Reviews - Maine Coastal News November 2005

Review for Maine Coastal News

by Jon B. Johansen


The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers
Edited by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel Bruce MacNaughton
530 pages; 2005; $250.00
W. W. Norton & Company
New York, NY

     There are numerous people who can come up with a great idea, but never understand what it is going to take to accomplish it until they get further into it. However I am sure Lucia Knight and Dan MacNaughton knew that their idea for researching and writing a book on yacht designers was really a monumental task right from the beginning. To accomplish writing this book they needed assistance and they went out and sought numerous writers around the world that could write entries on yacht designers. After years of work by Knight and MacNaughton and the various writers, the project was complete and very impressive.

     This encyclopedia begins with the designer, Norwegian Bjarne Aas, which I knew a little about because I owned an International One-Design, which he designed back in the 1930s. A testament to this designer's ability is that these boats are still produced and raced today around the world. He is followed by Carl A. Alberg, and then John G. Alden. Many designers you will know, and many more you may never have heard of, are included in this book. I have read a lot of yachting history and there are numerous designers that I had never heard of, but reading through the entry I could fit them into the historical puzzle. It was some of the designers that I did not know that captured my interest. An example was Morgan Barney who designed sail and powerboats in the Buzzards Bay area where I spent my early years. Reading through the entry it was very interesting to note his accomplishments after graduating from MIT.

     Just thumbing through this book, page by page, one could spend hours reading a bit here and there about the various designers that catch their eye. Then there are those of us who will read it cover to cover. The numerous photographs and line drawings certainly add to the text.

     The book is predominately sail, but there are plenty of entries that contain powerboat designers from hydroplanes to the mega of yachts of yesterday and today.

Maine is also well represented with Bunker & Ellis, Albert E. Condon, William Frost, Harold Gower, Walter Greene, Cyrus Hamlin, William H. Hand, Jr., Charles C. Hanley, Henry R. Hinckley, Carl and Robert Lane, Ernest Libby Jr., Lindsay A. Lord, Royal and Carroll Lowell, George Melville McLain, Knud Aage Nielsen, Charles W. Paine, Murray G. Peterson, Henry A. Scheel, Lyford Stanley, Ralph W. Stanley, Robert W. Stephens, Robert Wallstrom, and Joel White.

     This book is an amazing compilation of yacht designers that should be in every yachtsman's library. It will give the reader a great reference source on the yacht designers from around the world, which was unavailable until now. The only unfortunate thing is the price, for many simply outside their pocket book. However, books of this type are expensive due to the high quality of publishing, but this one is worth every cent.                                                                                           

By Jon B. Johansen