Take a deep breath.
Instinct tells me I won't win many friends with the following...but I'm 100% sincere, so please believe, your experience and observations will be a huge help.
Let's be honest; there are some very antique Albacores out there, some decrepit, some glorious. Die hard class racers will deny that any boat is beyond competition; for their own sake, they may log out now.
The Albacore looks to me like the ideal cruising dinghy, and I'll welcome all responses from owners, agreeing or otherwise. As a probable near-future owner of a slightly shambolic oldie, I can't help thinking this marque is as good as the genre gets.
How could any new dinghy designer looking for an above-average-size shape for a rapid, versatile, weight-bearing cruising hull, beat the Albacore?
I love the boat's appearance and proportions, and the stowage available under the foredeck. Plus the fact that Canadian clubs already rig the boat with spinnaker and trapeze for training (WHY ONLY FOR TRAINING??), so plainly the boat is tough enough to withstand seriously imaginative modification and performance up-grades. But even as standard, here is a roomy, relatively docile dinghy, simple to sail, yet Portsmouth-rated just the same as the Olympic men's singlehander! That's QUICK!
Now, I don't anticipate pleasurable reception to this...but, racing rules aside, can anyone think why a sorry, tired old Alb shouldn't have a rowing seat, and gudgeons in the gunwales for rowlocks? And, is there any sound reason not to deck-in the front 15 or 20% of the cockpit, to increase stowage beneath, and decrease breaking waves coming aboard? How about a plate-steel weighted centreboard?
Granted, I'm a man trying to find a £500 answer to a £50,000 question. But if the Albacore ISN'T the best budget-route into micro-cruising, for people who like to cruise FAST, I don't know what's better.
Thanks for your patience, folks. Please respond.
There's no reason why an Albacore shouldn't make a good cruising boat - I'm sure many heroic voyages have been done in the past.
I think the main (no pun intended) modification for cruising would be to have an easy mechanism for reefing the mainsail. Races are typically short and take place attended by safety boats etc but during an afternoon's cruise you could have very varied wind conditions and need to reef and then shake out the reef as necessary. You might also consider using a smaller jib eg from a Firefly.
Reefing or smaller main is a good idea for serious cruising
I think early albs were fitted with Steel centre boards or at least the option of wood or steel.
I once fitted a roller furling to an alb I had to remove the forestay (which does noting anyway), it worked a treat. I also sailed in some very strong breeze jib only mast raked aft the alb sailed surprizingly well ver dosile even to windward.
Rather than extending the fore deck consider an aft deck. Old Albs had these fitted as standard. I think they make the boat look more balanaced too.
Thanks for those thoughts, gents. In respect of the decking, if I'm honest, I had it in mind to make a substantial, sealable space beneath the foredeck, which would keep towels, picnics, tents, guitars, cigars, evening-wear etc dry, even when the spray's breaking over the bow. I'm very glad to hear you recommend sensible reefing arrangements...these are my own thoughts, reiterated. As I said before, I think this is the class for me. Perhaps old Albs are the ultimate choice for anyone who'd tinker and modify for cruising fun and versatility, without wanting to compromise the desire for neat handling, and speed? With that thought, has anyone on THIS side of the Atlantic, any knowledge of the class's use with trapeze and spinnaker? I've only heard mention of it on Canadian sites. These additions must uprate the Alb's PY number. Not that racing is my penchant; but I enjoy making progress, don't we all?
The Swordfish was the fore runner of the Alb Same shape but with less freeboard aft (Not so good for cruising) Metal Plate and Spinnaker
What you are describing is an Alb /Swordfish hybrid I think it would be a gerat boat for cruising.
There a lots of old Fairey Albs still around that are very cheap. I sold one last year for a few hundred quid the hull was very sound. They are not tip top competetive for the racers but ideal for what you want. The Fairy hot molding process I think provides a stonger and more resiliant hull than later more competitve cold molded.
The modern Wayfarers at the Dinghy Show had a big removable rear box that has replaced the old rear deck and locker. It seemed rather a good idea to copy for cruising.
If you don't have a full height front tank then put a bulkhead and waterproof hatch there behind the mast. Not only will it give storage but also extra buoyancy and prevent a great weight of water being trapped between deck and tank if you capsize.