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The Cal 25 National Class Association

By Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki reprinted here with Permission of The Detroit Free Press

Love to own a sailboat but leery of those boat-show price tags? Stop worrying. There are used boats out there that are every bit as much fun as a new boat, and that leave you enough cash to pay for the slip. One good candidate is the Cal 25, said Peter Wenzler, Bayview Yacht Club's race chairman.Wenzler has a Cal 25 named O. Henry, and he's sold on this class of boats for beginners and advanced sailors alike.

"It's very affordable," Wenzler said. "You can get into them for about $2,000 (see for sale section on this Website) at the low end and about $5,000 at the top." Beginners will like its stability. The boat doesn't carry an excessive amount of sail. This means it's not likely to blow over in an unexpected breeze. It has a roomy cockpit with bench seating for six, and it sleeps four.

Experienced sailors will like the one-design racing in a competitive fleet. Don't be put off by the PHRF rating of 222. It doesn't matter what the numbers are when you're on the starting line jockeying for position -- you'll have your share of thrills.

They just won't die

Cal 25s were built from 1965 to 1972, but the class just won't die. Bill and Sally Martin of Ann Arbor are two of the most experienced sailors in the area. Their Santa Cruz 70, Stripes, is a consistent Port Huron to Mackinac contender in the big boat class. They started sailing in a Cal 25 called Getaway. They had the boat for six years and then did what most big boat sailors do: progressively moved up in size until they landed in their 70-footer.

Recently their son found an old Cal 25, and the Martins are back to racing with the Cal 25 fleet in the National Offshore One-Design Regatta, commonly called the NOODS, and the annual end-of-season race from Bayview Yacht Club to the North Channel.

Their new Cal 25's name is reminiscent of the days when the Martins named three of their boats, including the current one, Stars and Stripes. Then Dennis Conner stole the name for his America's Cup boat and the Martins re-christened theirSanta Cruz 70 Stripes. The new Cal 25? It's named Stars &.

"It was in the boneyard. The best thing that could have happened to it was a mercy killing," Martin joked about his new boat. He restored the boat a little more meticulously than the average Cal 25 owner. He won't say how much he's spent on it -- he says he doesn't even know.

'The best deal going'

But talking to Martin, it's clear it's a labor of love. "It is the best deal going," Martin said. "I think in particular in the Detroit area for a boat, because it can do everything you want it to do. If you want to go out with your family and day-sail, it's easy to sail. If you want to take your family and go overnight, you can do it. And if you want to race it, it's got an incredibly great one-design class." "And ...they are dirt cheap," Martin said.

Wenzler said many of the older boats need to have the decking plywood replaced and a support beam placed under the mast. Some of the boats on the market have had this repair.

But if it hasn't been done, it's a job the owners can do by themselves, Wenzler said. He even offered to tell Cal 25 owners how to do it, if they just stop in and see him at work. He's manager of Thomas Hardware in Grosse Pointe Farms, where many local sailors go for their nautical needs. "In the last three or four years, we've had a real resurgence of the class," Wenzler said. "With a little elbow grease, it doesn't take much to get them competitive."

Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki can be reached at by E-mail at pwalsh@freepress.com