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Rhys05 12-27-2012 11:00 AM

S2 7.9
Hey all-

I'm currently looking for a fairly easy to trailer "large" sailboat, and I have mostly settled on the S2 7.9 due to the fact that it sits on basically a large powerboat trailer (no fixed keel) so it sits fairly low and can be launched into very shallow water and it appears to be quite fast and fun. I do realize that it is a "race" boat and as such is fairly spartan below and may not have as easy of a motion in waves as something like a Catalina 25, but I think that it is (probably) worth the sacrifice. Does anyone have any first hand experience with how it handles and feels in 3-5 ft waves and 20-25 knot breeze? I need it to be stable enough to not scare my wife (or she won't go sailing with me on anything bigger than the local lakes and reservoirs...defeating much of the purpose of getting a larger boat), but I don't want a slow beast either... The shallow water launching is very important to me, which admittedly 80% of the reason I'm enthralled with this boat, especially since it is combined with very good sailing dynamics.




Faster 12-27-2012 01:12 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Other than the newer various sport boats (Melges etc) something like the S2 is likely going to be a good decent performing trailerable, esp since shallow launching is a priority.

Haven't sailed one but have raced against one.. It went very well. Certainly this would be a better sailing boat than any of the crop of water ballasted trailerables.

Not sure how much weight is in the daggerboard/lift keel..

Rhys05 12-27-2012 01:19 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Faster- Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I've done enough research on the boat to know that from a racing/performance perspective is is an excellent performer (especially for a trailerable lift-keel boat). I have no interest in the water ballasted boats, mostly because I'm not a fan of their aesthetics, but also because if I'm going to have a smallish (read: not blue water) boat, I want something that is FUN to sail, and that tend to favor the fixed ballast or at least lifting (ballasted) keel boats over the water ballasted + un-weighted centerboard boats. At this point, I'm totally convinced of the performance qualities, and am willing to live with the spartan accomodations (we will likely at spend at most a week or so at a time cruising around on the boat), but I would still like some thoughts on the "motion comfort" and "cruisability" of the boat and whether or not it will beat us to heck in moderate wave action.



Rhys05 12-27-2012 03:04 PM

Re: S2 7.9
I suppose that I should give a point of reference to make it easier to see what I'm asking about. We currently own a 17.5 foot "micro cruiser" keelboat (its a Renkin 18) which displaces 1220 pounds, has 450 lbs of ballast, a draft of 2 feet, and a sail area of 150 ft^2. The S2 7.9 displaces ~4500 lbs with 1750 lbs of ballast, 5 feet of draft (lift keel down), and has sail area of 329 ft^2. Intuitively, to me anyway, it seems that the motion of the 7.9 and its ability to "bust through" wave action should be SIGNIFICANTLY better than our current boat due to both its increased mass, ballast, draft, and mast height [lending increased rotation inertia].
Now, a story:
The wife and I took the Renkin out on Grand Traverse Bay over Labor day and were having a great time sailing around until the wind picked up from 8-10 knots to 20-22 knots and starting building waves to 3-5 feet. We ended up bringing the sails down (because they don't have any reef points..something that really really needs to be added if we were to take that boat out like that again) and motored back, which wasn't much fun and bounced us around a lot. Long story short: the wife said that we needed to get a bigger boat or she wouldn't want to do that again, so I want to make sure that I'm not making a mistake going for something like the S2 that has a bunch of qualities I want in sailboat and (possibly) compromising too much on the (relative) "comfort" factor. The Renkin was also rather bouncy at anchor when we slept on it, which I would like to reduce as much as possible..

Thanks for your thoughts!


Faster 12-27-2012 04:05 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Again, I haven't sailed the S2 but I expect you'll see a HUGE difference between the boats considering where you're coming from.

Any boat that isn't properly prepared for 20+ knots of breeze won't be much fun, as you've seen. Smaller boats can be more difficult still. I think you and your wife will be better off with the S2, but not as "comfy" as a say a Catalina 25.... However you'll be quicker.

Sanduskysailor 12-27-2012 06:42 PM

Re: S2 7.9
I'v sailed 7.9s and raced against them for years. They perform very well in waves and chop. The boat has a big main, you can actually sail sans jib when wind is over 20 quite nicely.

