About the PD Racer

The PD Racer is the brainchild of David “Shorty” Routh who believes that sailing should be a sport that is “cheap, creative, and …fun on the water.” PD Racers are basically 4’ x 8’ box boats that share a common hull up to a height of 10 inches. After that, the designs and sail plans are nearly all left to the imagination of the builders. Below is the side view of an 18” high hull called the designated hull shape that meets the class requirements.

Because the PD Racer is an inexpensive, easy-to-build sailboat with minimal class rules, the class is expanding rapidly among both novices and experienced boat builders. Constructing and sailing a PD Racer is a wonderful learning opportunity for a parent and child, students, scouts, retirees, or any individual or group that wants to experience the joy of building and sailing a nimble, very stable, small boat. That joy is enhanced even further when a group of PD Racer enthusiasts assemble for a messabout, an event that usually includes food, fun, stories, sailing, and otherwise messing about in boats in the best tradition of the classic children’s tale The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame when the River Rat says to the Mole: “Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Work Space

PD Racers can be built nearly anywhere—in garages, outdoors, in an empty warehouse, under a tarp, in a storage facility, even in a small apartment. Use your imagination. It’s helpful to have a couple of sturdy sawhorses or an old picnic table to hold your work at a comfortable height, but level ground will also do. Utilize a couple of 2” x 4”s to keep your work out of the dirt. If you are using power tools, you will need a power supply and a heavy-duty extension cord; but with today’s battery-powered tools, you have more flexibility in where you work. Keep your tools organized and your work space consistently clean and it is more likely you will enjoy your building experience. Observe tool use safety precautions every time you use a tool.


PD Racers are intended to be easily and inexpensively built with the need for only a few tools and minimal plans. A number of PD Racers have been completed (at least well enough to sail) in less than three days in a process known as a Puddle Duck Hatch. Careful planning and extensive cooperation is essential for a hatch because the hatch usually involves precutting many pieces, then building a number of boats to a single template or plan within a very limited time frame. In return for publicity, sometimes a local sponsor, such as a building materials store or a community sailing club, can be convinced to donate some or all of the essential materials and tools for the building process.

Tools in the first column below are essential to getting started. Borrow or buy what you need. Tools in the second column are helpful additions you will want to acquire as you continue to build boats. It has been my experience that a person who builds one boat invariably will want to build several more—it’s an addiction.

      Minimum Essential Tools

  • Adjustable bevel gauge (for copying angles)
  • 16’ steel tape measure
  • Block plane, at least 8” long
  • Caulking Gun for applying PL Premium Glue
  • Clamps (Make your own from split PVC pipe or see Boat Building in Your Own Back Yard by S.S. Rabl.)
  • Combination square
  • Drill and a set of drill bits from 3/32” to ¼”
  • Portable electric jig saw
  • Hammer, 12-13 oz.
  • Jigsaw
  • Sanding block and 60 grit sandpaper
  • Screwdrivers, flat and phillips
  • Paintbrush
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Weights of some kind. Paint cans filled with sand work well. I use ½ cement blocks.

Helpfull Additional Tools

  • Bench vise or Black & Decker WorkMate table
  • Carpenter’s wood rasp, Rattail file, Surform tools
  • Cordless drill, 3/8” chuck, variable speed, reversible, and additional wood bits
  • Circular saw with guide (Good quality cordlesscircular saws are really great, but expensive. Buy quality saw blades, always)
  • Drywall square
  • Hammer, 8 oz.
  • Handheld electric belt sander, random orbital sander, portable finishing sander
  • Jack plane, electric rotary plane
  • Level
  • Nail sets/punches
  • Power router and bits
  • Quick clamps, spring clamps, pipe clamps
  • Table saw, cutoff saw
  • Wood chisels, gouges

Materials List and Plans

The free plans offered here are for those wanting an easily–built sailboat based on simplicity, ease of construction, and a PDR designer’s experience in building 4 PDRacers for himself, 2 for his son, 2 kits for assembly at the 2010 Wooden Boat Show, 2 mailable kit PDR’s, 6 boats assembled with and for others at the designer’s home, and 6 other 4’ x 8’ non-PDR scows. (Note: Not all of the better known PDR designers have even built a single PDRacer, instead relying on others to test their designs, provide them feedback, and then make improvements to their designs if something is found by others to be out of whack.) Lame Duck, seen on the cover page, was my first PDRacer and had the distinction of being recorded as hull #100 in the PDRacer class. She was also the inspiration for the first Camp Sailboat curriculum. However, I’ve known for a long time that Lame Duck’s construction was overly complex for most first time builders and much heavier than she needed to be, so her plans have been retired and replaced with the updated and more versatile Redneck Duck design.

This new design is aimed primarily at first-time boatbuilders and sailors and especially large-group PDRacer building projects called “hatches”. I opted for stiffness, stability, fairly high sides, and a large open cockpit to accommodate at least two people for training purposes. I also made certain that most of the boat’s structural weight is carried low in the hull and that positive Styrofoam flotation is included in all sides. Redneck Duck carries a proven sail plan that will drive the boat well but is unlikely to cause an upset. At the same time, I wanted a boat design that could easily be modified for racing or cruising and would appeal (at least somewhat) to youngsters. Lame Duck was no slouch as a PDR having hit 5.5 mph by GPS in a moderate to strong breeze; but Redneck Duck, our new design, should be a top performer right from the time she takes to the water. With a few alterations, she could easily compete for first place in the next PDRacer World Championship. Here’s a scale drawing of Redneck Duck –or whatever you wish to call her when your version of this PDRacer goes 3-D. The scale is that each block =3” per side.

Redneck Duck is a class legal PDR that can be 3-D in three days and finished in about a week by most builders. She takes a 60 sq. ft. leg o’ mutton sail as shown, but offers an easy conversion to many other mast and sail options, both larger and smaller, as needed. The plans include an option for an electric trolling motor mount and some other options that even experienced builders might find interesting. Below and on the next few pages are the material list, and detailed plans you will need to build Redneck Duck.

There will always be items that are left off materials lists that affect the total price you will pay for building a boat. One of the largest might be a trailer or other method of transport. One of the smallest might be a specialized bolt or type of washer. Below is our initial estimation based upon items that we know will be needed along with a few options.

Continue on for the plans to complete this boat.