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Background Information about Sea Cruiser

The story of sea cruisers started at the end of the 1920ies. They were much loved by inland yachtsmen as regatta ships with accomodation. The owners were constantly warned about not doing cruises with these ships should under no circumstances sail further out to sea than the protected shallow bay waters around Ruegen. They were built for interior regattas with the result that the thickness of the material and spars used was often at the lowest acceptable level in order to achieve the greatest possible racing characteristics.

After World War 1 the Swedish warping cruisers were introduced as international racing classes, at first the 40s and then in 1925 the 22s and 30s. These boats proved that it was possible carry out sea regattas also with relatively small ships. The spartan accommodation, however made these racing ships uncomfortable below deck on longer trips. It was maintained that the smaller 60 qm sea cruisers with a well-trained crew could undertake trips in the summer in all the waters of the Baltic countries.

The German Yachting Association and the German Yachting Federation competed for the favour of yachtsmen. Whereas the Yachting Association concentrated on regattas and thus was concerned merely with fast cruiser classes which were unsuitable for sea cruises, the Yachting Alliance concentrated on long distance sailing and thus could offer a complete sea journey cruiser system. It rranged from the 20 to 50 sqm of coastal cruisers up to seaworthy journey cruisers of 60, 80, 100, 125 to 250 sqm of sail area. Already one accused this smaller 60 sqm of sea journey cruiser, it is possible with it straight away to sail this yacht with a practised crew in all waters of the east sea states on summer cruises.

All sea-going cruisers had to be built and certified under Lloyd's construction supervision of wood or structural ship's steel up until the 1930ies. The regulations left the designers and owners sufficient freedom to find the ship's form most favourable to them.

In 1928 the 80ies ATHENA was launched at Abeking & Rasmussen (A&R) as the first and only sea-going cruiser in the autumn of 1928. It was an excellent design by Henry Rasmussen because the ship did not only prove to be a handy sea-going vessel, but was also an excellent light wind runner. She succeeded in beating the more lightly-built and rigged national cruiser such as the 75 sqm KOLIBRI or the 125 sqm CILLA in light to moderate breezes in the Kiel Week. The ATHENA won not less than 86 first prizes in the following years.

Despite the clear success of the first ships, the new building activity developed rather modestly because the time for the introduction of a new national class was chosen badly. The sports boycott imposed on Germany after the war was lifted in 1928. German yachtsmen were allowed thus to compete at international regattas fagain. The newly-created classes had to fight the Shären-cruisers primarily, which in 1928/29 were the talk of the town in the first America races.

Solidly built sea-going cruisers commanded high prices. A luxury version 30s model came to 9,000 marks in 1928; the simplest style could be had for 6,500 marks. A 40 sqm sea-going cruiser in good finish cost 11,000 marks, a 60s 19,500 marks and a buyer had to pay the shipyard 24,000 marks for an 80 sqm sea-going cruiser. An auxiliary engine as well as construction and commissioning fees were extra.

At that time, the pure journey yachtsmen were certainly already then distinct individualists, too. As such they had their ships built to their personal taste depending on their dreams, personal taste and their experiences at sea, if they can afford it financially. A first-class ship also offered these regatta yachtsman not a few advantages and they themselves often had second thoughts at the end of the twenties when a first-class cruiser turned out to be far costlier than a classless journey yacht (which was often able to match the sea-going yacht in regattas anyway) owing to the necessarily extensive construction methods to meet Lloyd's regulations for classification. The considerably longer deck in comparison to the unrestricted design of journey ships with the same size sails pushed the price up even higher.

In order to keep the loss of value of the number of ships already available within limits, it was permitted to change the rigging to the new sea-going cruiser classes provided that they complied with the new class regulations. This way, in view of the low rate of building, one hoped to get sufficient boats together for free open regattas quickly. The displacement of the fully equipped yacht was of primary importance. If possible, this had to be supported by sketches of the main-ribs prepared in the winter or by the construction plans. The surveyors tended to be lenient regarding the size of the cabins.

In the year 1935 the armed forces ranging in the "sea journey cruiser age". The sea journey cruiser became, the till there contradicting to himself the legendary sea ship this united qualities safety, speed and sea ability into himself and offered also actual comfort and cosiness to this on long cruises. One characterized the sea strength and strength of the ships also with the words: "The sea journey cruiser holds out langer than the team".

The tremendous development jump of the sea journey cruisers in the "Third Reich" can be clearly seen from the construction list of the A&R yacht shipyard in Lemwerder.. A similar development occurred at other shipyards.

