Just Launched – Navy 44

First published in SAIL Magazine, 1989

Just Launched – Navy 44

by Tom Dove

A rollicking sail in 20-25 knot winds at Annapolis convinced all 13 of us aboard that the U.S. Naval Academy was getting exactly what it wanted in the new Navy 44.

What the Navy asked for was a replacement vessel for the lovely but dated Luders 44-foot yawls used for sail training at the Academy. They required a strong, fast boat that would take ten inexperienced midshipmen and two coaches offshore safely for extended racing or cruising and also perform well in coastal and bay sailing.

On our test sail, the Navy 44 went to windward solidly under either full or reefed main and 110-percent genoa, tacking easily and giving a smooth, quiet ride that would be comfortable for an offwatch crew resting below. The leverage of the large wheel made the weather helm manageable. Under spinnaker off the wind, the knotmeter climbed above eight and the heavy sloop remained as stable as John Paul Jones’ crypt.

The deep hull with its wineglass sections gives this excellent sailing performance, but the 7 1/2 foot draft will challenge crews in the Chesapeake.

General performance under power was adequate although the 44 will teach the middies some new lessons around the docks. The civilian version will have a three-bladed feathering prop instead of the folding propeller chosen by the Navy, which should greatly improve close-quarters handling.

The design firm of Mc Curdy and Rhodes was asked to blend its expertise with the Navy’s years of experience in the Luders yawls and a Swan 48. The Academy wanted the speed, room and seaworthiness of the Swan combined with many traditional features of the yawls plus low maintenance and manageable cost.

In response to many inquiries, builder Tillotson-Pearson has decided to offer the Navy 44 to the public. It will be a semi-custom vessel that will still be able to race one-design against the Academy’s boats.

Designer Jim Mc Curdy says, “The civilian version should be as close as possible to the Navy version. It’s a boat for the serious yachtsman, not a ‘Euro’ interior. The main cabin will be more comfortable for sitting down and bragging and we added a head forward and a forepeak with two pipe berths instead of four.”

The nav station and galley are well-planned for efficient offshore sailing and the cabin has plentiful handholds.

Everything but the cabin is similar to the Academy’s boats. The efficient deck is covered with excellent nonskid and peppered with 12 Barient winches. The rig uses a Hall spar and Navtec rod rigging with running backstays to handle extreme conditions. The T-shaped cockpit allows easy movement.

Tillotson-Pearson builds the Navy 44 to ABS standards and the construction and hardware are of top quality. Design and performance documentation is extensive and the Academy’s boats have proved themselves able in heavy weather. This is a competent, handsome offshore racer/cruiser.

The base price of a boat built to Navy specifications is $275,000.

— The End —