Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 215 Times in 166 Posts
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If that is the boat that I am thinking of, I know that boat reasonably well. She was here in Annapolis for many years and was called 'Avalon' when I knew her. I personally had considered buying her at one point in my boat search for my current boat and so was aboard her quite a few times.
She was the originally named 'Locura' and was said to have won her class in the SORC at a time when winning your class at the SORC was a big deal. (Sort of like winning Cowes race week and Key West race week combined).
She began life as a one off grand prix IOR era race boat. Whatever else that you can say about Mark Soverel, he was able to design IOR boats that were competative under the IOR and which were better allaround boats than most IOR grand prix models.
Mark, like many of the designers of my generation started out designing boats to the MORC rule. At that time the MORC rule produced very wholesome boats compared to the IOR rule and Mark's MORC boats were good examples of well rounded race boats. He took his highly regarded Soverel 30 and stretched it to 33 feet producing one of the nicest racers of the early 1980's, a boat that was extremely well rounded in its capabilities. Although (especially the Tartan built boats) are a little fragile, these are still great PHRF boats to this day.
Mark took the basic concept of the Soverel 33 and extended it to produce the 39. The problem is that the 39 makes a number of concessions to the IOR rule and I believe that these concessions sorfely damage the overall design with the fragile rig and underwater flats being my primary objections to the 39 that are much less of a problem on the 33 which has vee'd bow sections without the centerline flat of the 39.
Avalon/Locura was hand made and varies greatly from the Tartan built production boat. The hull and rig are substantially lighter. This boat had a deeper, heavier, more sophisticated keel than the production boat. Originally the engine was mounted forward of the main bulkhead and I believe that the propeller shaft exited through the trfailing edge of the keel. There were almost no interior accomodations, and much of whatever was there originally has been largerly disassembled. I have been told that the prototype had less freeboard and certainly a lot less headroom. Structurally, the boat was state of the art early 1980's with a vaccum bagged laminate using biaxial cloths and a welded aluminum space frame which of course makes it very hard to actually use the comparatively large interior volume. The spagetti spar section, parallel spreaders and fractional rig make the running backstays and check stays critical to keeping the rig up making the boat a very poor cruiser or single-hander.
Which brings us to the bottom line. In many ways this boat is a really neat icon of an early time. It really is snap shot of what state of the art race boats looked like at that instant in time. As an inexpensive daysailor for a guy with lots of friends, boats like these are a whole lot of fun to own. Unlike many IOR boats of this era, this was a beautiful boat to look at.
The downside is that IOR grand prix boats of that era were pretty much disposable. The rule changed so frequently that they had a useful shelf life of perhaps a year. The boats were fragile and little effort was made to produce a boat that was a good all around boat. IOR boast of that era were cranky boats to sail, requiring big crews and a lot of skill to keep them at speed. They were not exactly good light air boats and they were killers in heavy going.
Mark Soverel's brilliance in creating the Soverel 39 was that it was a better boat than most IOR boats of that era, a little tougher and a little more well rounded, but frankly it was still and IOR grand prix race boat with all of the limitations that implies. These are very hard boats to race today. One of the McKees owned 'Avalon' and tried to campaign her in Annapolis with great crews and very poor results.
They are not good cruisers being vertically challenged, fragile, not terribly seaworthy, unaccepting of much weight on board, requiring largish crews, even if you built a light weight interior for the boat as I had planned to do.
As I have said here before, there are few things more obsolete than an obsolete grand prix race boat. These old IOR 1 tonners fit that description to a tee. When I was a kid in the early 1960's, I had a job working for a wealthy man, who collected antique race boats from the 1930's. They were gorgeous to look at and fun to sail in the right conditions. Care had to be taken to keep from damaging these antiques and they required their own specialized skill set to sail. Locura/Avalon is now almost as old as these race boats were when I sailed them. If you are coming to this boat as person interested in historic vessels, then this certainly is one of them. On the other hand if you are just looking for a cheap racer-cruiser, I suggest that you keep looking.