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Old 17-11-2009, 14:18   #1
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Cal 36 - Racer or Cruiser ?

I would like to know more about the Cal 36. Looked at one last sunday and it had tiller steering to the aft rudder. It also has a rudder mounted to aft end of the keel and a tiller of its own! Is the cal 36 mostly a racing boat or can it be used for cruising?

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Old 17-11-2009, 19:46   #2
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It depends, you know the saying; any two boat on the same tack are racing. It's for racing. On the other hand if your alone out there, your cruising.

More questions?

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Old 18-11-2009, 00:02   #3
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The keel trim tab was a rule beating attempt to take advantage of a hole in the rating rules. Believe it was originally a secret weapon on the 12 meter America's Cup Boats. The hole in the rule only lasted a year or so before the rules committee penalized the tabs out of existance. Those boats that were built with them either locked them in place or faired them in to escape the penalty.

I've only seen them in pictures. All the these boats had wheel (yuck) steering with a smaller wheel inside the main wheel to control the trim tab. Assume the tab and wheel could be linked when needed to increase maneuverability. The real benefit would adding or removing lift from the keel depending on the need like the flaps on an airplane wing. The trim tabs were mostly on custom one off large boats or high end boats like the Mark I Swan 43. One S&S production boat had them but didn't know they'd been on any of the Cal boats.

The Cal 36 was designed as a Racer/Cruiser with the emphasis on Racer. It was a little sister to the famous Cal 40, probably the most successful production race boat, ever. Of course, those were the days when there really was cruiser in Racer/Cruiser. The boats weren't so light they couldn't have an interior, tankage was adequate to do more than meet some minimum set by a rule and they were strong enough to resist running into a whale or most anything else.

I seriously considered the Cal 36 when I was looking for my current classic plastic. Wish I'd found one with a tiller might have saved me from getting stuck with a wheel.
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Old 18-11-2009, 15:53   #4
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Sea - Is the Cal 36 you looked at looked on Lake Michigan? If so, I believe I know the exact boat. I inspected this vessel last spring.
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Old 18-11-2009, 17:31   #5
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My parents owned a Cal 36 from 1968 until 1974 I believe. We raced the boat extensively, including a couple of Transpac (69 and 71) and 72 Mazatlan. The boat was sold to a family in San Diego that had chartered one in the Caribbean and just had to have one. They still own the boat 35 years on, its at San Diego Yacht Club right next to the club, named Bligh's Spirit.

I have never heard of one with a trim tab -- that must have been a custom modification after the boat was constructed. Probably a very good idea, as a trim tab can be cranked in a few degrees to reduce weather helm and to improve lift going upwind. Cal 36 can have a decent amount of weather helm. Not as much as many race boats, but a trim tab would certainly be a good thing to have.

They are good solid boats. Simple, so you don't spend your life trying to fix stuff. Everything is accessible and repairable. Easy to sail, as the rig is very small -- only about 40 feet hoist on the jib.

In light air, its not a fast boat: a lot of wetted surface, and not much sail area.

In medium to heavy air (anything over 10 knots of breeze) they sail very well. They will surf, like a Cal 40, but nothing like a modern ULDB. They handle very heavy seas and gales well, far better than most boats: the heavier the breeze, the better we did racing.

While we owned it because it was a good racing boat and we went racing 3 to 4 times each week, several thousand miles every year, these were ocean races. This means we lived on the boat underway most weekends for all those years, and for weeks at a time when we'd go to Hawaii or Mexico. We did cruise the boat some too. My brother and I would take the boat with friends for weekends or holiday weeks: nobody over 12 or 14.

Really, its a good cruising boat. Most "cruisers" just have a lot of junk that breaks and needs to be replaced. Most "cruisers" really are impractical underway with no sea berths, unworkable decks, cockpits, galleys, and main cabins. The Cal 36 is really a practical, safe, seaworthy, and still decently fast offshore boat.

Heaviest weather I can recall was during a San Clemente Island race, a Whitney series race in February or March, probably 1969, off the Southern California coast, about 45 knots (that is a HELL of a lot of breeze!) in fully breaking seas. The waves would break, and the soup was so thick it would be right up to the gunwale all the way around the boat! Lots of green water across the decks. We had two watches: my parents and one of their friends on one watch, and the other watch was me (12), my brother (16) and another 16 year old. No problem. We had dinner underway, the off watch could sleep, not much water got below. Very few other boats finished that race.
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cal, racer

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