If all goes according to plan, as many as eight 44-foot fiberglass training sloops could be built for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Dubbed Leadership 44s, the boats are intended to teach leadership skills, an understanding of sail and seamanship as part of the cadet’s training.
The new fiberglass sloops were designed by Pedrick Yacht Designs of Newport, R.I., and are being built by Morris Yachts in Trenton, Maine.
According to Pederick Yacht Design’s Geoffrey Van Gorkum, the new boats are unlike the Navy 44 STC MKII built for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. “The boat we’ve designed for the Coast Guard is lighter (than the Navy 44’s) without sacrificing durability. The Coast Guard boat is about 4,000 lbs lighter than the Navy 44 — it is a very different boat,” Van Gorkum said.
Van Gorkum said that the boats are being built to very rugged “industrial” standards to ensure that they will hold up to the rigors of cadet use and provide many years of service. The Leadership 44 will serve eight cadets and a sailing master in moderately spartan accommodations. They are being built using Morris Yachts’ normal infusion process, but will utilize Derakane 8084, a resin that is much less prone to cracking than those used in conventional yacht construction. For ease of maintenance there will be no wood trim on deck. There will be some wood trim belowdecks, however. “This is, after all, Morris Yachts,” he said.
The boat’s hull design features a deep keel with an almost 9-foot draft. Both the keel and the carbon fiber rig have been designed with IRC compliance in mind. There is a single helm with wide open transom.
The boat will serve not only to teach leadership skills, but also to introduce the cadets to sailing and ultimately racing. “The boats will give the cadet crews an opportunity to intermingle with the yachting community,” Van Gorkum said.
Hull number one has already been laid up at Morris’s Trenton facility with plans to lay up hull number two in early 2011. The boats are expected to cost about $800,000 each with all of the funding coming from Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association contributions as opposed to taxpayer dollars. Once funded, an aggressive building schedule of one boat every 11 weeks is being planned. Launch of the first Leadership 44 is scheduled for May.