The Pacer Pursuit is a high performance version of the traditional Pacer developed by long time Pacer Builder Jim French in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia with 400mm extra on the mast, new larger fully battened mainsail, new larger jib, new larger asymmetric spinnaker and trapeze using the same Pacer hull. It is the intention for the Pacer Pursuit to be developed as a completely new and separate class alongside the traditional Pacer Class. This will allow the traditional Pacer to remain in its long established current format.
We asked Jim French to tell us about how he developed the Pacer Pursuit.
After sailing Pacers for many years, it became obvious to me that the class could do with a bit more sail to make sailing a bit more exciting. A lot of people were leaving Pacers because of this, and the class has taken on a training boat image in some areas. The pacer hull is a really good design, it is really stable and can easily take a lot more sail.
As the Pursuit was already a class in the 70`s (a not very successful boat) I thought it was time to re-visit the concept and modernise it. The single luff kites of the skiffs are so much more modern than the old balloon spinnakers, much faster and much easier to handle. Mylar fully batterned main and jib were the way to go.
I first thought, to make the boat successful I should make it affordable, so I tried to do a rig using the same mast as the Pacer, gaining the extra area needed from a big roach on the main, and the biggest jib I could fit with the same sheeting position. The mast needed spreaders and a different spin set up, but that was all. For the bowsprit I drilled a hole in the bow of the boat, and set up the retractable pole the same as the skiffs.
The boat worked brilliantly, especially off the wind, upwind it was just a little faster than a pacer. I sailed it for a few months, lending it to as many people as I could, their comments were noted , mostly the comment was that it should have a trapeze, so I added one.
I kept sailing the boat as often as I could and continued to lend it to as many that would try it. After the State Champs, I finally came to the conclusion through the feedback that it needed more sail to use the trapeze effectively and to be significantly faster than the pacer upwind.
A longer mast was the only option, so I made it 400mm longer, so people who didn`t want to buy a new mast could sleeve their old one. I ordered a new set of sails 400mm longer in the luffs and the kite longer in the foot as well to give it a bit more go off the wind.
The result is that the boat now is much faster than the Pacer upwind and amazingly quick downwind. It is really stable, especially off the wind, and is easy to sail, but not too much of a handful in a breeze.