I'm not an expert when it comes to craftsmanship and construction, but I believe the construction is VERY strong.
Here is why I have this opinion:
--The fleet of park district boats that I have rented from for years are often rented by folks who do not care for the boats terribly well. It's nothing malicious, but when you do not own the boat yourself, you're not going to take care of it as if it was your own.
--The boats are often dragged up onto the beach to rig and de-rig.
--The lake is rather shallow in spots. The boats often sail up onto the shallows and scrape bottom. The retractable centerboard is bent every which way in these cases.
--Speaking of the centerboard, the boat is righted by standing on the centerboard with your full weight.
--Don't mistake this last point as suggesting the boat is tippy. IT'S MOST STABLE. I've capsized the boat only one time (and remember this is the American 14-6). This was on purpose as the very first activity of my sailing instruction class. To right the boat, at 180 pounds, I stood on the centerboard.
--When I started sailing these boats ~10 years ago, the park district had a fleet of 3-4 American 14-6's and 2-3 smaller CL-11's. Over the years, the smaller boats have gone away somewhere and the district has acquired a fleet of 6 American 14-6's. Most newly acquired boats are obtained used from somewhere. Some arrive with nicks and dings.
--These nicks and dings, combined with the renters' abuses, cause the boats to lose chunks of fiberglass over time. This damage generally goes without repair for a while. The boats still sail fine. When a boat gets bad enough, usually a not too cosmetic fiberglass repair is performed. The boats hold up just fine. I suspect with a caring owner, the boats would remain in great shape.
So, the park district likes these boats. They are great for sailing instruction--have jib and main, are STABLE, and fun! You need to know that they are NOT high performance. But they are MOST easy to singlehand and since you are so close to the water it's a fun ride. I am disappointed with the jib sheet leads. It seems the sheets are led so that the side stays are smack dab in the way of the ideal jib lead. I was taught to run the sheets inside of the stays, so that's what I do. I've seen other instructors lead the sheets outside. Neither is ideal. I've improvised temporarily with an arm or paddle to alter the sheeting angle. Even with the American 14-6, I've actually STOOD on the bow to tinker with the headsail.
Last edited by jnorten; 08-10-2010 at 07:17 AM.