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Old 10-07-2011, 19:43   #1
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Question Why Cal ?

I've seen an occasional fragment of positive emotional reflection by owners and previous owners to Cal sailboats that borders almost on the fanatical, but I can't seem to find a summation of why these boats have such a positive reputation in my search patters.

Can owners, previous owners, or other sources give me a run down on why these boats are so well respected as cruisers, and what to look out for as possible downsides or issues?
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:39   #2
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Re: Why Cal?

The Cal 40 is the winningest sailboat ever built. You will look long and far to find a race that the boat hasn't won at some time and on both coasts. Furthermore, the Cal 40s are still competitive though not state of the art. The 36 and 34 were attempts to copy the success of the 40 but weren't nearly as successful. The Cal 40 was the among the first FRP 'large' boat with a spade rudder/fin keel combination and was widely condemned as unsafe for racing offshore' Of course that soon changed when the Cal 40 started walking away with all the trophies.

The Cal 24 was Jensen Marines first Boat in 1956 and was the boat that Robin Lee Graham started and nearly finished his around the world sail on. He did switch to a Luders 33 to finish the circumnavigation but that was only after sailing the long way to the Carribean from California.

The Cals were definitely production cruiser racers but they were strongly built and have been campaigned year after year, often for nearly 5 decades and are still out there banging away.

The Cal 40 has an issue with the mast step. They were designed back in '63 when fiberglass was a revolutionary and very untried material. Longevity wasn't something that was considered so they built the mast step out of a steel weldment. Replaceing the step is a major proposition that, if it hasn't been done, will need to be done unless the boat has sailed exclusively in freshwater. Not familiar with the other boats but all in all, Cals have a good reputation for strong construction.

In short, the Cal boats were among the first FRP boats that brought sailing to the masses and made big boat racing affordable for other than the Blue Blazer set.
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:44   #3
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Re: Why Cal?

awesome awesome writeup roverhi. Well done! This is not only helpful for me, but also for others searching on this board in the future.
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:48   #4
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I'm no an owner and have only sailed one Cal (a cal 40 around a few bouys) but, I researched them alot when I was boatshopping/dreaming.

The first thing is the ubiquitous Lapworth design. His stuff was way ahead of it's time. He practically invented the fin keel... Cals of all sizes ruled the racing world for an entire decade, as far as I know. Even today a 40 year old Cal can do quite well against more modern boats. But among the racer/cruiser generation they are one of the best combinations of comfort and performance.

The second thing is their Overall build quality. They are generally stout boats, built for the SF bay and ocean racing. You won't ever hear of a Cal losing it's rudder... People have been crossing the Pacific in Cal 20's since they first came out, and pretty much every other Cal since.

Lots of them out there too, so there is a huge owner base, and one thing I know is true is owners always stick up for their boats. So with so many owners your bound to hear a lot of good things about them
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:50   #5
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Re: Why Cal?

I think the other reason is Bill Lapworth. The man was a genius at what he did and so visionary his boats still command respect and are viewed as highly desirable.

His designs just sail beautifully. The are SMART designs... and they bite into water wave and wind like a hell bitch and sail thru anything, the heavier it is the better they seem to like it...

Heh... we have a very tentative line on a Cal 40 and are sweating out the deal. Cause I want her so bad I can taste it...

And Roverhi... a minor editorial point, Robin Lee actually sailed a Lapworth 24... which was almost a Cal 24 ; -)

And the Cal 28 was his scaled down test of the Cal 40 design.
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:56   #6
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Re: Why Cal?

I second roverhi's explanation. I've only sailed on 3 different Cals and each was very different from the other. In each case they stood up to some of the most notorious of waters around the Hawaiian Islands and I made it through those channels just fine. The one feature I did not care for was on a Cal 2-30 which was a bit squirrely going downwind and although would hold a course with quite a bit of effort was not easy to handle in 25-30 k gusts. I think it was the combination of fin keel and spade rudder that made it want to head up constantly. I could be wrong.
They are a good production boat that was made for the folks who had a bit of money to spend on recreation but did not want to spend a great deal of time on mahogany and teak maintenance.
kind regards,
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Old 10-07-2011, 20:57   #7
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Re: Why Cal?

Thats the spirit. I'm getting a lot from you all. Its addictive now thinking about the possibilities here which I haven't examined before.
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:14   #8
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Re: Why Cal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiprJohn View Post
I've only sailed on 3 different Cals and each was very different from the other.
+1. And maybe this was Cal's ultimate problem. I've sailed a Cal 34, a Cal 40, and a Cal 2-46.

I can't imagine three more disparate boats.
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:21   #9
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Re: Why Cal?

Say, this rings a memory bell... wasn't a Cal 40 the same hull as a Catalina 38 or some such nonsense?
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:28   #10
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Re: Why Cal?

I think they were purpose built, not the same boat a few feet longer...

The 40 is a racer, the 46 is a cruiser, the 34 is a cruiser/racer.

And never heard anything like that Monkey... And I would be pretty surprised...
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:31   #11
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Re: Why Cal?

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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
Say, this rings a memory bell... wasn't a Cal 40 the same hull as a Catalina 38 or some such nonsense?
Not even close. The Cal 40 was a revolutionary sailboat, one that changed the design game for all times. The Catalina 38 was a complete product of the IOR. An anomaly designed to beat a rule.

Take a look at any Cal 40 and Catalina 38 side by side, and you'll see that they are not at all similar. This will be especially true if you view from the transom.
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:35   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey
Say, this rings a memory bell... wasn't a Cal 40 the same hull as a Catalina 38 or some such nonsense?
Blasphemy! Surely nonsense. I've had a Cal 36 for 44 years. The only original parts now are the hull and cockpit winches. When I moved up to a newer larger boat I could only choose one of equal pedigree: a Santa Cruz 50. The Cal is for sale and the SC50 is anchored in Palau next to my friends beautiful Cal 48...a stretched 40.

The Cals are superb sailers. Performance and balance in all conditions.
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:38   #13
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Re: Why Cal?

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Say, this rings a memory bell... wasn't a Cal 40 the same hull as a Catalina 38 or some such nonsense?
It just occurred to me that you're trolling again. When one considers that the Cal 40 was designed in 1963, and the Catalina 38 didn't come out until 1977, it becomes all the more preposterous that the Cal 40 might have been a copy of a boat that wasn't to be designed for another 14 years.
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:40   #14
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Re: Why Cal?

No troll - conceptual blending:


"Frank Butler of Catalina Yachts purchased the molds from Yankee. Butler redesigned the interior and give the boat a Catalina-styled deck. He lengthened the mast, shortened the boom, and changed the skeg-hung rudder to a balanced-spade design. Butler's changes resulted in a faster boat, and the Catalina 38 was selected to replace the Cal 40 as the official boat of the Congressional Cup, one of the top match-racing regattas in the world. It was, in turn, replaced by the Capri 37, also made by Catalina Yachts."

And I think maybe I am also thinking the Beneteau 38 FIRST became the Bennie 40
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Old 10-07-2011, 21:41   #15
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Re: Why Cal?


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