Victory 21
disAbled Sailing

The Victory 21 as a Platform for disAbled Sailing

The purpose of this page is to develop and support the Victory 21 as platform for disAbled sailing. I am basing this concept on a few assumptions; one of which is cost. The Victory 21 is affordable. There are several reason for this, I suppose. The fact that the boat is old comes to mind. The last boat was made in about 1982. The fact that is not particularly speedy is another reason: The Victory's displacement hull shape simply doesn't lend itself to planing.

On the other hand, the Victory has several aspects beyond a reletively low cost of acquisition which make it an excellent base for disAbled sailing. It is a keel boat. The standard keel gives it a 500 pound means of retaining its upright position. The bulb keel version is even more stable with a keel weight of 685 pounds. It ought to be virtually impossible to tip over. The boat is of a fairly large size and has a very large cockpit, yet it has a low profile and freeboard which should allow access from standard docks with less difficulty. Finally the cockpit itself is roomy enough to make removable or permanent adaptive aids installable in a variety of configurations.

Jordan J. Dobrikin writes:

Since it is apparently the Sonar which is the boat of choice, below I have made a comparison of the two boats.

Cockpit Comparison Photos

Victory 21 #632 (left)Sonars (above and below)

The Victory 21 Compared to the Sonar 23


Sonar 23 Victory 21
LOA 23' 0" 21' 0"
LWL 19' 11" 15' 0"
Beam 7' 10" 6' 3"
Draft 3' 11" 3' 0"

3' 5"
Displacement 2100 lbs. 1350 lbs.
(bulb keel)
1535 lbs.
Ballast 900 lbs. 500 lbs.
(bulb keel)
685 lbs.
B/D Ratio 43 37
(bulb keel)
Sail Area
main and jib
250 sq. ft. 185 sq. ft.

Sail Controls

Sonar 23 Victory 21
cunnigham downhaul
vang vang
traveler traveler
outhaul outhaul
mainsheet mainsheet
mastbend ?

Purchase Price

Sonar 23 Victory 21
New: $20,900+
Used: $10,000
New: N/A ($3,295 in 1980)
Used: $500 to $3500

Comparison Analysis

Both vessels have a very high ballast to displacement ratios. Both vessels have very long and roomy cockpits and small cuddy cabins. Both vessels have the rudder placed at the rear of the cockpit ahead of the transom. This gives both boats very short turning ratios and the rudder stays fully immersed at all heeling angles allowing excellent control to be maintained when needed.

The Victory compares very favorably to the Sonar in most respects. The Sonar with its longer LWL and planing capability may be faster, but otherwise the Victory holds its own. When attempting to create accessibility under budget constraints, the Victory is ideal. It compares favorably with the Sonar and yet may be obtained for one-fifth to one-third the price.

Modification of a Victory 21

The following is a description of the modifications done to a Victory 21 hull # 217, built by Wesco in 1962, renamed "Manitou" in 1996. Owned by the Oregon Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Sailed by Sea Explorers troop # 282 and raced by the sailors of disAbled Sailing of Oregon (disAbled SailOR) on Fernridge Reservoir.


No one seems to remember when or who gave our local Sea Scouts the Victory.  The boat had been sitting on the grounds of the Eugene Yacht Club at Fernridge Reservoir unused and full of water for several years.  In 1995 our local Laser Champion, Ross Fleishman, salvaged the boat from the weeds and re-rigged it as part of his Eagle Scout project.  Ross made the boat sea-worthy but many more modifications still needed to be made to make the boat sailable by a disabled crew.  What follows is a list of what we've done and plan to do to make the boat all she can be.  

NOTE:  There are thousands of boats like Manitou laying unused all over this country which could be providing valuable life lessons to our youth.  Peter Johnstone has said that "sailing is an active ity that can change lives".  He is so right.  If we put our children together with these old unused vessels I know they both will begin to shine with the promise of unlimited possibilities.  Let's show our kids how much fun it is to turn an old boat into a head turner.  Let's help them discover that sailing can provide more thrills than any video game.

Furler:  One of the first issues we addressed in getting Manitou ready for paraplegics (paras) and Quadriplegics (quads) was to install a roller furler.  We wanted to use the new Harken 00 twin-foil furler, but they were a little slow in getting it to market, so we went with the largest of the Harken small boat furlers which allow you to furl but not reef the sail.  We had an older, but serviceable, Santana 22 genoa which we had converted for furling with a luff-wire.  Unfortunately the sail maker kept the deck-sweeper configuration of the 140  so we are going to have to have the clew raised this year so the sail will furl correctly.  The old original Victory jib has such a high clew that it's perfect for the furler.  It is however quite blown out and won't point worth a darn.

