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Old 17-05-2021, 12:23   #1
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How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

I have seen this Soverel 43 https://www.yachtworld.fr/bateaux/19...el-43-3612723/ for an appealing price (and given that it's been listed for quite a while, I guess it could come down a fair bit), and it got me thinking. This post is more about the general concept, rather than this particular boat (though she appears to have an interesting story: https://rbsailing.blogspot.com/2013/...overel-43.html and https://forums.sailinganarchy.com/in...ra-soveral-43/).



I'm an "advanced beginner" (have RYA day skipper + about 1300NM under my belt) pondering the liveaboard lifestyle. Because I'm *tall* (1.97 / 6'6) I'd most likely have to find a 40ish footer to be able to stand straight (I've posted elsewhere about this, I consider it a non-negotiable). I'm also hoping to go full electric, and someone suggested a light boat with plenty of sail area. Would a racer fit that description? In terms of program, I imagine a couple of years of EU coastal cruising to get more experience, and then consider going further.



I'm wondering if there are any major red flags with the idea of turning a racer into a liveaboard. I understand that fitting it with adequate comfort makes it more of a project boat than anything else, but are there other obvious problems? Am I mistaken in guessing that a racer might be more strongly built than a cruiser (except keel/rudder design which I guess some here would disqualify for cruising)?


I've not been able to find any posts discussing this elsewhere on the forum, apologies if I've missed them.


Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old 17-05-2021, 12:39   #2
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

I guess you consider racers more along the line of a Pogo, a Figaro or an Open 40 that can be easily sailed alone. Perhaps even an old Imoca.

A few things to consider:
  • Racers usually don't have nice wooden interior with cabins and salon tables. If you start adding this, the weight might change the performance of your boat.
  • Most racers I know usually have more draft that then average cruiser of a similar size. This can be annoying in many areas where everything over 6 foot limits your choices of anchoages and marinas.
  • Most racers I was on weren't big on anchoring gear. They're supposed to race in open oceans.
  • How are you going to solve the problem of the tender?
  • At least for me, when living in warm areas, sun protection in the cockpit is critical. I haven't seen many racers with biminis. I also love to enjoy a bottle of wine with friends. Check if the cockpit works for your intended use.
  • Many marinas include the bow-sprit in the length to charge for.
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Old 17-05-2021, 13:12   #3
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Racers tend to be rigged for having crew and often aren't setup for easy short handing. While you might think you will always have help, what if you don't?

Also as mentioned in the previous post, there is a lot to be desired when looking at the interior. Can you live aboard one? Sure but I would hesitate to spend money trying to make it more home like, as the costs will be high and it won't add to the value of the boat.

Also it's likely on an older race boat that both the sails and rigging are tired, and while that can be replaced that's expensive, lines and blocks aren't cheap especially for a racer which probably has big sails.

Don't under estimate the cost, you could easy spend 3-4x the cost of that boat in maintenance in just a few years depending on what you need to repair or replace.
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Old 17-05-2021, 13:51   #4
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

I suggest that you search for the many posts by Wingsail here on CF, for he has done just what you are suggesting, and quite successfully. There was also a chap called Weyalan here who did the same with a early 80s VandeStadt, although he left the cruising scene pretty early. And FWIW, Ann and I cruised in a 1973 IOR one tonner (36 feet), but that was an era before ocean racers were quite as dedicated as in later years.

However, with respect to that Soverel, are you sure it has the requisite headroom? With its flush deck, that seems unlikely to me.

And look at the cockpit: it is set up to race with a big crew doing the work, spread out over a huge but uncomfortable cockpit, with the helmsman isolated behind a huge wheel... a very unhandy layout for a solo or short handed sailor.

I won't say that this boat is impossible, but I think it very difficult to repurpose.

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Old 17-05-2021, 14:14   #5
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

You spend a LOT of relaxing time comfortably ensconced in a nice comfortable cockpit. That boat does not even have a real cockpit and you would basically have to build a complete interior. You would be better off with a kit boat if you can find one.


So my take...yes stupid. Sorry
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Old 17-05-2021, 15:15   #6
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Tnerual she has potential to be a cruiser if you can handle the deep draft, but it also depends on how good you are with tools? I would say forget it if you are not comfortable fiberglassing and getting your hands dirty. You really need to cut some of the cockpit out and install a cruiser friendly one. I would be looking at removing some of those winches and trying to simplify the sailing systems. Our cockpit design is nothing special. The sides from the cockpit floor are just angled 30 degrees outwards so you can lean against them when sitting on the cockpit floor, then the rest of the cockpit is just deck and you can lean against the end of the cabin when at anchor. We love it and it works well for our family.
I think all the work you do should be in foam sandwich panels so you save weight and don't spoil some of her sailing characteristics. The joy of using foam is the panels can be fiberglassed in the workshop then just glass taped in place. I think a new cabin like the one below would be a huge improvement as well. All this is easily achievable if you are handy with tools, but as soon as you start paying a professional then the costs will be such you would be better of buying another boat.
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Old 17-05-2021, 15:31   #7
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

I have doubts whether that boat has 6'6" headroom. Also, that draft is pretty restrictive for cruising.
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Old 17-05-2021, 16:03   #8
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Mauddib1116, wouldn't it be cool to do this to her. That is the sort of project I would love to do if the boat was free.
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Old 17-05-2021, 16:35   #9
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

If you’ve ever raced before you may know that many of the contrivances on race boats require extra attention and effort. An example, my C&C 30MKI - which was a racer cruiser with a particular bent on racing sailed beautifully. Hoisting a sail on a foil rather than hanks or roller furling was a bear to do single handed.

