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J/Boat team together again

The Mini Transat race allows both prototype and series boats to enter.

The Mini Transat race allows both prototype and series boats to enter. Prototypes may use carbon in the hull and spars, water ballast and canting keels, while series boats are fiberglass production designs with aluminum spars and fixed keels. Rather than buy an existing boat, Burkhalter asked his uncle, Rod Johnstone, to design his own prototype.

Read the other story in this package: A Connecticut sailor’s ocean challenge

Burkhalter and Johnstone had worked together on designing and building boats in the past. When Burkhalter was just 14 he helped his uncle build the first J/24 (named Ragtime), considered the world’s most popular one-design keelboat.

“Building Acadia was a lot like building Ragtime,” says Johnstone. “The whole town eventually got involved — we all worked hard, had a ball … and we built a world-class boat that has proven itself in tough international competition.”

The duo recruited the expertise of both Custom Composite Technologies of Bath, Maine, and Dodson Boatyard in Stonington, Conn., to build the boat.

Burkhalter and Johnstone spent six months designing Acadia with input from solo sailor Isabelle Joschke based on her Mini Transat race experience.

Their design philosophy was for a strong, light, stiff and good all-around boat, rather than one that excels only upwind or only downwind. The boat was designed in accordance with the race rules for maximum length, beam, draft, mast height, and water ballast and is capable of speeds of 20 knots.

Acadia is a conventional prototype design with canting keel, two rudders, daggerboards and water ballast. Other prototypes have further innovations such as keels that move fore and aft on a monorail system and rotating wing masts.

Acadia was built by Custom Composite Technologies in Maine using the latest in construction, material and equipment technologies. The hull is constructed of carbon fiber, epoxy and foam.

Acadia was named for where she was built — in the 17th century French colonists called the areas that are now Maine and Nova Scotia “Acadia” — and to honor the French organizers of the Mini Transat.

Burkhalter says he completed much of the work on the boat himself with the help of the Team Acadia crew, friends and volunteers. He worked 12- to 15-hour days for seven months finishing the boat at Dodson Boat Yard in his hometown of Stonington. Forte Carbon Fiber products in Ledyard, Conn., built the tube for the mast while Burkhalter did the finish work on site.

Acadia carries a sail inventory of a main, 110-percent jib, gennaker, three spinnakers and a storm main and jib. North Sails built his first set of sails and Halsey Lidgard Sailmakers built the second. Since this sail inventory consumes much of the limited space below decks Burkhalter says he may use them as a mattress while cat napping under way.

Acadia’s Specifications:

LOA: 21.3 feet;

Beam: 9.84 feet;

Draft: 6.56 feet;

Sail area: 398 feet upwind, 1,184 feet downwind;

Construction: Carbon/epoxy/foam;

Ballast: 106 gallons of water in four tanks;

Canting keel with lead bulb;

Displacement: 1,694 pounds;

Other: Carbon mast, twin asymmetric daggerboards, twin rudders