Frequently Asked Questions

     Why Sail the Santana 20 Keelboat?

     Why Join the S20 Class?

     What ever happened to Hull #1?

     Where are S20s located now?

     What is the New Deck Santana 20?


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?

A2: 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 Nationals.

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 construction.  The 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 lean forward.


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 replaced.


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 problem.

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 good.

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 pretty now.


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 rules.


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 concern?

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.