PDRacer - A new one design racer for messabouts
By David "Shorty" Routh

What Is It?
We are starting a new one design racing boat that is based on the Bolger Brick sailboat. We have defined a hull shape that all boats must use, atleast the lower 10" of the hull must conform to the shape with flat parallel sides, just like the Brick. Now the fun part is everything else on the boat - you can put on any type of sail rig, under water fins, hiking board, bow sprit, multiple masts etc. Get out with others and run a race. If you didn't win, head back to your secret garage laboratory and make a new sail rig to try on the next race. Possibly you will have several sail rigs, and fly the one that works best in the wind conditions of the race day. And just for fun, crews of the boats are allowed to throw waterballoons at other boats during the course of the race.

Where the idea came from?
We had a $50 Sailboat Race at the last Conroe Messabout. It was so much fun, we talked about it months in advance. Taunting each other on who would be the fastest, who would sink first, hinting at what secret designs we were building. Nine boats showed up on race day, and we finally saw what the others had created. Some where fast designs, some where slow, some where built completely from free materials. We were towed out to the starting line, and when the starting gun rang, the waterballons started to fly, because lets face it, there is no way that 3 guys in a 6' diameter hot tub shell are going to win, so might as well fire off a few rounds before everyone else sails away from us. After the trophies were passed out, there was that yearning for more. Having another race was pointless because the results would have been the same - the designs of the boats were so different that they would have probably sailed back in the same order again. We started thinking and came up with this concept.

Why We Picked Brick Like Design?
All boats are compromises, and we put a lot of thought into the reasons for picking this design boat instead of using another stock design:

  • 8' instead of 12 or 14 -- We wanted a very light and small hull, something that can be cartopped or tossed into the cockpit of another boat. Most of us visit messabouts and take other boats, so it was very important to have this racer be as small and easy to transport as possible. Additionally, most garages have an 8' ceiling, so it is possible to build a hull and stand it upright in the corner so you can protect it from the weather when not in use.
  • Fixed Hull Shape -- The part that takes the longest to build is the hull. We talked about having a limit where the hull would have to fit in a 8' x 4' footprint, but the problem with open hull designs is that if someone comes up with an obviously superior hull shape, then to stay competitive, everyone else has to build a new hull. Sail rigs and other attachments are much easier to change, and their performance changes with the wind conditions, so one sail configuration might win on one day, and loose on another - giving everyone a good chance at competing.
  • Brick Type Hull -- The Cape Cod Frosty, and the One Sheet Skiff were other obvious thoughts, but these both are more complicated to build than a Brick. Not even seasoned builders can argue with how easy a brick is to build. A couple of sheets of plywood, some titebond II glue, latex house paint, a few hours in the driveway and presto you have a boat. If you have another sailboat, consider borrowing it's sail rig and fins for an even quicker route to getting your racer into the water. Besides being easy to build, the Brick has an incredible carrying capacity. For some racers, this will be their first and only boat, so being able to have a secondary use as a recreational boat to take another passenger is an important factor.

(click image to enlarge)

Differences between PDRacer and Brick:
The PDRacer has a slightly different shape than the Brick. It has a maximum rocker of 6" which will carry 630 lbs at the point where the bow and stern transom touch the water. This is less rocker than the Brick so it carries less weight, but considered to carry enough. With the shorter rocker, it has a longer water line length making it slightly faster. Also there is a fair sized flat spot in the middle, this will make it a little less like sailing a rocking chair. For me, I like the flatness of the PDRacer's rocker because when I camped in my Brick, the extreme rocker really did a number on my back.

The Rules:

  1. All boats must use the above section for the sides. (atleast, the lower 10" of the hull must conform to the above shape)
  2. All boats must have flat parallel sides, and flat bow and stern transoms like a Bolger Brick.
  3. All boats must be atleast 48" wide and have a flat, solid bottom all the way across like a brick does.
  4. All boats must have enough emergency floatation to be self rescued.
  5. No external floatation chambers (such as cutwaters, pontoons, amas etc.)
  6. No lifting foils (hydro foils).
  7. Hand thrown biodegradable water balloons and squirt guns may be used by the crew of boats against other vessels during the course of the race.

Ideas For Your Boat
There are just tons of different things you can do to your boat to make it competitive and fun to race. You could add a very tall high aspect sail rig, a short lug sail, chinese junk sail, put a bow sprit and jib, fly a trysail, 2 mast with mizzen, ... and the list goes on. Personally, I have been eyeing an old bedsheet as a spinnaker, and will try a borrowed Sunfish lateen. John McKissick is going in the opposite direction, he plans to build a "6 Armed Galeon" as shown here in this sketch. He will sit in the middle, wife at the bow, and daughter on the stern castle, all of the arms needed to control the sails and lob waterballoons.

Starting A Local Racing Fleet
If you would like to start a fleet locally, or would like to join one in your area, send me an email and I'll add you to the PDRacer info page. With your name on the list, others can find you, and you can get a fleet started in your area. In the Houston area, we are having our first race on Feb 28th, 2004. The "We" I keep talking about in this article is the club. This is a free club promoting group daysailing, weekend overnighting, and messabouts in small rowing and sailing boats. There is no entry fee, and everyone is welcome to join.

For Additional information and a list of people interested in racing, see the PDRacer info page: [click here]