I am quite familiar with the Knickerbocker One Design. I raced on these boats when I was a kid and my family were members of Knickerbocker Yacht Club in Port Washington. The Knickerbocker was a Sparkman and Stevens designed one design class that was developed specifically as one- design race boats for members of Knickerbocker Yacht Club. It was quite common in those days for a group of club members to have a one design class developed for them and then built on contract. Members of Knickerbocker Yacht Club also commissioned the designs for the Hinckley Pilot, Bermuda 40 and Brewer 12.8. There were approximately 22 of these 26 foot boats built by American Boat Building in Rhode Island (who I believe also built the Galaxy and Bounty and was a spin off company of Colman, the camping equip. company.
The boats were pretty advanced for their day. Although narrow and quite tender by modern standards, they sailed very well with excellent speed upwind and reasonable speed on all points of sail, especially considering their short water line length. Like most one-design classes of that era, they were fractional rigs, which were considered then as now to be the most efficient rig when there is not a rating rule to be considered.
Designed for the light winds of Long Island Sound these boats featured a generous sail area, (especially considering their light weight), most of which was carried in a large mainsail rather than their small non-overlapping jib or spinacker. They had mechanical- crank actuated, adjustable backstays that could be used to adjust headstay sag and mast bend in a building breeze. They also featured a large cockpit which made them easy to sail with their typical crew of 3 or 4 people.
They were also great daysailors being responsive and easy to handle, but were difficult boats, if not dangerous boats, to sail in heavy air.
As a kid I loved these boats. They were beautiful to look at and a lot of fun to sail. While paling in performance to a more modern design like a J-22 they still wouild be great boats to sail in a venue that features light to moderate winds.
I also have a fair amount of time sailing Hobie 33's but don't have time to make comments on that design.
Last edited by Jeff_H; 12-12-2008 at 11:19 AM.