DESIGNING THE OzRacer.
Although I think it's fair to say I coerced him, or maybe even bludgeoned him into working with me on the first PDRacers we built, I asked to write some stuff about how the design for the OzRacer came together as a result of those rather heady weeks.
In March 2006 Peter started showing me the pictures of the PDRacers being built overseas - I really liked the diversity of approaches from all the designer/builders - I am still awestruck by the Spanish Galleon version complete with cannon! But at the same time very few seemed to be achieving anything like the sailing potential of the boat.
What sold me on the idea was boat #2 built by Ken Abrahams. Clearly Ken has a fair bit of a sailing background - the boat just "looks right" and it seems to move along quite nicely. Also it was the first PDRacer I saw that had some elements of a really excellent design approach - the curves of the cockpit coaming, the neat and efficient rig, the clear timber finish, the graphic on the side - it all just comes together.
That's what makes an inspiring boat. Seeing boat #2 was when I actually started to be interested - even excited about the humble Puddle Duck Racer.
a holistic process
Get it right and the boat, the water and wind and the sailor become one.
Look at the videos of how the OZ PDRacer and OzRacers sail - and see how the boat fits the water and how the sailor fits the boat (that's me sailing it by the way) - how it sails turns, accelerates
This idea/feeling then extends out to the design of each of the components, how I can make them easy to construct, as light as possible, what materials are best.
A big part at this stage is to work out what I can get rid of from the design. Every piece that can be removed is money and labour saved by the builder. Every expensive component that can be removed without losing function is a gain in dollars
That's sort of what I see at the beginning - even before I start putting the boat down on paper or the laptop - how it all fits together into one fluid thing. If I don't get that feeling - I'm just not interested.
IS SAILING EXPENSIVE?
Most people think that sailing is expensive - but is it true?
Sailors of conventional boats are obsessed by high-tech (expensive) solutions. The result is that many types of sailing boats that were meant to be cheap and simple now cost many thousands of dollars.
The Manly Junior was designed in Australia to be a boat a family could build over the winter to have sailing for summer. Originally designed to cost a few hundred dollars they now retail at $A7800 and the use of timber is banned. Boats for adults can be much more expensive. Often the cost is totally out of proportion to their function.
The sad thing about the Manly Junior (and all all its ilk) is that they were good boats to begin with, and didn't need expensive construction methods and expensive equipment chucked into the mix. You can see more information about that here.
New competitive boats for people to get into sailing should be available for less than $1000. Maybe less than a few hundred dollars (like our boats) if they were to use some of our strategies.
Peter and I have a background in sailing fast boats - so have high expectations of the way any boat should go and should feel to the sailor. We were not going to be satisfied with a tub that couldn't sail out of its own way.
The question was how much performance would it be possible to get out of a boat costing not much. The answer - Quite a lot .
For a boat to be fun to design and build it needs to push some boundaries. Pushing boundaries implies some sort of risk.
The areas where we were taking a bit of a chance with the OZ PDRacer were bigger sails and lightweight construction. Both of these are traditionally the forte of Australian and New Zealand small boat design. It should also be noted that given the cost of the boat, rectifying any discrepancy was never going to be a big problem either. The OzRacer plans reflect the experience we gained with those experiments.