[originally published in Practical Sailor, February 2001]
This unusual, flush-deck 1970s-era boat draws a bit too much to be a
true trailer-sailer, but her performance nearly rivals a J/24. The
cockpit is big, but the cabin quite small.
|Beam|| 7' 10|
|Draft||(fixed keel) 3' 5|
|Displacement||(fixed keel) 2,900 lbs.|
|(k/cb) 3,100 lbs.|
|Ballast||(fixed keel) 1,250 lbs.|
|(k/cb) 1,500 lbs.|
|Sail Area||227 sq. ft.|
We originally reviewed the Tanzer 22 in the December 1, 1981 issue,
but a friend of ours did such a good job restoring the 25-year-old
T-22 he inherited from his father that we decided to take a second
look. The T-22's accommodations haven't gotten any more workable than
they were when we first sailed her; her aesthetics are, at best,
"unique," and we doubt she'd have much luck in a drag race with
lighter 22's like those that have come on the market since she was
introduced in 1970. Still, she's simple and fun to sail. She's also
capable enough as a cruiser and challenging enough as a racer to make
her one of the most popular boats of her type ever built. There were
The Tanzer 22's shortcomings may illustrate some of the ways that
sailboats have gotten better over the years, but her strengths are
still genuine. A pint-sized weekender/racer that wears well, the T-22
has earned remarkable loyalty from her owners.
Johann "Hans" Tanzer, designer/builder of the T-22, grew up in Austria
where he apprenticed as a boatbuilder. Then he went to Switzerland
where he built and raced dinghies and small boats. Finally he
emigrated to Canada. He worked at first on one-offs, dinghies, and
raceboats before starting his own shop. Tanzercraft built Lightnings,
International 14s, and Y-Flyers. "Right from when I started in Austria
the main thing was always racing...to make a boat go fast," Tanzer
said from his home near Dorion, Quebec. "Then I thought, 'What about a
boat for the family, for the average guy?'"
Photo caption: More than 2,000 Tanzer 22s were built during the 1970s,
making it one of the most popular boats ever of its size.
His answer was a 16-foot daysailer he called the Constellation, his
first design. When his company expanded and became Tanzer Industries,
Inc. in 1968, the Constellation became the Tanzer 16, and then Hans
Tanzer drew up an overnighter version, the next step in appealing to
the average guy.
Next up was the Tanzer 22.
"I was inspired a bit by Uffa Fox, some by George Hinterhoeller and
what was happening at C&C; I knew how to make boats go fast. But for
the 22 I wanted a boat that was first of all safe, that would be
forgiving, that you would not need to be expert to sail, that would
let families sail together."
The T-22's cockpit is large. It is well over 7' long and (in the
absence of side decks) utilizes the whole of the boat's beam. It
provides room to seat six and lets four sail comfortably. The well is
deep, the seat backs are high, the seats slope outboard; it is secure
"We've sailed the boat for more than 20 years," said an owner from
Maine. "We like the roomy cockpit and solid feel. It's a great boat
for children as the cockpit is so deep and spacious." Most owners say
the same; its over-sized cockpit is a key to the appeal of the boat.
It is also, however, too big to drain quickly. And there is no
bridgedeck. We asked Tanzer about the potential danger of filling the
cockpit offshore and/or in heavy weather.
"The corner of the house deflects water and protects the cockpit from
taking solid waves," he answered. "My son and I took out the first
boat we built and tried to break it. We had the spreaders in the water
and the waves still didn't come aboard. The water just streamed aft
along the deck. The hull has plenty of freeboard and the cockpit sides
are high. I think I should have made the cockpit more self-bailing,
John Charters, once service manager at Tanzer Industries and now
editor of the class newsletter, said, "Many owners have, like I did,
added drains in the forward corner outboard end of the cockpit benches
to drain what water comes aboard to the scuppers. I've seen T-22s with
their keels out of the water, but I've never seen them swamp or heard
of one that sank. When it starts to blow hard, though, I always sail
with the bottom drop board in place in the companionway to make sure
no water gets below."
The T-22 displaces 2,900 pounds (3,100 for the keel/centerboard
version). That's heavy, even by 1970's standards. The Catalina 22, a
contemporary of the T-22, weighs 2,150 pounds. The more modern J/22 is
just 1,790 pounds (and she's hardly the lightest racer/cruiser
available in this size range.) It's natural to think of displacement
as "dead weight," especially in a small boat where size puts an
effective limit on sail area. However, it can also translate (as we
feel it does with the T-22) into robust scantlings and healthy
ballast/displacement ratios. "Everything on the Tanzer is built
extremely heavy-duty," said one owner.
