Fixing up your boat
Getting Into the 505 Class With An Older Boat
How my 505 experience startedBart Hackworth recently joined the San Francisco area 505 fleet with a rebuilt older Rondar. He re-rigged almost all control systems to get it to work, and to conform to current practices
Last spring I had decided that this season would be my last in a Snipe (not forever, just a while) and that it was time to move on to something faster. I had sailed a 505 a couple times earlier in my sailing career and had the class in mind, but had done nothing about it. Then my girl friend mentioned that she heard about a 505 sitting at the San Francisco Yacht Club that was up for sail and that it had been there, covered for fifteen years. I knew which boat she was talking about, it was in surprisingly good shape. I decided to make an offer. Five hundred dollars later I owned a 505 with a trailer and most of the parts.
It was a 1978 Rondar with a gray deck and white hull and black Z-Spar mast. It was donated to a foundation by the previous owner and then sold to me, so somewhere along the way certain parts and items were lost, like the hull number. The boat was used very little if at all and the deck layout seemed to be unfinished. I decided the first thing to do was try and rig it up and see what I had. I needed some numbers for the spreaders and rake so I decided to call Ethan Bixby. While I was asking for a tuning guide I decided to pick his brain a little and he had some good things to say. "first, don't go invest a ton of money into the boat before you go" sailing. Just set it up the way it's rigged and get used to sailing a 505 before you tear it apart. Then if the boat isn't way over weight or defective beyond reasonable repair, slowly make the changes you need to."" This sounded like good advise and I made a small list of the things I thought I needed to install to make it sailable. A mast ram that worked, the portion of the forestay that exits through the bow, and figure out how to lead all the lines were a few. It seemed easy enough, although I was a little confused about how to rig some of the gear, like the board and boom vang without drilling holes and changing it.
I decided to call Larry Tuttle who I had met before and Ethan suggested I call for parts and advice. Larry was very helpful and told me about the ram system he installs on his boats and suggested ways to do it inexpensively. He also said he could tell me a lot more about how to rig the boat if I brought it down to his shop. So A couple weeks later on a good rainy day I drove down to Santa Cruz and wheeled it into his shop. I uncovered it and was thinking he was going to tell me the obvious, sell me some needed parts and I'd be off. Instead he took a look at it for about five minutes and said "it's no use trying to rig it the way it is, because" it doesn't make sense, you're going to have to start from scratch." in a" way I was feeling good because I thought it was my ignorance of 505's that kept me from understanding how to rig the boat. But then again, how the hell do you start from scratch. Well five hours later and many small pencil marks I had a plan with the confidence of having one of the best make things look easy. Larry's advise was to make it as simple and easy to understand and that would make it easier to rig and use. He also thought the hull and rig to be in good condition especially for their age and considered it to be a worth while project to make the boat sailable. I was stoked, I had a plan now. I thanked Larry for all the help and drove home with the feeling that I was becoming a member of a class with some really cool sailors.
Now it was just a matter of time and a little moola to get things rolling. We ran everything to the center of the cockpit along the board except the boom vang, which was lead from the mast base to the tanks and back to where the driver sits. The main sheet system would be converted to a transom bridle setup. The magic boxes on the shrouds would be lead to the center strut and back to the bulk head in the middle of the trunk. The main cunningham, jib luff tension, pole down, board lift and down control, spinnaker sheets, topping lift, trapeze system, rake adjustment, mast ram, twinges, vang all had to be installed or rearranged. The only thing on deck I didn't have to mess with was the spinnaker halyard launching system.
Well a few months later and the end of the Snipe season I found enough time to finish the 505. The Fall Dinghy Championships at the St. Francis Yacht Club were coming up and I was set on having it in the water and racing by then. Paul Kerner, the guy I had been sailing Snipes with, was also very fluent in trapeze boats, so I asked him to help me tune the beauty up and sail it's first regatta. Three days of tuning and a whole lot of small adjustments to the various shock cords and other lines and we felt we could compete.
OK, we didn't win our first regatta, but we didn't get last and even if we had it still would have been a success. The boat performed better than we did and with some experienced 505 sailors might have won. Of course there were things to deal with like the humming rudder and lack of pointing ability and other things. The other 505 sailors were eager to find out where I got the boat and commented on the rigging. Howard Hamlin was impressed with the performance of the old boat and answered some questions I had about rig tuning. Everybody was happy to see a new addition to the fleet and give advice about everything.
I've sailed the boat in a few regattas since and made some changes to help improve it's performance. I moved the board forward 1 1/4" to the 8'4" position. This helped create a little more helm and improved our pointing drastically. I bought a used Waterat rudder which was night and day from the previous "hummer." I considered installing a jibing board but decided not to because I'd have to rebuild the trunk to make it fit. I bought a new set of North Sails from Ethan and continually share ideas and gather inf. on my rig tune. I'm not sure about the Z-spar rig. It's a little heavy and pretty bendy side to side, with the shrouds and spreaders set low, but we'll see.
So far my 505 experience has been great. The design is amazing (even though I haven't seen over 15 knots in the thing) and the people make the introduction as smooth and interesting as can be. I look foreword to the day I'm ready to be competitive with the guys at the worlds and I can pass this boat and the knowledge I'm gathering on to another interested sailor.