red rocker

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red rocker

We featured Red Herring a couple of days ago and were stoked to see that Anarchist Steve Clark. Here’s what he posted…

Red Herring is my boat!

She was built in 1980 by Goetz Custom (Hull 22) and was the last "solid wood" boat they built.
She is cold mold cedar on stringers and frames.
The keel can be canted and lifted, but not at the same time.
She is 55’long, 8’3" wide and weighs 9500 lbs.
Those of you keeping score at home will recognize that this gives her a displacement length ratio of about 27, which isn’t just light, it’s super fucking light.
She draws 9′ with the keel down and 6′ with it pulled up.
We leave it down most of the time.

The keel can be canted 35 degrees, this is done with hydraulics driven by an electric pump with two huge gel cell bater8es. We can sail for just over 24 hours before recharging.

Fastest we have ever gone is 20 knots. It was 0DARK30 during a Solo/Twin when Lars said "Too bad we can’t do this when it’s light." I replied," If we could see, we would be too frightened and would stop."

Red Herring was designed by David Hubbard.  The concept was all Van Alan Clark Jr.  He got the germ of the idea from L. Francis Herreshoff’s  "sailing machine" in the Common Sense of yacht design, but quickly identified the flaws in Herreshoff’s proposal and identified a way to address it.  As Dave succinctly put it: to segregate the righting moment and lateral resistance functions of the keel into two appendages. Thus she has a strut with ballast on it to keep her upright and a daggerboard to keep her from sliding sideways.

When I was a kid, Dad and I talked about boats all the time. When you have a number of kids ( I’m #4 of 6) you have special things you share with each kid. I was Dad’s "boat kid."  He drew on the back of paper place mats at Howard Johnson’s when we were stopping for a hot dog.  As often as not, it as something that would eventually turn into Red Herring.  When I brought home my first International Canoe, he went for a short sail and said "That’s it. I’m building the skinny boat."

As originally launched she was a cat ketch with rotating masts and fully battened sails. She had two two centerboards a keel and a rudder. Keel canting was done by winches attached to massive 6:1 block and tackles, and she really didn’t work so well. Unfortunately my dad died in 1983 so he never really got to do much in terms of refining the concept.  We knew it worked, but really didn’t know how well.  After Dad died, Dave had her for a few years, and I took possession sometime around 1988.  I have been nibbling away at it ever since.
I redesigned the sail plan.  Moved the main aft 30" to bring jibs aboard, and a mast head asymmetrical. After a very loud and expensive noise, had GMT make some very nice light carbon masts to replace the heavy aluminum rotating spars.

Next I decided the centerboards were too small, and so installed a deep canard daggerboard.  The keel was originally a wood/ composite blade with a fairly low aspect ratio bulb, when I decided I didn’t trust it anymore, I had Duncan MacLane and Paul Bogatai design a good one that was machined out of steel with a modern looking bulb. Finally this year, the rudder was upgraded from something that looked OK in the 1970s to a deeper hotter shit blade with a carbon [post that weighs about 1/2 of what the old blade did.

On board accommodation has never been a big feature of the Red Herring experience.  Her cross section is a bit smaller than a  J24, so that’s about what you get, stretched out a bit. There is a head with a door, but if you are my size, it’s a challenge to wipe with the door closed. On the other hand, there is a stove with an oven, which makes hot coffee cake and danishes possible, which is about as civilized as it gets. You cannot stand up in the saloon except in the hatch.  There is a nice aft berth under the mizzen, but you can’t sit up anywhere except under the hatch.  Ezra Smith and I designed some sea hoods this year to make her a bit more habitable in the rain and Blizo and the team at Aquidneck Custom did a wonderful job of fabricating them as well as the new coamings that make it all work as part of our 30 year refit.  

On Friday she was sliding along very nicely until the jib blew up.  Which means that sailed most of the long beat with the Spandex 130.  Not really a jib that goes upwind very well, being too big for the breeze and too stretchy and impossible to sheet in all the way because of the cap shrouds. But what the hell, there are lots worse ways to spend TGIF time.

Red Herring is more of a reaching monster than an upwind device.  Usually 40′ sloops kick us around uphill, but we get them back the second we can start the sheets a bit. If the wind goes further aft, and we have to really run square, we get crushed again.  The only races that are any fun on this boat are ones where there are opportunities for odd angles that modern racing sloops aren’t optimal for.  Herring has a PHRF rating of -3.  On balance I would say that is fair, Once I do the next round of sails, it will probably be lower.  I don’t really care, the only reason to have a rating is so I can see if any of the changes we make are making the boat faster or slower, and the only way to do that is to race it now and then. 

So yeah, she was way ahead of her time, but has been eclipsed by the modern canting keel boats. On the other hand, Dad thought this was the better formula for sailboats, and the performance of the Volvo 70s and others simply confirms that he sure was right about that.

Sailing her is one way I remember my old man. Jump in the discussion if you like.