Ockam’s Razor is the problem-solving principle that the simplest solution tends to be the right one. When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions.
The Razor project started in 1999. The Ellwood family purchased Shark sail number 430 that had once been the acclaimed Shawnee.
As the Ellwoods became increasingly focused on racing, they bought a second Shark, 146, to use as a test boat to help test designs and configuration strategies and to gauge improvements in Razor’s speed against a consistent training partner.
In late 1999 Razor went into the shop at Patagonia Boat Works in Etobicoke, https://www.facebook.com/Patagonia-Boat-Works-346688791342/. For 18 months Luis Perez, master boat builder, stripped Razor down to the fibreglass. The hull was perfected. The keel was set in perfect alignment with the hull. New keel ‘securing things’ were installed.It was finished to a mirror surface with white epoxy. The deck was removed and taken down to fibreglass and new gritty epoxy was applied. The hull deck joint was fibreglassed and completely sealed to become completely rigid.
All exterior wood was replaced with aluminum , nylon or fibreglass. The cockpit coatings, originally wood, were replaced with fibreglass constructs that are strong and light.
The cabin top handrails were replaced with white powder coated aluminum.
The thwartship main traveller was replaced with a strong harken aluminum track with no wood cross beam.
Window ports were removed, the frames were sandblasted and white powder coated.
The boat is absolutely dry, no leaks.
Other than the class required dual hull drains there are no through hull fittings.
Inside, the chain plate securing pointed were replaced and epoxied into place for strength. The stringers were also redone and epoxied.
The forward v-berth area marine plywood was replaced with the lightest wood the class would allow. The ‘opening in front of the v-berth’ was enlarged to class maximum.
The lift kit configured to allow a single point hoist to pull the boat from the water is kevlar line rather than metal.or aluminum.
Every effort was made to reduce weight everywhere in the boat but especially in the ends of the boat.
The aft hatch for the motor well is class minimum weight. The engine is far lighter than class requirements and so the rules require corrector weights in the transom which are secured to the bulkhead separating the motor well from the quarterberths.
There are no mooring cleats on the boat. There are no winches – every element of the boat has been thought through and considered with regard to functionality and weight.
The mast is the result of a multiple mast development program. Hugh Bogusat of Masthead in Niagara-on-the-Lake http://mastheadsparsandrigging.com/ worked closely with the team to ensure the mast section was uniform top to bottom to ensure consistent bend characteristics.
Inside is an 8:1 jib halyard tensioning system allowing finger tip control of the power and pointing ability of the jib. The jib cars are controlled from windward allowing crew to remain on the rail and adjust the location of the jib cars. Now fleet standard Razor was one of the first boats to adopt the continuous line furling system. Running the perimeter of the boat any crew person can furl the foresail from any position.
Of course, the spreaders have been shortened to class minimum to aid sheeting angles and tapered to reduce weight.
The boom is a Proctor section designed to provide superior strength at a class minimum weight. A boom kicker rather than a topping lift holds the boom up.
A fast boat has light ends and its weight concentrated around the center of resistance and as low in the boat as possible. That includes the crew, when they aren’t hiking. Razor is designed to be sailed with the helmsman pressed against the cabin bulkhead. The middle crew either crouches in the cockpit where all the required controls are close at hand or they are up on the rail again, with the controls again close at hand. The bow person upwind is either on the rail hiking or in the cabin keeping weight low. If hiking tacks are done with the bow person sliding across the cabin top rather than returning to the cockpit. Downwind the bow person manages the spinnaker up/down, tweakers and the carbon fibre pole. The boat has no pole down, instead it relies upon tweakers to lock the pole in place. Testing showed tweaker gave better spinnaker shape and allowed great control. The absence of a pole down also made for significantly faster jibes and spin drop maneuvers.
The new owner of this boat will consult with their sailmaker and order a completely new set of racing sails, perhaps two or three sets. There are adequate training sails still with that Dacron crunchiness of new sails. The Razor program purchased up to 4 complete sets of sails per season to remain competitive. Special features became standard – no metal rings in the clews because straps were lighter, large windows of mylar and on and on.
Razor has experimented. There is a masthead asymmetrical spinnaker and a mylar see-through jib (neither of these are class legal but they should be!).
The rig tuning, aided at great length by sailmaker John Dakin, started the trend toward significant mast rake. Testing indicated that it was much faster up wind and not any ‘slower’ downwind – better to get to the windward mark first and hold off the challengers, than be a challenger.
Back stay tension was constantly adjusted and usually held in the hand of the helmsman as the wind picked up. The 8:1 purchase of the backstay ran along the cockpit floor rather than add windage and weight to the backstay above the transom.
The rudder was also the result of a significant development program again with Hugh Bogusat. In the end using crew weight and balance to aid steering we found a smaller rudder was faster than the barn doors used by other competitors. The rudder is offset off the transom to a class maximum for greater leverage. The tiller is carbon fibre.
The new owner will want to replace some or all of Razor’s running rigging using state of the art light and strong lines recently developed.
A new Honda 2.3 four stroke engine was purchased in late 2012 and has been rarely used.
There is a cradle which has been converted to a yard trailer but there is no road trailer.
All of this development, expense and effort was applied to the Shark because the Ellwood’s believed much of the innovations in sailing had passed the Shark fleet by. Most competitive boats now sport some of the innovations that Razor pioneered.
Of course the boat was at minimum weight with a small amount of corrector weights applied amidships.
Life changes and the family moved toward cruising and bought a Dakin family boat, a Nonsuch 26 called Duck Soup. It was hoped that Razor would be taken up by the next Ellwood generation to continue the legacy. It now looks like the next generation is not going to be able to take up the challenge and so it was decided to let others in the very competitive Shark fleet take advantage of the development work and use Razor to further push the boundaries of Shark performance.
Razor has not been raced and only rarely sailed since 2006.
In 2017, for the first time since its rebuild Razor was painted with bottom paint, Vivid White 1161, and docked rather than dry sailed.
After its rebuild in 2001 Razor was insured for $150,000 after a validating marine survey. Much more than that was spent to create this racing machine.
The 2013 survey valued the boat at between 25-30k (Fastnet PDF). The project was not undertaken as an investment but as a challenge. It proved very successful.
The Ellwood family is hoping a crew of ambitious and talented sailors will pickup where we have left off. The Shark fleet is strong and popular on Lake Ontario with new blood and ideas entering the fleet every year.
No material changes have been made to Razor since it was last measure in and received a Shark Class certificate.
It is time for Razor to rejoin the ranks of the champions.
If you want to invest your time bringing your sailing to a new level Ockam’s Razor will provide an excellent platform for your adventure.
The family isn’t looking to recoup its investment, the journey was the reward, and they consider themselves paid in full. Instead the family wants to see Razor in the hands of competitive committed sailors and so they are only asking $12,500 plus applicable taxes if any for the vessel for a sale that is completed before the end of the 2018 sailing season.
It is currently in the Shark basin at RCYC in Toronto.
Please serious inquiries only. We don’t expect a potential buyer to be concerned about how many life jackets are included or is there a boat hook. Razor is a racing platform for the serious competitor.
It might be the boat you have been looking for.