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Old 28-09-2013, 11:56   #1
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Cal 39 downwind?

All you Cal 39 MKII sailors out there, wondering how she sails downwind. Was seriously considering a First 42 until I learned how squirrely they are downwind with any kind of a following sea. Not what I would consider to be on for a cruiser. I want to at least be able to consider the option of running before the wind wind for a while when things get dicey, before heaving to. I get that a fin with a spade is not going to track like a conventional hull, but I suspect that they all can't be that much of a handful downwind, and I like a lot of things about the Cal.
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Old 28-09-2013, 12:01   #2
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

Didn't the Cal 39 clean house in the older SF/Hawaii race? Downhill sled was the term used I believe, though it will never be compared to a long, full keel for straight-line tracking.
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Old 28-09-2013, 12:16   #3
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

Well the Cal sailed down wind just fine, I like them as well but really go over the rudder, they are old boats now and the rudder is not a strong point on the boat.
By the way, the Beneteau First 42 is an excellent boat for offshore cruising. It was built as an offshore racer and is head and shoulders above the current line, in my opinion. Dead downwind is not its best point of sail if its really blowing but its easy to come off a dead run and reach up just a bit and it settles down, otherwise an excellent sailor with a following.
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Old 28-09-2013, 13:00   #4
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

[QUOTE...Dead downwind is not its best point of sail if its really blowing but its easy to come off a dead run and reach up just a bit and it settles down, otherwise an excellent sailor with a following.[/QUOTE]

I think that this is true of any fin keeler. Best performance can often be to "tack" downwind, as opposed to trying to sail dead downwind. Every boat is different of course.

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Old 28-09-2013, 21:18   #5
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

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Originally Posted by redsky49 View Post
Didn't the Cal 39 clean house in the older SF/Hawaii race? Downhill sled was the term used I believe, though it will never be compared to a long, full keel for straight-line tracking.
I had thought that was the Cal 40 but I could be wrong. I know the 40 has a great rep as a downwind rocket sled.
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Old 28-09-2013, 21:23   #6
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

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Well the Cal sailed down wind just fine, I like them as well but really go over the rudder, they are old boats now and the rudder is not a strong point on the boat.
By the way, the Beneteau First 42 is an excellent boat for offshore cruising. It was built as an offshore racer and is head and shoulders above the current line, in my opinion. Dead downwind is not its best point of sail if its really blowing but its easy to come off a dead run and reach up just a bit and it settles down, otherwise an excellent sailor with a following.
I really like the First 42 and was getting close to offering on one. But I kept hearing things like "just turn out 15 degrees when she tries to kill you and she's fine...." To me, if it isn't happy dead downwind, it isn't much of a cruising boat. But that's just me.
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Old 28-09-2013, 21:34   #7
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

Ive never really raced in boats, but to me plain downwind is the most uncomfortable point of sail! I always bear off in tacks as said above!! Much more stable point of sail !! Just my 2 cents, but I look for comfort in a boat more then it's down wind abilty, but then we are never in a hurry
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Old 29-09-2013, 09:46   #8
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I spent years racing at Cal 40 out of the Miami area we used to call it the log downwind because once you got rolling she was awesome . nice ocean boat
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Old 29-09-2013, 15:33   #9
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

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I had thought that was the Cal 40 but I could be wrong. I know the 40 has a great rep as a downwind rocket sled.
By golly, you are absolutely right. I was thinking of the Bill Lapworth design of the '60's.

The 39 followed later, and was a more cruiser/less IOR design if I recall correctly (and apparently I wasn't before).

Thanks for the correction!
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Old 29-09-2013, 15:48   #10
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

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All you Cal 39 MKII sailors out there, wondering how she sails downwind.

I had 1 for 2 years, it sailed just fine. It did have a good amount of weather helm if you didn't take action soon enough.
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Old 29-09-2013, 22:07   #11
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

It is interesting how different people/boats consider downwind sailing. I absolutely loved DDW in my Contessa 26 in the trades. It was a narrow, high ballast to weight ratio boat but it didnt roll badly and turned in good passages. On a broad reach it was much harder for the windvane to steer, and was more likely to take spray in the cockpit. A prevented main, and the correct size jib poled out was heaven for trade winds. I found the same thing with my Peterson 44. I never got the chance for DDW with my 37 foot steel boat, so I have no idea what it would have been like. I made friends with some folks from a Kendal 32 (I think a Westsail dirivative) that was named the Jolly Tar. They referd to the boat as the Rolly Jar. They did a lot of broad reaching. I think a lot of DDW sailing comfort is related to the basic hull shape. I see photos of very broad sterned racing boats that are supposed to be great downwind, but they all seem to depend on an alert helmsman and a 6 foot diameter wheel to produce good results. I dont think that a windvane and a tiller would work very well on that sort of boat. The Cal boats seem to have a good reputation as both cruisers and racers, so with the proper rigging (vangs,preventers,poles,windvane, etc) it will probably make a fine cruising boat. )Just another opinion. ____Grant.
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Old 30-09-2013, 09:49   #12
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Re: Cal 39 downwind?

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It is interesting how different people/boats consider downwind sailing. I absolutely loved DDW in my Contessa 26 in the trades. It was a narrow, high ballast to weight ratio boat but it didnt roll badly and turned in good passages. On a broad reach it was much harder for the windvane to steer, and was more likely to take spray in the cockpit. A prevented main, and the correct size jib poled out was heaven for trade winds. I found the same thing with my Peterson 44. I never got the chance for DDW with my 37 foot steel boat, so I have no idea what it would have been like. I made friends with some folks from a Kendal 32 (I think a Westsail dirivative) that was named the Jolly Tar. They referd to the boat as the Rolly Jar. They did a lot of broad reaching. I think a lot of DDW sailing comfort is related to the basic hull shape. I see photos of very broad sterned racing boats that are supposed to be great downwind, but they all seem to depend on an alert helmsman and a 6 foot diameter wheel to produce good results. I dont think that a windvane and a tiller would work very well on that sort of boat. The Cal boats seem to have a good reputation as both cruisers and racers, so with the proper rigging (vangs,preventers,poles,windvane, etc) it will probably make a fine cruising boat. )Just another opinion. ____Grant.
I agree that the type of boat probably has a lot to do with both comfort and safety in going ddw--which is why I was hoping for someone who'd done long passages in a Cal 39. It seems like a lot of unnecessary work to be constantly gybing back and forth when the trades are heading exactly where you want to go. But I was thinking mostly about safety. I read of an account of a First 42 that broached, rolled, and dismasted going downwind in 15 ft seas. It just seems like a cruising boat shouldn't require hour after hour of perfect concentration fighting a tendency for following waves to push the stern around.

I haven't heard good things about windvanes working well going ddw. which one did you have?
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