Ted Green is tall, limber and lanky, but as he slides into his 2.4 Metre keelboat at the dock, feet first and forward, his lower body disappears into a honeycomb-cored cavern of ropes cascading and spilling out from a shelf of cam cleats at the front of the cockpit. Beneath the red ball cap and trimmed white beard, Green suddenly looks diminutive in a boat that’s barely longer than he is tall. His torso is only a few inches high of Marblehead harbor lapping at his white hull.
Welcome to the world of low-slung 2.4 Metres, one-design racing at water’s level.
Green, of Newport, Rhode Island, has been in the class long enough now to know what’s fast and what’s not. His boat is one of the more tricked out 2.4 Metres at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week. A few locals recently bought used 2.4 Meters as a step toward establishing a fleet. Planting the seed, if you will. Green brought two 2.4 Metres up from Newport—his and his son Ted Jr.’s—with the intent of helping newcomers get up to speed.
His son’s boat is for sale, he says, and he’s asking $6,000 for it. Ted Sr.’s Magic Bus is for sale too—everything is for the right price, right?
Green’s path to the 2.4 Metre class came through his son, injured in a forestry accident several years ago. Ted Jr. had returned to sailing after a remarkable recovery and was racing a 2.4 Meter at an Olympic Classes Regatta in Miami. “After one of the races, I asked him if I could try the boat,” says Green. “I sailed it for an hour…I’d sailed Etchells for 30 years and I look up at the sailplan and it’s essentially the same thing. It was fun to sail.”
Plus, he adds, he no longer has to argue with his crew and his lunch budget is a lot smaller these days.
Not much has changed in the international realm of 2.4 Metres since the class earned its World Sailing official class status in 1993, but what essentially started as 12 Meter test hulls has evolved into a one-design class with a rich history of champions passing through the class; Today, America’s Cup sailors, Olympians, Paralympians, and amateur sailors race alongside each other, able-bodied and disabled alike.
Paralympic class status certainly helped the class blossom in its heyday, but even with the elimination of Paralympic sailing for Tokyo 2020, the class continues to thrive internationally. Green races mainly in Rhode Island, but says the class has a good winter circuit on Florida’s west coast. The Can-Am series attracts the Canadian snowbirds and there’s now a similar circuit in Toronto, where the boats are most popular.
There are currently two quality builders in Europe, says Green, and the hulls are pretty stock, but there is an effort underway to make the keel a little longer and a little lower. It’s hard to imagine how much lower anything could get in a 2.4 Metre. “We’ll see how that proves out,” says Green.
He bought Magic Bus “barely used.” The boat was brought over from Europe for the 2.4 Metre World Championship in Toronto in 2014. “I spoke with builder who was supposed to ship it back,” Green says with a grin. “We made an arrangement…”
A top-shelf new boat today, he says, costs about $15,000 with everything included, but decent used boats can be had (if you can find one) for $5,000 to $6,000. “Everyone is set up differently, with lines led depending on your preference or your disability. It’s moving cam cleats around and changing sheet leads, but that’s the only difference.”
When sailing, he says, he’s plenty busy around the course; at his disposal are all the same controls he had on his Etchells: mainsheet fine-tune, backstay, jib-tack, cunningham, barber haulers, and of course the big bilge pump between his legs.
The challenge with sailing 2.4 Metres, he says, is keeping one’s head out of the boat and not getting caught up playing with the strings. But with his feet to steer the boat, his hands are free tweak. “It’s all easy to reach and you’re not moving around the boat at all,” he says. “It’s moving your hands six inches to get to a sail control.”
You eventually get used to the sensation of sitting face-forward and being so low to the water, as is water sloshing around in the bilge as you bob and weave through waves. There’s a manual pump and an electric pump, but in strong winds, keeping the water in the bilges is fast. “Once it comes over the floorboard you want to start pumping,” says Green with a laugh. “But keeping the weight low makes the boat a bit stiffer.”
The go-fast technique upwind sailing is to “let the boat hunt”—advice from his son. “He says you have to let the boat hunt, creeping up to weather with a little bit of weather helm.” He also likes to have a runway of about 8 to 10 seconds to the starting line, rather than luffing his sails and waiting. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he says.
The boat tacks quickly, so when conditions are right, the racing is highly tactical, but racing 2.4 Metres is no different than any other boat. “You’re looking for shifts and sail them,” he says. “Going down the run, the whisker pole can be an issue. For a newbie in the boat, the only tricky thing is jibing the whisker pole,” Green says. “You have to pull it back into the boat, jibe the main and then push it out again.”
The pole can get caught against the rig and result in what Green says an “oh-darnit” moment. “We have a few of those in these boats…at least I do.”