If you like performance dinghies, youre going to 'love' the venerable M16 scow.
Its been 30 years since my wife and I campaigned an M16 and then moved up to larger scows, so Im not that current with the modern updates for the M16 class. I do recommend that you go to the ILYA.org website, look up the M16 class, and follow the tuning guide, etc. that should be offered there.
My tips from 'back then':
• Be careful of the rigging especially because of the rotating mast
puts 'twist pressure' on the mast to rig terminals. Dutifully check the wire - routinely, as the rotating mast will come off
the boat if you break a wire.
• Mast / mainsail halyard tension is very important in relation to setting up the desired 'helm balance' - such sets the position of the *point of maximum draft* fore/aft (so-called weather helm). Initially set your sail *shape* and other controls (rake, pos. of max. draft, etc.) for a 'dead neutral' helm, then slightly ease up on the halyard for a VERY slow auto-turn to weather when the tiller is released. Initial 'over-tension' of the mainsail luff is 1" for each 10ft. of luff length - I dont remember the exact luff length. Set 'marks' on the mast and halyard / sliding goose-neck so you dont have to 'remember' the tension. The faster you sail this boat the 'more rounded' you want the luff entry, especially when the boat is planing like a scalded cat; heavy main halyard tension also makes the luff entry 'more rounded'.
See Link below for setting up proper helm balance via halyard tension ('any' boat with woven dacron sails).
• Sail the boat typically 20-25° degrees 'over', usually over to the edge of deck just touching the water. The bilge-boards are 'toed-in' slightly - meaning that a boat that is over will get lift from the 'down' bilge board in both helping in 'lifting' the hull out of the water and 'lifting' (the bilgeboard 'flying') the boat to 'weather'. Since the boards are toed-in and not parallel to the centerline, only the leeside board should be down. Bring the 'down' board up part way when on a reach. Ditto when grossly overpowered - allows the boat to skid instead of digging-in and then 'over' on its side.
Beware - these symmetrical hulls if properly 'balanced' by sail shape and sail trim so you wind up with 'light' helm pressure, will not change helm pressure when heeled. You can sail a scow over until the mast is IN the water and the helm pressure will never give you a 'warning' in a correctly set up boat. Fingertips (or sometimes toes) ONLY on those tillers !!!!
• When on a beat and ready to tack, apply 'bodaceous' mainsheet pressure to cup-up the leech to help steer the boat in a power-pinching attitude and to SAIL the boat higher into the turn; this will make the boat heel waaaaay over but a good initiation for a roll-tack. This leech 'cup-up' will increase your sailing angle into the wind and you may gain several boat lengths on the 'next
' leg - dynamite technique for racing, especially in a one-design race where gaining 'inches' really counts.
The downside is that you will inevitably stretch out your mainsail leech. For any new main used in PHRF racing, be sure to have auxiliary battens installed between each of the standard main battens - to help support the leech between these std. battens WHEN you stretch out the leech on your 'new' sail.
FLAT sails for speed-sailing in flat water and when in 'light' winds. Full draft for 12-15 and in waves ... set the outhaul vs. maximum boat speed output (speedo or gps). The outhaul is your prime 'speed control' device on a scow. Get the control of the outhaul into the cockpit ... I still like my outhaul controls located 'on deck' and 'under' each tiller arm ... through-deck turning blocks and cam cleats and 4:1 mechanical advantage.
•Why are these boats sailed at such an aggressive angle of heel? Heeling changes the waterline to (wetted) beam ratio - the more you heel the 'geometrically
' faster the boat will go - all due to the magic of less wetted underwater surface area when heeled over. (My present scows are tunnel hulled for even greater speed effect when heeled over.)
• Many of the scow classes in the 1980s were discussing the use of 'foam floatation' incorporated in the top panels of the mainsail. If not currently in the M16 class rules, such is still a good idea as these boats can sail themselves into and under
large oncoming waves and those little 'spray rails' wont stop the boat from swamping ('submarining') at high speed if the bow goes 'under'. Submarining is more 'fun' than pitch-poling.
Until you get used to this boat, add some 'floatation' under the deck and behind the bilgeboard trunks - you want this boat to float on its side and the mast supported by 'something'. We used to tie big empty jugs with snap shackles to the side stays and would swim them out when needing to prevent the mast from 'inverting'. These boats are difficult to 'right' when full of water, or turtled. But, If youre not occasionally sitting on an upside down hull with mast pointing 'straight down', youre not sailing your scow 'aggressively enough'. :-o
Note: Setting helm balance on boats with woven dacron sails via sail SHAPING: How to properly RAISE a woven dacron mainsail - SailboatOwners.com
BTW - if youre going to buy new sails, buy them ONLY from a loft that caters to scow or racing cat owners as these boats NEED sails cut and shaped MUCH differently than the 'plane vanilla' cuts that you get from most sail lofts. Such sails usually need to be flat-cut but with very rounded luff entry shapes for 'high speed' sailing on a PLANING sailboat. A sail loft that knows how to build scow sails will need to know the average normal wind speed you sail in, the average wave height, the weight of your normal crew, and your 'honest' ability and precision as a helmsman - 'custom cut' sails.
FWIW - the sailmaker/designer guys at sailrite.com (sail 'kits' or 'ready made') are all scow sailors.
Until the advent of radical sailboards, Australian radical sport boats and very radical hydrofoil catamarans, the scows for nearly 100 years were the all time 'speedsters'. The 'standard' 38 ft. A-scow is well capable of 'sailing' at 'well above' 30 knots - that's boat speed not wind speed.
Good luck on your new SCOW!!! Do get a tether for your hat as youre going to need one. ;-)