Columbia Sabre

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Columbia Sabre

Postby cmartin » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:52 am

I came across a Columbia Sabre for sale locally and wanted learn a little more. I found some info online but know nothing about these boats other than what google found.


Sexy lines and I bet they move on the water. Anyone have experience with these boats? I found some mention of one on this forum, but not much describing it's sailing qualities.

Is this a race boat with a little cabin, or can you really weekend on one? Too powerful a boat for a day sail with novice crew? Foul weather gear a must, or can it be sailed in relative comfort? I cant image a 6'3" beam helps initial stability much :)

Thanks for any info!
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Columbia Sabre

Postby Stubrow » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:39 am

Here's a little more info.
There was another version built under the Ericson name with a slightly different coach roof.
There was one the sat for a number of years in a boatyard down the street from me. Unfortunately, I think they finally took a chainsaw to it.
5.5 meters are not known for their ease of handling in heavy air, especially the more modern ones.
Still, I would have rescued this one in a heartbeat if I had someplace to put it.

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Postby Bluenose » Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:14 pm

The Columbia Sabre


and the Ericson Scorpion


were very early candidates for the project that eventual became the Shields conversion, Bolero. At first they seemed like ideal candidates based on being descendants of the 5.5 meter racing class.


The story that I remember is that Columbia created molds for a fiberglass version of the 5.5 meter but the class organization decided to stay with wood. So having the molds Columbia created a "cruising" version, the Sabre. When Bruce King moved onto Ericson her took the design and created the Scorpion.

I actually test sailed an Ericson Scorpion but wasn't thrilled. I wondered if the extra weight from the 5.5 meter heritage was hindering its performance.

Here is a summary of some performance data that I assembled at the time.


I was comparing my candidates to my, then current, Bluenose Sloop and my other idea, the Atlantic. From a pure performance view I thought both the Sabre and Scorpion were a bit heavy and under canvased for my purpose.

That said, I still think these boats have beautiful hulls. Although I think both cabintops might need some window dressing.
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Re: Columbia Sabre

Postby RobertC » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:11 am

My parents owned a Columbia Sabre while I was growing up. We did both bouy and ocean races on the Monterey Bay. We consistently won, particularly under light air conditions --- That was before the era of the ultralights.

The Columbia sabres are tender but easily driven. We added an additional 500 lbs of lead to the hollow rear of the keel. That increased its CCA rating but made it stiffer. We also added running backstays, to get better headstay tension, and double headstays to facilitate headsail changes. Today, you would probably use a headfoil, instead.

On a beat with 150% genoa and full main, we would be rail-down in about 7 knots of wind and going 8 knots. We would, then, take in a half-reef. At about 12 knots of wind we would change down to a 135% lapper. We would keep the lapper up until we were double-reefed. At about 35-40 knots of wind, we would retire from the race and go back to the harbor.

The boat balanced perfectly under all those sail combinations. The skipper could let go of the helm and the boat would sail itself. In addition, its bow had sufficent flair that it rarely took water over the foredeck. --- The hull is from a 5.5 meter. That is a development class and the Sabre's hull is a third generation redesign. It is a thoroughbred and it shows it.

Off the wind, under a spinnacher, the boat can plane, raising a four-foot roostertail six or eight feet behind it. However, the angle that can be sailed between broaching and oscillating wildly decreases as the wind comes up. At somewhere around 30 to 35 knots of wind, you have to take the spinacher down.

Our boat was in Monterey harbor during the Columbus Day Storm. The hundred knot winds laid it down flat on its side under bare poles. It had no damage and it was self-bailing but the point is that a sabre is not a heavy weather boat.

The mast is deck-stepped directly above the opening in the main bulkhead for the passageway to the foreward cabin. As it came from the factory, there was a glassed-in bridge across that opening, but it was not strong enough. Every saber I have seen had that bridge reinforced or replaced in some way.

The hull is solid fiberglass made with alternating layers of roving and chopper-gun using polyester resin. That is a good compromise between expense and quality. We never had any problems with it nor any blisters.

The deck and cabin are balsa-cored. Our boat's deck and cabin were as hard as a drumhead. However, many boats have gotten leakage into the core and core-seperation. They can be recored. However, that is not easy. So, check for soft spots and price the repair at a boatyard.

The Columbia Sabres are now about a half-century old. Their plywood bulkheads may be rotten where they touch the hull and the swaged end fittings on their shrouds should be replaced.

That is about it. They are delightful boats and are well suited to light or moderate conditions.
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