Vigilant Centerboard

The 34th America’s Cup reintroduced catamarans. In 1988 a catamaran raced a mono hull with the result being a fiasco, the mono hull not being at all competitive. But multi hulled was not the only reintroduced innovation in the 34th. Centerboards increase a vessel’s draft and that old innovation was also used. The American built AC sailboat Vigilant had a 24 foot draft when its centerboard was lowered.The centerboard was 7,750 pounds and prone to jamming but the feature helped performance to windward and Vigilant and others of the centerboard type dominated AC racing in the late 19th century.

Incidents in the 1880s involving American center boarders were used to discourage their use in America’s Cup races. “Cutter cranks” claimed that capsizing was not possible with the deep draft British “keel” boats and that view prevails more or less even today.
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Murrelet is a center boarder though this is not readily apparent. A centerboard is daggerboard that cuts down the middle of the vessel. Our cruiser avoids cutting accommodations down the middle through a power boat like raised navigation area. The rudders serve as leeboards, another kind of daggerboard, meaning that they, like the centerboard, also hold the vessel from being pushed with the wind. For the most part Murrelet “goes where she looks” but I notice some drift, like a plane in a cross wind. The three daggerboard foils are effective in winds of 17 knots for upwind pointing and on other points of sail in much higher winds (bufourt 7)

When Murrelet is close hauled, excessive leeway is usually the result of an overpowered main. Experienced keelboat sailors have a hard time with this and insist on telling us to pull the boom in as close to the centerline as possible to race into the wind, as would be done on a keelboat. But what this does on a centerboarder is put power in the main sail and that power is one that is lateral. Easing the main puts the power back in the genoa where the power is more to the windward. In winds over 17 MPH having both rudders in the water reduces leeway.20140320-134414.jpg

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