The Unicorn 34

Somebody had to be the first! Check out more from Doug W. on Last Call ex Piranha.

I own the Express 34 “Last Call” here in Traverse City, and we have had great success this our first season. I bought the boat last fall, and last winter I bought a new carbon Quantum main and genoa for my new boat. We receive a three second credit from LMPRHF for using a roller fuller for the genoa. Other than the roller fuller, my boat was completely stock, with all nine original winches and a heavy aluminum dip pole setup. Al. The deck hardware is in place for runners, but I don’t even have them on the mast. We raced jib and main for Spring and Summer Series and we won those. For Twightlight Series, I had enough crew interest to step back into the spinnaker fleet, and I converted the boat to end for end. Luckily, I had a carbon spinnaker pole, a spinnaker pole car, and twing blocks left over from a J33 I used to own. The pole is a couple inches too short, but it’s probably a quarter of the weight of the aluminum pole and so much easier to use than a dip pole setup. We used the twings in conjunction with the original foreguy. We won our twightlight series using that configuration.

Now for fall series, we are using yet another configuration. My last boat was a J92, and I’ve done a bunch of racing on Melges 24, a J105, and a J109. My experience on those boats convinced me that the funest way to sail is with a roller fuller and a sprit. Since our kites are ancient (original??), I needed a new one and made the decision to go to an asymmetrical kite on a sprit. For LMPHRF, I get a six second credit to go to a center tacked spinnaker, so I chose to increase the size of the kite and add sprit to offset that credit. The biggest I can go for a six second penalty meant a 24% increase in the size of the kite from 850ish sf to 1050sf, and a 24% increase in the J dimension, which amounts to a 3.12’ long sprit. I’m only using the sprit for kites (no Code 0 and resulting requirement for a bob stay), so I chose to go with a Selden deck-mounted sprit. It is the cheapest option out there, very easy to use, and meets my requirement to be fully retractable for me to fit in my 35’ slip. I bought a very affordable 0.7 ounce Airx custom kite from David Benjamin at Island Planet Sails (highly recommend). We’ve only raced with the new configuration once, but the boat seems much more lively, is certainly more fun, and makes the mark roundings so much less dramatic / do I dare say fun. Initial results are promising. No more spinnaker poles on my Express 34!


Spinnaker Discussion

Here’s part of an email conversation I’ve been having with Kimbal on ‘Hall Aboard’. Feel free to chime in by hitting ‘Reply’.

I’ve been getting my racing kicks in the club J22s this summer while I’m getting the E34 up to speed.  I’ve done some overnight cruising with the family on the boat, and sailed it enough to learn a bunch of the systems and what it needs.  
A couple of the things that did not come with the boat that I’ll need to figure out in the near future are:
The boat did not come with any spinnaker gear.  At this point I’m planning on end-for-end gybing with the pole with single sheet/guy and twings.  I don’t have secondary winches in the cockpit, which is the main reason for single sheet/guy.  I was also leaning towards a carbon pole over aluminum since I think that would make a big job easier to handle on the foredeck.
Since the boat doesn’t have secondary winches, there is no place to adjust the running backstay.  In fact, only the starboard side even has a block for the runners.  I’ve seen the mast pump a bit, and when I was a kid my Dad had a E37 which he raced in SF and he DEFINITELY used the runners, and I remember them being pretty loaded up.  I think the E34 is the same mast section, but since it is a bit shorter with less sail area, it should be proportionately stronger.  Probably still needs the runners though.  Do you use the secondary winches for the runners?
Thanks for maintaining the blog, its a great resource!

Hi Kimbal,
I do end for end gybes also. I tried the dip pole but it was too complicated for my various crew members. Practice? What is that? A carbon pole would be the trick! 
I don’t use the check stays much since we don’t have big wind and waves here very often. When I do I just really crank them arm tight. They are spectra so they don’t stretch much. Seems to stop the worst of the pumping.

Head Remodle

So the Admiral and I agreed that the head area needed  work. It was dark, dingy, full of holes and rough edges. Restoring the wood to it’s natural state was going to be too much work and would never really look right due to the holes and discoloration over the years.
So we filled the holes sanded and painted. Along the way we changed out the faucet, re-routed the drainage off the mast and covered the ugly holes from the old holding tank & toilet.

Then sanded and primed and painted with a one part polyurethane (West Marine Sea Gloss White).

It was an amazing amount of work for such a small space! Took twice as long as I expected!

After painting the door we decided to use a fabric curtain. This was lighter and gave a big guy like me a little extra elbow room.

Pretty happy with the results!

Greg S. – Wailana – Hull #1