Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 11:39PM - Comments: (7)
It’s not often that the sail-training program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., incites envy among the midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Historically, the Coast Guard Academy’s sail training program has centered on the tall-ship Eagle, and its yacht sailing program has gotten the short shrift. For decades, the Coast Guard Academy has had a fleet of offshore yachts—five Luder yawls, built in 1963. These are the same lovely but outdated hulls that the Naval Academy weeded out of its own fleet in 1980.
In 2009, when the Navy replaced its 1980 fleet of McCurdy and Rhodes sloops with new Navy 44s, the Coast Guard Academy probably could have picked up some of the McCurdy and Rhodes for a song. To the good fortune of the newest class of Coast Guard cadets, wiser heads prevailed.
The Coast Guard cadets aren’t just getting eight new training sloops; they are getting eight offshore yachts from renowned designer David Pedrick and premier luxury yacht builder Morris Yachts. (If you’re thinking that means inner spring mattresses in the pipe berths, you’ve got another thing coming.)
I suspect a non-sailor might regard the acquisition as frivolous, but the upgrade was long overdue. From a fiscal standpoint, maintaining a 30-year-old fleet begins to add up, and all of us benefit from the engineering and design work that goes into developing such a boat. Finally, the chance to sail a custom-built, state-of-the-art offshore sloop is a terrific recruitment tool.
What did it cost us taxpayers? Each of the custom-designed training vessel came in at around $800,000, about $500,000 cheaper than the new Pearson-built, Pedrick-desined Navy 44 MKIIs, which we reviewed in September 2009. And unlike the Navy boats, which went through the normal government procurement process, the Coast Guard's Leadership 44 came about as a result of a unique public-private partnership. About 85 percent of the funding (all but $1 million) for the Leadership 44 acquisitions came from private donors through the Coast Guard Foundation, the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, and the Coast Guard Parents Association.
The Coast Guard Foundation’s board, Procurement Chairman Bob Hallock, past Board Chair Larry Glenn, and Foundation President Anne Brengle all worked tirelessly to launch the effort.
Allen Kruger, program manager at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, managed the project, and his team of coaches and sail trainers also played a pivotal role in the design development process. Perhaps the wisest decision of all was to hire naval architect Pedrick as the designer of the new boat. Pedrick’s extensive resume ranges from America’s Cup boats to capable cruisers.
After reading about the details of the new boat (featured in the August issue of Practical Sailor), I couldn’t help but think that the eyes looking northward from Annapolis are a little greener these days . . . and not on account of seasickness.