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Open Season For Open Transoms


  • Open Season For Open Transoms

    The venerable Moore 24 just seems to get better with age, and like any collectors item, owners take pride of their possessions and will go to all lengths to make the boat as cool and competitive as possible. A few years back, Santa Cruz boat builder and fiberglass maestro Gary Tracy was the 1st to a take a sawzall to hull hull # 127 and bring to the boat a whole new level of "I want" to the fleet. There are now 10 or more modified Moore 24's with the open transom on the West Coast and certainly more to follow. Although the class remains adamant about keeping the boats as equal as possible and not creating any class spending warfare, they do accept the open transom so long as it does not over lighten the boat, the work must be done with conventional cloth and resin, exotics are dis allowed.

    Old school but still cool, Dave Albrights "Cal" in near original configuration

    We asked old school SC boat builder Dave Wahle, who has sailed the boats since their inception, what his take on open transom was and he answered, "Plain SEXY!" When asked about it's functionality, Dave did not hesitate to add "I wish we had them back in the day, every once in a while we would get the entire cockpit flooded with green water, and it was so slow to drain, we would intentionally round up just to get some of the water out"

    The former 8 Ball, done by Scott Easom set the standard for sexy in the Moore 24 Fleet

    Giles Combrisson has upped the ante, putting most lines below deck and eliminating excess hardware

    We asked Pro sailor Morgan Larson what the pros and cons are of the open transom, and he replied thusly:

    Pro's: your wife can pee off the back easily, your friends kids or the old guy that fell overboard can get back on easier, it looks cool. If you sail in the ocean, a breaking wave passes through quicker. Cons: A time consuming and expensive job. It's actually heavier, the boat isn't as stiff (the deck to the transom gives the boat stiffness and with out the deck back there you actually bend the boat when you pull on the backstay), the rudder has more lateral flex with a shorter rudder post and there isn't the same "end-plate" effect from the main sail to the deck (i.e. it isn't as aerodynamic). So... basically it is slower but more ergonomic and enjoyable.

    Claymoore at the 2013 3 Bridge Fiasco, looking nice!

    Rusty Cananda just did a remodel on his Moore 24 "Claymoore" and comments on his project:

    I did all the work in Benicia where I work. I work with my family now, and we have a large facility that we use to manufacture large filters in. We don't manufacture anymore, and have used the space for indoor boat storage. I was able to build a shop in the back, and fortunately the spray booth and air compressors all still work, so I had all the tools to do the job. It allowed me to get at least 2 hrs of work on the boat a day.

    I bought the boat 7 months ago from a guy who had it in Marina Del Rey. The deck was fu%#ed to say the least. 4 winches, full length genoa tracks, compasses mounted in the deck, stanchions and lifelines, and lots of rot, but the hull was in great shape, the trailer was new in 2009, and it had the right mast that had little mods made to it.

    I had spoke with Dave Hodges before making the trip down to see what the boat weighed, and he told me it was 2150lbs in 2010, which is 100lbs over weight. After looking at the boat, I felt fairly confident I could get the boat down to class minimum.

    After bringing the boat north, I came up with a plan. Part of the plan was to open the transom. I figured if I had to do the deck job, I might as well do the transom now, instead of wait.

    I did all the work myself, including spraying the deck and nonskid, and building the sails.

    So without actually keeping track of time and started tossing the receipts halfway through, I would say I have about $6k-$7k in the boat, not including the materials for the sails, and somewhere around 500hrs in the boat and sails. It was a bit more expensive than I thought, but not by that much.

    Once the project was finished I weighed the boat, and without corrector weights, it weighed 2025lbs. 25lbs under, and that is a 125lb weight loss with the project.

    I want to make sure to thank my family for letting me create a dusty shop in their building. Rufus Sjoberg for welding the tiller head, and invaluable advise with painting. Bill Colombo for letting me use his loft to build the sails. And Campbell Rivers at DCM for turning new rudder bearings, glassing the inside of the transom, and invaluable advise on building all the parts for the boat.
    We asked our resident PNW Editor and lifelong Moore 24 aficionado Ben Braden about his take on the process, and why other classes have not yet embraced the conversion:

    As to the cost, it's expensive. In doing our transom this year we basically bought the boat again. Now expensive is relative as the boats aren't that costly but you could easily rack up a bill of $5k to $10k depending on how much work you do yourself. It entails not only the fiberglass work, but a shorter rudder post including welding the head back on and new bearings. Then, because of the glass work the transom and deck need to be repainted to get everything to match. Which means stripping the deck of everything, finding some wet spots, fixing those and replacing gear that looks too old or worn out to bolt back on. Then you have a boat with newly painted deck, cockpit and transom and you say "why stop there, the hull could use some paint...." New tiller because of the lower exit point, new backstay set up, new pulpits, new speakers and you are ready to go, it's hard to stop and the bills can rack up.

