Design and Specs
The Albacore is a 4.57 m (15 ft) two-person planing dinghy, for lake and near-inshore day sailing. Hulls are made of either wood or fibreglass. The basic shape was developed in 1954 from an Uffa Fox design.
Recent boats retain the same classic dimensions, and use modern materials and modern control systems. A deep airfoil section centerboard and rudder make the Albacore highly manoeuvrable. The Albacore's rig uses swept spreaders supporting a tapered mast, a powerful vang, and adjustable jib halyard and other sail controls to depower in high winds. This adjustability enables light crews and heavy crews to race head-to-head in all but the most extreme conditions.
It does not have a trapeze or spinnaker, and hence avoids the difficult handling of sport boats. The powerful rig and easily driven hull give excellent performance over a wide range of wind and wave conditions.
The detailed official specification is the Class Rules. The nominal specifications are show below.
|Overall Length||4.57 meters||15 feet 0 inches|
|Beam||1.55 meters||5 feet 1 inch|
|Minimum Hull Weight||109 kg||240 lbs|
|Full Rigged Weight (without people)||136 kg||299 lbs|
|Sail Area - Mainsail||8.4 m2||90 sq ft|
|Sail Area - Jib||3.3 m2||35 sq ft|
|Draft with Centerboard and Rudder Up||0.2 m||8 inches|
|Draft with Centerboard Down||1.3 m||4 feet 2 inches|
History of the Albacore Design
One of the few good things to come out of WWII was an autoclave. This extraordinary gadget, designed by Fairey Aviation and Marine of Southhampton in the UK, was a large oven that fast-cured veneer and adhesives for airfoil shapes. When peace broke out, some bright spark reasoned that the technology could be applied to the configuration of dinghy hulls, the first being hull designer Uffa Fox’s 12-foot Firefly which was sailed in the 1948 Olympics.
Dinghies of those days were lap strake or carvel-built and were heavy, leaky as well, difficult to maintain; aside from using the less efficient Gaff or Gunter rigs. That autoclave introduced not only hi-tech moulding for wood, but also a totally new process for manufacture of small hull designs.
The need was felt for a craft that was slightly larger than the Firefly. Members of the England south coast dinghy clubs together with Fairey Marine engineers tried to develop a 15-foot dinghy; one that could withstand the strong winds and steep seas experienced in the English Channel, and were lightweight, rugged and stable with a planning hull. Uffa Fox’s 15-foot Swordfish, using Fairey technology, was near to these specifications and gave rise to more developments. That craft was re-designed frequently: the freeboard was increased and the aft section strengthened and decked in. By 1954, all these sea changes made it quite a different hull and so a new name was called for. Since the Albacore had been an aircraft that had come off the assembly lines just after their Swordfish, and had a nice salty sound, it seemed appropriate to use its name for the new dinghy.
Fairey Marine, even after cold-moulding techniques were introduced, built all the early hulls. They had the same appearance as today except for the afterdecks, and with aluminum centerboards, with rotating masts, the top sections of which were of spruce.
The class grew quickly and steadily. Thirty were sold in Britain during the first year of manufacture, and several were introduced into the US in 1956. A year later, Hyannis Port YC order a whole fleet for training and racing and in 1958 the RCYC chose the Albacore as replacement for its aging Junior Club boats. In 1960 there were eighteen fleets in Ontario alone and the Canadian Albacore Association was formed.
Shortly after, Whitby Boat works took a mould from an original wooden hull and marketed the resulting fiberglass products under a carefully chosen name of Albatross. Though not strictly official for competition purposes, these dinghies kept up enthusiasm for a class that was otherwise dependent on imports until five years later when a license was granted for building the GRP version of the Albacore in Canada.
Since those early days the class has spread in popularity throughout Great Britain, Ireland and North America. Over the years a number of builders have applied their talents to producing Albacores. The most recent Canadian builder of Albacores was Ontario Yachts, who produced a klegecell foam core hull.
Two manufacturers are building Albacores today: Hapco Marine in the USA and Ovington/Rondar in the UK. In the last 3 years, we have more than 30 new boats in Canada from these manufacturers.
8200 Albacores have now been built world wide, with near 6200 of those in Canada. Ontario is the center of the greatest activity for the class that has been a recognized trainer in junior clubs, sailing schools, summer camps and is actively used in the uniquely Canadian community clubs. It has been the chosen dinghy of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and the Canadian Forces Sailing Associations.
The Albacore is an excellent boat for pleasure sailing at cottages, training at clubs, camps and associations and is raced competitively by many long time class enthusiasts. The hull is designed for an optimum crew of two persons. For instructional purposes up to four persons may be carried. Class rules allow the boat to be raced with two or more people on board.
The Albacore has a plumb stem forward and flat section aft of the centerboard housing to promote hull planing in winds of 10 knots or more. The forward deck covers the area from bow to mast and the side decks are shaped to allow comfortable hiking. Two hiking foot straps run the length of the interior on port and starboard. The interior is formed by one large flotation tank from the thwart forward and by separate flotation tanks on port and starboard aft of the thwart. Each tank is provided with a drain plug. The boat has been swamp tested with a static load of 660 lbs. Most hulls are built of fiberglass or klegecell foam core construction. The horizontal components of the deck and floatation tanks are stiffened with additional closed cell foam. Rear bailer doors provide drainage when underway at three knots or more.
