Join Date: Mar 2007
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I agree that in theory centerboards are a good solution for larger cruisng boats that desire deep-draft upwind performance while retaining the ability to "gunkhole" in coastal areas. My experience with centerboards is limited to smaller cruising boats such as the Tartan 27, which performs very admirably with that configuration.
However, I recall reading some years ago an article by John Kretschmer (a well-known and respected delivery skipper, and frequent contributor to various sailing rags) in which he briefly discussed keel-centerboard arrangements in off-shore cruisers. The article wasn't about centerboards per se (I think it was merely about a particular delivery he made), but the large cruiser he was deliverying had a centerboard and he mentioned in the article his standing orders to the crew: DO NOT lower the centerboard. Apparently Kretschmer had been burned too many times by malfunctioning and canterkerous centerboards while sailing off-shore. He no longer deploys them while deliverying boats, even if it means reduced upwind performance. The boat he was deliverying in that article was a very well-respected (and expensive) make of sailboat.
I like to keep things as simple as possible, which is why I shy away from centerboards (even though I sail in an area where I could really benefit from one). Even beyond my personal preference, centerboards also don't seem like the only or best solution out there. There are a number of designers of boats in the 50+ foot category who've been able to strike reasonable compromises between draft, stability, and performance without resorting to centerboards or impractically deep draft keels.
[P.S. I am wondering if your post may be an indication that the deal on the HR53 fell through? If so, maybe we could talk specific boats/builders over in the Buying a Boat forum. I would be happy to share my short-list, but I don't want to clutter your/this thread if your question is strictly academic).