. When we get out in the 15-20 knot winds and 3 foot swells I have memories of capsizing 2 weeks ago. We sail ugly, clumsy, but we don't go over. Would we be racing in higher winds? What am I doing here? As we settle in for the night, my confidence is hanging by a thread.
Sunday is the practice race. There are so many elements for both Ken and me that we have A LOT to practice and learn: offset windward mark, leeward gate, a finish line that would be set after we are racing, the compass, new sails, 180 degrees of water horizon, swells, etc! The Buccs say it's a bad omen to win the practice race, but I dismiss it. If I have a chance I'm going to take it. It may be my only chance to win a race! The winds are light, my nemesis in races past (does 96 pounds make a difference?). Ken and I work well together. We're constantly thinking, talking and adjusting. We move much better in the light winds with the new North sails than I had in the past. We figure out the compass, sort of, catch some good wind shifts and win it by a good margin. Finally a confidence boost. I can relax a bit and enjoy myself.
Monday, Race Day 1: The winds stay light and we win all 3. Is it going to be this easy? No way. Enter the villain, complete with a black Pirate flag flying from the leach of his main, Michael Connolly. Michael is a Buccaneer racer who had just started renovating a Chrysler Bucc and knew he wouldn't have it ready for BNAC, so he borrowed a very nice Mutineer from a friend. He and his crew Marty put over 200 man-hours into the boat to make it competitive. They took a third followed by two second place finishes on the first day, which was only the second day either of them had ever been on the water in a Mutineer! They both had their sights set on winning, so they spent many more hours changing and refining the boat. I knew I had a great big bulls eye on my mainsail as far as they and the other Mutts were concerned.
Tuesday, Race Day 2: We only got 1 race in on day 2, a real drifter. Ken and I learned something new with every race, sometimes something important on the first leg to use to our advantage on the same leg later in the same race. In the very light wind it was much more a mental/tactical game than it was a physical one. Even with a heavy boat, the new sails seemed to have enough power to more than compensate and we won race four. Michael took another second and Rey Garza from Texas finished third. Back on shore Michael and Marty make more adjustments to their boat, we all give suggestions to each other, even offering spare parts and tools to each other. The friendly competition was wonderful. By encouraging each other to do better we were raising the bar for all of us.
Wednesday, Race Day 3: We had some wind! We got 2 races in. Winds around 10 - 15 mph with 3 foot swells. The wind I loved, the rough water was a real challenge. On the first beat Ken and I were taking waves over the bow. It's very easy to get weight too far back in the butt of a Mutt, this was the first time I experienced having our weight too far forward, driving the bow down into the troughs. I had Ken slide back and studied how Michael was sailing.
I was fighting the waves with the tiller, trying to sail a straight course according to the jib telltales. It appeared he was letting each wave lift him slightly. When I tried it, my jib would luff on each lift, killing our power to drive forward. I learned to steer down gently on the flat before the wave to slightly overpower the jib so that it would be trimmed properly when it was lifted by the wave. We were able to sail a higher course, and faster, but we followed Michael and Marty on every leg of both races that day, except the last legs.
On a one mile beat from the leeward gate to the finish line, with a horizon that is just the water line, I found it was nearly impossible to read wind shifts. We split tacks with Michael right after the leeward gate, picked up two major wind shifts with the help of the compass, and stole two more victories. Two excellent races requiring focus, study and drive. The compass gets credit for races five and six. Marty was furious, in a friendly sort of way. He could taste the victory he had worked so hard for, just for us to snatch it away in the end - twice.
I'm thrilled to be learning so much, so Ken and I look forward to the last day as a chance to learn more. Since we were following Michael and Marty for most of day 3, watching them sail higher on the upwind legs repeatedly, we decide to make some changes to the boat. Primarily to set the jib leads further inboard. It proves to be a great improvement, especially in the BIG winds of day 4.
Thursday, Race Day 4: The first race is in 15-20 mph wind. At the start of the second race the committee measures 22 knots (about 25 mph) and it increased during the race. After four days of learning in light to moderate conditions, this was the Real Deal. Ken and I have our confidence back, we're eager to learn more, to keep the boat upright and to feel the speed.
