Still Crazy's background and a log of things we've done to and experienced with our X-Yachts X-95
It has taken me two years to get around to posting a webpage to share with other X-95 club members about our experience with the X-95. So here goes the saga. (If you use the links below you will need to use the back button on your browser to return to the this text)
Ports and owners: Still Crazy has lived her life as a fresh water boat on the relatively calm waters (compared to the seas plied by most of the other X-95 club members) of the upper St. Lawrence River above Montreal and Western Lake Ontario in Canada. She has spent the last two and a half years sailing out of Port Credit Yacht Club doing day sailing in the Toronto area and white sail club racing. Prior to that, her name was Still Crazy II and spent sixteen years at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club in Dorval (Montreal) Quebec sailing on the St. Lawrence River. I was told that she was raced the first two years in the MORC fleet at the CORK regatta at Kingston Ontario (I don't have any information on how she performed). Her first owner moved on to one design racing in the Laser28 fleet with Still Crazy III. He sold Still Crazy II to a family with two daughters at their club. The family grew up with the boat and primarily used the boat for summer vacations. They cruised the upper St. Lawrence River to the Thousand Islands at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Once the children grew up and the annual vacations stopped, it was time for Still Crazy II to change families and we purchased her in 2001. We planned to rename the boat MoXy but she won a trophy dating back to 1936 for the annual closed regatta in the first season. We took that as an omen since Still Crazy was now engraved in silver at PCYC. The graphic on the boat looked much better balanced without the roman numeral II so she now goes by the name Still Crazy since we do not need to use registered names in Canada (its optional).
Dimensions and options: Her first owner had Still Crazy made to order by X-Yachts as a custom MORC racer-cruiser. The transom was shortened using a 4 inch plug in the mold at the factory so that the boat could be raced under the MORC handicap system. The overall length according to the MORC certificate is 29.95 feet instead of the stock 30.3 foot length. Her mast is a lcustom tall mast configuration from Nordic Mast. The tall mast provides an additional 4.4 feet of height and 50 square feet of sail area (I=38.5 TM vs 35.1, J=10.5 and P=42.1 TM vs 37.73, E=14.1). To compensate for the increased sail area and height, the standard iron ballast was substituted with lead ballast. The lead provides an additional 600 pounds of righting weight. Other performance options include rod rigging, self tailing winches, a heavier main traveler with an 8:1 purchase, movable Harken Genoa cars, a set of cockpit controllable tweekers for reaching and another set for spinnaker sheets. The first owner bought her fully loaded with all of the cruising options including an anchor locker, 2 burner gimbaled Primus oven-stove and removable storage cabinetry that slides into the pilot berth locations. In 2003, we added Seldťn Furlex roller furling with a twin groove racing luff foil, and a new composite material, low cut furling headsail to do double duty for club white sail racing and family sailing.
Repairs and upgrades: The boat came to us in excellent structural condition but was in need of a lot of cosmetic/maintenance and attention that any 18 year old boat needs if the annual renewal of things has fallen off. The first order of business was a repair and fairing to a section of the fiberglass that encapsulates the lead ballast near the keel joint. Kim Anderson of Dockside Marine Services got it back to perfection by eyeball. I made a template that he said he didnít need and he was bang on when I compared the original with his work. I completed a less demanding fiberglass repair to the anchor locker. Then we set out to gradually replace the running rigging. Lines were old, had swollen and did not run freely. I have replaced the wire-rope genoa halyard with synthetic line and I plan to do the same with the other halyards. In the first year, I decided to reseat many of the deck fittings as insurance against aging. I was very pleased to discover these boats have no hull deck joint leaks! Despite the extra fifteen pounds saved, I did not like the short life span of the bladder holding tank system, so we have replaced it with a custom stainless steel tank from an excellent fabricator near here in Oakville called Klacko Spars . They did some great invisible mending to move the bow pulpit crossbar and navigation light up to provide clearance for the furling system. We also switched to high grade hose for the sanitary system. The original gate style thru-hull valves for drains and water supply were replaced with ball valves and double clamped. The exterior woodwork needed a full sanding and revarnishing. The interior is in good condition but our next project will be to refinish the floor boards. The wind instrument was not working but I don't miss it as much as I expected so its replacement is on the back burner. Instead, I added a salicomp fluxgate compass. We replaced the VHF radio last year, had the solenoid on the starter replaced, and improvements made to the water cooling strainer with a larger and easier to clean unit. We found an interesting problem starting the engine. It would randomly take between one and ten pushes of the starter button to get the engine to turn over. Our mechanic from Richard's Custom Marine Service traced the problem to a factory design flaw. The starter wires in the wiring harness were two wire sizes too small. They could not deliver enough voltage over the long distance from the panel at the back of the cockpit all the way to the bulkhead at the engine. We replaced it with a much too expensive Yanmar harness of the correct wire gauge for the distance. Now she has been starting perfectly thanks to Richard and his meter. We experienced problems with the bolts on the coupling to drive shaft loosening this season so the winter project will be to switch to a rubber coupling and add a key to the shaft to prevent slipping.
