Presto 30
30' / 9.14m

Rodger Martin Design produces ‘Round-the-World’ racing boats and fast cruisers and racers for a living, so you can bet this isn’t your father’s Round-Bottom-Sharpie!

The Presto 30 ™ may represent the first time a traditional American design has been given the Design Development and Marine Engineering treatment it deserves. We ran several hulls through Hydrostatic Comparisons and our Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) to choose the best design and the structure has been designed & built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards using high-strength, lightweight materials and to meet international Offshore Racing Council (ORC) standards.

The Presto 30 is presently being offered through:

Please contact Rodger Martin at (401)-849-9850 or email at for more information about building a Presto 30.

Yacht Specifications

Length Overall30' / 9.14m
Length Waterline28.75' / 8.76m
Beam8.45' / 2.58m
Draft1.12' / .34m (CB up) ~ 5.75' / 1.75m (CB down)
Displacement3915# / 1776kg
Sail Area400 sq.ft / 37 sq.m
Water CapacityPortable

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In 2007 Outward Bound commissioned Rodger Martin Design to design a replacement for their aging wooden 30 foot school boats, which led to the design and construction of the Outward Bound ‘Hurricane Island 30,’ of which half a dozen of a projected 15 have been built to date.

In Spring 2009 two of these 30 foot open boats, powered only by sail and oar, were sailed 2,500 miles from Florida to Maine in 50 days with stops along the way to raise awareness for OB’s Sea Program!  Popular interest in these obviously capable boats led to Ryder Boats’ commissioning Rodger Martin Design to create a completely new trailerable sharpie for them to built and market.

If you’re interested in capable shoal draft boats you might read Commodore Ralph Munroe’s The Commodore’s story: The Early Days on Biscayne Bay, a captivating book about lifelong experiences sailing and designing innumerable, highly-successful sharpies during Florida’s early development as a Winter haven.   The inherent common sense and safety offered by these designs has been well known for a hundred and fifty years and only racing rules and changing fashion have obscured their once-wide popularity.

‘Presto’ alludes to the famous, fast and able 1885 design by Commodore Munroe, of the same name, and represents a flared, round-bottomed, beachable hull with a flattened bottom for taking the ground, and well-shaped ends for wave penetration forward and reduced drag at the stern. These boats are simple, easy to sail, well balanced and fast for their size!

Sharpie Characteristics:

The Presto 30 ™ is designed to be trailerable & beachable, thus the very shoal draft (13 inches – 330 mm) and the smooth, clean bottom. The hull is lightweight and relatively narrow, both factors reducing drag. Ballast is internal lead built into the bottom and the split rig is used for maneuverability and for its low – (as in close to the water) heeling effect. The combination of a low-heeling force from an efficient sail plan and a light, slim, low-drag hull make these boats fast and very controllable reaching and running. The deep, high performance centreboard and rudder help the boat go upwind effectively, very nearly as high and fast as a good sloop rig.

The split rig is self-tacking. Crack off 5-10 degrees, and a boat of this size will out-sail keel sloops quite a bit longer! This sail plan doesn’t need expensive and difficult-to-set spinnakers to sail at breakaway speeds off the wind. If wanted, a light ‘mizzen staysail’ can be set between the masts and a drifter set at the end of a removable bowsprit but these sails are not needed for normal fast sailing.  The sealed, lightweight, free-standing, carbon-fibre masts fit within the length of the boat for trailering and, at under 40 pounds (18 kg) can be stepped or struck by two people.

Safety and stability:

The Presto 30 ™ has a Limit of Positive Stability (LPS) of 145 degrees! This includes the righting effects of her deck, cockpit, deckhouse and sealed carbon-fibre masts. With actual capsize tests done on the Outward Bound HI 30s, it is very hard to capsize & hold these boats down!
If you run aground in the Presto 30 ™, pull the centreboard up a bit and sail off. If you run aground on a falling tide, and lifting the board and rudder only allow you to go further aground, simply keep them both all the way up and the boat will settle on her flat bottom. The usual principles of prudent seamanship apply and one should try to avoid doing this on a lee or rocky/reefy shore! On a boat fitted with an engine you could use it to motor into deeper water if depth allows. A keelboat in a similar situation will soon be stuck aground, lying at uncomfortable and vulnerable angles!

An inlet with unmarked rocks or shifting sandbars can be fatal for a keelboat if it runs aground.  Hitting an unseen hazard in a sharpie merely kicks the board by the obstacle. Once past the obstacle the board drops to its previous depth.

Any sailboat can capsize, and though unsinkable, the Presto 30 ™ is not exempted. As explained above, because of her relatively narrow hull and high freeboard the Presto 30 ™ has a theoretical limit of positive stability LPS) (hull to the sheer only) of 103 degrees and a ‘real world’ limit of stability (i.e. including deckhouse, cockpit and spars) of 145 degrees!


The Presto 30 ™ is built for families and racers. The vinyl ester, resin-infused Corecell hull is engineered to be both light-weight and tough. Racers will appreciate the state-of-the-art laminate when every pound counts and families can let novice sailors take the helm knowing that the hull can take beaching and minor grounding without permanent damage. Both sailors will appreciate the blister-proof bottom.