We had two more excellent races, Michael and Marty beating us by mere seconds both times. That was thrilling. Three miles around a racecourse and to finish separated by seconds. The competition was fantastic. The new skills allowed us to sail in 25+ mph winds and 3-4 foot seas under control in a 15 foot dinghy. It was worth the whole week!
If I never race again, MNAC 2002 has made me a much better sailor. I learned as much in that week as I did all last season.
Thanks to Jim Faller, Eric Frisvold, Rey Garza, Michael Connolly and your crews for five great days. I certainly enjoyed your competition and camaraderie, and look forward to 2003.
"Ardith June" #515
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A Bucc'ers-eye View of BNAC from the rail of a Mutt!
By John Fraser
I thought it might be interesting to the readers of the Bucc and Cannonball to report my observations from BNAC, crewing for Jim Faller in "My Heart Beat", a nicely appointed, non-spinnakered Mutt. This was my first experience racing, and my second time in a Mutt. My normal mount is a ’74 Bucc, and I usually skipper.
First, how does the Mutt compare to the Bucc? Obviously, it’s three feet shorter and almost a hundred pounds lighter. Not so obviously, the sail plan is quite a bit smaller and lower, while the beam is similar to a Bucc. This means less power, and less need for hiking in any given wind conditions. Think of it as a tame Bucc with the lazarette cut off. The rigging and foils are similar, and Mutts can carry spinnakers, although Jim’s didn’t.
Racing the Mutt turned out to be quite interesting. The boat definitely responds to sail, foil, and hull trimming techniques similarly to the Bucc. Jim and I routinely hand flew the jib sheet and rolled the boat slightly to leeward when on the reach legs, and found we did not lose ground to the top boats in the class, which were flying spinnakers. I’m not sure about a dead leeward leg, though. We didn’t have many of those due to the shortened courses the Mutts were routinely given to save time.
Going to windward, we found we were competitive when we did the start right, which was twice out of seven races. We couldn’t keep up with Gib, who could point a bit higher and go faster at the same time. If I were looking to tune up a Mutt, I’d definitely be talking to Gib! I suspect his foils are pristine and his sails are definitely quite new. He’s also very good at getting the most out of the boat. Several of the other boats seemed to be similar in capability, and tactics determined the differences in finishing position.
While the Mutt is slightly slower than the Bucc, it’s not that much slower. In every race, the front half of the Mutt fleet caught the last few Buccs in the B fleet, despite a five-minute head start. It’s definitely a fun and challenging boat to race, both requiring and teaching the same skills as the Bucc, and more amenable to sailing with a novice crew in a blow. I wonder if the spinnaker is too small, or if the spinnakers used at BNAC were blown out.
The Mutt skippers and crew are just as friendly, skillful, and fun loving as the Bucc’ers. Jim was a gracious host and a skipper dedicated to learning all he can about racing his boat. If you can’t get a seat on a Bucc, a Mutt will do jest fahn.
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Finally made it to the MNAC
By Vince Jones
Last year I really wanted to attend MNAC 2002 but my schedule wouldn’t allow for it. So I made the commitment right then to go to MNAC 2003. My wife wasn’t thrilled, but with my coaxing and blackmailing, she finally agreed to come.
I started looking for accommodations back in December. I researched the area and saved maps for the trip. I ordered new sails and a rudder to get the boat into sailing shape. When spring arrived (finally) I set out to do the home projects that were badly needing to be done so that I could do this without the feeling that I should have been doing them. When all was caught up, we set sail to practice for the races.
Our spring/summer have been like many other areas this year - very wet and windy beyond our sailing ability. There were many days that the wind was blowing so hard that the whistle noise from the halyard and shroud lines were disconcerting. On many of those days my wife would give me a choice: 1- stay home 2- use only our outboard or 3- use a sail of my choice. Choices one and two were not an option for me, so we went sailing with main only on the really bad days, or with just the jib. On the Saturday before MNAC we sailed quite well downwind without any sails at all, just the wind against the mast and shrouds.
