Navy Luders 44 - Alert

fearless

New member
17
4
Indiana
I bet you could buy Swift if you wanted! I can give you a name and number if you are interested.  It would only be lots and lots of work!!

Do you have any photos from when you were a Skipper?

Cheers,

Roger

 

WillUSNA78

Member
61
11
Raleigh, NC
I'd like to build back with the new style, as she's a handful down wind...   
Back in my sophomore year at the Naval Academy, I had the opportunity to take a special course "The Aerodynamics of Sail" that was taught by one of the aero engineering profs who was also a sailing buff. (As an aside, the textbook was Sailing Theory and Practice (1964 edition) by C. A. Marchaj--more on that later).

Focusing mainly on sail aerodynamics (so not so much the hull hydrodynamics that are also covered by Marchaj), the prof led us on an exploration of numerous sail aerodynamic analyses (both common situations and uncommon). One of the things we studied deeply was the aerodynamics of the dead downwind spinnaker run. What we learned is why it's almost always "a handful" with enough wind, regardless of the boat and sail plan (though a matter of degree, of course).

What he showed us through the aero analysis was that in the typical "dead downwind" situation (wind 180-190 degrees relative on a port tack, for example) with the main boom and spinnaker pole roughly at right angles to the wind, any (even slight) roll to windward causes the spinnaker lift vector to shift to windward (I'm simplifying greatly here), increasing the severity of the roll.

The typical helm correction of rudder to windward shifts the spinnaker lift vector back in line with the hull's longitudinal axis, but the inability to stop the correction on a dime in a stiff breeze results in a continued shift of the spinnaker lift vector to leeward past the hull's centerline, which is typically countered by a rudder correction to leeward. But that dime is still hard to hit, so first the hull then rolls to leeward, then back to windward, then leeward...and now the helmsman is fighting to avoid the dreaded spinnaker knockdown.

"Death dance," anyone?

A highly-skilled helmsman can fight his way through this to minimize excessive oscillations, but even he's going to be exhausted by the effort eventually, and when he makes a mistake...well, you know where this ends.

So many helmsmen just stay on a broad reach and plan on a jibe at some point (if the downwind leg is long enough). This, too, has its excitement, of course, as those of you who have tried to coordinate a jibe under spinnaker in a brisk breeze can attest. Consequently, some just surrender to the difficulty, drop the spinnaker (for a quick repack), jibe, and reset the spinnaker on the opposite tack. Either tactic means losing significant time during a race (unless you're the one crew to pull off the jibe flawlessly--or close enough to it--while keeping the spinnaker flying).

As many of us in the class were either varsity offshore sailors or otherwise experienced in racing the Luders yawls, we all knew of this situation, and nodded our heads in agreement with his assessment (while shuddering internally).

So when the prof said that he was going to show us another way to do this (the long downwind leg), we all sat up at attention and got very interested.

When he said, "Sail by the lee," we all immediately decided that he was certifiably insane. I'll bet that most of you are thinking this right now--and justifiably so, because of the "common sense" awareness of what can go disastrously wrong by sailing downwind by the lee if the wind ever gets to the leeward (forward) side of the mainsail. "There be dragons."

What he then diagrammed for us on the whiteboard changed the minds of those who were willing to suspend their practical skepticism (and not all were so able, based on the dogmatic pushback he got at the end of his explanation).

(I'll bet some of you thought I was going to say chalkboard--yes, we had those in the older academic buildings, but this was the brand new science and engineering building, so...whiteboards.)

What he diagrammed for us is that in the "by the lee" situation (about 160-170 relative wind on that same "port" tack), any roll to windward actually results in a slight shift of the spinnaker lift vector to leeward (and vice-versa), setting up a self-correcting aerodynamic situation (at least, that's what the math and vector analysis said, right?). The trick, he said, was to use a boom vang (what we had on the yawls) to lock down the boom to the "leeward" side rail immediately aft of the shroudlines--this would prevent an accidental jibe due to a quartering sea from "leeward"--while keeping a religious eye on the relative wind direction. He assured us that this wouldn't be as difficult as it sounds given the stable aerodynamic conditions of this point of sail.

[a few seconds of crickets, followed by explosions of questions and protests]

Now, fast forward to the following fall, and the annual Annapolis-Oxford Race Weekend. (I would be helpful to pull up Google Maps to locate both Annapolis and Oxford, at this point, if you're not familiar with the layout of Chesapeake Bay.)

The Sunday race (day 2, after a very late night for all crews in Oxford) followed a track south on the Tred Avon River, then west on the Choptank River, before turning north around Tilghman and Poplar Islands. The finish line was in the middle of the bay, more or less, due east of Annapolis near the mouth of the Severn River, so the third leg was about 22-23 nm long. At the beginning of the race, winds were about 15 knots from about 190 degrees true, making for a classic windward start to the race.

