Q1: How does the new deck Santana 20 compare with the old deck version?
A1: As far as I have been able to tell the boats are equally fast. I have
sailed on old deck boats against new deck boats and I have also sailed on a new
deck boat against old deck boats. If there is any difference it is so small as
to be lost in the variances in sails, crew weight, bottom smoothness etc.
In terms of physical differences, the boat is the same from the companionway
forward. With exceptions being a molded toe rail on the front of the boat. The
hatch slides are lower profile and the boats don't come with forward winches
anymore. But winches can be mounted forward if desired.
The main difference is in the cutout transom. Instead of stopping the cockpit
floor about 3 feet from the transom, the floor goes all the way to an open back.
The cockpit seats were removed and the deck is now rolled down to the floor. In
order to prevent water from coming in over the stern, the floor was raised about
4 inches. This is actually the most noticeable difference in the boat. When
standing on the cockpit floor flying the spinnaker, you have to duck a lot more
in a gybe then you do in an old deck boat. The traveller is about 9 inches
further forward than in the old deck boats. The Class has compensated for that
by allowing old deck boats to move their traveller forward to match the new
boats if they so choose. The measurements for this are in the Class rules. The
last item is a difference in the rudder head. Since the rudder doesn't go all
the way to deck level, the rudder stock is much shorter now. The tiller has to
be a bit different now and curve up from the floor, but it feels the same.
In terms of the ergonomics of the new deck, it is a lot more comfortable. For
cruising and swimming, the new deck allows swimmers to get back in the boat much
easier through the open transom. I've seen helmsman on a new decked boat sitting
on the cockpit floor with their feet propped up on the deck between races like
they were sitting in an easy chair. So in general the new deck is very popular.
There will be some of those Santana die hards who prefer the old deck. There are
some very real reasons for this. If you normally sail with 3 LARGE people in the
boat, moving the traveller forward reduces the amount of space in the cockpit.
So large crews might not have as much space as they need. This is something you
might need to consider.
Q2: Where should the inboard jib leads go?
The cut of the sail is going to make a huge difference here. If you are buying a
jib from a sailmaker, get his recommendation on track location. If he doesn't
know and you are going to experiment, let us know what your results are.
The jury is still out on where the optimal placement is, but until some
experimentation is done in heavy air with different sails and track placements,
the best bet is to do what most other people are doing. And that is to do what
Tom Schock is doing. Hopefully we will have some better information after the
Q3: What is the benefit of moving the traveller forward?
A3: There really is no benefit in moving the traveller forward in the new
boat. Tom Schock decided that he didn't want to straddle the traveller. He
wanted to sit behind it, so he moved it forward. That's all there is to it. What
it does is to effectively reduce the amount of leech tension that you can get on
the mainsail. You are reducing the torque by decreasing your lever arm. The
difference though (9 inches in a 7 foot boom) is small. The advantage in an old
deck boat is that by moving the traveller forward, you can lower it down to the
old seats. This makes the traveller lower. So going downwind it is much easier
for the helmsman to move forward out of the back of the boat. This should reduce
the weight in the back of the boat and make you faster downwind.
Q4: How do wing and fin keel Santanas compare?
A4: The wing keel rates 6 seconds slower than the fin keel (228 vs 222).
Having raced against wing keels only once, and not really noticing which were
which when they went in the water, I recall people saying they were slow. That
is not to mean that I personally noticed a difference. They are part of the S20
Class and it was decided at the 94 Annual Meeting that the wings will sail with
the fins in a single class for the title.
The wing is easier to trailer launch and retrieve.
Q5: What is my Hull or sail number and where do I find it?
A5: The HIN (Hull Identification
Number) is located on the upper starboard side of the transom.
It has been required by the US Coast Gaurd since the early 1970s.
