Reviews - Sailing Magazine, South Africa

Review for Sailing Magazine, South Africa

by Dave Cox 


The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers

Not a book that everyone will go out and buy, it is very expensive [it costs $250 in the USA], but for those who are interested, what a book! The book covers 525 designers and publishes the plans of many boats and photos as well. For those who are just interested in boats and their progression over the years, to students of naval architecture, to yacht designers themselves, this book is a gem.

As someone who is interested in boat design and sailing history itself, I thought I knew the names of the bulk of designers over the past 150 years. How wrong I was.   This book has published designs from people of whom I have never heard, but every well known designer is represented as well. Coverage is world wide and it is interesting to see the role the Southern Hemisphere has played in yacht design. New Zealand and Australia have played a significant role in sailing yacht designers and the number of people mentioned from these two countries is amazing. South Africa gets fair treatment as well and such designers as N.D. Ross, Brian Lello, Angelo Lavranos, Shaun Carkeek, Alexander Simonis, Arthur Holgate and Dudley Dix are all covered.

Where possible, lines plans are published, so it is possible to see the history of the 12 metre class for example, from the early days to the time when it stopped being an America’s Cup boat [1987]. Of interest to South Africans are the many 30 square metre class lines which are published, as this was a Lipton Cup class in South Africa for many years, One thing the book plainly illustrates is the influence rating rules have had on yacht design, definitely not all good! From the plank on edge type [British], to the centreboarders, to the separate fin and skeg boats to slim ended IOR boats, to the generally light displacement  types of today, it’s all there!

Who wrote the book? How did it happen? Well, it is mainly due to the enthusiasm, and perhaps pushiness, of Lucia del sol Knight, who lives on the east coast of America. She had the idea some 10 years ago and, as creating the book developed an impetus of its won, she contacted people around the world and persuaded them to write on local designers. She eventually got contributions from nearly 200 people. These were all edited so the style doesn’t vary greatly through the book.

She had a partner in the venture, Daniel B MacNaughton, without whose help the book would not have materialised. Having now seen the book, I don’t believe there will be much financial reward for Lucia or Daniel, so I will just say it is a great job and thanks for doing it!

The book is obtainable from W. W Norton and Company, 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110, USA.  

By Dave Cox