I'll spare you the boring details of the first to legs, including my shameful performance on the helm at the start, and just skip to the third leg. All 12 Academy yawls were racing that weekend (6 varsity and 6 Sailing Squadron--I was skipper of one of the latter, Fearless), sailing as their own class. As we eased sail from a beam reach (port tack) to a broad reach to round Tilghman Island, our yawl was dead last among the yawls. My safety officer (a retired Navy Captain) was quite unimpressed with my performance to that point.

As we continued to ease sails rounding Poplar Island, it became apparent that the wind (which had by then freshened to around 20 knots) was going to point directly to the finish line. Yep, dead downwind for over 20 nm. All the yawls set off on typical downwind spinnaker tracks on port tack, headed toward the western shore.

Except for one desperate skipper, who really believed in aerodynamics and vector math.

I turned to my safety officer, essentially told him to "watch this" (hey, I'm a southern boy, ya know), though with a lot of quick explanation about lift vectors. Somehow, I was able to convince him to let me try the "by the lee" course. I'm sure there was the requisite, "If I say stop this foolishness, you will stop it immediately, with no arguments" corollary. I explained to my crew what we were going to do, so after rigging the boom vang (to the starboard rail), we eased the main and spinnaker sheet while taking the spinnaker pole aft until it was just inches from the port shroud lines.

Then we sailed merrily along, slightly to the east of a direct track to the finish line--quite calmly and with minimal stress on the helmsman, might I add, despite the usual 1-2 foot swells (this time from the south) that came up on Chesapeake Bay whenever the wind got stronger--while entertaining ourselves with watching all of the chaos that ensued when the other 11 yawls (and all of the other boats in the fleet, for that matter) executed their jibes to windward at about the 10-12 nm point on the third leg. I had my safety officer help me keep an eye on the wind vane at the masthead, and took some time to bring my XO back from the foredeck to explain what the hell we were doing (he was a touch curious) and why it was working.

Boats were death-dancing. Spinnakers were flying free of their poles, making the oscillations even worse. Panic set in on many of the yawls (and other boats), as some spinnaker sheets were released (nice blue and yellow pennant, there, shipmates), while others attempted to lower their spinnakers (creating sea anchors as a result). It was a hoot, and my crew and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I wish I could report that we went from last to first in class, but one of the varsity yawls managed to pull off their jibe, and having had a huge lead, finished first in class. We kept sailing along very calmly, easing sails to a broad reach (port tack) for the the last half-mile in order to make the finish line, and finished second in class. My safety officer was shaking his head, and had me hand over the helm to my XO for the beam reach (no spinnaker) back into the Severn, so that we could sit down and review those force vector diagrams on a piece of paper. He still didn't believe it.

So Zach, by all means do that rudder mod--there had to have been a lot of thought that went into it (though maybe it was done only for the varsity boats at the time?).

But consider that there may just be a way to make your life easier racing a spinnaker on a dead downwind leg in a stiff breeze whether you do or not. ;)

I definitely don't recommend doing for the first time during a race, though. It was dumb luck that we made it work the first time we tried it that Sunday on the bay.

 

WillUSNA78

Member
61
11
Raleigh, NC
Oh, and I promised some comments on the Marchaj book. Both the 1964 edition and a 1985 update are available on Amazon as used books (and a few new ones for the 1985 revision). It's technical stuff, but fascinating. Even though the boat and sail examples reflect a time long gone (well, unless you own a Luders yawl or other boat from that era, of course), the aerodynamic and hydrodynamic theory explanations still hold up quite well. He even includes a discussion of hydrofoil hulls.

 

fearless

New member
17
4
Indiana
WillUSNA78, brilliant! Loved that story.  It gives me lift as I sand away on FEARLESS.  When she finally does hit the water you will have an invitation to show me the downwind lee dance!

Cheers and thanks

 
The local Pax River MWR has two of the CGA yawls, I believe they acquired them to replace the 'retired' NA yawls Vigilant & Alert. One is Arctic Tern and one is Blue Goose. They usually race non-spin on Wed night beer cans, but one of them has been ramping up the crew for spin racing recently. It took them a long time to get it flying and I am sure it was not a pleasant upwind sail home, but it is good to see them doing some longer races. I can only guess the local MWR picked the CGA boats up because they were in better shape, but that is pure conjecture on my part.

