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Old 02-01-2004
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Santa Cruz boats

Okay, the subject of these has recently been raised on another discussion, mentioning the Santa Cruz 33.

There''s one of these for sale on "Mr. Merlin" Bill Lee''s ( website, and also on yachtworld, and I''ve been ogling it for a while. From what little I know of Mr. Lee''s boats, the 33 seems to be different from the "always represent[ing] the minimal life support system needed for a spinnaker" philosophy, embodied by Merlin and later the likes of Antrim 27''s and Olson 30''s.

Does anybody know anything about the 33, and the quality of construction of these boats? Their construction is balsa core with vinylester and e-glass, with ply bulkheads, and minimal added weight, although the 33 seems to be more than just a spinnaker holding device, since it contains a minimal interior and standing headroom. And the tendency of the sleds to continue at unchecked speeds with the bows submerged seems not to be a characteristic of this design, with its flared and higher topsides.

In my inexperienced opinion, this seems like a great boat for fast downhill racing with a racing crew, but also one that is at least minimally acceptable to the fairer sex for local weekend cruises.

Any comments from the list on these boats, or any of the Santa Cruz''s? I know this list is weighted toward the right coast, and these are left coast boats, but they''ve been around awhile, and some of you have been out playing with them, haven''t you?

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Old 02-02-2004
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Santa Cruz boats

I don''t really know the Santa Cruz 33 all that well. I am much more familiar with the 27, 40, 50,60 and the more recent and well rounded 52. My experience with the SC 27, 40, 50, and 60 ''s is that they are generally very well constructed and cleverly detailed but as you note optomized for sailing once the wind is well aft of the beam. In keeping weight down these boat tend to be a little fragile when things go wrong. I only put the 33 on the list that you are referring to in case the inquiry was a west coast distance racer.

I have never sailed one and in fact I am not sure that I have ever seen one in the flesh. While the 33 seems ''bulkier'' or more ''powerful'' than most of the early SC line, it still appears to have the comparatively full bow and vee''d stern sections of a downhill racer.

I am not sure how helpful any of this is to you.


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Old 02-02-2004
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Santa Cruz boats


I looked at this very boat some years ago when I was looking to move up from my 25 footer. I was really impressed by the build quality of the boat. My wife nixed the SC33 though and later I bought an Olson 911S. I sailed my Olson 911S against that boat. She was fast. The Olson would have the edge upwind but down, we had to work really hard to pass the SC33. She is spartan below but will work for weekends and overnighters. We race in windy SF Bay. As far as I know, these boats were built in the "Chicken Coup" in Santa Cruz. While I am not sure about this, the 33 was drawn about the time that Bill Lee drew the Lancer 36. The Lancer 36, of course, did not have the build quality of the "Chicken Coup" boats but the boats do look similar.
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Santa Cruz boats

Thanks for the replies. I was thinking of moving toward something a little quicker, but with at least a minimal cruising interior. My wife and I are perfectly happy "camp-cruising" at the islands for a week in our 8000# 29'' PHRF-231 rater now, so the amenities aren''t going to be too different to her. I''d just like to cut the PHRF number in half....

SoCal PHRF gives the SC33 a rating of 96, which is quicker than it looks, to me. An Olson 30 also gets a 96, and the Olson 911s gets a 120. The Olson 30 is out of the question- it''s just too hairy chested psycho for my wants (see the article in the Feb issue of Sailing World). The bigger SC''s are out of my price range, and a little closer to the surfboard end of the spectrum for my taste.

Are there any other quick, small boats (within an arm''s reach of 30'') out there with just a bit more civility? Small Bene''s, Farr''s, Tartans, Schocks, or others? (and I don''t think a Laser 28 will quite work...)

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