So I yanked the Mutineer, cleaned the lake scum off, and loaded her up with the stuff we needed. We left early Friday morning and, due to the traffic, the nine hour trip took us over 13 hours. We left the hotel early Saturday morning and started our adventure in the Virginia’s Governor’s Cup Races.
Having never sailed in a race before and not wanting to look ignorant, I decided that we would just follow the Buccs around to learn the marks. To my dismay, they all seemed to be headed in different directions when the race started. I looked around and not too far ahead was a boat that was headed steadily toward the place that I thought that we should be going. So I followed them. At each mark was a committee boat, so I would ask where to go next but they thought that I was joking and just smiled and waved. We rounded all of the marks and finished race one in last place.
After a few minutes I came upon another Bucc and asked them where the heck we were supposed to be going. He explained the course to us just in time for race two. We were ready, now armed with our new friend’s knowledge. The race started and all of the Buccs took off in the same direction upwind to the mark. They were leaving us behind quite readily so I turned and went in the opposite direction. We were way away from the fleet that we were racing, but I could see the first mark and took another turn to head straight at it. To my surprise it looked to me that I was going to round the first mark ahead of everyone! I was thrilled my wife looked at me like I was from Mars and tried to settle me down a bit, saying, "hey we are not there yet - anything can happen." But the closer we got to the mark the wider my grin was becoming. I even had Mary thinking that I may be a sailor.
But then it hit me… we weren’t going to make the mark! To my dismay I had misjudged the mark and we had to tack away to get around, and as I did the Buccs just kept pouring around the mark. I did manage to stay ahead of one of them after the first mark but I was deflated back to a non-racer in just seconds. (This was my highlight of the entire weekend) the only other highlight was when the winner of the Buccs VGC race Tim DeVries said to me that I put a scare into all of the Bucc fleet on that race! That really inflated my spirits.
Now I am race ready, and set to step up and race my fellow Mutineers. It was an exciting day on Sunday evening when the Mutineer sailors started to arrive. This is why I came, I told my wife. I anticipated meeting a few of the stars of the Mutineer group. I had in my minds eye what everyone would look like and I had seen photos of many of their boats this was great! Well by the time I had met the MNAC participants, I was confused, as they weren’t what I expected them to look like and I was having trouble sorting the faces with the names that I knew so well.
And when the racing started I found that my future in racing is no bright light. I had a marvelous time sailing, the food was great and the guys and gals from both lists are great people that I enjoyed meeting very much. The entire Sindle family was great! They did a superb job with everything. Without them it wouldn’t have been the same.
Now I have to say to all of my fellow Mutineers and Buccaneers out there that are uncomfortable with their talent, or boat knowledge, or any other reason for not participating in such an event, forget it! Whatever your reasons are, you shouldn’t let them keep you from going and meeting everyone, enjoying the sailing, and the camaraderie of being with the group! Hey if I can go and have the time of my life so could you! There is next year and there shouldn’t be any reason that we couldn’t have 30 Mutineers on the line at MNAC 2004. Go get them! Have a blast! And don’t worry, everyone there will help you in any way that you need!
Thanks, Vince Jones, "Head Over Keel"
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By Gib Charles
MNAC 2003 has to be characterized trust, adventure, and revival.
There were 8 Mutineer boats in the races, and 10 Mutineer owners and 1 Bucc owner involved as skippers or crew - which more than doubled our involvement from last year. Over 350 Mutineer owners monitored the event through our Yahoo elist. Of the 10 Mutineer owners, probably none had met more than 2 of the others in person. Add to that the fact that less than half of the fleet would consider themselves “racers”, and it becomes a small miracle that 10 Mutineer owners traveled to Virginia to race each other.
Except that isn’t why we came. We came to meet each other. We came to see other Mutineers, to study the repairs and changes others had made to their boats, and to show off the repairs and innovations we had made. We came in the trust that the spirit and character of the person we had been reading notes from on the internet would be the same in person. We came because of the enthusiasm of the 5 who had a blast in Highland Park last year, and we trusted the same would happen this year. We trusted that our Bucc brothers and sisters would be as welcoming in person as they had been on-line. None of us were disappointed. We all had a great time and are already looking forward to Texas next year.
