By John Kerr

I was immediately impressed with Nomad when I first saw it at the Strictly Sailing Show in Chicago earlier this year. However, looking at it on the show floor did not do the boat as much justice as sailing it did.

In my opinion the Nomad is a perfect boat and easily fits the niche of the Lighting and Thistle classes. I could see this boat compete with the Ideal 18 and imagine it as a solid club racer and trainer.

The Nomad was designed by Bob Ames who specializes in the design and engineering of high performance planning sailboats. I learned from Steve Robinson that the Nomad project headed up by Vanguard’s Steve Clark was the result of the blending together of several parameters for a very specific target-the recreational, trailer-able, dry sail sector-perfect for cottages, sailing clubs and sailing schools. But it’s just as happy on a mooring and its weight allows easy transportation by most mid -sized vehicles.

This boat can let anyone sail easily, safely, comfortably and when they want, get the thrill of a higher performance boat. There is no sacrifice in performance and, in fact, the sail plan is strictly performance with its asymmetrical spinnaker and North 3DL sails. What impressed me right away was the visibility and load carrying capability. Sitting at the helm one could easily visualize a family of five happily sailing in a very stable boat.

Sail controls are well thought out using two to one purchases on the jib sheets and well placed cleats and halyards to minimize tangled lines and maximize control. The roller furling on the jib is a neat touch allowing one to depower easily. The controls for the centreboard are easily accessible and the board is locked up and down just in case the crew needs to right the boat.

Nomad - on the waterI loved the way this boat handled, easy on the helm and well thought out inside the cockpit. The boat boasts a long waterline and a very fine entry. Coupled with a high aspect ratio centreboard and the large rudder, the Nomad performs well. Our test sail had gusts to 18 knots and lighter breezes and flat water near shore. The use of a compression vang system and a mainsheet lead aft added to the room comfort and safety. At first glance I thought the mainsheet was a bit awkward but after sailing with it I found no differences between it and a traditional rig.

The visibility and interior space was complemented by huge self-draining storage lockers that were also easily accessible. This boat is a good blend of a club trainer racer or a picnic boat. There was little doubt in my mind this boat could be easily launched from any beach and could carry every water toy known to man without getting in the way.

What amazed me is what this boat designer has achieved. Quite frankly Vanguard has managed to balance a myriad of goals into a boat that would keep an old Olympian happy while allowing friends and family to get the rush of the sport of sailing. The other thing I liked for my old banged up knees was the easy ability to brace your feet against the centerboard trunk and lean out when required: I also had no problem jumping to a comfortable wide gunnel. The boat is dry because of the hull flare that gives the deck an additional width over the hull. The cockpit self-bails as well.

We rigged the boat quickly despite the road trip it had been on and were launched and underway in less than 20 minutes. This boats magic too is that it can be rigged and de-rigged by one person easily. The mast is tapered and the halyard lines are clean.

Nomad - SternThe Nomad is currently made in Vanguard’s boat building facility in Rhode Island were quality controls are second to none and where access to state of the art manufacturing and design tools ensure a consistent and fair hull.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s September 2003 issue.

LOA: 17.2′
Beam: 8′
Sail Area: 173 sq ft
Hull Weight: 560 lbs

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