Question: Has anyone else in the X-95 club switched the drive shaft coupling to a rubber coupling?
Joys of Sailing, Cruising, Racing and Just Looking at Our X-95
Design: Still Crazy is a joy to sail and look at both above and below decks. The interior quality of the X-95 surprised us when we finally got an opportunity to see one during our boat search. It was striking just how much more sophisticated in appearance the interior of the X-95 was compared to any of the alternatives available in our area. I know this will not be news to the Danish Klub members since I spent a winter doing graduate work at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. I discovered in that brief time that the average Dane has more design sense than most of the design professionals in North America at that time (1978). Relatively, the average consumer in North America is oblivious to design. The blend of function and DESIGN as something serious to think about is beginning to reach North American culture as part of the positive backwash of globalization. However, the used boats we have to choose from here on Lake Ontario were all built back when design was seen as the packing together of all the ingredients in a recipe without regard for the sensory and compositional union of look AND function. I find even among European designed boats, there are very few fiberglass boats with fast lines that are also beautiful. The X-95 is one of the few great looking fiberglass boats. From a visual design point of view, very few glass boats can be called beautiful using my personal standards.
Interior Dimension: Even today's newer smaller length boats puff out head room at the cost of proportion and beauty. Most new smaller sized designs look more like swollen coach roaches to my eye. When we were looking for a boat, few similarly priced 28 - 30 foot boats could offer 6'-4" berths and the 7'-3" queen sized quarter berth for sleeping accommodation. The trade-off in this boat compared to some North American designs is the lack of separation between the forepeak and the toilet. But we have found that when we cruise with our three teenage kids we use the whole fore peak as an easily accessed storage area for bags and we use the head/forepeak area as a generous change room, which can be closed off from the rest of the boat for privacy. Also, this leaves the main cabin uncluttered and open. The kids use the pilot berths and one of the settees for sleeping, we use the quarter berth, and the table stays in place. Itís actually more cruisable than many of the cruising boats we looked at buying if you have five or more long people. Itís vertically cozy but horizontally big. It would be nice to have the roaming headroom a 35 footer begins to afford but not if it causes the boat to swell out of proportion. And so far, not one of the new compromise cruiser-racer designs has given us a run for our money on the race course. Granted, my racing sample size is too small for statistical significance but that is my story and I'm sticking to it. Sitting down below, this boat gives you lots of eye level volume. The beam in the main cabin is equal to that of most 33 and 35 footers. Two things that would be nice to add are pressure water and shore power but we do not have any pressing need for these and the family before us didn't either so they are not yet on the upgrade to-do list. Right now without the extra weight these would add, when we go out on those light airs Wednesday night races and everyone else in their 8000 to 12000 pound cruiser racers are flip flopping trying to fill their sails, we are usually circling the fleet at 2 knots asking everyone "what's the problem" so I'm going to error on the light side for now. Self steering is the next item on our list of upgrades to Still Crazy.
