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The Worlds Finest Trailerable Vintage Cruising Sailboats Designed By Renowned W.I.B. Crealock N.A.
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 Crealock Remembered

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Posts : 1310
Sailboat : Pair CM 32's Aft Cabin Ketch & Aft Cockpit
Male Birthday : 1956-10-17
Join date : 2011-12-28
Age : 62
Job/hobbies : Artist

Crealock Remembered Empty
PostSubject: Crealock Remembered   Crealock Remembered EmptyTue Jan 01, 2013 2:26 am

Profile by Rod Kulbach
W.I.B. Crealock: Designer
And Gentleman

A quiet, distinguished man who speaks the
Queen’s English, Bill Crealock does not give the
impression of one who shared a hot dog with Jane
Russell or taught Rock Hudson how to sail. When
teased about his wild Hollywood days, a twinkle comes
to his eye as he denies any impropriety, and his dry wit
makes light of the circuitous road leading from
Scotland Glasgow University to a celebrated design
business in California.

Having grown up sailing “open boats in open
waters round the British Isles,” young Bill wanted to
study small-boat design at university. But because
Glasgow was one of the world’s shipbuilding centers,
his choice was limited to naval architecture on a scale
larger than he would have preferred. Still, it was good
training. “They used the sandwich system,” he says of
Glasgow’s curriculum. “Winters were spent at the
university and summers at the design office in a
shipyard. Also, some time had to be spent in the
trades-as a plater, carpenter or loftsman. It was a very
good mix of the practical and theoretical, and I still
believe strongly in the apprenticeship system.”

Before long he discovered a college in Glasgow
that offered evening yacht-design classes. He then
designed for a few years at a yard building small
commercial craft.

In 1952, perhaps restless and itching to see the
world, he answered an ad in the paper calling for
members to join “an expedition planning for a voyage
to Australia via Madeira.” Although that particular plan
fell through, he made new friends in the process. Soon
four young men pooled their meager funds, bought the
ancient cutter “Content” and set out “to study the
behavior of boats at sea.” Crealock described the
ensuing adventures that took him from Morocco’s
minarets to Guyana’s jungle rivers in his first book,
“Vagabonding Under Sail”, published in 1978 by David
McKay, Inc.

Other adventures followed aboard the ketch
“Arthur Rogers”, including a lengthy cruise to the South
Pacific, about which Bill wrote his second book, “Cloud
of Islands”. Both books are out of print now, but they
may be available at libraries or on the used-book

During a brief visit to England, he reunited with
one of his pals from the “Content” days, Ernest
Chaimberlain. Ernest had just met a wealthy
businessman at the Explorer’s Club in New York, a man
given a curious ultimatum by his doctors: “Take at
least three months a year off or you’re going to die.”
His idea of time off was to finance and join a shell-collecting expedition to the Western Pacific, with
Ernest and Bill in charge.

Soon the two friends located a schooner in
California: 105-foot LOA, built of nickel steel and
needing a complete re-build from the deck up. The
price was $25,000. Over the next few months, the
“Gloria Maris” circumnavigated the Pacific while her
crew dredged for shells in Palau, New Guinea and

Always the designer, Bill rigged light pivoting
yards for the vessel’s foremast on which the crew set a
square sail and raffee, a rig he had helped pioneer
years before. “A marvelously docile rig when you’re
shorthanded,” he recalls. Approaching Japan, Bill met
his first typhoon at sea - a big one. “I don’t know how
close to us the center came, but it got pretty breezy-and in fact we lost our mainmast.” Cutting the rig free,
they stepped a jury mast, and in settled weather they
sailed for Okinawa and on to Kobe-the first place able
to build them a new spar. Two months later they
continued the trip across the Pacific, heading home.

Back in California, Bill Tighe of Willard Boat
Works gave Crealock his first commission, a
powerboat using an existing set of frames. Soon came
another request for a powerboat, the “The Lady Claire”,
a husky, 56-foot trawler yacht to be built for actress
Claire Trevor’s husband. To learn how things were
done in America, Bill worked in the yard during the day
and spent evenings designing more powerboats and
sailboats, all in the 30- to 45-foot range.

By the early 1960’s, a great wave of boat
building had swept over Southern California.
Everywhere you looked there were boats, molds, masts
and yards full of projects. Jensen, Columbia, Ericson,
Islander - it was a golden age of production fiberglass
boat building. Bill’s entry into this market was with the
26-foot Excalibur, a fin-keel sloop that raced well and
still maintains a loyal following after 30 years.