My previous ultimate 20, a somewhat modern but small race boat refused to sail downwind without a spinnaker flying. That was fine for that boat but would be unacceptable for a cruiser stuck in 30+ knots of wind. I doubt they’re trying to get up on a plane like I was. The ultimate 20 was able to plane, but mostly because it was super light. The number and weight of the crew, between 3-4 would affect our ability to plain and go fast. It’s not a 43’ boat, but 50 lbs made a huge difference on it.

Now, speaking of weight. Many race boats rely on moveable ballast or rail meat as we call them - people shifted from one spot to another. This effect is sometimes nearly critical at certain wind speeds. A cruiser would consider most of the sail plans overpowered because they’re lacking this ballast.

It can be done, and it can be done well. I had even considered it.

Many things in racing boats which would have been electric are human powered hydraulic etc. this is done for some race rules. You may have to have 3 or more people to operate a winch in this configuration.

If you have a family of 8 and 2 extra buddies.... a 50’ race boat might even make the most sense for getting them all from California to Hawaii. Otherwise I doubt it’s worth the time and money. You’ll likely spend more trying to make the sail management possible to be done by a single person than the difference in cost. Also if that wasn’t enough you’ll likely spend a lot more than that refitting the interior.
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Old 17-05-2021, 17:35   #10
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

To answer your question...

On a scale of 1 to dunking your nuts in a fire ant hill?

About a 4.
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Old 17-05-2021, 17:42   #11
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

So far, it seems... quite stupid
Seriously, thank you for all the helpful answers. When combining the difficult sail plan, lack of comfort and cost/effort of adding the basics to make it liveable, plus all the other "minor" points, it's not really a good calculation.


Glad I asked the question though, I learnt quite a bit just reading this! I'll explore the various posts mentioned as well.


Thanks again!
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Old 17-05-2021, 19:10   #12
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Google "Anasazi Girl" and "Anastazi Racing as an example of sucessfully living and cruising aboard a racing boat - an Ocean 40. My folks met and befriended James during their circumnavigation in the early 90s. He went again starting with a family of 4 and added 2 more kids along the way. There's some good going-fast video of her on Youtube. Wet ride - yes. Comfortable - not especially. Fast - definitely. Safe - reasonably - they were dismasted in a storm off Cape Horn, but were able to save and later repair the boat. Would a heavier "cruising" boat have fared bette in that situationr? Perhaps, although a number of cruising boats have been rolled/dismasted, one in the same storm.

I have to say I'm sometimes envious of those with the ability to shake free of their stern waves and rip along on a plane.
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Old 17-05-2021, 19:45   #13
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Bellinghamster that cabin/cockpit is exactly the sort of retrofit you could easily do on the boat the OP was talking about. The sweet thing is with the half empty interior you have such good access to glass everything back in place. Give me a few weeks with a grinder, trailer load of foam, fiberglass cloth, resin and you would see a new yacht. You would have to take advantage of the big hole in the deck for the new cabin to be able to get full size sheets of glassed foam inside for bulkheads and bunk tops.
Orin the interior is all about personal taste. Forget fitting her out like a leaky teaky. Instead stick with what is there and build on that. I quite like painted white surfaces and very little timber trim. So easy to keep clean and build.
As for the difficult sail plan, if they can sail Open 60s around the globe surely this 40 footer can be modified for one person?
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Old 17-05-2021, 20:03   #14
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fore and Aft View Post
As for the difficult sail plan, if they can sail Open 60s around the globe surely this 40 footer can be modified for one person?
Cheers
Well, yes. Anything can be done, the question is, I think - is it a smart thing to do.

If it were my boat, it would involve changing most parts of the running rigging, winches, furling systems etc. I would budget something like 15,000 for changing sails and sail management systems. Just a rough guess.

After all the time and work that went into it, would I not have been better off buying a racer cruiser for $75k of similar dimensions? Me personally, I think so. Someone who cared more for performance or was in love with the lines of the boat or as you suggested someone willing to put an interior in to their liking or further wanted a non-standard sort of interior arrangement. It may make a great deal of sense to them.

As for me, Ill stick to my old leaky teaky - at least for now.
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Old 17-05-2021, 20:14   #15
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Re: How stupid is this idea: turn a racer into a liveaboard?

Orin I did'nt think about costs, this is exactly why the wife says NO to most of my ideas.
I don't think you would have to worry about changing winches, there are six good size Lewmar self-tailers in the cockpit. The other advantage with this yacht for the OP is that he mentions he is 6' 6" so he could easily build himself a good size play pen with a custom mattress and a cabin with the correct height for him.
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