Tanzer put much of the T-22's buoyancy in the after sections. As a
result, she accommodates the weight of a cockpit full of sailors
without squatting or deforming her sailing lines. Finally, the T-22
provides little of the "corky" feel that some small boats do. It would
undoubtedly be possible to build the boat lighter today. That might
improve it some, but the T-22's solid feel and generous payload have
endeared her to "the average guy," and much of that is due to her
The mainsail is small (112 sq. ft.) with almost no roach. Her spar is
a "tree" in section and virtually unbendable. A 200 sq. ft. (170%)
genoa provides the real muscle of the sail plan. We prefer a big
controllable mainsail married to a small, non-overlapping jib for
versatile, efficient sailpower. In a bigger boat an out-sized genny
can become a man-killer. However, the Tanzer's sails are small enough
to handle. Putting most of the horsepower in the foretriangle is one
way to limit weather helm and boost square footage for light air
performance. A 375 sq. ft. spinnaker is allowed by the class. The T-22
sailplan, though dated, is proven and straightforward.
The hull and foil shapes also are products of their time. Not nearly
so sharp of entry nor flat of exit as a modern racer/cruiser, hers is
a "through-the-water" hull.
Like many racers from the early 70s, especially those produced by
neighboring C&C, the T-22 has a swept-back keel. Designers have since
plumbed the underwater mysteries with deltas, trapezoids, ellipses,
bulbs, and wings. You don't see swept-back fins much anymore, but they
provide a generous and wide "groove" (which suits the boat well for
the average sailor) and minimize wave-making resistance (which helps
the boat accelerate and adds to her lively feel). Other shapes have
come into fashion, but the T-22's fin works well.
The same is not entirely true of the T-22 rudder. Tanzer's original
design was a shallow, aft-raking, semi-scimitar. He wanted, he said, a
lift/drag profile to match the keel's and a "fail-safe" element to
keep sailors from "driving the boat into trouble." What he got was a
foil that tended to lift clear of the water and ventilate when the
boat heeled in a puff.
"We should have replaced it right away," said Charters, "but it took a
long time before we developed a new one. It was deeper, semi-balanced,
and straight on the leading edge. It worked! What used to involve
fighting 'on-the-edge' weather helm is now a two-finger operation. We
let the new rudder (it was developed by one of our owners and costs
only about $200) and old rudder race together in our regattas."
There aren't many boats that look like the T-22. Her straight
housetop/deck extends from stem to cockpit. The bow is spoon-curved
but a bit bulbous. Very modern-looking in profile, the sheer is
traditionally sprung, traced by a cove-stripe/rubbing strake that runs
along the deckless "deckline," which creates the illusion of low to
medium freeboard while the actual hull/house sides are quite high.
Except for the visual trickery involved with this cove stripe, Tanzer
didn't invest much in trying to make his boat look like something it
wasn't. Her big cockpit, raised side decks, and
"good-for-the-average-guy" hull were the main thing, and that is what
you get. From some angles she looks saucy, from some others silly.
Dinettes were very popular in the '70s. "Convertible space" was the
magic key to making little boats accommodate big people. Obviously,
you have to bend some to cruise a boat this small.
Photo caption: Accommodations aboard the Tanzer are fine for a couple
on a weekend, but most people will want to be sitting in the cockpit.
The T-22's headroom (4' maximum) makes that point emphatic. So do the
sharply tapered V-berth and the narrow quarter berth. The physical and
visual "elbow room" created by taking the house side out to the rail,
however, helps make the cabin less cramped. Still, the need to convert
is a haunting reality. Change the table into the double berth, lift
the forward berth to access the head beneath, convert the
front-opening ice box into something you can live with underway, the
hatch cover into a pop top, etc. and, after a while, "two-way space"
becomes a mixed blessing.
Ventilation is another sore spot, but stowage (except for the "silly
waste of space given over to the sink and ice box" noted by an owner
from Lake George, New York) rates as "good" to "very good" with most
owners. Hardly the heart of the design, the T-22's interior has still
let thousands enjoy the sort of limited cruising she was meant for.
Eric Spencer, Tanzer Industries president from 1968 until 1985, now
runs Yachting Services, Ltd. (Box 1045, Pointe Claire, Quebec H9S 4H9,
Canada; 514/697-6952) that, among other activities, sells parts for
the more than 8,000 Tanzers out there.
"Hans was always on the shop floor," Eric said, "rarely in the office.
He was prone to over-engineering things. You can see it in the T-22
keelbolts. They're the same size we later used on the T-31. And we
used the same mast section in the 26 with no problems. And the
rigging-everyone else was using 1/8" wire; Hans had to have 5/32""
The hull/deck joint is an outboard flange joined by semi-rigid
adhesive and 3/16" machine screws on 6" centers. Charters, the
ex-service manager, said, "Though many owners report no leaks, the
joint can leak-sometimes. One of the simpler systems and certainly one
of the easiest to fix, it has some minor faults. Impact to the hull,
even squeezing between lifting slings, can break the adhesive bond.
Both the machine screws and the Monel pop rivets used on some boats
may loosen where fasteners pulverize the fiberglass. Remember that the
T-22 sails with her rubrail in the water. That pressure can turn even
a tiny gap into a leak."
