Tired of dealing with weeds

Published on January 5th, 2021

Dear Curmudgeon: I race small yachts, having started on an Express 30 and then Solings. I bought my first racing hull, a Bluenose 24, but moved on to the Shark 24 as the class is quite popular and competitive in my area. However, it’s uncomfortable and catches floating weeds all the time on the keel and rudder.

My Bluenose never caught weeds as the keel and rudder slid right through them. I love the thought of sportboats but the modern keel and rudder catches weed which increases drag. How much slower would a sportboat be with an older style half keel that had a rudder extended off it? Or how effective are weed cutters? Is there a sportboat out there that can deal with weeds? – Drag is a drag

Dear Drag: I was once told how architects can fall in love with their vision and lose sight of how it can be executed. Yacht design is sort of similar, as modern appendages provide enhanced performance but they must exist in water that may not be so suitable for them.

Weed cutters add expense but are effective, however, you still need to know you have weeds to use them, and they do break. I once did a regatta on a 60-footer with a weed cutter, and when it broke during the first day, the boat went to the yard that night for repair. Other weed clearing systems such as flossing are also a pain.

If a sailing venue is known for weeds and kelp, keeping the blades clean is vital for performance but can become a frustrating distraction. Pulling up and down on weed cutters, or hanging over the side of the boat to clear the blades, is not what makes sailing fun.

What’s the solution? Pray the popular one design classes in the area are popular for a reason, such as the Etchells which does well with weeds. As for sportboats having old style appendages, that’s not happening. People like the idea of progress despite the consequences. – The Curmudgeon

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