Each of us has a story to tell. Mine is simple. Get the boat as race-ready as time allowed, find great crew, sail focused, keep learning. It worked and I happen to win. I think a much more interesting story is that of the revival of the Mutineer Class. Representative of that larger story, read the experience of my neighbor, Ian Wells.
I really enjoyed meeting the Mutineer families who, like Ian, trusted and came. Experienced or not, excited or nervous, updated boats or 1970 classics, we came. Connected by the internet, but bonded by a passion for sailing a fun little boat and sharing a common respect for the spirit of community, helpfulness, friendly competition, adventure and trust. I loved testing skills on the water, seeing spinnakers fly on 6 Mutineers at the same time, watching the Bucc A fleet battle from a front row seat, living and breathing the Mutt/Bucc culture for a week. It was great.
The Mutineer community is growing, bonding, and it is full of classy, talented people. 5 days wasn’t enough time to get much past sailing discussions and into more in depth personal and professional discussions. For me, that is the news of MNAC. Not that there were 8 boats in the water and I happened to win. The real news is that this band of Mutineers are finding each other, enjoying each other, and are enjoying racing as a means to interact with each other.
Look for 20 Mutineers in Texas. We are defying our original Mutinous tendency, and banding together.
Gib Charles, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Revival of a Class
By Ian Wells
I am a newcomer to the Mutineer fleet. I have owned a Mutineer for a year and half and sail it with my family on our local Long Pond - 1/2 mile by a hundred yards. Even though I sailed competitively a lot when I was younger (in 505s, Fireballs, Daysailors, International 14s, GP14s, FJs, Yflyers, 420s etc) I had not given much thought to racing in my Mutineer, until Gib came along and "encouraged" my son, Todd, and I, to travel to the National championships. When I sailed regattas 30+ years ago, they were tremendous fun but solo affairs - I'd see a few friends, make a few friends. Mutineer racing is nothing like that.
Friendly Mutineer sailors ourselves are reviving the class made up of
boats that had been dispersed to cottages, lakes and ponds across the
country - and we are doing it by using the Internet. Todd and I had not
been members of the Mutt group until just before the regatta.
Let me tell you our story. Firstly, this regatta was too far away to trail
our boat, so we flew in. We had no boat until Gib put out a request on the yahoo group list - was there anyone who would consider lending a boat to an experience sailor? . Gordon quickly, generously, replied. Gordon is a novice sailor who had put in serious amount of work upgrading his newly purchased Mutt into sailing trim. He would be willing to have someone to try out his boat and tune it up. He would learn from the experience and get face to face assistance. But we had no way to get to the regatta from Washington DC and another request went out Friday night for carpooling. Tim replied - since he was also flying in, he volunteered to pick us up and drive us down to the regatta. It turns out a navigator was handy to have in the final few miles of back lanes to the yacht club!
So Sunday evening we met up with Gordon and spent the next 24 hours working on his boat, adding telltales, barberhaulers, windvane, tightening this and that. All 8 mutineers were lined up on shore and it took me a while to figure out why everyone was so friendly to people they had just met - and of course most people (except Todd and I ) had NOT just met. Everyone knew each other from the Yahoo Mutt group. Everyone (except me) had good ideas for setting up everything on these boats. So tools went back and forth, as did ideas, suggestions, and of course, beer.
When I perused the Mutt group list, after I got back, I was amazed to see what I had been missing. When someone came up with a way to set up better jib furling or fixing a rudder, detailed photos appeared on the web page. Everyone was told of common things that break, and advised to fix them while upgrading the boat. When our mainsheet block pulled out on Tuesday, the procedure to fix it was quickly told to us. No exploration or guessing what to do. The group knew.
Racing was fun and competitive. I am no end impressed with the friendliness and competitiveness of Mutt sailors. Its wonderful to race under a first class Race Committee, with 8 Mutts on the line, on the Chesapeake with daily, warm weather, sea breezes and a 30 mile fetch. Long Pond this is not!
Todd and I were pleased to hold onto third place by the end of the week, and our boat got faster during the week because of tuning assistance from fellow Mutineer sailors - the ones who had been reading the Mutt group postings (if only we had been reading all along!).
