I asked this question a lot before we left to cruise the world on an old IOR sailboat and couldn’t find much so now that we have some experience on the subject, here are our thoughts…
First, what’s an IOR boat? Well, in the sixties and seventies sailboat racing was in it’s glory, however rules needed to be set in place to limit the people who make the boats. You see, the manufacturers were doing anything and everything to make their boats fast, with little regard for safety.
They introduced the IOR rules, and manufacturers had to redesign sailboats to be competitive despite the new rules. Kind of like NASCAR did if you’re familiar with that?
These rules limited how heavy the boat could be, how long it could be, and a while lot of other stuff. Our boat, a Hughes 35, originally designed by Sparkman & Stevens as a race boat for Columbia (Northstar 1500) was one of these boats that was designed and built specifically to race in the IOR era of race rules.
One rule that specifically impacts our lives was the water line rule. They demanded that, based on weight, the water line could only be so long. That’s why you see so many IOR boats with long over hangs. We have a 35 foot boat but sitting still, only 26 feet of it is in the water. This means that to be fast, we have to heel the boat over twenty degrees to put more of the boat in the water. This makes it much faster than a “26 foot waterline” race boat. Suddenly, when heeled over, we have a thirty foot water line and we go much faster.
The problem we have is, on our current trek down the ICW or anywhere else we are motoring instead of sailing, is that we basically have the speed of a twenty six foot boat. Yes, we are thirty five, but only twenty six is in the water.
However, in a stiff breeze Lady K will heel right over and run like a thirty five foot boat, no problem. Motoring sucks however. We’re dead slow.
IOR boats tend to do this. Their stern tends to have several feet of overhang that doesn’t touch water until you heel over. The bow is raked sharply and also, must be heeled heavily to touch water. She has huge tumblehome “hips” that stick way out and often scrape against the dock as well. This is all to defeat IOR racing demands.
The nice part of an IOR boat however is that in a stiff breeze, she heels to twenty degrees and stays there. No further. She loves to be on a heel and sails extremely well like this. After all, it is exactly what she was designed to do.
If you are considering taking an old IOR boat cruising, keep in mind that you’ll be dead slow motoring, and also keep in mind that if you want to be fast, you have to put the rail down! But fear not, she’ll be faster and more well behaved when you do push her on the open sea.