Tanzer 22

Tanzer22250Nov25Quebec’s Tanzer Industries Ltd. launched the first Johann Tanzer-designed Tanzer 22 in 1970. The launch was well-timed, for the ensuing decade brought unprecedented growth to the sport of sailing. This small sailboat surfed into the leaders of the fleet of vessels in this size range which builders turned out in great numbers to satisfy the demand for introductory ballasted boats.

Most of the 2,270 units built were constructed in Dorion, Que. The boat was also produced in Edenton., N.C., (270 units) and in Arlington, Wa. (167 units). Offered in fin keel and keel centreboard configurations, only about 200 centreboards were built as they were not competitive in racing fleets.

In 1985 Tanzer gave the Tanzer 22 a “facelift,” making essentially cosmetic changes that included a new window treatment. The next year Tanzer Industries was out of business. The assets were purchased by an auction firm, Kisber & Co., which built Tanzer models for about a year before selling out to Canadian Yacht Builders, which had acquired the assets of a number of failed builders. Although CYB advertised the 22, it never received an order for one. The Tanzer 22 class association decided to follow of lead of the Laser 28, class and acquire the design, tooling and name of their boat. The class sold $25 shares to members to raise the slightly less than $10,000 asking price.

Today the Tanzer 22 tooling is at its original production shop in Dorion. The factory is now run by a company called Ampro, which is owned by CYB principle Lawrence Herscovici, who also operates Boutique, a company set up to supply accessories. The class association can build a brand new Tanzer 22 through Ampro, and have priced it at $27,900, although the association is mainly interested in supplying its members with parts and individual mouldings.

The boat has a reputation as a lively sailer. The class has been invited to race at CORK five times since 1979, when it was the first racer/cruiser to participate. She initially raced there with the Olympic classes, then shifted to the Offshore course. The class association organizes several championships. This year’s Canadian championship is being held in conjunction with Charlottetown Race Week.

John G. Charters, founding member of the class association and editor of its newsletter Tanzer Talk, says attendance at racing events is as high as ever in the Montreal area, but is falling off elsewhere. Ontario owners are more inclined to use the boat as a pocket cruiser.

I asked some non-racing members of the class association why they chose a Tanzer 22. The Baileys of the Etobicoke Yacht Club gave a representative reply.

“We’ve sailed on Tanzer 22s since 1979,” said Mrs. Bailey, “and like the roomy cockpit and the solid feel of the boat. It’s a great boat for children, as the cockpit is so deep and spacious. Our two children have been sailing on our 22 since they were babies.”

In exterior appearance the 22 is a dated design. She looks more late Sixties than Nineties, but for her length she offers maximum interior and exterior accommodations. The 22 has raised topsides with a flush deck. There are no side decks. Sitting headroom over the settee/berths in the saloon is comfortable for those no more than six feet tall. A dinette for two, which makes down into a berth, is placed to port, and a quarter berth is opposite. Just forward of it is the galley area. A V-berth/double bunk conceals a chemical toilet.

The galley features a sink with hand-pumped water, counter space for a two-burner alcohol stove, and an icebox beneath the counter. Many owners save counter space by installing a gimballed one-burner stove to the side. They then remove the front-loading RV-style icebox and fit drawers or lockers in its stead. A portable top-loading cooler can be slid under the cockpit, behind the companionway step.

The optional convertible lifting companionway hatch delivers standing headroom, a worthwhile item on a boat this size. Owners with the conventional sliding hatch would do well to install a folding pram hood-style dodger so that the hatch can be left open in cold or rainy weather.

The cockpit is generous – roughly seven feet, nine inches by six feet, three inches. The coamings are high and comfortably angled. The full width cockpit and the coachroof make the boat’s interior roomy, but on the exterior the features are a detraction. It’s a long step up from the cockpit seats to the coachroof. This broad area becomes a slippery slope during summer thunderstorms when going to the mast or to the bow pulpit to tend sails. Many of the 22s were sold with no railing or lifelines along this high and exposed deck, but they did have a grabrail. Prudent owners will add the coachroof railing, available through the class association.

The large cockpit is also prone to shipping water when the boat heels in a breeze. This water can make its way through the cockpit lockers into the bilge. It’s recommended that owners weather-proof their lockers and install a bilge pump, which was a factory option but option but according to John Charters was seldom ordered.

Some components, such as the main hatch, anchor locker hatch and rudder (more on that later), may need replacing, but these items are also available through the class association.

To assess the Tanzer 22 I joined Don Mockford and Heather Mackey abroad *1175, built in 1976, which they race with the National Yacht Club fleet in Toronto under PHRF rating of 246 for white sails only (237 with spinnaker).

The clubhouse anemometer was registering a steady 20 knots, gusting past 25. The wind was along the shore, and the sun was shining on this brisk autumn afternoon. We put a single reef in the mainsail and Heather hanked on the working jib as Don got the outboard engine going.

The wind whistled in the rigging as we headed out the breakwater with the sails set. The chop off Toronto Harbour’s Western Gap was confused, with the westerly wind driving a swell into its mouth, which bounced off the breakwalls.

On a close reach the 22 drove through the chop as well as can be expected for a boat of this waterline length. Away from she, she flattened out and sailed along at good speed, with knotmeter topping six knots. We tacked over to head towards Humber Bay; she tacked positively, quickly coming back up to speed. We were well protected and comfortable in the deep cockpit, with little spray finding us. The tiller steering was fingertip light and the boat showed good directional stability, despite the strong gusts.

The original Tanzer 22 had an outboard-mounted, scimitar-shaped spade rudder, which made high-wind helming a heavy handed affair because the centre of effort was significantly aft of the pintles. The class association now has a new rudder blade available to its members for $350, GST included. The new blade, with its well-shaped cross section, projects vertically on both the leading and trailing edges. The Mockfords have the new rudder, and they attest to the improvement in handling it brought. Apparently many others think so too: 259 rudders have thus far been purchased.

After loping along on a close reach for another few miles, we noted an ugly bank of clouds rolling our way, blocking out the setting sun. We headed back to the mooring.

As we ran downwind a police boat, with blue flasher turned on, approached. “Take shelter immediately,” the loudhailer instructed us. “Winds over 100 kilometres per hour are forecast to arrive imminently.”

We reached the mooring before the heavy gusts hit. The wind probably didn’t top 40 knots as the main force of the storm passed inland. I’m sure the 22 would have behaved just fine had we stayed out on the lake. She has a big boat feel, as her displacement (fixed keel version) is 2,900 pounds. Compared to other boats in this size range, such as the 24-foot Shark (2,200 pounds), she is hefty. Though light-displacement boats may be downwind fliers, there is something to be said for weight and heavy construction.


LOA              22 ft. 6 in.

LWL              19 ft. 9 in.

Beam             7 ft. 10 in.

Displacement       2,900 lbs.

Ballast            1,250 lbs.

Draft             3 ft. 5 in.

Sail Area (Main + 100%) 225 sq. ft.

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