Meet the Santana 22

Years ago Patrick Twohy wrote nice articles about boats in the Spinnaker Sailing fleet - first the Merit 25 and then the Catalina 27. Over the last 30+ years, the complexion of Spinnaker Sailing’s fleet has evolved. Previous members of the fleet included the J-24, Ranger 23, Cal-24, and the Santana 22. With time, Rich has  gradually upgraded the fleet to the agile and high-performance Merit-25.

During the early days of Spinnaker Sailing the most common boat in our fleet was the Santana 22. I taught many classes on the Santana 22, have owned two, and sailed them through nasty weather. This is a boat I have great affection for. In this article I will tell you about the Santana is 22 and how it compares to a Merit 25.

Key to understanding sailboat performance what it looks like below the waterline. The following haul-out photo shows a keel shaped like a parallelogram, compared to a right-trapezoid keel on the Merit. The keel is made of cast iron, stronger and less dense than lead.
Haulout photo 1

The next picture shows the dramatically flared keel. At the hull it is two inches wide. It flares to more than six inches wide, and is flat, at the bottom. Out of water the boat can stand, unaided, on the keel, but I got very nervous when I saw this done with my boat
haulout showing flared keel

The flared keel shape would suggest a low center of gravity, but this is not the case. The upper part of the keel that is embedded in the hull is shaped like a large shoe, measuring six inches wide and two inches high, sitting flush with the underside of the boat. So the heaviest parts of the keel are at the top and bottom.   

Here is a picture of a Santana 22 keel out of the water, sitting upside down. Note the large shoe. It weighs 1,230 lbs, compared to 1,050 for the 24’6” Merit-25. Weight overall is 2,600 lbs. compared to 2,900 for the Merit-25. For its length the Santana 22 is heavy, with nearly half its weight in the keel.
keel from Mr. Dilworth's Santana

The next picture, of a Santana 22 under sail, shows that it sits low to the water. There is about a foot of freeboard. It has a masthead rig. The jib has a low foot running almost parallel to the deck. Compare this to the high jib foot on a Merit. It has a long cockpit comfortably seating six. The mast is short for its length. With a standard 115 jib, it carries over 210 square feet of sail, compared to about 216 for the Merit 25. A key Santana 22 feature is a lot of sail that sits low and close to the waterline.
santana 22 in a race

The Santana 22 is the first of many sailboats designed by bay-area engineer Gary Mull, back in the sixties. It is designed for sailing stiff winds and waves typical of an afternoon on the Bay. Other Gary Mull designs sharing the same over-built features are the Ranger 23 and 26.

Santana 22s were built in three batches, in the mid sixties, early seventies, and 2001. They are over-built. They carry too much fiberglass, enormous chain plates, solid teak bulkheads, and a deck joint held with screws an inch apart. The result is a heavy, over-built, stable, durable, sedate boat.

The Santana 22 is popular in this area and well-suited for the Bay. Over 800 were made. It is so durable that most of them are still around, and can be had for a reasonable price. A usable Santana will sell for less than $3,000; a fully appointed one for twice that.  

This is not the fastest boat under sail. Unlike the nimble Merit 25, the Santana 22 needs a good gust of wind to get moving. The PHRF rating varies around 237 depending on jib size. This gets the boat across the start line early in a race, but usually following most of the fleet across the finish line. Low freeboard and deck make for a wet and wild ride. Passengers sit barely a foot above the water. You get an exciting sail across the slot, under the gate, or around marker 2 in a strong afternoon ebb.
santana 22 on redwood creek

For more information, see the WikiPedia pages for designer Gary Mull, builder WD Schock in Santa Ana, CA; and Santana 22. There is a bay-area Santana 22 group at Technical specifications for nearly every sailboat made can be found at At the Redwood City Marina you will find Santana 22s on B-, C-, and D-dock.