The International 14 is a dinghy for those who crave raw speed and have no need for practicality. The boat is small, wet, tippy, expensive, requires incredible agility to sail and is useless for picnics. So why does a cult-like group of sailors continue to worship it? I can attest to the fact (I have been there) that it is the blinding, put-on-your-goggles, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, get-silly speed.
Naval architect Rob Mazza, one of the addicted, brings us a new design, his third in a developing series. The class loves to promote development and the high-spirited designers love to oblige.
In earlier days (the class dates back to 1928 as an "international" class) the aficionados went from hiking to trapezing, then to double trapezing, and most recently added asymmetrical spinnakers at the end of a bowsprit the length of the Canada Arm. This bowsprit extends through the bow and holds the tack of the huge off-wind sail.
Acres of sail and two grinning speed freaks on the trapeze combine harness more power than Niagara generates in spring flood. And with that much force pushing a 14-foot hull, you can argue that either the shape becomes very critical or means nothing at all. Mazza is a believer &&emdash; and I agree &&emdash; that shapes designed to promote early planing, prevent submarining and extend the speed range really work.
Compared to his earlier design, the Mazza II (the Mazza I was strictly a drawing-board exercise), this boat has much more beam aft at the deck and a wider spray chine. The bow sections continue to be very full, with waterline beam minimized. Unlike larger, displacement boats, a dinghy that is sailed flat and supported by two trapezing sailors doesn't need beam for sailing stability. The narrow beam on the waterline keeps drag low.
The sailplan is limited by the class rules to a total area of 190 square feet for main and jib. (The spinnaker can be as much as 300 square feet, although most are about 275.) Mazza has put more of the permitted area in the main and less in the jib than seen in previous 14s. This allows the jib to sheet inside the shrouds for tighter angles. A secondary benefit is the widening of the shroud base which lessens the mast compression loads.
The hull is moulded from S-glass and carbon fibre, but the gunwale is a two-inchªdiameter aluminum tube. Welded to that, and projecting inward to the mast, is a tripod frame for controlling mast bend. The tripod is not new, but integrated approach of tying all the rig loads through the gunwale assembly is a sensible new approach. A detail borrowed from the Australian 18s is the rudder gantry, which sets the rudder a further 12 inches aft of the transom. You may hear theories of improved directional control from this rudder arrangement, but the prime reason is to get the helmsman opposite the end of the tiller when trapezing at the transom.
Mazza and his conspirator in the project, Fred D. Eaton, had the plug built by Bruckmann Manufacturing in Bronte, Ont., and will have the production handled by Ontario Yachts in nearby Oakville. The first boat should be launched this spring.
The Mazza III surely will be a thrill to sail. I hope I have a chance to take a ride on a reach in 12 knots of wind with the sun shining and the water warm. Very warm.
LOA 14 ft.
Beam 5 ft. 6 in.
Draf 4 ft. 6 in.
Weight 200 lbs.
Sail Area 190 sq. ft.
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