HOT NEWS: After 58 years of production, and 38,000 sailboats, the MacGregors are retiring. Production of the MacGregor 26 has been discontinued. Our daughter and son in law, Laura and Paul Sharp, have opened a new boat building business in Stuart, Florida, and are manufacturing a boat similar to our MacGregor 26. Contact them at tattooyachts.com
For all of the details about our retirement, and for the full MacGregor 26 website, click here.
MACGREGOR 26 SAILING PERFORMANCE
Click on any picture for a larger image.
Mainsail and genoa
SAILING PERFORMANCE: If you
are buying a sailboat for the first time, performance and racing may seem of
little interest to you. However, a boat that performs well is generally
safer and easier to sail. It will certainly yield greater long term
The 26 balances beautifully. The big twin rudders give excellent control.
The boat is light. A light boat like this requires less sail area to sail
fast, so sail handling is easy. The 26’s light weight and its powerboat
underbelly allow the boat to get up on top of the water and plane in heavy
winds. In such conditions, these boats have exceeded 17 mph under sail. Most
small sailboats, with their round bottoms, have speeds limited to around 5
to 6 mph.
You can always make a fast boat go slower by reducing sail, but you can’t
make a slow boat sail fast. There is no sacred principle that says a great
cruising sailboat should be slow, and there is no greater frustration than a
comfortable houseboat that just doesn’t sail. The MacGregor 26 offers the
amenities of a houseboat combined with great performance sailing. There are
a lot of boats on the market that do not sail fast or handle well. The best
bet is to sail any boat that you intend to buy, or watch it sailing
competitively against other sailboats. The turkeys will be obvious.
The rotating rig raises and lowers like a conventional mast, and requires no attention when sailing. As the boat tacks, the mast automatically aligns itself to the proper angle without human intervention. With the rotating mast, the boat heels less and goes faster. On a conventional rig, it is difficult to sail with only the mainsail. With the rotating rig, the boat sails extremely well on main alone. When the wind kicks up, getting rid of the jib and going with just the mainsail makes sailing a lot easier.
DAGGERBOARD: The long, deep daggerboard keeps the boat from sliding sideways when sailing into the wind. The board is controlled by a line leading to the cockpit, and can be pulled completely up into the boat for powering, beaching, or downwind sailing. The long, thin airfoil is far more efficient than a short, wide one. This is why racing sailboat keels are deep, and why sailplane wings are long and thin. The efficient shape increases lift and reduces drag as the boat sails into the wind. This is one of the major reasons that the new 26 will point closer into the wind and sail faster than other
The vertical retracting daggerboard has major advantages over a centerboard that swings back into the hull. The centerboard requires a huge, drag producing cavity in the bottom of the hull. It also requires a large 6 foot long bump protruding upward into the boat, interfering with the most useful part of the cabin. The big hole required for centerboard retraction presents a major structural problem. Unlike
daggerboards, centerboards require lots of care and maintenance, and involve underwater metal, lines and holes through the hull. The daggerboard can be lifted straight out of the top of the trunk for repair or maintenance. Unlike a centerboard, the daggerboard can be partially raised for going upwind in shallow water, while still retaining the boat’s sailing balance. A daggerboard is less likely to rattle around when on a mooring in bumpy water. On the down side, a daggerboard will bring the boat to a stop if it hits an underwater object, as will any fixed keel on a conventional boat. Unlike the centerboards on other
trailerables, the daggerboard retracts completely into the hull, allowing beaching without fear of damage.
The picture above shows the 26 racing, in really light winds, against our MacGregor 70. The smart money was bet on the big boat, which is one of the world’s fastest production sailboats. The 26, using the large genoa headsail, actually hung in there pretty well for a while. This is an extreme example of “blanketing”, where one boat (the 70) blocks the competitors wind. Whenever 2 boats are sailing in the same direction, there is a race, and sailboat racing is fun.
Mainsail onlySailing with mainsail only. The rotating mast makes the mainsail very effective, and the boat performs very well with just the main. For lazy sailing, this is perfect.
LEARNING TO SAIL: No boat is easier to sail. You can learn to sail in an afternoon. Our owner’s instructions and web site have excellent instructions. Pick a nice day with a light breeze. Launch the boat, fill the ballast tank and buzz around with the engine until you get the hang of it. It is no tougher than driving a car. Then set the mainsail and let the wind provide some of the power. Keep the engine running at idle to get you out of any tight places. An hour or so of this and you will have a pretty good idea of how it all works. Then add the jib. An afternoon like this and you will be fairly accomplished.
To learn to sail is easy. To learn to make a boat sail to perfection can take forever (this is one of the great joys of the sport). The best argument for learning to sail is that once you start, you will stay with it for a lifetime. It is that much fun.
You will never tire of the wonderful sensation of shutting off the engine and enjoying the quiet serenity of moving along under sail. You can sail forever, for free. There is no nicer or lower cost way to spend time than sailing. There are few things in the world that are as quiet, graceful and downright fun. You will find no better way to spend an hour, a weekend or an entire vacation. From the vantage point of a sailboat, the normal cares of the world seem small. A sailboat is versatile. For a couple, put on the music, fill the ice chest and you have romance. It is also a wonderful sport for a family. Most of the families that own these boats have children, and the kids seem to love it. If you want thrills, few sports can equal heavy weather sailboat racing.
If you like people, crowds and action, a sailboat can get you there. There is also much to be said for quietly sailing off all by yourself. Sailing is one of the few pastimes left where you can get away from the crowds. There are thousands of quiet coves, rivers, islands, anchorages and secluded waterways. Many of the best vacation places are at the edge of water. Unfortunately, the land side is packed with humanity. The water side has barely been touched. With a boat as your own private island, you can enjoy all the beauty and seclusion you want...and the fishing is usually good.