11.6m 1998 Cutter boats for

Boat Yard Falmouth United Kingdom

Rustler24SpecsLike them or not, boat shows are a fact of life for professional boatbuilders. Deep as we may now be into the digital era, no virtual presentation on a computer screen can replace the visceral experience of walking the docks at an in-water show, or walking through an exhibit hall full of actual boats artfully displayed.

I confess I’m in the not-like-’em camp. I prefer to visit boats in the shop or yard, or view them in their natural habitat—meaning, on a mooring or when under way.

But, attend boat shows we must, so one sunny Sunday last August I found myself at a packed, mostly in-water event. Produced by Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine, the annual show’s venue encompasses much of the public and commercial waterfront near its Rockland offices. The fleet included boat builders and dealers from throughout the New England region.

As I walked the docks—looking left and right at boats tied-up lengthwise here and stern-to there—something stopped me in my tracks. That it did so in such a busy environment was remarkable, especially since the boat’s deck, on a falling tide, was lower than the dock surface. Additionally, she lay alongside the dock and I had to double back across a basin to the bulkhead wall to see the boat in profile.

What was this showstopper?

A Rustler 24, made in England.

Briefly stated: she’s a tiller-steered fiberglass daysailer with a tiny transom, full keel, long overhangs, short cockpit, teak deck (over a glass substrate), and an optional 10-hp/7.5-kW inboard diesel engine. The boat at the Rockland show belonged to a local owner; it was being exhibited by the Newport, Rhode Island, dealer who’d sold it. What made this 24-footer (7.4m) visually arresting, besides the evident quality of workmanship, was that she seemed to be from another time. Indeed, I learned the R24 is based on Six-Meter lines drawn by Scottish designer David Boyd in the 1960s. He also drew 12-Meter boats that competed for the United Kingdom in the America’s Cup.

Boyd first made a name for himself as the designer of Circe, a Six-Meter that won the coveted Seawanhaka (New York) Cup in 1938 by defeating Goose, an Olin Stephens design. It’s worth noting that Stephens’s pioneering studies in modeling sailboat performance started with scale models of Six-Meters in the towing tank at Stevens Institute of Technology, in New Jersey. Stephens was a co-founder of Sparkman & Stephens, the design firm whose boats ultimately defeated those of Boyd et al. in Six- and 12-Meter competition. But the point here is that, with the R24, you’re sailing, in effect, a baby Six. (According to the builder, Rustler Yachts of Falmouth, in Cornwall, the R24 is Rustler’s “interpretation” of a Boyd hull design; Rustler designed the deck plan and rig.)

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