To those with an open mind, meaning open to the possibility that they might be wrong, check out the following words from Ted Brewer in the article at:
"Small Yachts, by C. P. Kunhardt, published in 1891 and republished by WoodenBoat Publications, Brooklin, Maine, in 1985, shows a number of these narrow beamed, plank-on-edge cutters. One of my favorites is the Spankadillo (what a grand name!), which was 36 feet overall, 30 feet on the waterline, 5 feet in beam, and 6 feet 2 inches in draft. You may be wondering how these skinny cutters could stand up to their tremendous press of sail in a breeze, but the answer is simple: heavy displacement and lots of lead down deep. "Spanky" displaced 19,000 pounds and 12,300 pounds of that was lead - a 65-percent ballast ratio!"
A high ballast, and 5ft beam. Tender? Gotta love it.
"Another example, shown in great detail, is the Watson-designed Madge, 46 feet overall x 39 feet 9 inches LWL x 7 feet 9 inches beam x 7 feet 7 inches draft, displacing 39,000 pounds and carrying a lead mine of 23,500 pounds (63.5 percent ratio) on her keel! Unlike many modern yachts, Madge was much more stable right side up than upside down, although her accommodations left a bit to be desired!"
And finally, the comments of a B32 racer, well known in the B32 community.
"I race my Bristol 32 on years when not crewing on other boats. Last
season we raced with two new crew in NFS (genoa) division.
I won all three series and in some races finished ahead of boats with
PHRF numbers 100 points lower than the Bristol.
When our regional PHRF results were tabulated (I'm a local
handicapper) I found that statistically my Bristol sailed a 169 while
the boat is rated as a 243(PHRF=243, Calc ASP=169). We beat C&C 29-2
real-time in several races(PHRF=170, Calc ASP=171).
The boat will point if you have good sails and set them correctly.
This means don't pinch, power up in rough water, stay in clean air,
and use your mass to the fullest. I find I need to keep my 150%
about 9 inches off the spreaders, trimming as the boat accelerates,
adjusting the main to the genoa. (genny sets first main sets the
If I find myself being headed up I will usually power up the sails,
head down a touch and then ease the main (which opens the leach)to
dump that huge gob of air into their jib.
We won all three series (1st, 1st, 1st)and I have lots of silver on
the mantle from distances races too.
Never blame the boat... It is typically the skipper that is slow."
I love that last statement. Sounds a lot like what I was saying a few entries ago.
And Jeff, you're missing the point. Any boat....ANY BOAT....small enough to be called a boat, in seas rough enough, will pitch. Obviously, shorter waterlines lead to more pitching (within reason, everything is relative), but while this would seem to be an endorsement for a 50-ft or larger boat, $$$ dictates something else. Larger boats also, often require more than 2-person crews.
Now, as for starting with a better boat. Look, you can peel that banana so many ways. Often times, the path is determined by how much $$$ one has to start with. Older un-modified boats tend to cost less. Gaining experience in the boat, and upgrading equipment go hand-in-hand. Not everyone can go out and buy the perfectly equipped, ready-to-go circumnavigator. You even indicated that $$$ is a factor in the sail choice, leading to inadequate sails for the situation, " For budget reasons many of these boats would go with the 180, and eliminate the 155% and 135% genoa and go with something in between." So, again, seaworthiness, in this case, isn't so much of an issue for the boat as it is the skipper's pocketbook. And, if we can infer, it would appear the B32's you were on were trying to do something they were ill-equipped to deal with, meaning inadequate sails, no roller reefing, etc, and as I said before, perhaps a skipper not well versed in running the B32, and say, perhaps, trying to run it like a newer type, i.e. where you mention
.."and in the end the reefed sail was miserable as a heavy weather sail." Probably should've powered up, not down, as stated by Mr. Axtell. Heavy boat, maintain power. That would tend to oppose the effect of being slammed to a stop.
Regarding the balsa core question. Since I have yet to actually drill a B32 deck, and I wasn't there when they were made, I can only refer to what is in print at this point. I have never actually seen it for myself. At some point, I'm sure I will. I could be wrong, but til then:
"Hull & Deck: Molded high-impact fiberglass reinforced polyester resin ... largely woven roving ...hand laid up,strongest material available and the best construction available. Hull and deck thicknesses vary to suit structural demands. No fillers are used."