26RK Cruising Sailor Gets Competitive After Breezing Past Two J-22s

Larry Conrad, owner of a Seaward 26RK, is an easygoing, thoughtful gentleman. If you weren’t paying close attention, you might not sense his inherent competitive nature. More on that later.

In his early 60’s, he’s happily married with two grown kids and a 2010 Seaward 26RK he bought about two
years ago. He keeps the boat in a slip at the Eagle Creek Sailing Club, a very pretty marina on Eagle Creek
Reservoir, a 1,350-acre water supply impoundment northwest of Indianapolis. Larry lives southwest of Indianapolis, so he’s never far from his boat.

“My family always said my love of sailing is related to my being an engineer. They may be right. I love to tinker with things and adjust them. ”

He and his wife Kay day sail whenever they can on the reservoir, and with a buddy and his son-in law, he races weekends in around-the-buoys events organized by the club. “They’re not high powered affairs,” Larry explains. “It’s a social thing, and no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Once a year, Larry and Kay trailer the boat about 450 miles to Door County, WI, for an eight-day getaway. There they enjoy shopping, dining, relaxed sailing on the quiet, unspoiled waters and just being away. Larry moved up from a ComPac 23, which he says is “a solid, well built boat that I liked. I bought the Seaward primarily for the ease of trailering, a bit more windward performance, and just a little more elbow and headroom. The ComPac needed a tongue extension to get it floating, and I always had my truck wheels deep in the water when launching,” he says. “The Seaward floats off the trailer like it’s a powerboat and my truck tires don’t get wet.” He also loves the mast raising gear available with the Seaward. “The fact that I can lower and raise the mast while on the water has helped immensely when we miscalculate bridge heights along our route.”

“When I bought the 26RK, I didn’t know much about its performance potential. For some reason, I thought they were slow boats. I learned differently the first time I had her in the water. We sailed right by two J-22’s that were clearly pushing their boats. We were relaxed and sitting under our bimini. That got my competitive juices flowing. She proved quickly to be a great boat for us. She’s stiff and weatherly and comfortable in a three-foot chop. She tacks through 80 degrees with good speed, and if I fall off a bit, she really goes. My wife doesn’t like when the boat heels, and she loves the Seaward. With her in mind, I typically put a reef in the main when the wind hits about 20 knots.”

“We’ve done really well with her in the club races. Last year we would have taken first in our club’s big race, which we call the “Indy 200″. It’s an easygoing race for cruising boats only, but everyone secretly wants to win this one. Boats with PHRF ratings lower than 200 are not allowed.

We were well ahead of the fleet when someone hollered, ‘Hey, Larry, the buoy is over there!’ We missed the mark, and had to be happy with second place. This year we took first and were thrilled.” In the less prestigious weekly club races, Larry reports his boat is often first to cross the finish line.

“We’re real happy with our boat”, Larry says. We love winning races, and love to hear the compliments. Someone’s always shouting ‘Great looking boat!’ or ‘Jeeze, you point high!’ We just smile and wave.”


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