What’s special about the Rhodes 19? The R19 has flourished for more than 40 years for four reasons; it’s moderately priced, it’s a terrific family boat, and it’s a competitive one-design racer, supported by a strong national class organization.  Put them together and you’ll understand why used boats are so hard to find.

How does the Rhodes 19 compare to other popular one-designs? Mass Bay PHRF currently gives the Rhodes 19 a provisional rating of 264 seconds per mile, (which is generous).  By comparison, an Etchells rates 129, a J/24 rates 168 with the genoa, and a J/22 rates 177.

How many crew do I need? Class Association rules stipulate that crews must consist of three persons for sanctioned events, such as the regional Championships and Nationals.  For fleet racing, you can race with two or three.  An informal survey, however, would be split, with many believing that in all but heavy air conditions, the Rhodes is a two-person boat.  The reasoning holds that because you need only two to sail it, there’s no need to carry the extra weight.  It boils down to personal preference.

How many Rhodes 19s have been built?  Currently there are approximately 3,400 Rhodes 19s built, and growing at a rate of about 20 boats per year.

Where can I buy a R19? If you want a new boat, call Dave Whittier at Stuart Marine.  He’ll be happy to discuss packages, options and pricing, including a 25% discount on orders of three or more boats.  If you want a used boat, you have lots of resources, starting with the Boats for Sale link on this site, or contacting one of the fleet officers nearest you.  Other options include the want ad publications and newspaper classifieds.  You might also try Stuart Marine, which in addition to building new boats, also reconditions and sells used O’Days and Stuart’s.

Stuart Marine
P.O. Box 469
38 Gordon Drive
Rockland, ME 04841

Are all Rhodes 19’s built by the same builder?  No.  There have been three builders over the years, O’Day, Spindrift and now Stuart Marine.  O’Day built the boats from the late 40s through 1981, up to about #3010.  Spindrift built a few boats in 1982, and then sold the molds to Stuart Marine, who has been building them ever since.  See Class History for more information.

What’s the difference between an O’Day and a Stuart?  The hull and keel shapes are virtually identical, however, the interior was redesigned.  The most obvious changes include no wooden ribs, an additional bulkhead aft of the seats, enclosed compartments under the side decks, molded shelves forward, and a shorter, more forward cuddy, all of which results is a stiffer boat with more cockpit space.  The redesign was done by naval architect and Fleet 5 member Jim Taylor. See R19 History for more information.

Are the O’Days as fast as the Stuart’s? Yes, some say faster.  Significant effort has been made to ensure comparable performance between the models.

How much does a Rhodes 19 cost? New Stuarts go for about $18,000 with a trailer.  In contrast, used boats (both O’Day’s and Stuart’s) have sold recently for between $5000 and $12,000, depending their condition and race history.  A new set of sails costs approximately $2,500 for main, jib, and spinnaker.  The class limits sail purchases to one new suit of sails per calendar year.

Is the Rhodes expensive to race? No.  A new suit of sails costs about $2,500 for main, jib and spinnaker, and the class limits boats to one new suit of sails per calendar year, but very few buy new sails every year.  It’s not uncommon to buy a jib every year and a main and spinnaker every two years.

What is the Rhodes 19 Class Association? The Rhodes 19 Class Association exists to promote and develop Rhodes 19 class racing under uniform rules, and to maintain the one-design nature of the boat.  The class consists of the Rhodes 19s originally designed by Phillip Rhodes and in molds approved by the association.  It’s governed by a slate of officers elected each year at its annual meeting, which is typically held during the national championship regatta.  Any owner or charterer of a boat may apply for membership, and is encouraged to join through a local fleet.

Rigging & Tuning FAQS

Is a straight mast faster? There use to be just one mast configuration; a tapered mast with jumper struts.  Class rules were then modified to allow Stuart to sell untapered masts with no jumpers as original equipment on new boats.  They subsequently were modified again to allow the removal of jumpers on old tapered masts, presumably reducing the variances between the two with respect to windage and weight aloft.  Accordingly, class rules now allow four masts; 1) the original tapered mast with jumpers, 2) the original tapered mast with jumpers removed, 3) the newer (stiffer) straight or untapered mast with no jumpers and 4) a new tapered mast without jumpers.  As to which is faster, the jury is out, but generally it depends on the prevailing conditions in which you most often sail.

