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Senior Moment
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I find the lines of the S&S designed Catalina 38 to be pleasing to my eye. I mentioned this to a boat broker the other day and he shook his head and said you don't want one of these boats. Went on to say they were not good sailing dead downwind due to the pinched stern, said they rolled ALOT.

I don't pretend to know much about boat design, so I was wondering can anyone tell me if what he said is true and if so why?

Thank you
michael
 

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As far as I can tell, the hulls shape near mid ships ( ), I think it is called "tumble home", it is such that when the hull leans to port the boat wants to go to starboard and the reverse happens as the boat tries to get back on course. When hand steering you can anticipate this, but a wind vane or auto pilot tends to adjust to the course change and each time the opposite happens.
 

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Catalina 38

I've owned a S&S Catalina 38 for 12 years now and find it to be a fantastic boat to sail. It will run (sail?) circles around most boats and especially other Catalinas. Designed by Sparkman & Stephens for one design racing (to the old IOR rule I think, hence the tumble home). The molds were eventually bought by Frank Butler and after adding a Catalina deck design and taller rig became the Catalina 38. It replaced the Cal 40 as the official Congressional Cup boat and was raced by Ted Turner. It is by far an "up-wind" boat, but holds it own downwind. As far as dead-downwind, the pinched stern doesn't have much to do with it. SimonV is on the right track. When a boat leans(heals) the hull shape becomes asymmetrical and wants to head up. All boats do this as they heal, some more than others. Sailing perfectly downwind isn't easy. Most of the time the wind is at some point either side of dead-down wind. It is hard on the auto-pilot but why try to sail dead-down wind? Its slow. Head off 10-15 degrees - sail faster, smoother, safer, funner and get there sooner.
 

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Yeah, the C-38, like many of her era that were IOR influenced do behave a bit squirrely when sailed DDW in a breeze. Whether it's strictly due to hull form or sailplan is often debated, but generally these boats have tall, high aspect "skinny" mainsails and very long J measurements which makes for huge genoas and kites. I believe much of the rolling action DDW is a combination of the deep, fine bow sections and the essentially unbalanced sailplan with the large kite out to one side, supposedly offset by the sliver of a mainsail.

Back in the day the racers set "bloopers" outside the main to balance the sail plan better (and add more area at the same time) Talking to those who used to do that, it did help alleviate the rolling, though obviously it complicated things tremendously when it came time to gybe.

As Eagledancer suggested, any of these boats can be managed by careful selection of sails, choosing when to fly the kite, and sailing conservative angles to minimize the risk of losing control in a breeze.

If you like the boat, don't let that aspect scare you away. But do look for the proper sized gear (winches, especially) in order to be able to handle the loads without a crew of deck apes.
 

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How many sailors really do that much dead-down-wind sailing anyway?
 

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How many sailors really do that much dead-down-wind sailing anyway?
Good point... we rarely do so unless it's very flat and really windy - a relatively rare combination!:)
 
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