Concordia Yawl OWL
WoodenBoat Magazine 289

November / December 2022

Editor's Page

The Timeless Concordia

It’s tempting, when first observing the 39' Concordia yawl OWL that graces the cover of this issue, to regard the boat as an anachronistic curiosity, a relic of a bygone era. A casual look at the image reveals a bronze smoke hood that ventilates the woodstove that heats the saloon, a butterfly skylight, bronze stanchions, a tiller rather than
a wheel, bountiful brightwork, a mizzen….

But let’s consider the boat’s origins. The Concordia yawls were the result of a collaboration between Waldo Howland and C. Raymond Hunt. As Jay Panetta notes in his article beginning on page 76, “Hunt oversaw the design of the hull and rig”; Howland, on the other hand, “drew upon his own extensive inshore and offshore experience” to oversee “many of the other distinctive features and details….”

Hunt was a visionary post-WWII designer whose body of work still reverberates today. His 110- and 210-class sloops, rocket-shaped speedsters of astoundingly simple hull form, lit the path of possibility for plywood boatbuilding when they were unveiled in 1930s and ’40s. His offshore racing powerboats informed the generations of deep-V hulls to follow. And his 13' Boston Whaler remains one of the best-selling and most sought-after small boats in history. With the Concordia yawl, his aim was not to freeze tradition or create a “classic”; it was, rather, to devise a wholesome and timeless cruising hull form and pair this with an optimal rig. Its sheer beauty is a byproduct of that intent.

The Concordia’s details are not adornments. They are practical and meant to ease life under sail. Jay illuminates these in his article, and a few of them bear review here. Consider the wood-fueled heater, which burns hardwood scraps and foraged wood rather than petroleum-based fuel. The simple tiller eliminates the complexity of many of the steering systems encountered on current-day cruisers; it takes up very little of the precious seating space in the well-laid-out cockpit. The forward hatch has a cover that opens to become seats, and, along with the skylight, admits ample air into the cabin. The ergonomics of the cockpit are wonderfully considered, while the mizzen provides a boost in speed, a mast for flying an additional downwind sail, a riding sail at anchor, and maneuverability in
close quarters.

And then there’s that signature Concordia yawl interior, famously built of knotty pine to evoke a New England coastal cottage, and appointed with eponymous berths that resolve the often difficult conflict between stowage and sleeping.

Even the brightwork is practical. Varnished exterior surfaces, although more labor-intensive to maintain than painted surfaces, can save a considerable amount of time and money down the road because they reveal moisture problems as they sprout, instead of when they are in full bloom.

Such is the genius of the Concordia yawl. It is an ideal, practical, and time-proven cruising yacht that transcends any particular era.

Matt Murphy

Editor of WoodenBoat Magazine

Page 24

The Restoration of ST. LOUIS

by Reuben Smith

ST. LOUIS is a 36' Elco fantail electric launch from 1896. She has her original motor, much of her brightwork is original oak, and she has been housed in the same sublime boathouse, and owned by the same family, since 1900. She’s a bit of a local legend in Bolton Landing, on the western shore of Lake George, New York. Over the past year and a half, she has undergone a complete structural rebuild of her hull.

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Greg Hatten in the replica PORTOLA
Page 34

A Deep Canyon Connection

by Greg Hatten

At the rim of the Grand Canyon, the overlook of multicolored canyon walls and buttes is one of the most spectacular sights in North America and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A full mile below the rim on the canyon floor, the Colorado River cuts a slender silver ribbon between the rust-colored cliff walls beneath a cobalt blue sky. Yet this wonder, which President Theodore Roosevelt praised as being “unparalleled throughout the wide world,” nearly became just another large freshwater reservoir in the American southwest.

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Brad , Cricket, and Justin
Page 39

A Cult of Personality

by Delaney Brown

Even though this section of the Gunnison River was nearly flat calm, I found myself white-knuckling the oars of the river-running dory JOSHUA TREE as I held them for the first time. It’s not that I feared for my life. What made this run through an otherwise mellow stretch of water in Colorado so daunting was the pressure of guiding this boatshop’s showpiece through a low-water minefield of rocks just days before her designer and builder, Justin Gallen, was scheduled to take her on the road as a display.

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Page 46

The 2022 Fife Regatta

by Dan Houston

There is sometimes a defining moment at a regatta when you know it’s going to be one of those special memories in your life. I recently experienced this when sailing between the brace of pretty islands called the Cumbraes in the mouth of Scotland’s River Clyde, where racing out to meet us came four yachts that took our breath away.

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Page 58

Herreshoff Catboats

by Stan Grayson

My first visit to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in the mid-1970s was memorable for many reasons. The collection of automobiles, steam and gasoline engines, locomotives, bicycles, and other objects ranged from marvelous to mind-boggling. But it was one particular surprise that remains foremost in my mind. During my wandering on what is said to be the world’s largest expanse of parquet flooring, I suddenly encountered, of all things, a catboat. There she sat in a well-fitted wooden cradle with a plaque identifying her as SPRITE, built by the Herreshoffs of Bristol, Rhode Island.

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Page 68


by Will Sofrin

The foreboding, dark-gray sky looked ready to unleash a torrent of rain at any moment as I hustled along the bustling San Diego waterfront, trying to make it to CALIFORNIAN’s dock on time. It was hardly the weather I had expected when I packed my bag early that morning to race aboard the replica square-topsail schooner. The event was the 34th annual America’s Schooner Cup Charity Regatta, originally conceived in 1987 as a match race between the wooden-hulled schooners DAUNTLESS and BAQHEERA. It has grown over the years to become a celebrated gathering of West Coast schooners.

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Page 76

Aboard: OWL

by Jay Panetta

The Concordia 39 yawl OWL was built in 1955 by Abeking & Rasmussen, one of 11 Concordias the German firm completed that year for delivery to American buyers. My wife and I have owned OWL, No. 31, since 1996 and have sailed the boat more than 30,000 miles throughout New England and Canadian waters.

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Page 82


by Text and photographs by Nic Compton

As I rowed up the River Dart in Cornwall, England, in my Western Skiff early one summer morning, I thought there was something incredibly appropriate about going to photograph the latest Nigel Irens design in a Nigel Irens–designed boat. Of course, my 14' skiff was a far more humble affair than the new 26' motor launch he was testing that day, but I liked to think there was a family resemblance between the two boats, if only in those slim, easily driven hulls and plumb stems. Nigel once told me that most yacht designers only ever design one boat, reproducing the same concept in many different guises, so the relationship between Ellen McArthur’s record-breaking trimaran B&Q, the new launch, and my own diminutive skiff may not be so tenuous after all.

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