The code is typically of the form
WDSPXXXXYYYY where the first three letters indicate the builder (WD
Schock), the next letter is typically model specific and in this
case indicates the boat was built in the Pacific coast plant (vs.
the one time Atlantic coast plant). The next four digits "XXXX"
are the serial number of the hull - this number is used as the sail.
The "YYYY" portion is a date code that, depending on the version,
could indicate the model year and the month and year of
format of the first two digits have changed over the years but the
last two numbers always indicate the year of construction of the
boat. For example, WDSP03380877-S20
is hull number 338 built in the 8th month of 1977. In later
years, the -S20 model designation was dropped. Currently, the
YYYY code starts with a letter (A thru L) indicating the month built
(A = January, B = February, etc.) followed by a single digit to
indicate the model year and then two digits indicating the year
built. For example, a date code of J001 would indicate that
the boat was built in the 10th month (J is the tenth letter in the
alphabet), was a "0" (aka 2000) model boat, and was built in 2001.
Q6: Mast step position (from forestay pin) Why do I need to know this?
A6: This is something you should check when looking at your boat or
buying a new boat. There were some problems with some boats in the series that
had the mast step installed in the wrong place. There were a number of boats in
the Northwest that had to have the mast step moved and inch or so to bring them
in line with the rules. The class rules will have this measurement. There really
isn't going to be much of a performance difference with this change, but
one-design is one-design.
Q7: What is the deal with the Mast Step Compression found on S20 page?
A7: The first couple of hundred Santanas were made with an air gap under
the stringer that supports the mast post inside the boat. It was intially
assumed that the system would support the loads just fine. Then two things
happened. The cutout of the stringer to allow the forward keelbolts to be
tightened was not sealed. This doesn't cause any problems in dry cliamtes, but
in a wet climate it can start to rot the marine plywood stringers. The second
factor is that the loads on the mast step increased tremendously when the top
Class sailors started going with a 12:1 backstay. This increased load and a wet,
soggy stringer caused the mast post to start to sag. In older boats the problem
is obvious if you remove the wooden keepers around the mast post. If the
fiberglas is cracked around the mast post you have a problem. Once the problem
was discovered a change was made in production to remove the air gap and make
that area solid to prevent sagging. Retrofitting an older boat with this problem
is not too difficult. See the technical article on mast step compression to see
what the fix is.
Q8: What if the bottom of the mast is mushrooming?
A8: This can be caused by a mast step plate that has no support inside
the mast. When the downward force on the mast increases (due to high backstay
loads, broaches, or whatever else), the aluminum starts to deform and generally
starts to curl outward. This can be solved by putting something inside the mast
(a piece of wood works well) to give the aluminum some stability. By fastening
the wood to the aluminum, the load of the mast is spread over a wider area and
not as much force is imparted on the aluminum surface in contact with the mast
step. You need to catch this early though or the mast may need to be replaced.
Q9: Why adjustable aft lower shrouds.
A9: There is a great article in the Technicalities about the need for and
use of the aft lower shroud. This will give you a feel for it without making you
buy the book.
The aft lowers are used to control the headstay sag. With inline spreaders
(as opposed to the swept back spreaders of a J24 or J22), you can't control
headstay tension with shroud tension. Headstay tension on a Santana is generally
controlled with the backstay. When you put backstay tension on, the headstay sag
decreases. What can happen though is the backstay will set the correct headstay
tension, but will make the main overly flat. To avoid this problem you can
increase the tension on the aft lower shrouds to take some of the bend out of
the mast which will make the main more full without increasing the headstay sag.
For more details, buy the Technicalities.
The general rule of thumb is "the harder it blows, the harder you put on
the aft lowers". And you let them off going downwind to allow the mast to
Q10: Tiller Condition?
