Open 60 World Cruser

Hi Steve and Linda, thanks for all your great work over the years.
I have to qualify this question with a few things. I am young enough (45) to still be crazy, I have extensive (30+years) of offshore (big boat) distance racing experience from the Islands to Nova Scotia, both shorthanded and with full crew, and I am a designer and builder (Houses and Commercial Projects) by trade, who has previously applied skills I have learned to such insane projects as helping to rebuild an Alden 42’ Cutter Rigged Yawl (replacing 77 out of 86 frames…).
I am in the process of considering my next boat. The intended use of this boat will be to do the “reverse” ARC, then bumping around Europe for some time, doing some races as desired, (Fastnet…) ultimately (if the mood strikes) returning after a year or two, or not, as the case may be. In addition while I do like and intend to have creature comforts, I have no problem with an austere (looking) interior (bare carbon or aluminum is fine with me).
Unfortunately one of your boats is not in my budget (although I have coveted one since you started), so I have been looking at used Open 60’s to convert to my idea of “the perfect cruiser”. Fast.
My logic (if you can call it that) is that from what’s available on the market, like the old P&J “Boomerang” while a fantastic boat (I have raced her) for the most part could not be simply modified to my needs (also a bit big, I think 60+/- is my max). My main issue is draft, so I am considering as part of my budget a lifting keel (or even canting/lifting) with a target draft of 4’. What is your opinion of the various lifting keel methods, and their relative strength/safety? Having had a near miss with a partially submerged container on a night with no moon doing 20+ Knots, I have some concerns.
In addition what are your thoughts on “detuning” (reducing the sail area (slightly)) such a boat for the displacement that I would have, since I will not be carrying the sail inventory or supplies for a non-stop around the world trip (I will have a complete inventory, but carrying 9 chutes/code-0’s – 6 Jibs and – 4 Staysails is more than I would use). My goal is to have target speeds of about 20 KTS reaching and 13 KTS Beating in 15 KTS. I would like to eliminate the runners and struts associated with such a large rig.

Thank you in advance.

Hi Craig:

Thanks for the kind words. I agree Boomerang does not fit your bill.

Draft is indeed a consideration. A lot of boats are being done with lifting keels, but the range of reduction is typically limited to five feet (1.5m) or so. And, these are tricky structures to get right and work into the interior (doubly hard with a low freeboard Open 60 type).

Since I assume resale is an issue – you want to get paid for your efforts – maybe a radical rebuild of  one of these go fast machines is not practical. How about a “sled” (like a Santa Cruz 70 or lesser known ULDB) with a shortened keel – say six foot – and reduced  rig to suit? Lower cost, better interior, and a good cruising combo, albeit not nearly as quick as t he open 60.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 28, 2009)

4 Responses to “Open 60 World Cruser”

  1. Richard Says:


    Take a look at Steve Rander’s “Rage’

  2. phil downey Says:

    i worked in southampton uk and met mike sabin and his family living on sly fox a sabin 42 he designed and built in australia

    she had a lift keel keel up 1m draft keel down 3m draft displaced 6 tons and had a boc /open class hull and could do 6 knots in 6 knots of breeze

    she sounds about what your after and he built her in balsa / e glass very inexpensively and sailed her with young family across the indian ocean , he said that for ocean sailing light winds are common and she was very fast in all conditions, and fine in big breezes. he was working on designs for a bigger boat.

    so there you are its been done before by a very capable man who incidentaly is a professional project manager in the industry.i would love one but i havent the skills necessary.

    all the best, phil downey

    ps he was in uk s practical boatowner so get a copy of the article

  3. Craig Says:

    Thanks for your response(s). Actually resale is not an issue (not that I would not like to eventually be able to resell the boat, but I’m prepared for a loss). This is in fact the main reason for starting with an all out racer as the gear (electronics, generator(s), watermaker(s), sails, safety gear…) that they come with would cost as much or more then the purchase price of the boat. Also I have been looking only at older Open 60’s that have higher freeboard due to the headroom issue.

    I’m trying to keep my total “boat” budget below $300,000 complete. This along with the desire for speed, was what led me to the Open class boats as they can be had for deep discounts on their asking prices (less than 200k on 400k+ ask (according to the listing brokers)) leaving me with 100k to play with on the refit (interior/rig/keel), without having to use that money to buy all of the gear necessary for long range cruising.

    Having looked at some of the “sleds” available after your suggestion, and having sailed an Andrews 70 before, I have the following observations and questions:

    From what I have seen, boats such as the Santa Cruz 70, Andrews 70… are commanding higher prices (300k being the lowermost end) and the boats (for the most part) lack the gear required for extended cruising.

    Do you think the think that removal and reconfiguration of the large crew cockpit, reduction in draft, and reduction in rig could be done for under 100k?

    Even if I pushed my budget to start with something like a well equipped (previously mentioned gear) Andrews 70 for less than 300k, then reconfigured the cockpit and interior, shortened the rig and keel, would I not still have the same resale and speed (or lack thereof) issue?

    Regarding ULDB boats there is the question of “how tough they are” as compared to boats designed and built to sail around the world non-stop. My observation has been that the open 60 class hulls have proven themselves to be very tough, with the weak spot being the keel (that I would replace).

    Do you think that a de-tuned 70′ sled will be as easy to handle as a de-tuned Open 60 for a single or couple? (I say this knowing that I have easily single-handed a well rigged Frers 54 and carried a chute, and had a tough time doing the same thing on a Kiwi 35 that was as well rigged)

    Thanks again,

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Craig:
    I don’t have the time right now to get into this in detail, but I think the 100K US$ figure is light. Of course this depends on how much work you do yourself and where it is done. Re structure, no way to generalize. In the old days some of the sleds did a lot of miles to and from Hawaii, but odds are the open 60s would be tougher. You have to look at each boat and its scantlings to make an informed decision. The internal volume you are able to accept would be the starting point. If you are OK with the open 60, then that gives you a lot more options.