Harken Derm

Passion held by class enthusiasts

Published on August 14th, 2018

The International 110, often just called the 110, is a one-design class boat designed in 1939 by Ray Hunt and was first built in Marblehead, MA. Hunt, now inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, had a unique idea of how boats should go through the water.

The 110 is a double-ender, slicing the water at entry and in theory, bringing it back together at exit. While yacht design did not follow Hunt, that does not lessen the passion held by class enthusiasts.

The 110 faithful recently gathered at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in Holland, Michigan to sail the Nationals when a new fiberglass boat, built by Jon Easley of New Holland Boats, was splashed for the first time.

Featuring a double bottom, bulkheads, a slick console, a bespoke tiller, and the latest in rigging technology, she was otherworldly. Owner John Huff, a longtime member of the class, liked how the boat self-bailed during the choppiest race on Lake Michigan. Progress!

Race Committee JD Stone, a former 110er, welcomed the fleet with a song:

We are the 110er’s – the finest in the land,
We go around the racecourse with the mainsheet in our hand.
And if you think you can outpoint a 110, you better think again.
Because when it comes to pointing, you can’t beat a 110.

Trailering sailboats can attract curious questions, and rather than struggle to explain the intricacies of our sport, Herb Dreher took another tack. Years ago, when stopped at Niagra Falls for dinner and asked about the boat behind his truck, Herb replied, “I custom built that boat for going over Niagra Falls.”

When Herb returned to his truck, he found the local cops waiting for him. Apparently it is a crime to go over Niagra Falls in an International 110, and likely any other type of boat. Herb’s name remains upon a watch list of “persons of interest” at Niagara Falls. Awkward moments make the best stories.

Huff’s new 110 was good but would finish second at the 2018 Nationals to Joe Berkeley and Linda Epstein sailing a wooden boat originally built in 1958. Old one design classes remain active when new boats don’t reduce the relevance of the fleet.

But change can’t be ignored, though it’s not always progress. Notable was how the 2018 Nationals was the first time every boat elected to sail with the symmetrical spinnaker rather than an asymmetrical cut which is class legal.

After a decade of development, competitors agree the A-sail is appropriate for pursuit races, but the symmetrical sail is a more versatile, faster, all-around option. North One Design sailmaker Ched Proctor, who developed the current 110 sails with North colleague Al Declercq, was not surprised.

According to Proctor, the Lightning class recently conducted a study and the symmetrical spinnaker was “faster on 28 out of 30 downwind legs.” Proctor reflected upon the fact that A-sails were developed for lightweight skiffs that sail hot angles, and displacement hulls like the 110 and Lightning do better sailing lower.

The 110 class is looking forward to the 2019 Nationals, the 80th anniversary of the organization, which will be held on Tomales Bay in Inverness, California. Class President Milly Biller and her group of merry pranksters have built a fleet of 25 boats and will have quality charter boats available to out of towners.

Just be careful what you say along the road trip.

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