Almost as fast and easier to sail with one sail or a reef below the runners: The responsiveness of this boat is wonderful. I used to own two BMW 2002s before BMWs got expensive and popular in North America. Every time I took the wheel, I remembered why I bought the car(s). The X-95 has the same effect on me. With the tuning adjustments we have on the boat I can just play and play all day adjusting the boat to the conditions and the feel that I want to achieve. I think I have more fun sometimes when I'm not on the helm and I can return to my role as trimmer. Like the pleasant surprise we experienced with the interior features of the boat, we have found that itís incredibly easy to sail if we just don't use all the "cylinders". We will often only hoist one sail and be equal in speed to most of the boats we considered as alternative purchases for use by our family of beginner sailors. The newly installed furling headsail arrangement and the inherent quickness of this boat supports our day sailing uses with the kids when we just want to be out on the water with a minimum of effort or no crew work. We simply leave the main stowed and enjoy all the deck and cockpit space, we go a knot slower but who cares if we're not racing or trying to make a landfall. Another option the tall rig affords is the ability to reef the main below the runners and we still carry almost as much sail area as the standard X-95. In this "cruising" mode, we just set and forget about the runners and treat the boat like a masthead rig. If and when another boat gets too close and I can get the crew to muster we just tighten things up and shake out the reef like a turbo unit and she becomes a full blooded X-95 again. Itís a very interesting hybrid of possible configurations.
Competitive Club Racer: On the racing side of things, we have done very well with a novice skipper. The sails are adequate since they have not seen as much use as their age (13-18 years old) would suggest. We are capable of beating anything but the best sailed and equipped race boats in our club on any given day if the skipper and crew get things right. We can consistently fight for a second or third place in club racing without buying new sails if we don't make big mistakes. I didn't expect that bonus when we bought the boat. The new furling headsail made by our local sail maker (Triton Sails) seems to give us the same net performance in club racing that the older set of UK racing sails afforded us so we left the furling sail on this season except for the really light air nights when we used the light number one genoa. I had the new sail cut as low to the deck as possible and the leach panels were made with number two weight cloth to try to extend its wind range and life.
I have raced for ten years in LORC and club events as crew but this is my first boat and my first time with tactics or helming a boat in races. Most of the crew I can get on a regular weekly basis are new to sailing so we have only raced with spinnaker a few times when the experience quotient of visiting J-24 and ex X-102 crew reaches critical mass. Two of my kids are getting into it so as they age and learn, I hope we will do more spinnaker work. I cannot report a lot on the details of this boats capability in serious racing and tune. I was very fortunate to have Ken Johnson, a successful racer and the original importer of X-Yachts into Canada as my broker. He and his technical experts tuned up the rig for me when I had no idea how a fractional rig worked. I marked, measured and digitally photographed the settings they used and have just dialed the rod rig back into those settings the last two seasons. I think I should be loosening off the intermediate shrouds a bit more but I am only just beginning to see what these adjustments mean. I have to say that this boat has accelerated my learning and eye for sailing in ways I could never and did not get from other boats.
Iíll conclude with a note about our experience racing Still Crazy. On occasion, the boat seems almost unbeatable despite old or furling sails if the race officials throw in a reach or two. We have won some point-to-point races and placed well in the full fleet at PCYCís annual end of season pursuit race (a two lap triangle course - 4th last year and second this year within sight of some world class J-24 sailors), Unfortunately for me, at our club the hard core racers love windward leeward tactical racing. Under this format, Still Crazy is as competitive using our PHRF rating (135SP, 153 WS) as most of the other ďfor-funĒ club racers (many of whom carry serious much fresher sail inventories and more experience than I possess). Besides, there are still far more seconds to be found by teaching the boat's skipper than can be found in new sails. Itís in the learning, tuning and tactics department that I will keep looking for speed until we pay for the first degree at University for each of our three kids - I just need to find a way to keep paying for Still Crazy while we write cheques for the kids education J .
Thatís all for now.