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  #1  
Old 10-24-2006
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Frac rigs and Contessa 35

Can anyone help me out? I have a couple of questions. One, I almost bought a Contessa 35. It is a Doug Peterson design IOR boat. What attracted me to the boat was it's reputation for being seaworthy and fast, and it was cheap, $15,000. It did have a baby stay, and I have no experience with that. I was wondering if you had a baby stay so you could bend your mast to flatten your main, how comrarable is that to tightening your backstay on a fractional rig?

Second question. there are a few Ericson 30+ here in California. I thought wow, a nice sized frac rig boat. I read in a post that Jeff H didn't like the underbody. I saw a picture of the underbody on Yachtworld, and it looked good to my eye. Could someone explain to me what to look for in a hull form. Am I missing something?
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Old 10-24-2006
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The Ericson question is the easy bit. Having just had a quick squizz at one that fin is really a bit to small for a satisfactory cruising boat. No skeg in front of the rudder. It would be fine for around the buoys racing and for day sailing but not really all that hot for offshore. A longer keel will give greater directional stability while the skeg gives a measure of protection to your rudder. Some people would of course argue that a full keel is the go but there is always room for a bit of compromise.
The Contessa does have a pretty good reputation and from memory (don't hold me to this) was a medium fin and skeg underbody. Babystays are mainly there to stop mast pumping. They don't play a great part in basic rig tune once they are set up. You would still be using the backstay adjuster for on the move tuning. As a baby stay still has the main forestay attached above it runners don't come into play.
Me, i'm no great fan of fractional rigs for cruising because of the runners. Our old dear has a removeable inner forestay mainly to set a storm jib on. Having to reset the runners after each tack can be a bit tiresome. I do note that some fractional rigs have spreaders angled aft that do away with the need for runners.
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tdw
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Old 10-24-2006
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TWD and I are looking at this very differently. My problem with the Ericson 30+ underbody has nothing to do with the Ericson's rather conservative fin keel, spade rudder. Keel length and rudder type have minimal effect on tracking when you talk about boats of this size. Dynamic balance is far more important and the lower steering loads on a fin keel counterbalanced rudder make them more suitable for vane steering.

My objection to the Ericson underbody results from her IOR influenced hull form with its deep canoe body and pinched ends. This hull forms tends to be tender and more prone to larger roll angles and to roll steering (changes in heel angle results in chnages in course). This is especially a problem in reaching/running conditions. It is also a hull form that somewhat restricts potential reaching speeds.

The Contessa 35 is a similar hull form to the Ericson. The Contessa's with the reputation for being seaworthy are the Contessa 32's and the later Contessa 33's. The Contessa 35's were not an expecially good offshore design.

Depending on the design of rig, baby stays can be used in concert with backstays to achieve some of the mast bend control that is one of the great advantages of fractional rig, but babystays are not as effective and require very large rig loadings to achieve anything like the mast bens that is so easy with a fractional rig.

I also disagree with TDW on fractional rigs for offshore. Running backstays can be avoided even with small amounts of spreader rake. It is true, that like a cutter rig, in very heavy air runners can be advantageous in providing additional rig stability, in the case of the fractional rig, the geometry of the rig generally allow the reefed mainsail to be jibed or tacked without easing and making up the runners.

Jeff
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Old 10-24-2006
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Don't forget the Contessa 26's, which were smaller but very seaworthy little boats. A friend of mine just went down to Puerto Rico to look at getting one for herself.
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To tdw, Jeff H and sailingdog, thank you very much for your reply.
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glad to help. What are you looking for in a boat?? I am partial to the Contessa 32 and the Alberg 30 as monohulls, and have sailed on both now—got a chance to get on a Contessa earlier this year.
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Jeff,
All your points taken. The photo I was looking at of the Ericson seemed to show a far from conservative fin but maybe it was exagerated by the camera angle. I thoroughly agree with you regarding tracking and reaching.
Further egg on my face while I do a mea culpa on the Contessa. I really did mean to type Contessa 32. (cough splutter).
The Old Dear is essentially a cutter rig (double headsail sloop in reality) so we have runners to counteract the inner fore stay. Nothing quite so fancy as swept back spreaders I'm afraid. With crew usually only the two of us I do find the runners a bore. On the other hand it must be acknowledged that this is more when tacking frequently rather than on passage.
Happy to be set right on the other issues, I can accept being wrong on occasion, just don't walk down any dark alleys late at night.
Cheers
tdw
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Old 10-25-2006
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Well, I'm looking for what everyone is looking for....the perfect boat!! But seriously, I would like a boat that is easy to singlehand, big enough for a turn of speed and feel secure on the ocean, yet small enough to control the boat by myself in all conditions. Jeff H has touted the advantages of a fractional rig, and I'm converted. That is now a prerequisite of my next boat. I also like the traveler on the bridgedeck. Now it's about the hull. IOR is not good, but plentiful. Fractional rig boats you see more racers, not cruisers, until recently. One of the coolest boats I've seen was the Dehler 36 CWS. It has 1 winch in front of the steering wheel, with all lines lead to it. So essentialy you could work all lines standing next to the helm. A singlehanders wet dream! I'm sure there's gotta be a flaw I haven't thought of. Also it's a fractional rig with a self tending jib with NO jib boom. Perfect! Only $100K!
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tdw, I emailed Jeremy Rogers asking him about the contessa 32 and 35, and he mailed me a beautiful brochure on the Contessa 32. What a nice boat! Now, I may not know much about what makes a boat seaworthy, but with a 45 to 50% ballast ratio, capsize at 157 degrees and surviving the 1979 Fastnet race seems to be good points as to why I would want one of these boats for her seaworthiness.
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If you continue to research them you will find little but praise on the web. My old slip neighbour had one and loved it dearly. However, he was only 5'10" and had a scab on the back of his head from wacking it continuously on the low cabintop!
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