Leadership 44: Sturdy and Progressive
From Morris Yachts comes a U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet trainer that might just tempt sailors to return to school. Boat Review from our September 2011 issue.
The chart table is actually big enough for a real chart, a near rarity these days. The engine cover is nicely rounded, with multiple access hatches and a totally removable lid. Deck-gear backing plates and fasteners are exposed and accessible, not hidden by headliners. Winches are less centralized than usual these days, minimizing the rat’s nest of lines in the cockpit; halyards, for instance, are handled closer to the mast. Dual life-raft cradles reside under a transom seat, perfect for security and availability. On deck and below, handholds are liberal. Treadmaster nonskid provides very sure footing. There’s no topside brightwork to varnish, but the cockpit area features faux-teak surfaces—great for footing, but easier on knees and foul-weather gear when crewmembers scramble about. Below, however, the attractive yet functional cabinetry is accented with enough wood to make the boat feel like a racer of yesteryear rather than a cold, stripped-out shell.
Photo by: Wythe Ingebritson
Morris Yachts was chosen from a roster of boatbuilders to deliver a solid, yet elegantly built, workboat. The commission began quite coincidentally, when Cuyler Morris’ son and Allen Kruger’s son were dinghy racing at the Atlantic Coast Optimist Championships. Kruger wasn’t sure if Morris Yachts would be interested in such a Plain Jane vessel, but according to Morris, “The timing was impeccable.” Due to the economic black hole that’s eaten up many a boatbuilder in recent years, the project allowed the company to rehire a number of workers, and it also allowed Morris to tackle a new approach without compromising the firm’s reputation for quality. In the end, the Coast Guard chose Morris not simply based on price per unit but because it offered the best blend of quality and value.
And should one question the timing of the U.S. Government commissioning yachts, rest easy: Your tax dollars continue to be spent elsewhere. The non-profit Coast Guard Foundation and the Coast Guard Academy Alumni and Parents associations are closing in on their $5.5 million fund-raising goal, permitting a more holistic, value-based approach than is typical for a government contract. Shearwater, hull number one, was launched in June; another seven will be delivered through 2012.
The Leadership 44 will likely be a contender during its full-on racing schedule, and it appears especially suited to such offshore events as the Bermuda races. The Coast Guard fleet will certainly see more ocean in a year than many boats will manage over several decades. I’m not surprised that there’s already talk about Morris developing a model for sailors who may enjoy more comfortable berths, a wine rack, and a flat-screen TV but whose primary interests lie in making passages efficiently while reaping real fun and fulfillment from the very act of sailing itself.
Leadership 44 Specs:
LOA 44’ 6” (13.59 m.)
LWL 38’ 7” (11.79 m.)
Beam 12’ 6” (3.84 m.)
Draft 7’ 3” (2.25 m.)
Sail Area 1,383 sq. ft. (128 sq. m.)
Ballast 10,000 lb. (4,535 kg.)
Displacement 26,000 lb. (11,793 kg.)
Water 130 gal. (492 l.)
Fuel 50 gal. (189 l.)
Holding 50 gal. (189 l.)
Mast Height 68’ 0” (20.7 m.)
Engine 54-hp. Yanmar 4JH diesel
Designer Pedrick Yacht Designs
The latest project for author and yacht designer Steve Callahan (http://stevencallahan.net) took him to Taiwan as the technical consultant for acclaimed director Ang Lee’s upcoming feature film, Life of Pi.