Does removing the jumpers really help? It depends on whom you ask and where you sail.  Removing the jumpers removes weight and windage aloft, which has tangible benefits in light air and flat water.  However, removing them also reduces structural support and rigidity in the top 1/3 of the mast, which in turn alters the bending & stress characteristics.  Those who advocate removing the jumpers argue that, because you rarely load the backstay in light to moderate conditions (normal for summer in Marblehead), removing the jumpers optimizes the mast for most conditions.  Those who favor retaining the jumpers argue that no one has yet demonstrated an advantage significant enough as to warrant weakening the mast.  Generally all agree that removing the jumpers helps spinnaker handling.

Do I need an adjustable backstay?  Yes.  Although the class raced without them for years, class rules permit them, and as they provide an advantage in moderate to heavy air conditions, there’s no reason not to install one.

Do I need a mid-boom traveler?  Depends on whom you talk too.  Until recently almost every competitive boat sailed with a mid-boom traveler.  In the last few years, however, more and more boats are sailing with a stern bridle system, and finishing just as well as those with mid-boom travelers.  Stern bridle systems certainly make tacking easier, and have the additional advanatage of not bending the boom.

Is dry sailing faster?  Certainly boats with clean bottoms will sail faster than boats with dirty bottoms, but that is the primary difference.  Weight differences due to absorbed water are minimal.

How often will I need to buy new sails?  Class rules allow a maximum of one complete new set per calendar year (main, jib and spinnaker).  Seemingly, however, few boats buy sails that often.  Well-maintained sails can hold their shape for at least two seasons, and it’s not uncommon to see boats in the top five with sails older than two years, especially spinnakers.

The Doyle Sailmakers R19 Tuning Guide suggests, “when in doubt, let it out.”  Is that good advice?  Most of the time, it is.  Certainly over-trimming isn’t particularly fast.  The R19 is underpowered by design, and responds well to powering-up the sail plan.  Typically that means pressing the bow down and easing a few things.

Bottoms, Keels & Rudders

Is there an optimum keel shape? Class rules leave little flexibility about the profile shape of the keel, although the foil shape is restricted only in terms of a maximum thickness.  This leaves Rhodes sailors in two camps.  One holds that the thickness of the leading 1/3 should be fattened to the maximum allowed and tapered aft from there, optimizing the lifting shape of the foil.  The other camp holds that the hull shape isn’t fast enough to take advantage of such an optimized foil, and that adding thickness to the keel only adds frictional drag.  This camp holds that thinner is better.

I’ve heard that O’Day models have a void in the bottom forward of the transom.  What’s the story with that?  Rumor has it the O’Day builders, anxious to lay up the next boat, would pop boats out of the mold before the fiberglass cured, and then stand them against the wall on their transoms, resulting in the void.

What should I do if the ribs in my O’Day are soft or loose? The O’Days models were built quite a few years ago, and it’s not uncommon for them to require new ribs.  The down side of soft or loose ribs is a loss of rigidity, both in the hull and in the keel flange (the keel is bolted through the ribs), which can be slow and unseaworthy.  Fortunately, a rib job is not too big a deal, and often is recommended in conjunction with a keel job.  If you like working on boats, Stuart Marine sells a replacement rib package.  If you don’t, this or your local fleet’s web site recommends folks who do this work.

What’s the best bottom finish, and what should be done to optimize it? Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, the class rules allow a measure of flexibility.  Ask 30 people and you’ll get 30 answers, all different and equally legitimate.  The short answer is to make it smooth.  The longer answer is that it depends on the current condition of the bottom, what’s already on it, whether you plan to dry sail or wet sail, and so on.  That said, here are two popular approaches.  If you plan to dry sail, put on VC Underwater Epoxy, a gelcoat like finish made by Interlux.  If wet sailing, put on Interprotect 2000E barrier coat, and then VC Offshore vinyl copper-based paint, both Interlux products.


What is the “Lindsay” rudder? Before turning to big boats, boat builder Mark Lindsay built small boats, and performance foils for small boats, including a Rhodes 19 rudder.  The rudders are considered to be very good, in terms of strength, durability and particularly performance.  Lindsay rudders are no longer manufactured, however there are manufacturers of high quality rudders around, including Manchester based Neal Lewanda.