A10: Making sure the tiller is in good shape is important in any boat. If
the tiller is loose and sloppy, then the helmsman's control over the boat is not
going to be as good as it could be. The stock cast aluminum fitting on most
boats is not actually the correct fitting. It is upside down and doesn't fit
well with the rudder head. This cast aluminum can be shimmed though to fit
snugly on the rudder head and life will be good. Other options are to replace
the cast aluminum fitting with a chrome plated bronze fitting (I found one in a
bargain bin at a marine store and it worked great). The best option is to
replace the wooden tiller with an aluminum one that also fits directly to the
rudder head and removed the need for either the alumimum or bronze fitting.
The other thing to make sure of is that you have the right length for the
tiller. The stock tiller almost touched the traveller. This is too long by
almost a foot. The tiller should be shortened so that you can comfortably pass
between the tiller and the traveller when tacking without lifting up the tiller.
Q11: Is there a problem with the forward bulkheads?
A11: Any boat will experience bulkhead problems if water is allowed to
trickle down or pool at the bottom of a bulkhead. If the chainplates are not
sealed and water runs down the inside of the bulkhead, eventually the wood will
start to rot. The big problem is that the original fasteners for the bulkheads
were too small. When the wood starts to rot, the small fasteners are pulled into
and through the bulkhead. New boats have large fasteners with fender washers to
correct this problem.
A temporary fix is to add a piece of wood over top of the area that is
starting to get soft. This wood whould be bolted through the soft part of the
bulkhead at the bottom and the nuts should be put on from the forward side
through the V berth cutouts (if you have small V berth inspection ports you
might not be able to do this). Then you should through bolt the top of the new
wood through part of the bulkhead that is not soft. This fix can last for many
years. but keep and eye on it. The bulkheads will probably eventually have to be
Q12: Aft Bulkhead. What's the issue here?
A12: The aft bulkhead is a thin piece of plywood. It is generally not too
big of a deal, but it can become separated from the underside of the deck. If
this happens then the deck won't have much support and can start flexing and
forming stress cracks. It is easy to reattach the bulkhead with some fiberglas.
Be sure that the bulkhead is connected firmly to the quarter berths also.
Q13: What do I need to look for on the keel?
A13: Until the new boats came out, the keels for the Santana 20 were made
by pouring molten lead into a fiberglas shell that was immersed in water. The
heat from the lead and the cooling from the water caused the fiberglas to change
shape. So Santanas typically have waves and hollows in their keels. This is not
as big a deal as you might think. So long as the high spots are sanded down and
the low spots are filled in, the boat will be fast.
Problems start if water gets in bewtween the glass and the lead. This can
lead to the keel deforming over time. If you live in a cold climate and the
water trapped in the keel will freeze, then the keel that measured in
beautifully one year can be way out of spec the next. To see if you have this
problem, tap along the keel with a hammer or something (softly of course). If
you get to a hollow sounding place, drill into it and see if any water comes
out. If not, fill in the hole and go sail. If water comes out, you have a
If you do have water trapped in your keel it could have gotten there from
cracks or dings in the keel. If that is the case you might be able to get away
with just drying out the few small wet areas, patching the cause, and going
sailing. If this is not your case, then it is time for drastic measures.
Some Santanas were made with oversized holes for the keel bolts. My boat is
one of these. I have no idea how many were done this way. I wound up removing my
keel, filling in the holes, redrilling them to fit tighter, then remounting the
keel (after I had the glass stipped off to get all the water out, then built
back up). Since the holes in the boat were too big, there was literally no way
to keep water out of the boat. The holes lined up with the side of the keel and
allowed water to seep between the lead and the glass. Now that this process has
been done I am not having any more problems. But it was an expensive fix. This
is definitely something to stay away from when looking at a boat to buy.
Q14: Are rusty keel bolts a problem?
A14: If there is just surface rust on the bolts it is not a problem.
Although you might want to treat them to prevent the rust from getting worse.
What you are looking for is called intergranular rust. This means that the
metal is literally flaking away. If you were to try to loosen the nut on the
keelbolt and the nut flakes away, you have a problem. If the rust is only in the
nut, then the nut can be replaced. If the rust is in the bolt and the threads
have crumbled you might have to resort to more drastic measures.
