Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oceanus Named an Honorary Columbia 50

Columbia 50, Hermie, homeport Rowayton, Connecticut, shows her racing style in 2010. In that year she won the NYYC Cygnet Cup with three firsts and two seconds as well as the "Lobster Run" from Stonington, Connecticut to Boothbay Harbor, Maine with a family crew.
I'm going to cast aside any false modesty and just tell you that Oceanus is an honorary Columbia 50. I was surprised, pleased and proud when Kevin Reilly made Oceanus part of the Columbia 50 Owners Group. I've written before about Kevin and his wonderful web site celebrating Columbia 50s.

There's a lot to like about Columbia 50s and Kevin should know -- he's owned two of them. Cruising World recently named the Columbia 50 one of the best production sailboats of all time. The boat certainly inspires a dedicated group of owners who lavish attention (and boat bucks) on the old girls. The boats Kevin features on his site are sailed often, well maintained and upgraded.

Little sister, Columbia 43.

Big sister, Columbia 50.
Columbia 43s and 50s are more alike than most sailors think. Besides the obvious -- same designer, flush deck and small gun-turret deck house -- they share many other features. Tripp designed several cabin layouts for the 50, the most popular of which is nearly identical to the 43 cabin arrangement. They both have balanced spade rudders and large fin keel. The beam and draft is about the same and there is only about a foot difference in the waterline length.

Columbia 50
Columbia 43 Mark 1
LOA
50 feet
43.25 feet
LWL
33.25 feet
32 feet
Beam
12.03 feet
12.33 feet
Draft
6.52 feet
6.92 feet
Displacement
32,000 pounds
18,900 pounds
Ballast
14,600 pounds
9,500 pounds
Ballast to Displacement Ratio
45.63%
50.26%
Sail Area
979 square feet
806 square feet
Sail Area to Displacement Ratio
15.61
18.24
Displacement/Length
388.62
257.46
Number Built
62
153 (all three Marks)
PHRF Handicap
102
102
 Designer
 William Tripp, Jr.
William Tripp, Jr. 

The biggest difference is not the length, but in how much these two sisters weigh. A 50 is half again as heavy as a 43. The 43, at the time it was built, was considered an ultra-light racer. Now she would be a heavyweight compared to today's ultra lights. In her day, however, she was a game changer and a very competitive boat.

Both boats have an impressive racing record.
Simoon shows her racing style in 1967.
The Columbia 50 hit the race scene about 1967. That year Simoon, won her class of 24 in the Transpac and come in second overall. She was also first in class in the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, which was the largest ocean sailboat race in the world.

In 1973, a Columbia 43, Encore, won the Transpac Class B. A few years earlier, another 43, Blue Norther, was first overall in the ocean racing class in the Newport-Ensenada race.

Both 50s and 43s are actively raced today. On his website, Kevin documents several great examples of Columbia 50s that are still actively raced as the fleet enters its 50th year.

Stumppy J, a Columbia 43 Mark III, heads for the finish line in the 2013 Transpac.
Columbia 43s are still competitive on the race course as well, exemplified by Stumppy J, a Columbia 43 Mark III, making a good showing in the 2013 Transpac. In the same race, the 83-year-old yacht Dorade, was the overall winner on corrected time. Older yachts being seriously campaigned in big-time ocean races is an exciting trend for classic sailboat lovers. The new Columbia Yacht Corporation is helping the trend by offering a completely refurbished Columbia 50 with a new boat warranty. Let's hope their next project will be a Columbia 43!

The pictures on Kevin's web site are serious eye candy, as the two I borrowed for this article attest. I spend a lot of time just looking at them. It's an honor for Oceanus to be among them. My ideal cruising buddy boat would be a friendly couple or family in a Columbia 50. Sitting in Oceanus's cockpit and gazing across a beautiful anchorage at a sleek Columbia 50... views don't get much better than that.