View topic - Albacores for youth/community sailing?

Page 1 of 1

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:33 pm
by dougking888
Hi All-
I am somewhat familiar with Albacores but not sailed them much; however I have raced a lot of other dinghy classes. I am wondering about the suitability & availability of Albacores as a fleet for a junior/community sailing program. We have a lot of light air here, and one of the things that maks me think they would be good is their ight air performance.

The alternatives are most likely to be FJs and/or 420s, which are much less boat for the buck.

Reading a bit here & other places, I am concerned about the Albacores capsize behavior.

Doug King, New Bern NC

PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:50 pm
by Guest

This article may be the best testament to the suitability of the Albacore as a junior boat. ... entum.html

For about three decades the Albacore was THE junior training boat in Canada and at some US clubs such as Hyannis Yacht Club (MA). Scores of clubs had dozens of Albacore and would launch them daily with 2-3 kids from 8-16 years old aboard... I was one of these kids, and later I was an instructor teaching 80 kids each summer in Albacores.

Sure we capsized them on occasion- sometimes for fun, sometimes when we didn't follow our lessons well enough- but that happens in any dinghy. I would not rate an Albacore as any more or less tippy than the FJ or 420.

As Albacore racers became more sophisticated in the 1990's and began tricking out their boats with more control lines to beat others doing the same, the basic (and aging Albacores) in the junior fleets became less competitive and the new boats (to replace them) became more expensive as builders catered to the racing market. (About the same time 420 builders went the other way dumbing down the International 420 to make the collegiate/club version which was cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain). Since he colleges and junior programs did not care about competing on the international racing circuit, the "Club 420" became, with the help of significant builder promotion, the de facto boat for junior and collegiate programs in North America. At least that is my short assessment of how it happened.

But to your question, the Albacore does make a great junior trainer. And it has the advantage of also being useful as an adult trainer. (420's aren't much fun for adults weighing more than about 140 lbs. The Albacore remains the #1 adult trainer in Canada with over 70 in use at 4 clubs in the Toronto area making this one of the largest and most competitive one-design fleets in North America with 50-70 Albacores racing most Friday nights of the summer in Toronto (check the Canadian Albacore web for more details.) A builder could build a new fleet of Albacores to order. If they are not intended to race with the North American racing Albacore fleets, they could be made with inexpensive spars, foils and sails to keep costs down.

But a better way to go would be to acquire many of the Albacores on the used market. Many of the boats from 4xxx and up would be relatively competitive and fine for training boats. Boats above 68xx (built after 1980) can be fully competitive at the front of any North American fleet well rigged and in the hands of a competitive sailor. These boats can be purchased on the used market for less than half the cost of new 420's. While they might be rigged differently as purchased, they could be re-rigged in a simple way to be nearly identical and good trainers. In the 1990's the Canadian military bought scores of Albacores for use on its bases. Occasionally a fleet of a dozen of these boats are auctioned off as surplus gear and can be bought a very reasonable prices- but expect to put a lot of work into bring the boats back to usable levels as they have seen hard service.

For more information, check the article on the USA site, Buying Your First Albacore. Also look at the USA and CAN classified ads for prices of used boats. Paul Townsend, who has looked at using the Albacore for a club/training boat at University of Michigan, may have some additional comments based on the small fleet of Albacores they are building to replace some other 15 footers used primarily for adult (not junior) sailing.

I would encourage you to consider the Albacore. The 420/FJ make a lot of sense for many programs, but the Albacore can also be used successfully as a junior or adult trainer.

Photos: Albacore Junior Nationals (allow time for photos to load)Peter Duncan40063.5782175926

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:36 am
by dougking888
Hi Peter and everybody-
Thanks for the welcome and for the info. You've confirmed much my thinking, and if you don't mind I will use your post as part of my presentation to the sailing club board.

Some of what I have read & heard about Albacores (here and other places) hints that the boats take a bit of oomph to right after a capsize. The FJs are difficult enough in this regard. We teach students to use the bow line (painter), looped under the up-side shroud, as a righting line and this helps a lot. But part of the bigger/more stable equation can also translate to 'more difficult to right.' My own belief is that righting & recovering from a capsize is an essential skill for small-boat sailing, so we want to be able to teach it.

About stepping on the foredeck... yeah, rather few boats under 17' tolerate this at all. Thistles solve the problem by not having a foredeck ;) In this regard, the Albacore has got to be better than FJs or 420s.

Thanks again


PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:13 am
by Guest
Feel free to use any and all in your board presentation.

As long as you don't stick your mast in the mud (a common problem on the Chesapeake for all dinghies- except perhaps an Optimist) an Albacore can be righted by one person weighing about 120-130 lb, and maybe even less, though I've not tested that limit for a while.

We were teaching capsizing this spring and showed the group how to do the "scoop" recovery. This is used where one of the people is large or of low upper body strength making it hard for them to climb back in the boat once it is righted. The technique involves putting on person on the board and the other floating in the water while laying along side the centerboard case holding the hiking straps. The one on the CB rights the boat solo and the other is "scooped" inside the boat offering immediate stability and avoiding the need to climb back in over the gunwale. We were doing this with people on the board as light as 130-140 lb.