Presto 30’s Layout:

Cockpit:  The Presto 30 ™ has a huge cockpit that is 10’ 6” (3.2 m) long! The cockpit seats are over 7’6” long for comfortable sleeping, and there is plenty of space for a full family or group of friends, secure inside the high cockpit coaming, for sailing or dining. There is a generous cockpit locker on each side. The port cockpit locker fits an Igloo cooler, while the starboard locker holds the fuel tank for an optional outboard motor in the well behind the deckhouse.

The after part of the cockpit is open for stowing a folded inflatable dinghy and is private for sunbathing and a good place to clean fish or use a Sun Shower. A transom door which can drop down to become a swimming platform with an attached ladder is an option. Tiller steering is standard and wheel steering is available.

Interior:   The cabin top has an optional Sky-Top that can be raised at anchor to give 6’6” headroom throughout the main areas of the interior. This allows 360 degree visibility and excellent ventilation. Optional fly screens can be fitted for buggy conditions or a clear plastic snap-on window for rainy weather. Once below 6’6” long settee/berths to port & starboard are standard. There is fold-up table on the starboard side as an option. Another option is a galley to port as you enter the cabin. This slides away under the cockpit when not in use.

Forward of the saloon/galley area, the standard interior provides room for a Port-a-Potti head under the V-berth, with a sink to port and a hanging locker to starboard.

Optionally, a plumbed head is fitted to port, with a curtain closure across to the hanging locker to starboard. A curtain between the head/hanging locker and the V-berth can also be provided,  Forward of the V-berth is a watertight bulkhead which also supports the foremast.

Optional Engine Systems:

While the boat doesn’t require a motor there are several options for mounting one.

With the retractable outboard option a 9.9 hp hi-thrust outboard is mounted in a well behind the cabin and can be lowered to power the boat. When down, a fairing above the cavitation plate closes off the well for efficiency; when the outboard is raised by a tackle a fairing below the outboard’s skeg makes for a flush hull. Engine controls are remotely located on the cockpit side in the conventional manner.

A second option is a Torqued Cruise R electric outboard with power equivalent to a 9.9 hp gas outboard. This is lowered & raised like the gas engine.

A third option is a small, transom-hung outboard.

Deckhouse & Foredeck:

To go forward from the cockpit you can either move down the narrow side-deck, holding onto the handrail on the deckhouse or, if weather is rough, go through the cabin and get to the foremast or bow via the forehatch.  Another alternative is to step on the coaming up to the cabin top and go forward that way with the sprit or wishbone as a hand hold.

The Sail Plan:  Presto 30 ™ has two types of sail available.

Standard:  Traditional, triangular sharpie sails with wet lay-up, braided carbon sprits and masts, as used on the Outward Bound HI 30s. These spars are made by Forte Composites. This sail plan has 320 sq. ft. in the main and fore.

Performance Option:  Square-topped sails by North Sails, with Hall Spars prepreg masts with wishbones booms. Wishbones are used for the powerful vanging effect needed to control the twist (power) of the square-topped sails. This sail plan has 400 sq. ft. in the main and fore.

A staysail can be set between the masts for added reaching power.

Why two masts?   The two masts allow more maneuvering and balance control than a sloop rig on any point of sail and, when reefed, provide very stable steering. The fact that the sails are small (185 and 205 sq. ft) (17.2 and 19 sq. m) and low generates more driving power than heeling force, which helps keep the boat on its feet. The standard sail plan is a traditional sharpie rig with tapered, sealed, unstayed carbon masts from Forte Composites, and triangular, battenless sails and simple sprits.

An optional high-performance sail plan includes lighter weight, Hall Spars prepreg carbon masts, also sealed and tapered, with fully-battened, roached sails and wishbone booms.

All sail controls can be run aft to the cockpit.   

Centreboard & Rudder:

The Presto 30 ™‘s fiberglass centreboard & rudder are essential to the safety and function of these boats. The basic tenet is that if you can reduce the area of the sails (reef) the sails you should be able reduce the area of the ‘keel.’ It is logical that when caught in unpredicted rough weather, as long as there is sea-room (or lake room) to leeward, partially lifting the centreboard to reduce its area will allow the boat to slide easily to leeward without tripping over a deep-rooted fixed keel.

The board also makes these boats practical cruisers by allowing easy launching and retrieval by trailer. The board is lifted and lowered by a 5:1 tackle with the tail coming to the cockpit.

The rudder has both up and down lines located on the tiller.


The Presto 30 ™ is ideal for sailors ranging from novice to experienced. It is ideal for any sailor looking for a fast, versatile 30’ boat and is particularly attractive to kayakers, canoeists, board-and-kite sailors who want to share the adventure with their families. The cruising package allows you to explore further while providing comfortable accommodations. The economy of not being tied to a boat yard for launching, hauling, maintenance or storage is a great attraction. The 8.5’ (2.6 m) beam means the boat is trailerable in all 50 states without permits, which opens up a variety of cruising grounds unavailable to any other boat in its comfort and performance level.

The Presto 30 ™ is a new interpretation of a classic sailboat for an independent generation of sailors unencumbered by the trappings of ‘yachting’ and its expensive, complicated, high-maintenance boats requiring deep water docks and costly marina services.

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