Young America USA36 Build Log

Hi everyone,

Time has come to start posting my build of the Young America boat, USA 36, which competed in the 1995 America’s Cup. I was living in San Diego at the time, and used to go down to the harbor to watch it come in. I’ve always loved that boat. I’ve always wanted a model of it as well. At one time I thought about buying a CR914 and having it painted, but that was way too much money at the time.

Last year I started thinking about getting a RC sailboat. I’ve looked at pretty much every class of boat, but one of the things I first stumbled across was Alan’s World Famous dual build thread. Once I saw that Claudio had generously offered free plans for all these boats, and it was a completely scratch built project, I was in.

So why post a build log here?

Well, it’s pretty simple really. I have NO IDEA what I’m getting into. I can do woodworking, I can build stuff, but I’ve never even seen a RC sailboat in person, much less built one. One thing I’ve noticed about all the build threads I see, is that everyone posts 100 pictures of planking and molding their hull, then they get tired of posting pictures and they put up 2 of their rigging, 2 of the servos, and then a final youtube video of it sailing :slight_smile: Rigging has me absolutely baffled still, and I’m not even going to think about casting a lead bulb!! :scared:

So I’m not posting all this so I can show off my building abilities. I’m posting all this so I can ask a big group of people what the heck I’m supposed to do next, and how I’m supposed to do it!

My rate of progress

I have a dozen other things I’m doing at any given time. Between building some bookcases, planting an olive orchard, and keeping my 2 little boys busy (or vice versa), and fitting all that in after work, I’m not exactly flying along on my build. I cut out the shadows in early November last year, and now as of mid-February, I just finished planking the hull. I may not be posting progress that frequently, but I do check this forum almost every day, so I’ll post more than that.

The Plan

I am going to use my planked hull as a male mold to make a fiberglass hull. I am not planning to make this a competitive regatta boat. I am really just after something that I can take out and relax with. So, while I want to build it properly so it’s balanced and not top-heavy, I’m not interested in shaving off a couple grams here and there. Maybe that will come on a later boat :slight_smile:

I should posts some pictures as well. Here are some obligatory hull planking pictures for your enjoyment. Notice the bow shot where it’s 2/3 planked. See if you can spot the odd little divot. Strange…

Last but not least…

I really want to thank Claudio Diolatti for making these plans available. I think you’re making a lot of people really happy and I hope you realize that.

Hi Lemminkainen,
no need to say that I’m very glad to see your construction of the YAM.
You wrote " See if you can spot the odd little divot. Strange…"
Nothing strange, it is normal and pertains to the design slightly concave water lines in the first 15-20% of LWL lenght
Just in case attached is the deck layout

Excellent! I thought that was my first blunder somehow! Good to know it was meant to be that way.

Tell me- I have finished sanding the raw wood on the hull form, and I’m not entirely clear on the order of the next steps. Do I do the filler first, then fiberglass, or the other way around?

It is my goal to ask all the dumb questions that everyone else is afraid to ask :sly:

In the order : Remove the external steps of the inner frames, adds standing supports to keep the master at 10cm above from the base plate, inner epoxy brushing , gross sanding, filler , fine sanding to get the most smooth surface, fiberglass coating x 2 with 80g/m² , water paper sanding up to 600 grade, wax coating 7 layers.
At this point you should have the “master” ready for hull lamination.

PS , bulb construction can be found on IACC 120 Cup model and on ETNZ 120 Dual build thread discussions :
and here as well :

Wow great stuff !I’m beocoming expert in providing dumb answers :stuck_out_tongue: but seriously great to see you’re on the move and I will try where I can, Claudio is the build master and if anything like my experience you will reach your goal having a lot of fun along the way and end up with not only having a beautiful looking boat, but one that will sail like a dream.

Love your mascot …really helps to have on-site construction manager first time around to keep the little guys busy :smile_pur

Cheers Alan

Well yeah I thought I should continue the tradition of having a Lego guy onhand for supervision. Seemed like he was good luck for you! No way I’m going to get the YA mermaid painted on a model that small though :wink:

While I will quickly admit my ignorance at this point, I am still quite confident I’ll end up with a good boat with the help of everyone here!



Don’t worry about slow progress, I started my build in August 2010, an i’m just about to laminate my balsa hull/plug. But i am confident progress will be good this spring and two boats should be finished in may.

I will have to go find my box with my Lego, and pick myself a building mascot, maybe that is why the progress has been so slow, simply lack of supervision :slight_smile:


Kevin -

where are you located? If you have the graphics in a computer file, I can send you a sheet or two of “water slide” decal paper - it’s the stuff we used as kids for plastic models. You will need access to a laser color copier. The sheets are only 11 inches in length - so it would require two or more decals to be applied in a line for the length of the hull. Then you can spray with clear. Problem may be keeping the paper from being folded if I send.

If you aren’t in US - I can post a link to the supplier and they can send you some - perhaps a sample that will give you enough. They might have 17 inch long - but copier needs to be able to copy/print to that size. Even if it won’t work out, I’ll help with info on how to do the decals. Very easy and just takes patience and a light touch.

