Cubs, Youth, Image, Builders: My Activity

I start this thread with some reluctance because I am so early into the project, but since it seems to be “in the air” about now, here goes:

I am in the process of developing a program to teach the physics of sailing through the building and sailing of a small, free-sail boat that has the general “look” of an America’s Cup boat. This “look” was chosen to piggyback on the America’s Cup publicity this Spring/Summer. In contrast to earlier efforts, such as the very successful mentoring program developed by Dale Wenninger, this will be light on the building and heavy on the sailing. A free sail boat was chosen because it is easy and quick to build, cheap, and teaches a lot about how sailing works. Free sailing also tends to level the playing field for those more reserved youths who would otherwise be at a disadvantage against aggressive “gamers” with well-developed reflexes and eye/hand coordination. Free sailing offers a wide range of possible competitions, from the simple “mass broad reach race” done at the Seattle Center for Wooden Boats program to a full-up, International rules round robin. Also, free sailing makes it relatively easy to use spinnakers, with all the lessons they teach. The one problem with free sailing is finding a suitable venue; in this regard, we are lucky in Albuquerque to have a brand new pond with a walkway all way around.

So, to the boat: 30 in long, small enough to fit on a bookcase in a kid’s room, large enough to look somewhat real on the water. Skinny and round-bottomed for that “modern” look. Rig mechanics from my Yankee III design, arrow shafts and rip-stop nylon. Has to be relatively insensitive to variations in weight. Ballast is a 24 oz torpedo sinker, “potted” in resin to avoid problems with handling lead and hung from a 7" fin. Simple two-gear vane (not self-tacking) The lines plan is for the plug so shows a straight sheer; sheer line and bow profile up to the builder. Also, for that modern look, wild and wooly decoration, including ads for sponsors, encouraged for both hull and sails. Hope to be able to build one in under 20 hours.

As I said, very early in the process. I have contacted a sponsoring organization whose initial reaction was enthusiastic but nothing official yet, so I must be discreet. First class of guinea pigs, er, students, planned for this Spring, with 9 students and 3-4 instructors. I had hoped to find somebody to vacuum form the hulls but no luck so far, so I guess I’ll have to make a bunch myself from fiberglass.

So that’s it, my attempt at “don’t just sit there, do something.” Could go, could flop, either way we’ll all learn something.



Earl -

are you doing this program in New Mexico, Michigan, or … ???


Albuquerque, New Mexico, well-known maritime center :slight_smile:




With a Footy hat on, I see ourselves as rivals to some extent. However, I thoroughly congtratulate you on your efforts.


I think there is really very little overlap between what I’m trying to do and the Footy effort. My effort is primarily to develop a teaching tool, not a new racing class, and I’d be quite surprised if it spread further than that arena. Based on informal surveys and the experience of the Detroit area schools programs, kids are more attracted to the modern looking, “cool” boats. As much as I love the form of the J boats and other designs to the Universal and International rules, they just don’t have that modern look. I can point the kids to video after video on YouTube showing VOR boats and ACC boats smashing through waves and looking very “leading edge.”

This really shouldn’t be a surprise; 50 years ago when I was building model airplanes we all knew that things that looked like Piper Cubs flew better, and we all still built Spitfires and P51s.

I also forgot to mention in my writeup that the hull design can be “concertinaed” to a 3-rater or even an IOM, if somebody wants to experiment with a balanced design.