A kick-up rudder is used to steer. Some owners opt for fixed rudders and these can be purchased from various suppliers. A pivoting centerboard that may be locked up or down provides lateral resistance. The Albacore uses two sails, a mainsail and a jib that are usually made of Dacron. The spars consist of the mast, boom and jib whisker pole of anodized aluminum.
The Rules have been established to define the Class, maintain its integrity, ensure safety, and provide for fair sailing.
These Rules are established and interpreted exclusively by the International Rules Committee (IRC) of the International Albacore Association (IAA). Rule changes must be ratified by the AGMs of the national members of the IAA in accordance with the process set down in the IAA Constitution.
The most current version of The Rules is available at http://iaa.albacore.org/rules.
The International Albacore Association Boat Registry is available at http://registry.albacore.org/.
'Roman Nose' Headsails
The IRC has reviewed the method for measuring headsails following the 2011 UK Nationals. Details on the 'Roman Nose' headsail measurement may be found here.
To be called an "Albacore" and participate in Albacore Class events and regattas, a boat must meet both the letter and the spirit of the Rules, which define sail, hull, rigging, and foil specifications.
Certification ensures that all the boats can compete on an even basis, and that no-one has an unfair advantage. It keeps the boat and equipment costs reasonable, avoiding an "arms race."
Each Albacore is provided a measurement certificate card. The certificate documents that the boat has been inspected by a Class Measurer and is in compliance with the specifications defined in The Rules.
The addition of any new suite of sails or significant alteration of hull, rigging, or foils requires inspection by a Class Measurer. When the alterations have been determined to meet Class specifications, the Measurer signs sails and/or updates the boat's measurement certificate.
A nominal honorarium is paid for the services of a Measurer.
Detailed information on Albacore certification requirements and contacting a CAA Measurer is available here.
How to buy the right boat
The Albacore design allows some variety in how to build and equip your Albacore, and the hull materials and the rigging have varied through the years. The CAA has great expertise to helping you find the right boat for:
- community club
- personal enjoyment
- top quality cottage sailing to share with your kids and visitors
- sail training fleet
- front-of-the-fleet racing
Two manufacturers are building Albacores today: Hapco Marine in the USA and Ovington/Rondar in the UK. In the last 5 years, we have more than 40 new boats in Canada from these manufacturers.
Both manufacturers provide top-quality, fast and rugged designs, using the latest innovations in Albacore hulls and rigging, and modern construction techniques. These boats have come a long way in the last 10 years.
The latest designs are particularly good for club fleets and training fleets that demand maximum reliability with minimum maintenance.
Prices with full rigging, centerboard and rudder range from $12k to $16k.
The delivery time for new boats is fairly long, so plan ahead. Sometimes, your boat can be delivered to a regatta, and a CAA member can be persuaded to trailer it home for you.
For Hapco boats, contact Hapco directly at the Hapco Marine website.
For Ovington boats, CAA members have organized bulk purchases of multiple boats, which solves the problem of transporting boats from the UK. Contact us for more information.
Obviously, you want a shiny new Albacore. We all do. But did you know that the 2012 North American Championship was won by a 15 year old boat, and the 2nd and 3rd place boats were significantly older than that?
A used Albacore is an excellent bargain, with good quality used boats coming on the market regularly, and cottage boats always available.
Find the latest listing on our classifieds at http://albacore.ca/classifieds or try our friends from the US at http://usaa.albacore.org/boats.
Kijiji classifieds are also a good source, particularly for cost-effective club boats and cottage boats.
If the boat is not too far away, and you want to join an Albacore fleet, then the CAA may be able to help with inspection and delivery.
Buying your first Albacore from the US Albacore Association.
Albacore Buyers Guide from the UK National Albacore Association, 2008.
How to get technical help
- Are you new to the Albacore? Then start with the information that is gathered here.
- Are you looking for extra speed for your racing boat? Then jump to the tuning guides below.
- A good place for beginners and experts to ask technical questions is the North American Albacore forum.
- You can contact the CAA with technical questions, or ask us to connect you with someone knowledgeable near you.
- Or get down to a club that has Albacores and just walk up to someone.
How to rig an Albacore by the Toronto Island Sailing Club, for an Ontario Yachts boat.
YouTube rigging and Albacore basic introduction by the Peterborough Sailing Club, for an older Albacore boat.
Rigging an Ontario Yachts Albacore by Henry Pedro, in the early 2000's style.
Additional rigging and repair ideas from our friends at the US Albacore Association.
More rigging ideas from our friends in the UK at the National Albacore Association.
Tuning on land and adjustments on the water
The following guides are designed for boats that are used for racing, assuming sails that are in good condition. The racing settings are different depending on the cut of the sails.
Cottage boats and cruising boats may not have as many adjustment points and may have worn sails. In this case, choose whichever guide you find easiest to understand, and follow the general ideas.
Tuning with North Sails made before 2013
In 2013, North introduced a different design of jib. We do not yet have a tuning guide for this.