Can You Be Fast in an Old Boat?


I am the proud skipper of the mighty 'Green Monster', FS #1146, which turns 50 in two years.  It's bottom is slick with VC-17, and has recent sails.  There are no core issues, though the deck has some soft areas.  I have refurbished the boat and installed many upgrades.  The boat is just as I would have it!  (gorgeous, comfortable, rigged perfectly for me) The Green Monster has done very well in club racing, but my wife and I plan to stretch our legs a bit, and sail the regional circuit this season.  I assume that our hull is not as light or stiff as newer boats.  We are a One Design class, but I assume that our boats are not all equal.  To even have a hope of being competitive this season, I feel that I'd need to buy new sails, but am concerned that would be throwing good money after bad.  I have come close to buying a few newer boats, but they are REALLY expensive, and I don't like them as much.
What to do?  Any thoughts, advice, guidance you could offer on the subject would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Dennis in New Hampshire

One of the great things about the Scot, is that it's a very strongly built boat, so over time, the boats don't get as soft as more lightly built craft.
Sails matter, especially if they are really old, but how you trim them matters just as much.  Handling and tactics matter.  One tack in the wrong direction can erase all the gain of shiny new stuff.  The boats are that even!
Technique, Tactics, Trim, Practice, Sails and Luck are all probably more important than the age of the hull in the Flying Scot.

seanodonnell's picture

"Can old boats go fast?" The answer is YES. And old sailors can go fast too. We have several experienced sailors at Lake Norman Yacht Club who are deadly fast, are always on the correct tack it seems, and can find pressure like no other. I notice other clubs also have their own cadre of skilled veterans. I have made it my business to extract every tidbit of knowledge out of these guys, and they across the board have been generous to share their wisdom.
When I came out of sailing retirement 5 or 6 years ago, I stumbled on the Scot. What convinced me to buy a Scot was the numbers of solid sailors...and by "solid" I mean really good. Unlike other fleets where sailors 'age out' of boats with hiking straps and uncomfortable seating, the Scot can be sailed and raced well into your 60's and 70's. I love the fact that at our local yacht club there are a handful of 70-somethings who will absolutely eat your lunch on any given race. punishign you for a single startegic or tactical mistake. And these older guys have olders boats, usually with fresh sails, which does matter in light and medium winds when sailing upwind (not so important on the downwind, especially on a run).
So I would say yes...go ahead and get some good sails (reward the pro/brand that you feel helps you the most), make sure your boards are shimmed correctly (ask your local Scot star or Harry), make sure your vang functions effectively, and know your boat can hang with the best.
Sean O'DonnellFS 5171NC Community Sailing &Lake Norman Yacht Club

I have an even older boat and I am considering the same questions you had.   How did it work out for you?   Were you satisfied with the performance?   Did you feel hindered by the boat?


Where are you located?  Are you a member of a fleet?  You can often find great advice locally.

Come join us at Lake Nockamixon in PA.

James Titus's picture

Hi!  My first Flying Scot was formerly owned by Charlie Buckner, and 3440 was fairly competitive with new sails, but on our tiny lake with very shifty light winds, any slow factors showed themselves.  After 6 years I finally got a newer boat, which points higher and generally is faster.   I think the hull was fine but have to guess that perhaps the shape of the mast and boom were to "blame", besides the skipper not being the best out there.  I often wonder if new mast and boom would have solved my issues.  My newer 5339 is able to point as well or outpoint the other Flying Scots in our races.  So, I don't think it's the age of the hull, but maybe of the combination of components.