20-Feet or Under: The Small Boats of R2AK

by · June 28, 2016

A closer look at a few of the 20-foot and under boats in the Race to Alaska. All of these boats will be eligible for the Small Craft Advisor “Side Bet,” a $1,000 cash prize and their boat on the cover of our magazine.

shadowfaxZ

Team Shadowfax
Boat: Hobie 16
Designer: Hobie Alter
Length: 16′ 7″
Weight: 320 lb
Sail Area: 218 sq ft

Pros: Speed. Good in light air. Thoroughly proven design.

Cons: Exposure. Lack of accommodations or protection from elements. Athletic boat requires hiking out. No standard auxiliary propulsion system.

vantuckyz

Team Vantucky
Boat: Windrider 17
Designer: Jim Brown
Length: 17′ 4″
Weight: 320 lb
Sail Area: 139 sq ft

Pros: Quite fast—especially off the wind. Very difficult to capsize. Offers some protection as crew sits inside center hull.

Cons: No standard auxiliary propulsion system—Team Vantucky has adapted a rowing system. Doesn’t point especially well and the loaded-up open cockpit can be vulnerable to flooding in rough going.

angusz

Team Angus Rowboats
Boat: RowCruiser (Sailing Model) from plywood kit
Designer: Colin Angus
Length: 18′ 8.5″
Weight: 148 pounds (rowing version)
Sail area: 70 sq ft

Pros: Versatility. A strong, sliding seat rowboat that is also quite fast under sail. The most unusual feature—especially significant for R2AK—is her enclosed cabin with a 6’6″ berth, allowing her skipper to sleep aboard anchored out.

Cons: Low on the water and fairly exposed. Not as canvassed-up as some faster beach cats and tris.

whalerz

Team Bunny Whaler
Boat: Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.2
Length: 17′
Weight: 565 lb
Sail Area: 160 sq ft plus optional 150 sq ft spinnaker

Pros: Unsinkable foam-sandwich construction. Stable. Venturi-style bailers for self-draining cockpit. Roomy cockpit and a stowage cuddy that offers dry storage and some protection from wind and spray.

Cons: Not an ideal rowboat. No designated sleeping berths. Moderate speed potential.

nordica1

Team Nordica
Boat: Nordica 16
Length: 16′
Weight: 925 lb
Sail Area: 130 sq ft

Pros: Self-righting keel boat can handle rough seas. Small sleeping cabin.

Cons: Heavy to row. Cockpit is small for two crew and isn’t self-draining. Relatively slow under sail.

cantacnhorz

Team Can’t Anchor Us
Boat: Swampscott Dory (Custom)
Length: 17′
Weight: ?
Sail Area: 115 sq ft

Pros: Custom Swampscott Dory has been decked over and had a cabin added. Proven already as it finished the first and very rough R2AK. Designed with a custom sliding-seat rowing setup. Cabin offers dry bunk and protection from elements. Lots of flotation added.

Cons: Not very fast. Fairly low initial stability.

squamishz

Team Squamish
Boat: Young 6M (plywood plans)
Designer: Jim Young
Length: 19′ 8″
Weight: 1153 lb
Sail Area: 229 sq ft

Pros: Cockpit and cabin comforts are palatial by comparison to most of the smaller fleet in R2AK. Stable, water-ballasted boat with dry bunks and accommodations. Swinging centerboard allows for shallow draft.

Cons: Heavy to row, but water ballast can theoretically be dumped to lighten load. Less manageable/beachable than smaller boats.

excellentz

Team Excellent Adventure
Boat: Montgomery 17
Designer: Jerry Montgomery
Length: 17′ 2″
Weight: 1600 lb
Sail Area: 154 sq ft

Pros: Seaworthy design proven in last year’s R2AK. Shoal fixed ballast for stability. Fast and weatherly for a monohull its size. Deep self-draining cockpit and cabin provide dry accommodations and stowage.

Cons: Beamy and heavy—far from an ideal rowboat. Fixed shoal keel makes her hard to beach.

SUPr2ak

Team Heart of Gold
Boat: King’s Unlimited Carbon Fiber Stand-Up Paddle Board
Length: 19′
Weight: 27 pounds

Pros: Easily managed. Easy to propel under paddle.

Cons: Exposure. Exposure. Exposure. Lack of stowage capacity or provisions. Oh, and it needs to be stand-up paddled for 750 miles.

seascapez

Team Sea Runner
Boat: Seascape 18
Length: 18′
Weight: 275 lb
Sail Area: 75 sq ft plus 115 sq ft gennaker.

Pros: very high speed potential performance design. Shallow draft with centerboard up. Small but enclosed cabin for stowage and V-berth. Added custom pedal drive system.

Cons: Not designed for distance cruising. Performance elements like twin rudders could be vulnerable in these conditions.

whynotz

Team Why Not
Boat: Cal 20
Designer: C. William Lapworth
Length: 20′
Weight: 1950 lb
Sail Area: 195 sq ft

Pros: Safe, seaworthy fin-keeler that has been used for ocean crossings. Relatively comfortable cabin and accommodations.

Cons: Fixed draft of over 3 feet means she has to keep to deeper water. Not easy to propel under human power.

coastalz

Team Coastal Express
Boat: Mirror 16
Length: 16′
Weight: 260 lb
Sail Area: 178 sq ft

Pros: Stable dinghy with small cuddy area forward for dry stowage. Easier to row than many of the monohulls in the R2AK. Beachable (draws only 6 inches board up).

Cons: Light boats offer a bouncy ride in rougher water. Not a lot of protection from weather.

liteboatz

Team Liteboat
Boat: Liteboat custom
Length: Around 18 feet
Weight: ?
Sail Area: ?

Pros: This sailing Liteboat prototype was built on a performance rowing chassis, so should be good under oar power. The trimaran sailing figuration makes her very stable under sail. The boat has multiple watertight stowage lockers. Low windage.

Cons: Versatile, but favors rowing over sailing performance. Close to water and exposed.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. […] $1k side bet sponsor, Small Craft Advisor Magazine, published a great blog post summarizing the 16 competing boats, including photos.  Here is a list of all the teams with boats registered for the full race that are less than or […]

  2. Bill says:

    Boat: Young 6M (plywood plans)
    Designer: Jim Young
    Length: 19′ 8″
    Weight: 1153 lb
    Sail Area: 229 sq ft
    Pros: Cockpit and cabin comforts are palatial by comparison to most of the smaller fleet in R2AK. Stable, water-ballasted boat with dry bunks and accommodations. Swinging centerboard allows for shallow draft.

    Cons: Heavy to row, but water ballast can theoretically be dumped to lighten load. Less manageable/beachable than smaller boats.

    My comment: Who cares about how well a boat rows? The R2AK is not a row boat race hence all the sailboats. Rowing can’t possibly contribute in any meaningful way compared to sailing in 750 miles. Rest-up when there is no wind. Sailboat racing is hard enough. And why would anyone want to go beachable in the cold, wet, wilderness when the “cabin comforts are palatial” as described?

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