Charters recommends removing the rubrail, ("but leave it attached at
stem and stern or you'll never get it back on,") replacing (with
oversized machine screws or through bolts) loose fasteners, and
redoing the seal using BoatLIFE Life-Caulk or 3M 5200. This "two- to
three-hour process," he said, will renew most boats' hull/deck joint
The portlights originally relied on a sponge rubber inner gasket and a
hard rubber outer seal. These, too, most likely will need to be
renewed on older boats. Replacing the inner seal with butyl tape is
one suggestion. Cutting new, over-sized ports from an acrylic or
polycarbonate material (the original plastic clouds with age) and
fastening them to the house side with sealant and mechanical fasteners
is another good fix, owners report. "The sponge and spline seals I
purchased (about $100) for the hull ports from Eric Spencer made
re-doing the cabin ports easy. It took four hours and the leaks are
completely gone!" said the owner of a 1981 model in Ontario.
An interior hull liner incorporates the berths, cabinets, sole, etc.
It's easy to assemble, and strong if done meticulously (as it seems to
have been on the Tanzer floor). But when this construction system
includes molded headliners it is hard to move or add deck hardware.
Photo caption: The T22's sailplan is moderately powerful and easy to
handle with end-boom sheeting. Note the two underbody configurations -
fin keel or keel/centerboard for shoal waters and easier trailering.
Resin-rich fiberglass from the era when the boat was first built is
prone to becoming granular and powdery around screw holes. The early
gelcoats craze easily. Still, most owners seem happy.
"Finish has held up very well over the years," and "Boat looks like
new," were comments frequently heard about the T-22.
Our friend's 25-year-old heirloom, however, had passed that stage. To
bring the hull back he washed it down with Interlux 202, patched dings
and scratches with epoxy and microballoons, then brushed on two coats
of marine gloss enamel. The result rivals a professionally sprayed job
while the cost (time, labor, and materials) is in keeping with the
value of a quarter-century-old 22-footer.
The T-22's iron keel is a sore point. Iron is 40% less dense than lead
so you need more of it (at a cost in added wetted surface) to give the
boat sufficient ballast. And it rusts. One owner said he discovered no
primer beneath the bottom paint applied at the factory. Many sailors
know the agonies of fairing a keel that scales and peels. For
race-ready perfection you can fill the major craters with epoxy and
then build and sand with a system like Interlux's Interprotect (2000 E
coating and V135 Watertite fairing). Not many owners are that far into
their fleet racing, but most wish that the keel originally had been
made of lead.
Hans Tanzer's solid background in performance boats, dinghies, and
daysailers helped him design the sort of "safe and forgiving" yet
lively sailboat he was looking for to appeal to the average guy. He
struck a number of balances well. The big cockpit (little cabin), good
stability (stiff but not rock-like), controllable rig, and powerful
yet easily driven hull combine to give her good manners.
We sailed our friend's newly painted boat through a drifty morning and
a sea-breeze afternoon. In the river she was quick, but tacking the
genoa made us wish for a smaller jib and bigger mainsail. On the ocean
she was solid and dry. She tacked in 75 degrees in smooth water, and
short-tacked up a channel, quickly getting her foils working after a
With a 15-knot breeze she surged rather than surfed. Her deep, rounded
afterquarters make her easy to steer but reluctant to get up on plane
where a J/22 might.
The strongest T-22 fleets are in Montreal and Ottawa, but American
fleets are active, too. Said Charters, "We were the first
cruiser/racer invited to CORK (Canadian Olympic-training Regatta at
Kingston). We've moved now to the offshore course and start 5 minutes
behind the J/24s. Usually, the first T-22s, light air or heavy, catch
the straggling 24s. We've never beaten the winners though."
PHRF ratings for the T-22 range between 92 and 98, while the J/24
rates between 88 and 98.
The standard mainsheet is attached to a strongpoint on the cockpit
sole. A number of traveler options have been tried. Tracks mounted on
the sole rather than on a cross-cockpit bridge cut up the cockpit less
but offer less control.
You might point higher if you could sheet the genoa tighter, but the
shrouds don't let you. Also, those shrouds, not in perfect alignment
with the tabernacle hinge at the base of the mast, must be loosened
before you lower the mast. Depending on how (and how much) the wind is
blowing, that can be a problem.
The keel/centerboard version (about 10% of the boats sold have this
configuration) is less close-winded and, according to racers, not that
much faster off the wind than the full keel. Either needs at least 5'
of depth to float off a trailer, so being ramp-launchable involves
sending the trailer into the water on a tether.
One of the biggest pluses for the boat is the 700-member owner's
association. It maintains Tanzer Talk (a newsletter) and
egroups.com/tanzer (a website) that make fellowship as big a part of
ownership as you'd like it to be. The owner of a 1979 model from Long
Island Sound reports "an outstanding T-22 website
(http//www.tanzer22.com) and network of owners who are always willing
to help with ideas and experience."
Built efficiently but using high quality materials throughout the boat
(even the pop rivets are Monel), the T-22 commanded a higher price
than many of her competitors.
A prospective buyer can still find cheaper ways into the pocket
cruising experience, but not many offer the combination of big boat
feel and reliability, plus raceboat life, that have suited the T-22 so
well to Tanzer's "average guy."