Can You Be Fast in an Old Boat?


I am the proud skipper of the mighty 'Green Monster', FS #1146, which turns 50 in two years.  It's bottom is slick with VC-17, and has recent sails.  There are no core issues, though the deck has some soft areas.  I have refurbished the boat and installed many upgrades.  The boat is just as I would have it!  (gorgeous, comfortable, rigged perfectly for me) The Green Monster has done very well in club racing, but my wife and I plan to stretch our legs a bit, and sail the regional circuit this season.  I assume that our hull is not as light or stiff as newer boats.  We are a One Design class, but I assume that our boats are not all equal.  To even have a hope of being competitive this season, I feel that I'd need to buy new sails, but am concerned that would be throwing good money after bad.  I have come close to buying a few newer boats, but they are REALLY expensive, and I don't like them as much.

What to do?  Any thoughts, advice, guidance you could offer on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Dennis in New Hampshire



Old boats can be fast

I have raced many an old boat against newer lighter boats.  IMHO, I feel that keeping your head in the race respond to wind shifts and boat traffic...Practice and get your turns perfect ..tacking..mark rounding...spinnaker handling.  Keep uour sails trimmed and adjust for worn sails...You can compete with anyone.  Sandy Douglas used to place at regattas on borrowed club boats.   As you are considering, going to other clubs to compete will improve your boat will experience different conditions and tactics.  Of course, side by side with a well trimmed new boat with a light weight crew will walk away from you but, you can still take them with tactics and better boat handling.

Old Boats Can Be Fast

Many thanks for your advice.  I have definitely seen the 'good crew over good boat' dynamic play out a lot in our club, but was not sure how that would play in larger races.  Looking at regatta results, there is an occasional older boat appearing high in the standings -- but rarely.  That could be a factor of crews new to the class with starter boats, gaining experience and becoming more serious, moving up to a newer boat.  So it is likely that the top of the regatta standings are populated by better crews, who happen to have newer boats (but I am sure that a new boat aids performance considerably!).

Thanks again for your help, FS829, and have a wonderful sailing season!


Old boats can go fast

One of the great things about the Scot, is that it's a very strongly built boat, so over time, the boats don't get as soft as more lightly built craft.

Sails matter, especially if they are really old, but how you trim them matters just as much.  Handling and tactics matter.  One tack in the wrong direction can erase all the gain of shiny new stuff.  The boats are that even!

Technique, Tactics, Trim, Practice, Sails and Luck are all probably more important than the age of the hull in the Flying Scot.

Phil Scheetz

Flying Scot 5919

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

Can old boats go fast?

"Can old boats go fast?" The answer is YES. And old sailors can go fast too. We have several experienced sailors at Lake Norman Yacht Club who are deadly fast, are always on the correct tack it seems, and can find pressure like no other. I notice other clubs also have their own cadre of skilled veterans. I have made it my business to extract every tidbit of knowledge out of these guys, and they across the board have been generous to share their wisdom.

When I came out of sailing retirement 5 or 6 years ago, I stumbled on the Scot. What convinced me to buy a Scot was the numbers of solid sailors...and by "solid" I mean really good. Unlike other fleets where sailors 'age out' of boats with hiking straps and uncomfortable seating, the Scot can be sailed and raced well into your 60's and 70's. I love the fact that at our local yacht club there are a handful of 70-somethings who will absolutely eat your lunch on any given race. punishign you for a single startegic or tactical mistake. And these older guys have olders boats, usually with fresh sails, which does matter in light and medium winds when sailing upwind (not so important on the downwind, especially on a run).

So I would say yes...go ahead and get some good sails (reward the pro/brand that you feel helps you the most), make sure your boards are shimmed correctly (ask your local Scot star or Harry), make sure your vang functions effectively, and know your boat can hang with the best.

Sean O'Donnell
FS 5171
NC Community Sailing &
Lake Norman Yacht Club

Sean O'Donnell
Lake Norman Community Sailing
Lake Norman Yacht Club
FS 5171