Let me know if I can help or answer questions, Dick

Hi Dick,

I am in San Antonio,TX. Reproducing the mermaid exactly is something I worked out before I even bought the plywood for the shadows, and it’s not something I’m too worried about. I have the help of a couple amazing artists and I feel pretty good about the plan for the paint job. I thought about doing decals like you describe, but I just prefer the look of paint. My method will be pretty similar to using decals though. We will be using a series of thin masking films all using the same mermaid template to paint each color individually in the right order. The black lines will be the nerve-wracking part, but I’m outsourcing that to someone more skilled at pinstriping :slight_smile:

I am actually in San Diego this week. I went over to the harbor where the old AC compounds were. Fun stuff!

OK - not a problem. I did/do helmets and tanks - and so for your black lines, don’t overlook very fine tip SHARPIE black markers - and then seal with clear.

Regards, Dick

Hi Dick,

I remember reading in another post where you mentioned your painting experience! So you know all about frisket film then…

I am curious about the sharpie ink vs. paint. Let me pick your brain here:
[li]Does the black from the sharpie cover completely with one pass (say if you had a paint edge with white on one side and blue on the other)?
[/li][li]Does the black look as black as paint once it’s clear coated?
[/li][li]Does the black of the sharpie fade in time from UV exposure?
[/li][li]If I was doing a long straight line, say the sheer line- if I masked a straight line to follow, would the sharpie ink bleed underneath painter’s tape or frisket?

Thanks in advance for your expertise!


Hi Kevin -

  1. Yes -normally the black (outline or highlights) is the last thing I add and it covers well. There are “some” colors that have given me trouble and required a second pass (well after waiting for first to dry) and it is primarily the yellow and oranges. Purchase a small piece of flat styrene to practice on. If you use a Sharpie, it takes practice to get the proper color darkness. Too fast it is too light, and if too slow, you begin to drag the color off again.

  2. Yes - black looks black. I use it to retouch and spots on my son-in-law’s boat logo (decal with black background on black hull. If you look close, you can see it - but at 3 foot or so away, it starts to go invisible.

  3. I have not noticed a discolor - but boats and helmets are usually kept indoors. Sharpie doesn’t seem to scrape off as easy as paint on his motorcycle helmet.

  4. That one I can’t answer as I haven’t tried it. I would take a guess and say “no” as long as the edge is pressed tight to surface, but frisket is hard to lay down with compound curves. I will have to try that using tape and coloring in (I suppose you are talking waterline stripe).

If you try on styrene it is surprising how easily it goes on. Also keep in mind the Sharpie should be tried with your paint to assure it’s thinners don’t mess up the paint. I have used over Krylon with good success.

I will take a look tonite at home and see if I can find the helmet graphics. A good example of combination of multiple frisket cuts, plus Sharpie markers. Have a birthday going on today - so may not get to it until tomorrow - or very late tonight.

I was watching this guy from Guillemot kayaks, where he was laying strips on the bottom of a kayak hull:

and I was amazed to see that his technique was almost exactly the same as the way I did it when planking my hull. He even uses the same Lie Nielsen block plane!

I love it when I luck out and get something right like that! :smilebig:

Maybe I’ll accidentally rig the boat perfectly the first time too :lol:

Well it has been months since i worked on my boat but I’m back at it! Adding a window AC unit to my garage has actually made it tolerable to work in there. Since I last posted here:

[li]Redid the transom 2 times[/li][li]I epoxied the inside of the hull mold[/li][li]Sanded, filled, and sanded the outside of the hull until it was nice and straight and smooth.[/li][li]Applied 1 layer of 105g/sm fiberglass to the hull mold. I used west epoxy for that.[/li][/ul]

I was about to pay $6.00 per yard for the fiberglass cloth when I found it from a direct source and got 25 yards of it for $28! It’s 105g/sm twill.

Along the way, I played with epoxy a little bit, but not enough to actually know what the heck i was doing when laying the fiberglass on the mold. It was my first time doing it, and I think I was too afraid of squeezing too much epoxy out of the fabric. Instead, I went the other way and ended up with a lumpy runny epoxied hull mold. Frankly I did a terrible job at that part but at least i learned my lesson for later.

Now I have many hours of hand sanding ahead of me. I have a good sanding block for it, and am just going to work away at it. I started using 150 grit paper, not wanting to use anything more coarse and going through the fabric itself.

I’ll post again later as I work towards getting the hull prepped for actually becoming a mold!


Hi Kevin,
nice to see you back !!

You need only a good elbow ! This is the step that you cannot avoid ! simply get courage and start without thinking anymore !

Yesterday I spent 3 consecutive hours to remove the white paint from my hull and using only 320 grid paper !!!
Now I’m happy that the work is finished and the hull is very smooth… finally !!


Hi Kevin, great too see you back into it … feel for you with all that sanding pal but it is all worth it when she’s in the water :slight_smile:

Claudio- I’ve been watching your M and 43-900 too. Again, they are inspiration!

Alan- Thanks! I’ve got the patience. Now I have a comfortable place to work it makes all the difference.

Thought I’d mention something which may speed up your sanding process.

I’ve recently experienced something very similar on my Enterprise build, with runs and pooling of epoxy all over the hull. I experimented with various types and grades of Aluminium oxide papers and discovered the most effective was 60 & 80 grit belt sander belts. You may think them a little harsh but I discovered that there was a definate change in sanding tone between the excess epoxy when compared to the sanding of the laminated cloth. At this point it’s certainly wise to change grit to something less severe, suggest 120 - 150 grit. All told, I reckon I spent about 4 1/2 hours using the rough stuff, which then left an ideal surface for fairing compounds etc.

Just passing on hard won lessons!