So the mutt group list has enabled Mutt sailors to find each other. The
mutt list has created a community that 15 years ago could not have existed because these boats have been mainly dispersed to cottages and backyards and lakes and ponds, one by one.
The Mutt list also has enabled each of the boats to be similarly upgraded and tuned with the result that the boat speeds were very similar - a key ingredient for great racing since the racing becomes a matter of skipper and crew skill, not a matter of who purchased a gadget or knew a weak point before everyone else.
But mainly the Mutt list has created a widening community of people - one I'm pleased to have found - a community with a common love of improving and racing our boat, the Mutineer.
This is the Mutineer Revival.
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Mutts and Buccs?!
By Gib Charles
These are two terms you’ll read a lot on this website and in the Mutineer Yahoo discussion group. “Mutt” is the affectionate nickname for our beloved little boat, the Mutineer. “Bucc” is the nickname for the Buccaneer, the Mutineer’s big brother.
The Buccaneer is an 18 foot sailing dinghy that looks very much like a Mutineer. It was designed by Rod Macalpine-Downie and Dick Gibbs and first built by Chrysler Marine starting in 1968. The boat was very popular and sold well, but Chrysler received many requests for a smaller, less expensive version of the Buccaneer, so Rod and Dick designed the Mutineer, the 15 foot “mini-Bucc”. Chrysler built the first Mutineer in 1971. By sailboat production standards, both boats were extremely successful. According to Dick Gibbs, over 5000 Buccs have been built, and over 8000 Mutts have been built.
The two boats have many similarities. They use the exact same centerboard, rudder, rudder head, and practically all of the rigging hardware is the same. Many parts are the same except for their length, including the mast, boom, tiller, shrouds and running lines.
If you’re looking for used replacement parts for your Mutineer, consider used Buccaneer parts also. Both boats are 6 feet in the beam, both fly a main, jib and spinnaker, and their sail sizes are relatively scaled. The Bucc flies 175 sq feet with main and jib, the Mutt flies 150 sq ft. Because of its’ larger sail area and longer water line, the Bucc is faster. As of 2003 the Bucc Portsmouth handicap rating is 87.1, and the Mutt is rated at 96.
The same builders have made both boats side by side for over 30 years. Currently, the newest builder, Nickels Boatworks, is making their first run of Buccs. They hold the Mutineer molds too and are expected to make new Mutineers when there is enough demand.
There is an active relationship between the Mutineer and Buccaneer owners. The Mutineer 15 Class Association (MCA) and Buccaneer Class Association share a newsletter, organize joint regattas and events, the biggest of the year being the Buccaneer and Mutineer North American Championship regatta, which is as much a national reunion as it is a competition. The boats are so similar that an upgrade on a Bucc is probably a good idea on a Mutt. A clever idea on a Mutt is just as applicable on a Bucc. We share a lot and learn a lot from each other. The boats tune and handle so similarly that we share rigging, handling and tuning tips. The previous builder, Harry Sindle of Cardinal Yachts in Gloucester Virginia wrote a very useful book for owners of both boats: “Rigging and Handling Guide for Buccaneers and Mutineers”.
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1973 “Mystery Boat”
From the 1973 "Cannonball" -- the Mutineer class newsletter.
Hosted and partially sponsored by the Barrington Yacht Club in Rhode Island in 1973 was a “Champion of Champions” regatta with a twist. The North American Interclass Solo Championship was sailed in three different types of boats by ten sailors who had won the North American Championship in their respective single-handed boat classes. In 1973 the three boats for the N.A.I.S.C. were the Force 5, the Hobie 14, and a “mystery boat” not to be announced before the regatta.
The mystery boat turned out to be the Mutineer! The sailors had their hands full learning the Mutineer "on the spot", sailing without crew and battling winds that exceeded 25 knots in the first race! The winner of the regatta for the second year in a row was Robbie Doyle of Marblehead, Mass., a sailmaker with Hoods at the time. He was also a Sears Cup winner, a sailing star at Harvard, and had just been selected as tactician for Ted Turner on his Americas Cup 12 meter contender, "Mariner". He went on to found Doyle Sailmakers in 1982.
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