The down side is that the boat can be a little under ballasted. Small jib full main combo to about 20 knots works. Surfing with board up downwind in 15-25 is a blast. For my money it is about the fastest trailerable out there for reasonable money (ok the Presto 30 is faster but add another 80K).

The carpeted headliner is a minus. They tend to get moldy and are a pain to remove. The glue used seems to bond rather well to the fiberglass. Another area to look out for is the rudder attachment. Most have been reinforced and/or retrofitted with stainless plates. They also have an inboard model. The BMW diesel tends to be problematical with age and expensive to maintain. Some of these inboards have been retrofitted with 1 cyl Yanmars which is a more reasonable solution. The inboard is preferable in bigger waves and chop as it does not come out of the water like an outboard prop.

It is not exactly a ling distance cruiser but it is a fun boat to sail. You can trailer it to where you want to go and happily live/sail on it for a week with little problem. I wouldn't be afraid to be out in a blow with one but for the big stuff you need some heft which translates into a boat that would not be trailerable. Some owners have told me that the boats with hull number 400 or higher are the ones to look at.

Rhys05 12-27-2012 07:40 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Faster: Thanks for backing up my general intuition, as that is what I thought as well, but I wanted a reality check to make sure that what my gut tells me is correct.

Sanduskysailor: Thanks for the first hand account, that's exactly what I was looking for! I must say that you have hit on the main thing that I don't like about the boat: all the carpet..would it have been so hard for them to just gelcoat/paint the interior rather than put that junk all over it? If I end up getting one of these, that would likely be my first major winter project, ripping all of that out, fairing the ceiling out and painting it, and possibly doing a good number of the walls with teak make it a little less spartan looking on the inside. One of the boats I'm considering has the BMW diesel in it, and I have generally considered that somewhat of a plus for the very reason you mentioned, but I am wary of the upkeep and maintenance, and am now leaning towards preferring an outboard and dealing with the disadvantages there.. I appreciate the tips on what to look for, that will be very helpful when I go to look at them. I'm definitely leaning majorly towards this model of boat! Now, I don't suppose that you know anyone that has a good one for sale?? I'm in Indiana, so assuming you are in Sandusky, OH, I'm quite close...

Also: WOW, I had never heard of the Presto 30, that is QUITE the boat, I bet that it would be a lot of fun to sail!

Sanduskysailor 12-27-2012 08:01 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Rhys, I think you are on the right track. There are a couple of great 7.9s at my club but neither is for sale. There are quite a few on the Great Lakes and in western Lake Erie. They come up for sale from time to time. I have seen one that had the interior redone. The carpeting was stripped out, sanded, cleaned,sanded,cleaned. I'm not sure that I would bother fairing interior out. Use a good oil based BONDING primer (XIM 400W is highly recommended) and a good oil alkyd exterior topcoat and you will have a nice looking interior for a long time. The teak strips definitely would give the all white interior a warmer feeling.

PM me if you have any other questions on the 7.9 or about sailing in western Lake Eie.

Rhys05 12-27-2012 09:21 PM

Re: S2 7.9
Thanks for the advice Sanduskysailor, it is very much appreciated. We do live a bit closer to the southern end of Lake Michigan than we do western Erie, but it looks like there are more interesting places to sail to over there, so I would imagine that we will end up over there a fair amount of the time when we want "big water" (probably Port Clinton, if i had to hazard a guess). I'll be sure to hit you up for information if/when we do that! Do you know of any other problem areas or things (good or bad) I should be looking for when I inspect a boat I'm interested in? Any modifications that your friends have made to their boats that would be recommended?

Thanks again for your insight.


sailingfool 12-28-2012 10:35 AM

Re: S2 7.9
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I raced on an S-2 6.9 (the smaller sister of the 7.9) for several years in a MORC fleet, and I was very impressed with what a nice small boat it was. Given your criteria (trailer launchable, room for a family, quality boat) IMHO the 7.9 is the only choice you have. Dont over analyze something like "wave action" (you want you boat to rise on the waves anyway, not bust through them). The point is, if you start with the trailer-launching requirement, you aren't going to get any other boat with the range of pluses of an S-2, so accept that your first requirement sets up the necessity to accept some limitations. It seems with an S-2 the limitations are impressively minor.

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