    Why do it then? Because Chicks Dig It. It's a philosophy that works well applied to most everything in life. If chicks dig it everything else just seems to work out.

    Ben's Moore Uff Da went under the knife this winter and will be making heads turn this season!

    See the whole process HERE

    As to the pros/cons of the mod - it doesn't make the boat any faster. Its a costly modification just to give the driver a bit more room. I've heard it argued that opening the transom makes the boat safer because you can get people aboard easier. Yet the Moore already has low freeboard, it isn't hard to get someone back aboard on any Moore, and if you are sailing PHRF with the outboard in place, well, it's now in the way. I've heard it argued that the cockpit will drain quicker when a wave crashes over the boat downwind and fills the cockpit. Do you know of anyone that has ever filled the cockpit of a Moore? Maybe a little water comes in if you push your boat hard down in Hood River, but otherwise the bow seems to always lift. I've heard people say that opening the transom ruins the offshore ability of the Moore making it unsafe because following seas can now rush into the cockpit and flow right through the companionway and sink the boat. Really? No other boats race offshore with open transoms? The Moore would be going so slowly that waves can crash over the boat from behind? Hard to believe. But if your worried about that just make a transom slat you put in when you go offshore, seems a simple fix to a somewhat unwarranted fear (or close the companion way).

    One important con is how people do the modification. The governing board is rightfully worried that someone could do the transom modification to the Moore poorly and the boat could become unsafe. Hence they ask the modification be done in a way as to not make the boat lighter and they want to know a bit about who is doing the work and what materials are going to be used. Obviously they can't tell someone that they can't do the mod, but they can coax them into doing it correctly with strength and seaworthiness as the primary construction goal. Hence they ask you to do the mod as close to original construction as possible.

    My pro's for the open cockpit, chicks dig it, it gives me more room, it's a better place to stand when you bbq and when you are going downwind in a blow the person that used to stand up high on the transom can now safely sit with feet in and not make the driver feel like he will toss that person overboard as easily. Oh, and it makes me enjoy my 35 year old boat by giving her a modern feel and getting me excited to go out and bash her around the saltwater for another 35 years - thank you Ron Moore!

    As to a class allowing modifications in general, I really like the track the Moore fleet has taken. The board is still learning how to apply it but overall they are allowing people to make modifications to their boats that don't make the hull shape any stiffer, lighter or faster but give owners the feeling that they are still sailing a really cool boat. A feeling that will keep these old boats out on the water and racing for years and years to come. A feeling that keeps the group together in the long run, breathing a strong life into the old boats.

    The SC27's are going through a very similar time right now with sailors picking up these old boats cheaply and rebuilding them. Something that is very appealing to many humble sailors that can't afford a $50K+ outlay for a new boat but are handy and are willing to do some work on a great old boat. Most SC27's need a lot of work as the build standard for the SC's wasn't up that high. But after some major deck re-coreing, filler and paint you've got a cool boat that someone can afford to buy and work on bits at a time. The problem arrises when people are working on these boats they want to give them a modern look, open the transom, cut the cowlings off, better design the cockpit layout, change the rudder shape and even rudder position on the boat.

    Norn (sc27) opened their transom, changed the cockpit layout, put a deeper rudder on it and narrowed the keel. The boat looks absolutely bitchin, cost him a lot of money and didn't make it one bit faster. I've raced on it and against it both before and after the mods and I can tell you it didn't change a damn thing, she goes the same speed, she wipes out just as much and beats me just as many times as she used to. It doesn't help that the guy at the helm is really good, probably one of the two best ever at the helm of an SC27, but PHRF nailed his rating and the class wont let him race. We don't see Norn out racing much anymore, really sad about that.

    Other SC27's are doing mods and are still allowed to race. One has a stock looking rudder but is deeper and longer with some carbon involved, one has a rudder post moved to a different position, one has the hull deck joint glassed in making it stiffer, and I'm sure there are other mods I don't know about. It took someone to put a rudder on their boat that was a different design, obviously looked different, before someone said "That is illegal." Yet the other's are allowed to race.... It is hurting their class in the long run and is tough to watch. The point here is that these old 70's California built boats are just that, old. They need help, they need love, they are good boats and people want to own them, race them and modify them in a way that breaths new life into them. The J24's have the build numbers that allow them to have a strict one design rule, shit they are still building those things. But the SC27's, Express 27's and the Moore 24's have a very limited build number and by restricting what people can do to them to the level of the J24's will only chase owners out of the fleet and into some other modern boat leaving these well designed classics to rot away in the back end of some dry yard or alley behind someones house.

    The class boards need to come up with allowable modifications to keep the lifeblood flowing in these old boats. Kudos to the Moore fleet for embracing the boats, the changes and the owners that love them. The other old fleets could learn a lot from the governing board of the Moore 24 fleet.

    Ben Braden
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