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Corvette250B"She was a good little boat from day one," said George Cuthbertson of the Corvette, which he designed back in 1965. In those pre-IOR days, boats designed to the Cruising Club of America (CCA) rule were in vogue. The rule favoured heavy displacement and shoal draft, and produced family cruisers that were also adept on the race course. Ian Morch, owner of the Belleville Marine Yard, wanted to build a boat with shoal draft which would be in demand in the Bay of Quinte, and perhaps further a field in Montreal and Chesapeake Bay. He commissioned Cuthbertson and Cassian (C&C) Limited to come up with a suitable design.

Design hull no. 65-3 (the third project started in 1965), was named after the most famous Canadian World War II class of convoy escorts, the Corvette. Morch quickly put the boat into production. Hull no. 1, Victoria, was delivered to Toronto's John Hilton in the spring of 1966. The Corvettes continued in production until 1971. Altogether 167 vessels were built. There were some large yearly production runs; 41 boats were built in 1968/69, and 52 in 1969/70. The original base price was $12,500.

Electra II (now Temeraire, lying in Belleville), hull no. 34, was trucked to Florida for the 1968 SORC series. Ian Morch skippered, with George Cuthbertson, boat-builder George Hinterhoeller, designer Bruce Kirby, and the owner, Gordon Stonehouse, as crew. The boat had been sailed only once when they started the Lipton Cup Race held off Miami, but they finished first in Class D and 24th in a fleet of more than 100 yachts.

That same year in the 184-mile Miami-Nassau race Electra II finished second overall in the fleet, and first in Class D. Her third and final race of that series was the Governor's Cup, a wind-ward-leeward course, sailed off Nassau in 25-knot winds, Electra II placed fifth in her class, boat for boat, beating vessels five feet longer. Her CCA rating was 25.5, and was, in Ian Morch's opinion, "just a little on the heavy side for a Corvette". Still, her SORC performance was an astonishing success for a boat just 32-feet long.

Today the Corvette can only be described as traditional, with her relatively narrow beam, long overhangs and graceful sheer. The deckhouse is of moderate size, well in keeping with this style of vessel. The mainsail and fore triangle are of equal area, a moderate 444 sq. ft. on a vessel displacing 8,545 lbs.

Many buyers were attracted to this design because of the shoal draft (3 ft. 3 in. with the board up) and long keel. The centreboard trunk is in the keel and does not intrude into the accommodations above the floorboards.

The decks are wide, with outboard shrouds, and the foredeck is large. The cockpit is eight feet long, with straight benches, and the tiller sprouts from the cockpit sole.

The boat is well ballasted, carrying 4,000 lbs. of bolted-on lead just forward of the centreboard. The external ballast is well placed to absorb the hard knock of grounding in the shoal waters she was designed to sail.

All the Corvettes were built with the Universal Atomic 4 gasoline engine with direct drive as auxiliary power. Some owners converted to diesel; others installed a reduction gear on the Atomic 4, and increased the propeller diameter on a slower turning shaft to get a bit more push out of the engine.

The Corvettes were built with a balsa-core deck in the early days of fibreglass/core technology. Some owners complain of rotting core material because of inadequate backing pieces and sealing. But they also note that because the hulls were not lined, it is an easy job to cut out the glass and core from below decks. The offending material is replaced with foam core and epoxy, or, in the way of bolted on equipment or stanchions, backing pieces. Many owners are finding that after twenty years the ferrous centreboards must be removed for cleaning and anti-rust painting. Also the pins and pennant need replacing.

Bill Nichols, nine-year owner of Cadenza (no. 75), and formerly a keen racer in Lake Ontario's LORC series, says the boat was great fun on short courses in white-sails-only racing. However, he adds that when the boat is pushed hard in brisk winds on a broad reach, the shallow rudder will lose control, making broaches a common occurrence.

Most Corvettes are now well-loved cruising boats, with many owners trailering to places like Georgian and the Chesapeake Bay for summer cruises. Tom Liban sailed Saelith (no. 96) to the Bahamas and further south for a two-year sunshine cruise.

Though the boats were well-built and seaworthy, the Corvette's interior was spartan. The condition, equipment and level of comfort of used Corvettes are greatly dependent on the maintenance and upgrades done by previous owners. However, they are fine sailers, are trailerable (requiring wide-load permission in the daytime only), and provide great value for a couple or a small family seeking a mid-sized cruising boat.

Specifications

LOA 31 ft. 2 1/2 in.

LWL 22 ft. 6 in.

Beam 9 ft. 1 1/4 in.

Draft (board up) 3 ft. 3 in.

Draft (board down) 7 ft.

Ballast 4,000 lbs.

Displacement 8,545 lbs.

Sail Area 444.25 sq. ft.

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com for listings!