A Spirit of Tradition Class Manifesto

You know it’s a good fight when it’s goes on for 25 years! And over the last decades, nothing has gotten the SOT community hotter under the collar than what is — and what isn’t — a “Spirit of Tradition” raceboat. Classing the newer thoroughbreds has been a concern. As is, how to level the playing for older boats, given the rush to owner embellishments like structure refits, improved equipment, and modern sailing hardware.  We’ve evolved our own strong opinions on setting procedural guidelines for SOT racing. And with the weather warming, and race season upon us, we think it’s time […]

The 8 Rules of Spirit of Tradition Yacht Design

We’ve been drawing Spirit of Tradition boats for pretty close to a quarter-century now, and we’d like to think we’ve gotten pretty good at it. After all, we were in on the ground floor when sailors began thinking it’d be cool to sail a boat that had all the structure, performance and convenience of the ugly modern boats in the marketplace of the early Nineties, but tied back to the gorgeous graceful lines of the meticulously restored classics beginning a resurgence in those days. The key to a successful SOT design (that is short for Spirit of Tradition) is to […]

High-Tech Secrets of the “All-Mahogany” Italmas.

We love wooden boats.  Not as a tree-hugging denial of the engineering present, but as a modern composite design material. Properly-done custom wooden boats are considerably more efficient to build than most similar fiber-reinforced plastic, or metal craft. And natural materials, like wood, are also attractive options in marine design and engineering. If you don’t believe that, go look up flax composites and see how the same stuff they wear in Game of Thrones finds its way into high-tech boats. With that said, we’ve never condoned the other end of the wood debate: The “wood bigot.”  The fellow that seems only happy when […]

Top Ten “Spirit of Tradition” Yachts for 2017.

And so it begins: 2017 will be the year the Spirit of Tradition story finally gets set down on paper. We cannot explain why the world has not bothered to document what went down design-wise in Mid-coast Maine over the past 20 years. How the talented — and the flawed — mixed traditional classic yachts with modern materials. And how these pioneers pushed back the barriers for performance and design. And changed boating, for better or worse. It’s a story that will take a while to tell. Probably, well into 2018. But this is the year we are on it, […]

The Spirit of Tradition Condo: The New York 40 “Marilee.”

Nathaniel Herreshoff may be regarded as the Gandalf of all things that float. But interior living and creature comforts?  Well, not so much. We know a bunch about design practice since that Golden Age of American yachting. Take Herreshoff’s classic 60-foot class, the New York 40.  Browse through the 14 boats that the Herreshoff Marine Museum, in Bristol Rhode Island, lists as original New York 40s, and it’s clear these classics did in fact set the bar for weatherliness, toughness, and outer elegance. But take a look down below, and it quickly turns into an off Thursday night at the local pub: Dark, cramped, lo-tech, […]

Top Ten Most Beautiful Classic Yachts.  

The biggest. The fastest. The most expensive. That’s all child’s play when it comes to boating. Get the numbers. Put ’em in a table. And then it’s Excel’s job to do the rest. Depressingly, you’d be surprised how much of modern yacht design is ruled by those cruel, simple masters. Ever notice how many boats try merely to be really big, really fast and really pricey? It’s a lot. It’s too many. But beauty? Pure luxuriant pleasure that somehow emanates out of hulls and sails and engines? Oh boy, that’s trickier stuff. What makes that boat more beautiful than this […]

By the numbers: The Ultimate “Ditch Cruiser.”

Every fall,  East Coast cruisers get ready for their annual migration down the Intracoastal Waterway to points south.  Inside barrier islands the passage is calm and often beautiful and serene.  The ICW provides much-needed shelter from the stormy waters and winds found offshore. Winslow Homer’s The Gulf Stream is all the pictorial evidence anybody needs for just how nasty conditions can get “outside.” But an ICW passage isn’t for every boat. There are constraints.  Much of “The Ditch,” as it is often called, is shallow. It’s dredged and the nicest anchorages along the way are restricted to shoal-draft boats. But […]

The New Voyage for Madmen?

It’s sailing madness season! The Vendee Globe round-the-world race starts on Nov 6th. And so begins the 100-or-so day, semi-annual obsession with pure speed in single-handed offshore sailing. This year’s fleet of crazy racers features above-water foiling boats — similar to hyper-developmental skiffs like the Moth class: 30 knots will be considered average top speeds. And the word “suffering” will also be considered standard in terms of skippers’ life aboard. Some bit more sensible yachting minds have come up with an alternative round-the-world race: Called the Golden Globe Race 2018, it is the 50th-anniversary re-running of the original Golden Globe that […]