Mainsheet control:  When we received Manitou the mainsheet was rigged through a ratchet block in the cockpit floor near the tiller.  Ross Fleischman, the Eagle Scout who resurrected the boat was a VERY hot Laser sailor in the Northwest in 1995 so he set Manitou up to sail with the mainsheet between the helmsman's knees like a Laser.  For our purposes that didn't work 'cause many of our helmsmen have limited grip strength.  We need to be able to cleat the main sheet so we could use both hands on the tiller. We decided to keep the main available to the driver by putting a new swivel based Cam cle at in the traditional "Victory" position, on the rear cockpit combing.

Halyards led aft:  Manitou was "winchless" when we launched her, so it was quite difficult to get the main up to the stripe.  We installed a new #6 Lewmar on the cabin-top in line with the mast.  A couple of stand-up blocks to redirect the halyards aft to a new double rope clutch between the mast and the winch and VOILA - the halyards a easily manageable from the cockpit.

We also added a couple used sliding blocks that Ron Fish from Eugene's Sailing Center had in his desk for the genny tracks.  A couple used swivel mount cam cleats for easier headsail trimming from windward pretty much completed the work on Manitou.

West Marine donated much of the above mentioned equipment to our program. Thanks to Susan Altman & the folks at the Portland store!  

Improvements to Manitou we plan to make in 1999 

New paint - top & bottom
A traveler
Ratchet blocks on the genoa tracks
A sliding board to enable the helmsman to switch sides
A lifting davit for the Scout dock to ease the back strain of our
volunteer & to give our sailors more independence and dignity when
boarding and deboarding.
An autopilot 4000 joy-stick remote control unit for use by our
higher level quadriplegic sailors.


Many of the adaptations needed to make a 20-26 ft. sloop ready forpiloting by disabled persons will also make the boat easier for anyone to sail.  Basic running rigging plans designed to make a boat easier for single-handing will be essential for a handicapped accessible boat.  All control lines and  halyards must be led aft to the cockpit.  Extensive use of deck organizers, rope clutches, cam cleats, multiple purchases and winches will make sailing accessible to all but the most severely disabled.

In addition to making the rigging manageable for someone with decreased mobility or strength, we must address the issue of seated stability.  Many of our program's participants have poor balance while sitting because of confused nerve messages or impaired trunk muscles.  A high backed boat seat (ideally with arm rests) and a seat belt are essential to most disabled sailors when a boat is heeling or in rough seas.

Other items essential to the sailors actual safety include life vests which must have high buoyancy without being too bulky.  Temperature regulation is often impaired by medications taken by many of our sailors.  The new  automatically inflating life vests are ideal because of their light weight, high flotation and freedom of movement they allow.  These vests also have great "righting ability" in the water, so they keep you face up! 

Roller furler for jib - allows jib to be set, reefed & furled from seated position in cockpit

Oval grip tiller extension - Gives tiller control to quadriplegics and stroke victims who have limited grip or hand strength

Lazyjacks - Keeps mainsail under control and on boom as it's lowered

Sport-a-seat by Paradise - A padded, portable stadium seat with a six-position ratchet hinge which allows various back angles.  Covered in the Sunbrella canvas color of your choice, the seat is easily stowable so your boat doesn't shout "this is a gimp boat!".  The seat is so comfortable that your entire crew will want one.

Iinflatable life vests w/automatic water activation system - The best PFD available for the disabled - More buoyancy  & higher floatation - Smaller profile when uninflated keeps those with poor body temperature regulation from overheating on hot days.  We frequently have sailors either getting woozy from the heat or refusing to wear pfds.  

Ratcheted swivel mount cam cleat - keeps mainsheet where you left it and easy to trim

Double rope clutch for man & jib halyard - Nobody should be without rope clutches for halyards

Replace cabin top #6 winch for halyards

Two(2) stand up blocks to re-direct halyards to rope clutch & winch 

Features to look for when shopping or searching marinas and fields for a boat adaptable for use by disabled persons include:

1.  Stiff & stable with ballast to displacement ratio of 35-50
2.  Fractional rig (smaller headsail for easier handling, ability to sail well under main alone) self-tacking jib would be great
3.  Good-sized cockpit(6+feet)
4.  High seat backs would be helpful because so many disabled sailors have weakened trunk muscles and impaired balance
5.  Fin keel or retractable bulb 
6.  Inboard rudder for better balance and handling
7. Full floatation for safety
8.  Low freeboard (less windage, easier handling) 
9. Inboard motor well like on the T-birds and Ranger 24s
10. A structurally sound boat with good to excellent rigging

Used boats not designed for the disabled but that seem to meet most of our
criteria include:
Olson 25
Ranger 20
Ranger 23
Ranger 24 
San Juan 24
Santa Cruz 27 - Ideal cockpit but needs a large or heavy crew.  With 396
feet of canvas it's a handful
Santana 525
Sonar 23 - The competition boat for the Paralympics in 2000 & 2004
Thunderbird (glass hull w/flotation)
Victory 21

New boats not designed for the disabled but that seem to meet most of our
criteria include:
Alerion 20
Capri Aero 20
Harbor 20
Ideal 18
Sonar 23

disAbled Sailing Links

The Eugene Yacht Club is host to disAbled SailOR. Their websites are and .