Crash, thanks for the details on the newer CGA boats too.
They actually have four of the old CGA Yawls: Arctic Tern, Blue Goose, Shear Water and Stormy Petrel.  The last two are on the hard, although Shear Water will hopefully be back in the water next Spring.  The boats are owned by NAS Patuxent River MWR, but operated by the Navy Patuxent Sailing Club (https://npsc.clubexpress.com/)

SPARYawl_4.bmp


 
Will, not sure Vigilant's status. It is outside on a T-head and taken some damage from sitting. I know the marina owner, so I will ask. Anything is fixable of course..just depends how much work you want to do.  On the CGA boats, they have 93xxx sail numbers on the working sails. They do not use the kite very often and frankly, our club isn't worried about chasing them down to declare/change something like that. I am going to guess that they are still using the CGA sails because that is what they have aboard. It would not surprise me if the 93xxx PHRF number they were assigned were on the same sails..they probably removed the CGA-X and installed the PHRF number. They did Governor's Cup this past weekend and won their class!! 

https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_detail.cfm?Race_Number=1&eID=14627
Yep...we sure did...and we paid a visit to Santee Basin the day before Gov Cup.

20210731_Gov_Cup_337092579.jpeg

20210729_USNAB_734520985.jpeg

 
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Groovin

New member
32
1
Photo from my archives.  Coast Guard Academy Luders 44s circa 1982.  Blue Goose, Arctic Tern, Stormy Petrel, Shearwater.  Like sailing a battleship but we did race these one fall season in Eastern LIS, in prep for the McMillan cup down at the Naval Academy.

01295_s_9acu8aps70940_z.jpg

 

WillUSNA78

Member
61
11
Raleigh, NC
There are four Navy 44 Mk1 up for sale on https://gsaauctions.gov/gsaauctions/gsaauctions/  

Auctions end Feb 3.
Yeah, I just saw this posted on the Naval Academy sports forum on Rivals.com this morning. I remember when these were the "new boats." I hoped for several years to catch a ride on one when I was in Annapolis for a class reunion, but it never happened. Time flies.

In fact, it occurs to me that the Mk II boats are about due for replacement--haven't they been in place for about 20 years (which seems to be the service life for these boats at USNA)?

 
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Photo from my archives.  Coast Guard Academy Luders 44s circa 1982.  Blue Goose, Arctic Tern, Stormy Petrel, Shearwater.  Like sailing a battleship but we did race these one fall season in Eastern LIS, in prep for the McMillan cup down at the Naval Academy.

View attachment 471914
Yes...they do sail like "battleships", but they're still fun to sail and race.  Here's Artic Tern kicking Blue Goose's butt on the Xray to Kilo leg in an SMSA Wednesday evening race on the Patuxent River (the rest of the racing fleet is in front of us...as usual).

20210811 Race.jpg

 

WillUSNA78

Member
61
11
Raleigh, NC
We've talked about so many of the old Luders 44s in this thread over the years that I can no longer remember which old boats are where.

So I'm looking to y'all to help me with a bit of a mystery.

This past weekend I was watching season 1 episode 4 of the Apple TV+ series Shining Girls. It's a weird sci-fi-ish mystery set in Chicago. As far as I can tell, they use Chicago outdoor sets.

Anyway, there was a scene set at an unnamed boatyard where a journalist was interviewing the boatyard supervisor. In the shot still below, I noticed an out-of-focus sailboat hull being moved via crane in the background:

IMG-2648.jpg


Tell me that I'm wrong, but that looks like a Luders 44 yawl in Naval Academy colors to me.

If so, what Luders 44 hull with these colors is somewhere in the Chicago waterfront area?
 

accnick

Super Anarchist
2,887
1,973
We've talked about so many of the old Luders 44s in this thread over the years that I can no longer remember which old boats are where.

So I'm looking to y'all to help me with a bit of a mystery.

This past weekend I was watching season 1 episode 4 of the Apple TV+ series Shining Girls. It's a weird sci-fi-ish mystery set in Chicago. As far as I can tell, they use Chicago outdoor sets.

Anyway, there was a scene set at an unnamed boatyard where a journalist was interviewing the boatyard supervisor. In the shot still below, I noticed an out-of-focus sailboat hull being moved via crane in the background:

View attachment 529156

Tell me that I'm wrong, but that looks like a Luders 44 yawl in Naval Academy colors to me.

If so, what Luders 44 hull with these colors is somewhere in the Chicago waterfront area?
Too much cutaway in the forefoot, I believe, but could be wrong. Haven’t looked at one in decades.
 

fearless

New member
17
4
Indiana
My guess is that is Cleveland. The Sea Scouts bought two of the luders and had them somewhere near Cleveland. There were two in Chicago Swift (which is all white) and Fearless which is currently only covered in white high build primer but no longer in Chicago.
Both Swift and Fearless can be seen in one of the last episodes of the TV show 'THE BEAST' with Patrick Swayze. ( season 1 episodes 5)

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