If you look closely at the photos of the juniors sailing you will see some of the boats have "righting lines" tucked under the gunwales. These are not necessary for righting an Alb, but can be helpful. Very simple low cost addition. I think there are posts on the forum of how to make them.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:27 am
by Guest
Search this forum on the word "capsize" in the MESSAGE BODY and you will get lots of posts about capsizing and recovering Albacores.

Read the 18 Aug 2009 post by Townsend in the following thread ... KW=capsize where he gives testament to his 120 lb wife righting the Albacore solo.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:04 am
by townsend
dougking888 wrote:Some of what I have read & heard about Albacores (here and other places) hints that the boats take a bit of oomph to right after a capsize.

The Albacore is perhaps the easiest boat to right I've ever had the pleasure of capsizing. My wife, who weighs less than 120lbs, can right one single handed from a full turtle position without a struggle - she says it's easier to right than a Laser. It doesn't require much "oomph".

The downside is that the boat is not self draining - after a capsize it comes up full of water that has to be bailed (although you can sail it dry if it's windy enough and you have suction bailers) These two characteristics go together to a degree - the self bailing boats tend to be a bear to right because you have to force buoyancy *down* into the water to get them upright. The albacore hull spins around the water inside it, like an open soup can on it's side - very easy to right, but also picks up a bunch of water. Newer boats tend to have more buoyancy and come up with less water.

For myself, I much prefer a boat that I know I can right myself and sail home no matter how exhausted I am. The bailing thing just isn't much of an issue for me since capsizes are rather rare. YMMV.

To address the main thrust of the post, without repeating what Peter has already said:

The alb is certainly worth taking a serious look at. The 420 or FJ might be a better fit for your purposes if it's mainly kids. For adults who have developed a taste for pulled pork, the larger alb would be a better fit. The alb is perhaps the most versitile dinghy out there - it works well as a family daysailor or a performance racing boat; it goes well in light air, yet can be sailed (and is raced) in conditions where most other boats have called it quits.

You might want to share the following report with your board. Two years ago, our club evaluated basically every ~15 footer we could get our hands on, and this is my take on it.

UMSC Fleet Replacement Report

This report was based on the following criteria for choosing boats. I'm not sure how well this dovetails with what your club wants.

Good luck picking a boat, and feel free to ask some more questions.

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:53 am
by dougking888
Thank you all for the help and advice.

A "hole card" I did not tell you about earlier is that we have an Albacore here at BSC and can give it a try for those that want to see for themselves. The other most-likely on the list that we can also trial is the FJ, and those two are the boats I'm going to focus on.

Every boat is a compromise, and the advantages of the Albacore (as I see it) are- far superior light air performance, overall better responsiveness for teaching, ability to take a wider range of student age/size, ability to carry a 3rd or even 4th person. The disadvantages I see are- no fleet purchases (what does a brand-new Albacore cost and where would you buy one? Google doesn't know!), bench-style seating, possibly increased maintenance with the tank seats & non-uniform fit-out (which we can work on, over time)

Please continue my eddikashun here, and thank you all for the help so far

Doug King

PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:53 pm
by Guest
New Albacores are being produced by Ontario Yachts in Burlington, ON Canada. They do not have a website, but can be found in the phone book. Pre-production boats are available from Hapco Marine. They expect to move to production boats in 2010. Since I am one of the members of Hapco, you can e-mail me at for more information.

Bench style seats are viewed by some, especially those over the age of 30 as a big comfort advantage. As one JY15 sailor told me after sailing an Albacore, "in my previous boat my crew was either hiking or lying in the bilge, there was no in between state."

As Paul noted the boats with lots of buoyancy (those with seat tanks all the way to the gunwale fit this description) tend to float high and be harder to right after capsize. It is easier to right a boat with no tanks in the midsection so the boat "settles" on the water rather than floating high with a torque that tries to make it turn turtle.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:08 pm
by henry
Peter Duncan wrote: Doug,
If you look closely at the photos of the juniors sailing you will see some of the boats have "righting lines" tucked under the gunwales. These are not necessary for righting an Alb, but can be helpful. Very simple low cost addition. I think there are posts on the forum of how to make them.

I'll submit that a righting line, properly installed will make righting one of the "newer" so-called more difficult to right Albacores very easy by one small person.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:03 pm
by townsend
Regarding the bench seats - as the helmsman, I'm always perched on the gunwale and almost never sit on the seat.

As for the crew, well who cares how uncomfortable the crew is? Anyway it's a proven fact that the boat goes fastest when the crew is most uncomfortable. (c:

Re: Albacores for youth/community sailing?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:40 pm
by Mountain Missy
Solo Righting comment-- I own an Albacore Grampian (1982) and it is NOT easy to right solo. The hull filled with water the last time I capsized and I had to have help from a nearby fisherman to get her up. I am a very athletic woman of 136 pounds and I never could have gotten her up- using my entire weight and balancing myself off the centerboard. Once righted, she was full of water that had to be bailed. I am looking for the "leak" per se, but no luck yet.