Reviews - CCA (Cruising Club of America) News

 Review for the CCA (Cruising Club of America) News

by John Rousmaniere 

Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel Bruce MacNaughton, ed., The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Large format, 530 pages, $250.

The product of a multi-year labor of love by its editors, and with 525 biographical essays by 87 writers (of which I am one), this large-format, beautifully printed volume is the first international collection of profiles of significant yacht designers, past and present. Any yachting or yacht club library must have it. The list moves through the obvious greats like George Steers, N. G. Herreshoff, G. L. Watson, all three Fifes, both Stephenses, the three Frers, and Bruce Farr. Along the way come designers who are much less famous than their creations. Because the editors wisely decided on a generous definition of “yacht,” these important but little-known designers include Clark Mills, the designer of the ubiquitous Optimist pram.

Among the many CCA members and friends profiled here at length are the Stephens brothers, Phil Rhodes, Jim McCurdy, Bruce Kirby, Ken Davidson, Frank Kinney, Aage Nielsen, Gary Mull, Rod Johnstone, and Henry Scheel. Yet this is hardly an American project. Many Asian, Antipodean, British, and European designers are here, too. Technology receives due attention. So does the wonderful sense of playfulness of these men and women who do for a living what the rest of us only dream of undertaking. As Bruce Kirby says, “When the ice broke in the spring, I’d have things floating down the gutter, racing one thing against another. My mother used to say that if they cut off my head, there’d be a sailboat inside.”                                                                                                                         

By John Rousmaniere