Boats with a self tacker
Sails (the engine)
First you need to make certain the sails fit the boat, if you are buying new the sailmaker should ask for a lot of measurements.
Mainsails will generally fit, although it is worth knowing what your boom length is, if buying second hand don’t worry too much if the luff length is a couple of inches different, as long as you can get the Cunningham on tight. (It will make a difference to the sail measurement)
Jibs are more important, as the mast has moved round in the boat sails from some boats won’t fit others, I would measure your J (from the mast to the jib tack) and I height of forstay on mast. And ask to put the sail up before committing to buying. Once up I am looking at getting a sheeting angle that intersects the luff 2/3 of the way up the forstay
Now we know that the sail fits the boat, is it worth buying, the main thing we need to think about is matching the sail with the mast, as a very general rule mast have got stiffer over the last 10 years. (I am not convinced they are faster) a main made for a bendy mast will be much to full on a stiff mast and a sail for a straight mast will flatten very fast if put up a bendy rig. This is all down to the luff round the sailmaker cut into the sails when he made them, look below for me measuring luff round on one of my sails. If you are buying second hand ask what mast the sails where cut for, if you are buying new the sailmaker should ask for your mast bend characteristics.
Below are some pictures of me measuring luff round.
The other options are to get a sailmaker to recut the Luff of a mainsail, this can be well worth doing. Or look at stiffening the mast, there is only a certain amount you can do with rig and lower tension but two options to do this are laying mort uni carbon up the mast, or moving the spreader angle, I stuck “ears” on my spreaders to straighten the lower section, this meant I kept the old angle available if my mods didn’t work. Below are pictures of the “ears”
Mains should last 4/5 years competitively, so often come up for sale still good to go. One good trick to keep them in a good condition is to stick extra small battens on the leech if you get any flutter, just use some spinker repair tape.
Jibs; I do think these are worth buying new if you really want to get the best out of your boat, or buy a lightly used one. Because of this I have an old one for club events and training.
Spinnakers, keep their shape fairly well but loose the finish that makes them waterproof, every crew has been there when the spinnaker has fallen in the water and is now acting as a brake! To keep your spinnaker going as long as possible it's well worth recoating it with a new waterproofing, there are ones that are sold to the marine trade that are very good but I use one for tents, cheaper, and almost as good.
None of them last for ever so this needs to be done every 6 months, and will keep a kite going for 3-4 years. Again I have a kite for club sailing to save my “regatta” kite.
Occasionally you will get a complete rig become available, mast boom and sails, this can be a very good option as you know the luff round etc should work, just make certain it is not going to be too difficult to fit to your boat.
The other essential, as the boats have got faster the foils have gone Hi aspect
Daggerboards; A new hi aspect foil will fit in any older box, I keep the point of Max cord, in the same place when I have done mine, One thing to think about is the new boards are longer, if you sail somewhere shallow and won’t do many events it might not be worth doing
Early foils on the rudder angled separately to the rudder, the newer ones are fixed to the rudder and the whole rudder needs canting. As they are fixed to the rudder they can be thinner and are faster.
It is worth doing the upgrade, not only is it faster but there are almost no second hand foils with rotating wings, whereas it is not uncommon to see fixed wind rudders come up second hand. The standard way of making this is with a “biscuit” that slots in a grove in the Gantry, although there are other ways. If yor carbon skills are good, you can do this yourself, otherwise get a boat builder to do it. Remember th loads are very high and this needs to be built strong.
Most older 14s have gone through a couple of owners who have put different systems on, best advice is keep it simple, and make certain it works, take the time to replace blocks and make certain there are no tangles, it is a hard enough boat to sail fast without having to fight the boat.
Boats without a self tacker
Pre 1470 boats usually had the standard jib sheets system found on most other boats, Unless you feel like the challenge I would generally not bother upgrading these to self tackers, although some have been, unless your carbon skills are very good it is likely to be an expensive exercise as you will need to move the jib forwards of the bow on a bowsprit. It might be worth putting foils on the rudder, especially if you are willing to give this a go yourself. A lot of early conversions used windsurfing foils as the horizontals. Again it is up to you how much you are willing to spend but boats older than this although potentially competitive on flat water will struggle on the sea.
Is it worth it? Only you can answer this, I believe a lot of boats could be very competitive with not much spent on them, especially if you buy second hand. Older boats (pre 2000 wont be competitive especially on waves, its probably worth getting used to sailing one of these and then investing in something newer.
What to do with different designs, As I said earlier this is going to be up to you your budget, and your ability to do some boat work, but hear are my thoughts.
Beiker 2, Get a foiled rudder on 2nd hand, boat should be fun to sail and could be competitive inland, don’t spend too much
Beiker 3, same
Morrison 11, this boat can (in my view) be competitive in flat water, its worth upgrading the foils, both daggerboard and rudder, make certain the sail matches the mast and enjoy.
Beiker 4, I think this can be competitive both inland and on the sea, upgrade the foils, make certain the Rig works, enjoy
Morrison 12, This boat should be on pace, will probably have a softer rig than is “In Fashion” today, make certain your sails match the mast. Also when their where built the boats had aluminium bars going to the racks, these tended to break and need to be replaced.
Anything more recent than this should be fully competitive!!
Julian Pearson 2020