How the OzRacer CAME TO BE.
(A true story of piracy, romance, and adventure on the high seas)
The Brick was designed by the late, brilliant and eccentric boat designer Phil Bolger so a family and their dog could go sailing. It was very simple and apart from having some problems with hull twist it sailed very well because of its large sailplan and the fact that it had a very large leeboard. It had huge capacity but was heavy and somewhat unwieldy because of the height of the hull sides.
The Puddleduck Racer (or PDRacer to it's friends) was created in a moment of inspiration which was destined to bring him a good deal of fame, by David "Shorty" Routh in Arizona. Based on the Phil Bolger "Brick" dinghy, the class grew rapidly with nearly 100 boats completed in its first two years.
The concept allows builders to experiment with construction and layout, which resulted in some boats that performed well and some not so. All gave their owners a great deal of fun and satisfaction.
In March 2006, on the other side of the world, Michael Storer and Peter Hyndman created the OZ PDRacer with the aim of creating a benchmark - a boat that was just as cheap and easy for anyone to build, but had excellent sailing performance. Michael is a renowned boat designer and juggler of small canoes, while Peter had built and sailed all manner of things while designing buildings for a living.
Below is their story, complete with links to many of the actual websites that provided information or inspiration for the project, and for the record, neither of them have signed a movie deal to date either, but we're sure their people are talking......
SO OUR STORY BEGINS:
Somewhere in the deepest darkest cyberspace, there is a wonderful place where all manner of odd creatures meet under cover of darkness.
This place is known as the Australian Woodwork Forum and on one fine sunny night in March 2006, a bloke known only as "Christopher" called out to one of his mates.
"Oi, Daddles!" he cried, "we need one of these for Goolwa", and left only one clue as to what he was talking about, the simple link: http://www.pdracer.com
By way of explanation, it should be noted that the "Goolwa" he was referring to was, (and is) a small town in Southern South Australia, which rather fortuitously for a town in the driest state in the driest continent on earth is also located on the shores of Lake Alexandria, on the lower reaches of the Murray River, which of course makes nautical activities a lot easier than may otherwise be the case.
As a result of this fortuitous geography the town is the location for the biennial South Australian Wooden Boat Festival which features all manner of wooden craft, and the event is such an important item in the Australian Woodenboat Calendar that to those in the know, it is simply called "Goolwa".
Almost at the same instant, or at least in an immeasurably small time thereafter, perhaps a nano-blink, a couple of other blokes at opposite ends of a country which was decidedly at opposite ends of the world to all the other PDRacers, concluded completely independently, that indeed these small craft were truly worthy of a National, if not a World championship, and in fact this event should occur at that very same Goolwa Festival in March 2007
THESE ARE CRAFT WORTHY OF A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!
The only snag in all of this, was that at the time, as far as they could can tell, there were no actual PDRacers in their country, so they (a couple of characters in this alternative world, known only at the time as Boatmik and bitingmidge) set out to rectify that situation by building a suite of them.
Well actually they decided that they would build one, (which one night amid some confusion turned into an identical pair), drawn by Boatmik who fortuitously happens to be a rather talented small boat designer by day, with the most important bit, the colour scheme, chosen by bitingmidge, who apparently knows about that sort of stuff, a knowledge gleaned from years of reading ladies magazines.
Before this tale turns into the Mik and Midge show, it should be noted that the Puddleduck Racer (or PDRacer which sounds so much more, well let's face it; grown up!) was the brainchild of one David "Shorty" Routh of Arizona in the USA who had been the mastermind behind the class and had devised a class of boat for which the entire purpose of being was to have fun on the water, with rules that ere initially so simple that the term "fun on the water" could be interpreted in wildly different ways, resulting in a vastly eclectic mix of boats that ranged from spectacularly inspirational to something with an appearance akin to a floating natural disaster.
At the time they discovered this cyber wonderland, some Puddleduck enthusiasts had produced boats that were mildly efficient. Many were spectacularly economical and simple to construct, although to be fair, not all could be described as beautiful, and some weren't even handsome, but all were part of "the club".
TWO BOATS IN TWO WEEKENDS FOR TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS
Two boats in two weekends for two hundred dollars became their catchcry.
Unfortunately it was at exactly the moment of commencement that things got out of hand. It could be said the initial objectives were completely derailed.
The club is we think, a unique meeting place partly because it brings together interested people from around the world, and everyone gets to use their real names, which is actually how the artists formerly known as Mik and Midge, came to be known by the names their mothers called them: Michael and Peter.
So there they were, inspired by this ragged lot of near genius (not to mention the chance of a 1-2 finish in a national championship which seemed certain given that no other boats were even contemplated for construction in their country!), so on nothing more than a whim they decided to embark on a major construction programme, on a scale that would do an America's Cup team proud.
-The objective initially was to produce a pair of boats in essentially one weekend, (except for painting), complying with the rule, that would sail efficiently, be reasonably durable, economical (read cheap) and most importantly look reasonably attractive.
Initially the thought was to produce a couple of fun, "novelty" boats to play with, to go to great lengths to cut corners to make them as cheap as they could possibly be, and at the same time as quick and simple to construct as would be humanly possible. What they didn't count on, was themselves.
Both come from competitive backgrounds and neither are the sort of person who enjoy being beaten. Being far too old and slow to win on their own accord, they need to build speed into whatever they do. Sadly for those that know them well, they also have the ability to muse for days over the appearance of an intersecting plane of plywood, the juxtaposition of texture and form, the interplay of light....and they decided that if they were going to do this thing, then by golly these boats were going to be fast, AND pretty. No ugly puddleduckling for them.
Shorty's early PDRacer concept allow for extremes in flexibility and with Michael's talent for yacht design combined with Peter's instinctive colour sense, they found a match made in heaven.
But it got worse.
Not only were they getting serious about producing a pair of boats for themselves, they realised that with only a lot more effort, they could document the process, and then they could refine the plans so the most inexperienced person could build a boat that would work!
The spell was cast.
Nights turned into day, the boats were started, the plans were refined, the boats were refined, the whole sorry process recorded for the world to see on the Woodwork Forum (which after all had been the place of their conception), until finally several weeks later, they were launched amid much fanfare and ballyhoo.
And so it was that a minor deviation, to enable building by even the least experienced builder (less than quarter of an inch if you must be pedantic, and some must be...) led to the creation of a brand new variant. The best sailing, easiest to handle Brick/Duck in the world today; The OzRacer!
The OzRacer wasn't trying to change the world (but it did!) with hundreds of plans in the build, it created a whole generation of new sailors and boat builders, who don't have to experiment to achieve a simple boat that sails perfectly and builds without any challenge, with plans that cover every detail.
They hope you spend many a long evening poking round this site, and even better, they'd love to sail rings around you one day!
And the best bit? If you are the keen experimenter type and for whatever reason you had your heart set on a genuine PDRacer (and of course want to take your wallet and your life into your own hands!) you can simply buy the OzRacer plans for something less than a king's ransom, and modify them to your heart's content to match the original PDRacer rules! (Of course all the usual disclaimers apply if you do this and we take no responsibility for you being overtaken by every OzRacer you sail against, or for your boat not actually turning out at all....)