A Grand Fiberglass Classic

Excerpt from “The American Sailboat” by Gregory O. Jones

When Bill Schock moved his boatbuilding company to Santa Ana, California, he began a new line of boats, the first of which was designed by Gary Mull. Exactly 22 feet overall, he called it the Santana 22, and in 1965 it must have been the right boat. Over 700 of them were finally sold, and somehow Mull shoehorned four berths into the little cruiser.

The story among Santana 22 sailors has it that Mull and Schock were talking about the Cal 20, designed by Bill Lapworth in 1961 and built by Jensen Marine. The Cal 20, 20 feet long and displacing 1,950 pounds, was enjoying some success and Schock wondered what might be done to improve on the boat.

After realizing that what Schock was really saying was “design a boat better than the Cal 20,” Mull set to work and the result was a little cruiser with a deck-stepped mast (the Cal 20 had a hinged mast) that was 2 feet longer and displaced 2,600 pounds.

The two boats have some similarities, but Mull really did draw a different boat. The Santana 22 is 222 feet overall and 18 feet, 8 inches on the waterline. Beamy, at 7 feet, 10 inches, there was as much interior room as you could put on a little boat that still has aspirations of going fast.

The masthead sloop rig of the 22 (the Cal 20 was fractionally rigged) carried 217 square feet and the boat displaced 2,600 pounds, with the 1,230 pounds of iron ballast, giving the mull design a credibly stiff ballast ration of 47 percent.

A light displacement-to-length ratio of 176 and the cruiserlike sail area-to-displacement ration of 18.41 made the boat just right for the winds of San Francisco Bay, home waters of the W.D. Schock Corp. With lots of stability, a sail area that wouldn’t overpower things, a light displacement that made it easy to handle, a fast fin keel slanted aft with a spade rudder, the boat immediately became popular, and an active class association was soon founded, setting up fleet number 1 in the Bay Area almost as soon as the boat was introduced. The boat was accepted as a one-design class in both the Yacht Racing Association (YRA) and the Small Yacht Racing Association (SYRA). The YRA allowed spinnakers, but the SYRA restricted the boat to its original main and 130 percent overlapping jib.

The boat’s popularity grew, and fleets were active all along the West Coast, soon spreading to the East Coast and the Midwest.

Despite its intention as a coastal and protected-water sailor, the boat is sturdy; a few Santana 22s have made the trip west from California to Hawaii during the delivery from the factory. They suit their owners well, and the facers seem to prefer the boat in its main-and-jib racing trim. The class association dropped out of official participation in the YRA over the issue of the spinnaker; event though there has been some talk of joining again, racers and cruisers who either enjoy or desire Spartan accommodations take out their little 22s and sail them like the little big boat they are.

Reference: Jones, Gregory O. 2002. The American Sailboat. St. Paul, MN: MBI Pub. 170-171.