In Question 12, when the keel was removed, more metal was added to the keel
bolts (after the rust was removed), then the new metal was threaded before the
keel was put back on the boat. When rebedded, the keel was attached using new
nuts. Now it is as good as new. But it is something to avoid if you can.
Q13: Rudder cracking in the gel coat? Is it detrimental?
A13: Early rudders were made of a foam covered only by gelcoat. What
wasn't known was that the gelcoat would not be able to contain the expansion of
the foam if the rudder was heated (if it had dark colored bottom paint for
example). Another problem was that if water got in the foam and expanded in the
colder months, the gelcoat would crack under this expansion too. Eventually the
rudder design added a layer of fiberglass to prevent this distortion. That is the
ultimate fix if you want to update your rudder. Patching cracks won't do any
The cracks themselves do not cause much of a problem. I know many people who
have raced and done well with these rudders. So long as the boat feels good and
goes in a straight line it may not be worth spending any money on this. If if
bothers you, have the rudder faired and put a layer of glass on it. I'll bet you
won't notice any speed difference though.
Q16: Rudder angle relative to vertical?
A16: If you line up your rudder with your keel, are they both vertical? I
noticed that a bunch of boats in Colorado in '94 had rudders that were not
straight. It doesn't seem to affect performance, but it seemed odd. When I had
my rudder worked on I found out that the rudder stock was not centered in the
foam. That was why it was not straight. It took a lot of work to get the stock
centered and the rudder fair. I don't think I gained any speed, but it looks
Q17: Why is it favorable to not have lifelines?
A17: Lifelines on Santana 20's cause 2 problems. The first is that it
interferes with trimming the genoa. If the forward lifeline stanchion is in
place, the genoa will usually need to be skirted on every tack. I have seen
boats that remove this stanchion and take the lifeline to the deck to prevent
this problem. It works, but it doesn't eliminate problem #2.
The second problem is that the lifelines tend to push you into the boat when
it get windy and the boat starts to heel. Instead of being able to maintain a
comfortable posture where your torso is vertical, you wind up being pushed into
the boat by the lifelines. This also limits the amount of righting moment you
can get when your body is pushed into the boat.
Q18: Cockpit Center floor board, do I need one?
A18: There are certain board parts of the boat that must be onboard when
racing. The floor board is one. The inspection hatches (for V berth and quarter
berth) are also required to be on the boat. The last of the required items are
the companionway hatch boards. The V berth insert is NOT required. That became
an optional piece of equipment that was sold as a cruising package and was not
included on racing boats. The other required equipment can be found in the Class
Q19: Vberth air chambers. Is there a problem with these?
A19: The original Santana 20s were built with square cutouts in the V berth
and quarter berth. These were seen as good places to store sails and gear. As
the boat became more and more of a race boat these holds were not used. And as
Santana 20s were raced in more and more breeze -- and broached, took on water, and
capsized, things changed again. With no positive flotation, the boat would
actually sink pretty fast. At some point in the production series, the squares
stopped being cut in the berths and instead round inspection ports were
installed. This would allow an air pocket to float the boat in an emergency.
This is not something most folks should be too worried about, but if you are
concerned about sailing in heavy air, seal those square cutouts, lock the front
hatch down, and sail with your vertical companionway hatch in place. With these
precautions it would take a tidal wave to sink you.
Q20: Flaking interior paint. Can I just sand and repaint? What's the
A20: The deck on the Santana expands and contracts in the sun.
Unfortunately the paint on the underside of the deck does not. As a result, it
eventually cracks and flakes off. Somewhere in the 600's the factory started to
use gelcoat on the inside instead of paint. This works much better.
There is no structural problem, but it can be aesthetically unpleasing. I
can't offer a solution here. If you have something that works, let me know and
I'll add it here.
The S525 shares the interior paint problem. On their website they have some
info on what some of them did to correct the problem. Take this link
to find out what they did.