Michael Storer Boat Design


The Death of Small Boat Sailing In Australia - TOO EXPENSIVE - and how the OZ PD Racer will fix the problem.

How light can you build a PD Racer - and is it a good idea?


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The hullweight restrictions on the OZ PD Racer

There has been a great discussion about hull lightness/strength.

Compared to Australian racing dinghies our "lightweight" PD Racer is very conservative at around 54lbs as a bare hull - no paint - no fittings.  We are setting a sensible weight for a durable trouble free boat that can still be lifted by a couple of kids.  We are finalising the allowable minimum weight and it will be published on the RULES PAGE.

Within the framework of the international rules you can build a boat as light as you like.  But for the OZ PD Racer we decided to have a restriction to keep the boats really simple to build out of standard materials.

So if you build one lighter than our rules allow you can race in Open PD Racer events and even compete internationally.

But what are the limits of wood technology - how light is POSSIBLE?

Also see the EPOXY and Boatbuilding FAQ for more detailed info on building methods and materials that make the OZ PD Racers possible - also good info there if you are actually building any boat.

As an example, the most radical class in Australia in terms of wooden structures was the
International Moth.

Moths have now gone to a pointy ended hull, but for a long time they were a scow hullform as below.

The Moth (example right) has no minimum hull weight requirement - so every new boat made an attempt to improve the lightness of the structure.

The boats were almost all owner built and typical scantlings were Hull and internal web frames (except for cockpit) 0.7mm birch aircraft ply – which translates to about 1/32"

The cockpit had to be a bit thicker - they used 1.2mm (1/12") with 0.75oz fibreglass on the underside.

Hull weights were around the 32 to 35 lb mark for the highly stressed structure.

Boats were of top rank competitiveness for about 2 to 3 years then would be sold on to an intermediate level sailor who would use them for another 2 to 3 years.  There were no visible wracking (wringing) deflections in the hulls despite loads in the windward sidestay of around 1000lbs (wires used to break very occasionally!)

Now they are all narrow skiff shaped hulls made of carbon/foam with hullweights around the 15lb mark and have sprouted hydrofoils.

Because of this rather Australian Tendancy to get away with whatever we can get away with we are going to put a minimum hull weight restriction on local boats.  Lighweight timber structures are too well known among the boating community and if there was complete freedom there would be a flock of 10" thick puddleducks that weighed in around the 22 lb mark (they are 2/3 the length of moths, thus 2/3 the weight is not unreasonable).

In fact the upper Moth pictured above becomes rather a good prototype for the ultimate puddle duck racer - all proven technology - the timber hull, the wings, the alloy mast - all quite cheap - except for the sail.

Is the PD Racer a Planing boat?

And no-one tell me that the PDR is a displacement boat and that will limit the speed.  My first boat was a Northbridge Junior - a 8ft version of the Moth without the wings and similar bottom rocker to the PDR.  Me and a friend used to spend hours planing backward and forward in front of the sailing club whenever the wind was up – spray everywhere.

The only reason the PDR have not planed is most of them have been built too heavily and there has been an acceptance of the statement "they won't plane".

(in fact they do - the current PDR outright speed record and measured performance under motor are well above the theoretical displacement hull speed - see the planing video )

We did look at following the Moth scenario - to build the fastest boat possible - when we started looking at building the puddle ducks, but decided our purpose is to demonstrate to the racing mainstream here that you don't need to spend much time or money to build a good little racing boat that is suitable (AND FUN!!!) for a wide range of users.

The Death of Sailing in Australia

Sailing participation in Australia is in crisis.

All the small local clubs that were in just about every bay or beach around the coastline of Oz in the '60s and '70s with their fleets of mostly self built boats have just about disappeared.  On Sydney Harbour alone there were approximately 50 clubs of various sizes - all very active - mums, dads and kids.  Now there are a third of that and many clubs are struggling to get enough members.

What do you expect when a beginning boat for a couple of kids costs around $4,000-8,000 because of the technology involved?

The really silly thing is that all the $5,000 boats go at much the same speed for very even racing - which was also the case when they were cheaper and simpler 40 years ago – the boats then had very even racing.   Even boats that were envisaged as being cheap training classes have become involved in a foolish Arms Race.

We see the PDRacer as a way of getting families back into sailing and we imagine all sorts of little sailing clubs cropping up on beaches where a few neighbours decide that it is a good thing to build a simple boat.

And the PDRacer is about as simple as you can get!!!

Cheap (and easy) to build and not too precious to be lent out to the local kids.

As we will be in a position to do so we will be making local class rules to retain the character and cheapness of the PDR or it will head the way of all the other local classes.

So there will be rules for weight, to restrict beam and restrict materials - including a weight handicap system to favour polytarp/tyvek sails with no more than one broadseam.

People will be able to have sails like the Moth, but they will have to carry a significant amount of ballast in the boat to compensate.

Best Regards
Michael Storer

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