Of the beginning of the class in 1928 up to the 1934 only three sea journey cruisers of different sizes left the slipway at A&R. In 1935, among other things, the shipyard built 76 class boats - from the O jolly boat up to the big yacht. The air force had ordered 100 sqm and 50 sqm sea journey cruisers whilst the navy received two 50s and a 30s.

33 sea journey cruisers were made in Lemwerder under the one of the 150s ATHENA II, the lovely 125s sea journey cruiser are which Henry Rasmussen built for himself up to the small 30s, in the Olympic year 1936. 21 cruisers were meant for the German navy and for aeronautics places.

In the same year the first sea journey cruisers were built at A&R for foreign buyers. The Polish Office for Physical Education ordered two 80s and four 50s sea journey cruisers. Rasmussen negotiated the building of two further 80s with the Rumanian Royal Yacht Club. The German sea journey cruisers were regarded as the most beautiful and practical yachts that modern yacht construction was able to produce.

When Hermann Göring commissioned the 50s HIDIGEIGEL for the air force into service in Ruegen which is still sailing today, he had the greatest of trouble to squeeze his massive body down below deck. It is said that there were many barely concealed smiles at the time.

The draw boat of the Royally Swedish Sail Club won the sea-going race "Gotland Round" in 1939 comfortably. It was constructed by the Swedish designer Erik Salander according to the regulations of the German 50 sqm cruiser class. The regatta took place in a stiff breeze and with waves up to three metres high. Whilst yachtsmen on large yachts complained about heavy steering and about raging seas, the draw boat sailed for nine hours comfortably and dry at a steady 8 knots/hour journey with a light pin to victory. Salander was then commissioned to design to scale a smaller 50s with 35 sqm of sail area and effective racing rigging. There were many people at that time in Sweden who supported this "bonsai cruiser" as a coming Nordic class.

German troops occupied Poland on September 1st, 1939. Terrible years of war were to follow. Private cruiser sailing more or less ended. The smart, trendy boats were replaced in the shipyards by camouflage-grey war monsters. Key topics in the sailing press were articles such as "How to get your vessel through the summer?" The sea journey cruisers served the officers and crews as vessels for regattas for relaxation when on leave from the front. Some of them sailed on their last trip in them. The teams were instructed to look out for hostile ships when on their short cruises. The sea journey cruisers were supposed to have seen active service as reconnaissance, courier and espionage vessels in foreign waters.

As long as the "Third Reich" remained isolated and concerned with national socialistic introspection, it played a subordinate role, what was happening in the world outside. But after the war a new era in German sailing began, too. International regattas as a means of promoting international understanding were to be encouraged.

At the Sailing Association's annual general meeting in 1949 KR formula about the previous limited dimension measurement revised by Henry Rasmussen was adopted thus aligning it with the R.O.R.C. Although just after the war some new building was beginning the sea journey cruisers were declared an old class in 1952. When sufficient boats of the same class still got together they were allowed to sail regattas as sea voyage cruisers with each other. No newly built vessels were, however, registered. Existing class certificates could be prolonged respectively by three years provided that vessel still met the regulations.

The following rateable values according to which regattas can be sailed with other boat types were assigned to the different class sizes according to Rasmus' KR formula:

Seefahrtkreuzer KR-Klasse
30 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=  6,5 KR-Class
40 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=  7,5 KR-Class
50 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=  8,5 KR-Class
80 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=11,0 KR-Class
100 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=12,0 KR-Class
150 sqm Sea-Journy-Cruiser=15,0 KR-Class

The preferential treatment of the KR formula by the Sailing Association's annual meeting was difficult to understand for many yachtsmen. The D.S.V. was reproached for having made a rough miscarriage of justice with the acceptance of the KR formula. For most sea yachtsmen the sea journey cruiser was the best class the German yachtsman association had ever decided on. There was hardly a boat's class which was a match for the sea journey cruiser regarding facilities, speed, seaworthiness and aesthetics.

The sea journey cruiser was the last big wooden boat's class in Germany and therefore the ultimate in traditional wooden yacht construction. Waterproof glues developed for aircraft construction in WW II, made construction in series in waterproof plywood up to 50% more favourable The first GFK hull was laminated in Germany in 1954. The new boat building material from the chemical industry was to revolutionize the yacht construction business completely and create completely new yacht types. Modern times had arrived for the shipyard classes.

The history of these wonderful boats did not end with that of course because considerable numbers were still built after the war, in Eastern Europe, too. Quite a number of boats were sailed as so-called "wind case yachts" to the new native country and distributed on the units of the RAFs and the Navy scattered far by the Englishmen.