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Old 04-30-2006
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Seabreeze,

While I don't want to get into a point by point debate with you, your post unfairly characterized my earlier posts on this topic and is so full of inaccuracies that I feel that I need to address to at least some of them.

I'll start with your very first sentences. I am sitting here with an original piece of literature on the Bristol 32 dated 12/65. It was picked up at Northrop & Johnson of Conn in 1965 when my family was in the market for a 32 footer. The headline on the first page says, Bristol 32, "a new CCA racer for the whole family". While the literature describes the virtues of fiberglass and of family sailing, clearly the focus included a strong emphasis on performance on the race course.

The Bristol 32 was what a hot race boat of that era looked like. When she was designed the CCA rule was the racing measurement rule of choice and the CCA rule of the day unfairly penalized waterline length and mainsail area resulting in designs that were a side step from the path to the deveopment of seakindly, easy to handle boats. Both the Bristol 32 and 40 were loosely based on Ted Hood's race winning Robin of that era. To the deficit of the Bristol 32, Robin and Bristol 40's were far less radical race boats than the 32 with its extremely short waterline length, pinched stern sections, and dependence on very large genoas even in moderately high windspeeds. The rule also over penalized stability, and this combination resulted in a boat that was tender and unable to stand to its sail plan as conditions worsened and yet were also very hard to shift gears. While it is true that these boats would tolerate higher heel angles than 'dinghy style' hulls, they would develop the kind of weather helm that would quickly grind down a helmsman. Sailing at these large heel angles meant lots of water in the cockpit, and was an uncomfortable way to go sailing. With the companionway sill just a few inches above the cockpit sole, even in the case of an errant wave, let alone a knockdown, sailing at high heel angles also meant a lot of water down below. The helm of the centerboard versions of these boats could be partially balanced by partially lowering the board, but the centerboard versions were even more tender than the keel versions. While many longer keel boats will track quite well, the Bristol 32 was not one them. In boats of this size, dynamic balance is far more critical to tracking ability than keel length, and the one thing about Bristol 32, especially the sloop rigged, keel version was that it did could not be dynamically balanced in a seaway. (The yawl and centerboard versions were easier to balance.)

The fact that these boats are tender and yet relied on very large headsails made them a bear to sail in changing conditions. The high drag and comparatively ineffective rudders just aggrevated the situation. Having sailed these boats in rough offshore conditions, what would have been something of a rough ride in a better design, became a fight for our lives, leaving us soaked, bruised and battered. While you may not think that hobby-horsing makes a difference offshore, besides for incapacitating this otherwise experienced crew due to seasickness, the hobby-horsing was a serious issue in gusty conditions, because the large pitching angles would knock these boats to a near stop, leaving them flat footed and more prone to knock downs, and as I mentioned knock downs meant downflooding, and made working on the foredeck in a chop more of a swim than one would experience in a more moderate design. The comparatively small shallow bilge on the centerboard version meant water everywhere throughout the interior, fore and aft, and transversely.

I really don't know what makes you think that these boats had a low center of gravity. With their heavy spars, shallow draft, comparatively low ballast to displacement ratio. When compared to other boats of that era, or even slightly later designs, these boats had comparatively high vertical centers of gravity. There is no comparason between the Bristol 32 with its deep center of buoyancy and high center of gravity to modern offshore cruising designs. (NOTE: I am not comparing the Bristol 32 to modern race boats.)

Perhaps to further clarify my point, I would like to compare the Bristol 32 to the Halsey Herreshoff designed Bristol 33/34 that replaced it. The 33/34 was roughly 18" longer, but (depending on version) had nearly a 4 foot longer waterline. Also depending on the version, the 33/34's had between 500 and 900 lbs additional ballast in a one foot deeper keel. This resulted in a boat with a more much more stability, a more comfortable motion, and greater carrying capacity.

I am perplexed on some of the items that you eroneously characterize as my position. You can go back and read my posts, I have never advocated 50 footers or dinghy style hulls (at least not for a couple or family who would be looking to sail around the world short-handed). I do believe based on the studies that I have read, and my experience sailing on boats of that era and better later designs, the single most critical factors that control seaworthiness and motion comfort for a given displacement, are sailing length, vertical center of gravity, and a rig and hull form that can quickly adapt to changeable conditions. The Bristol 32 and later IOR era boats are the poster children for undesireable characteristics for offshore cruising.

I don't why you felt compelled to dredge up this 2 1/2 year old thread at this point in time, but at least you and I agree entirely on your last sentence, "Stick with sea-friendly, forgiving manners and ease of handling." which is precisely why I don't recommend the Bristol 32 for a circumnavigation. Spend some time on one of these boats, and other raceboat derived designs of that era like the Vanguard, Luders 33's, C&C Corvette, and compare that to a more moderate 32 footer of that era or one that was actually designed for offshore cruising like the Seawind, then lets talk again.

Respectfully,
Jeff

Last edited by Jeff_H; 05-01-2006 at 08:37 AM.
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