Sundance – The Yellow Ballad


Sundance at the start of the Three Peaks Yacht Race 2004.

Sundance at the start of the Three Peaks Yacht Race 2004. Watch the race filmed by “Good Report” here

Sundance, hull number 979 is believed to be one of a small number of yellow Ballads built by Albin Marine of Sweden in the mid 70’s. I’m the third owner, the previous owner having the boat for twenty seven years, sailing at Newport and Uskmouth Sailing Club and competing in the 2004 Three Peaks Yacht Race taking 4 days and 11 hours. Renowned for their build quality, speed and capability, in the 70’s the Ballads were the yacht to own in Sweden, Today they are just as sort after for the same reasons all over the world. Albin built nearly 1500, costing roughly £7000 in the early 1970’s, equivalent to about £100,000 in modern money!

Ballads were designed by Rolf Magnusson with a overall length of 30 feet (9.12m), a beam of 9.6′ (2.95m) and a draught of 5.10′ (1.55m), built with a solid GRP hull with an encapsulated keel. A GRP foam sandwich deck is glassed and bolted every four inches along the hull, with the mast passing through the deck it’s stepped firmly* on the keel making the Ballad very safe seaworthy boat. Big enough to sleep 6 if you’re friendly (in reality you wouldn’t want more then 4), but small enough to sail single handed means the Ballad is a very versatile boat.

*(The keel step can rust so worth checking)

I had fallen in love with the Ballad a few years previous after seeing one in Plymouth, the home of the UK association. Dwarfed by the modern boats, it just looked right, a solid sailing boat, not a floating caravan so to speak. Tiller steering, lowish freeboards and a sleek curved cockpit and cabin. I had been bitten, a Ballad was the boat for me. Looking on various websites I watched them sell for a few years. For my stag do in 2015 I chartered a Bavaria 37 for myself and seven other friends, I knew then I had to have my own boat, and decided then the Ballad was an itch I had to scratch. I sold pretty much everything I didn’t hold close to me, one of my motorbikes, my Honda Integra and all the bits to rebuild it’s engine. I bought a cheap runabout car that did 75mpg so I could half my fuel bill, scrimped and saved and started to get somewhere, then found Sundance.

My aim is to get Sundance up to a spec so we can have family weeks away, club raced with friends at the weekend but so I can sail her single handed and take part in the Jester Challenge. A lifetime goal of mine is to cross the Atlantic but I’ll start small and learn my home waters first.

There are a few small jobs I need to do over the 2016 winter which I’ll be writing blog posts for, but I thought I would make a list of medium and long term improvements and upgrades I wish to complete over the next few years.

Medium Term Improvements.

  • Fit self tailing winches for genoa sheets.
  • Install roller reefing headsail and three point slab reefed main.
  • Move all lines a aft, use old genoa winches on cabin roof.
  • New boom with internal lines.
  • Move batteries from forepeak to under cockpit floor, custom made battery box.
  • Replace and upgrade the gas system.
  • Upgrade 10w solar panel to larger system.
  • 4 man liferaft.

Long Term Upgrades

  • Complete interior refit, slight modification to layout and storage.
  • False floor inbetween cabin and V-bearth for storage
  • Pilot berths converted into cupboards.
  • Shelving in forpeak.
  • Hanging cupboard and above head converted into lockable storage.
  • Rewire the boat, install new battery switch/master panel and lighting throughout.
  • Standard Horizon GPS/AIS DSC VHF (NMEA2k, when they bring one out).
  • New instruments, Log, Depth, Wind (NMEA2k).
  • Internal and external chartplotter/instrument display (NMEA2k).
  • Removable inner forestay.
  • Aft chainplates for Jordan Series Drogue (plus JSD).
  • Upgrade Navik to Seafeather.
  • RM69 Buffertank for head.

Plus anything I’ve missed, message if you can suggest anything!