Around 1965 the Westsail saga began with a
builder named Larry Kendall, who came to Bill and
asked if there was anything out there in the way of a
market for cruising boats. Bill thought Larry might be
able to sell “a dozen or so.” Larry decided on the Atkin
Thistle, a husky 32-foot double-ender with a flush
deck, and began tooling. After years of work, turmoil
and bankruptcy, the plans and tooling were picked up
by Snyder and Lynn Vic, who named the boat Westsail
and began serious production. The flush deck of
Atkin’s original design found little appeal, so a trunk
cabin version modeled after another Atkins design
called Eric was created. Crealock drew the rig and
some of the interior, before long, many people credited
him with the hull design as well. “I did not touch the
lines,” he assures me. “We wanted to keep the basic
Atkin design.”

Thereafter, “Time” magazine ran a lengthy
piece on cruising as a lifestyle and one of the boats
featured was a Westsail. The corporation hit big time
and talked to Bill about a larger boat. This led to the
Westsail 42 and 43 (identical hulls), one of the first
boats based on the input of potential buyers. “Strong”
was the operative word, and “overkill” best describes
the hull layup. Lookers loved to thump on the topsides
at boat shows, and salesmen eagerly showed core
samples virtually inches thick. But after a massive
advertising campaign and a frenzy of building, the fast
rise led to a steady decline despite a string of

Meanwhile, Bill had generated other projects.
Though Taiwan was the country of choice for
Americans building overseas, a company named
Tiburon settled in Costa Rica and came to Bill in 1974
for a husky cruiser that would sail well. So was born
the Tiburon 36, later given a counter stern to become
the Cabo Rico 38.

Additionally, large numbers of trailer sailers
found a ready market and Bill designed a line of them
for Clipper Marine. This went from a broad-transom
21-footer (capable of planing under power) to the
Clipper 30 and 32 among the longest legal trailer

Though Clipper Marine had a rocky business
history, it was not without its bright spots. One of
them, a twin-keel 23-footer whose keels became
sophisticated asymmetrical sections, was to primitive
twin-keels what airplane wings are to 2x12s. Before
Clipper faded, its builders began tooling for a 37-footer
- a Spartan, capable but economical blue-water
cruiser. None were built, and in 1976 the molds were
passed on to Cruising Consultants who subcontracted
their work out and sold about 20 boats. Pacific
Seacraft took over the tooling and the Crealock 37
came into its own.

Bill spent an enormous amount of time on the
underbody of the 37, developing his ideas on steering
and control in bad conditions. “I’ve always felt it is a
mistake to transfer a racing underbody to a cruising
hull,” he explains. “Their purposes are so different.
There were some fairly subtle features in the afterbody
of the 37 intended to come into play when running at
high speed. You never know for sure… maybe they
worked…but something very unusual happened. Two
owners of 37s, 3,000 miles apart, called me with
almost identical stories. Both had surfed at well over
10 knots and both had made the same remark: They
wished they’d had a tiller instead of a wheel because
this boat was so easy to steer.”

In the late 1960s, Bill married Lynne Banner, a
woman he’d met while fitting out the “Gloria Maris”.
Since the early 1970s, Bill, Lynne and their daughter
Anne have lived on the coast north of San Diego.

As for pure racing boats, Bill feels it’s something
he would have to devote full time to-or not do at all.
“In racing,” says, “the object, above all, is to get there
first. Safety, comfort, ease of handling are all
secondary. But in a cruising boat there are so many
fascinating requirements and variables.”

Yacht design is an odd mixture of art and
engineering and engineering today means computers.
When it comes to crunching numbers, there’s little talk
of going back to the old way. But the lines are a
different story. “The tendency on the computer seems
to be to say, ‘That’s close enough’. But I’m constantly
looking for little improvements in transition areas,
anything that gets away from smooth, flowing lines. I
find that I can do that just as quickly by hand as with
the computer.”

“With cruising boats you seldom have the luxury
of tank testing, so you must develop your ideas
conservatively, a small step at a time. You say to
yourself, ‘Well, that one didn’t sink, perhaps we can
take it a step further…’

“And on top of that it’s more difficult to design
boats today. People expect so much. They need to
cram everything in-water makers, electronics,
insulation, machinery, stabilizers. All good things in
themselves, but tough to squeeze into the hull.”

Bill Crealocks’ office is unique in that the ratio of
sail-to-power is about 50/50. His 20+ knot
powerboats are similar in concept to his cruising
sailboats-designed to maintain their speeds in safety
and in relative comfort amid rough conditions. The
Offshore 48, built in Taiwan, is a good example, as is
the 36 mile-per-hour Cabo Sportfisherman.

He shares his office with J. Richard Jacobs, who
Bill says is the best draftsman he has ever known, and
Bill Luther, a former instructor at the Yacht Design
Institute who has taken over much of the exacting
detail work involved in planning systems.

Is there one boat he’s really proud of, one that
came alive just as planned, a functional, beautiful
“yacht” in the best sense of the word?

After reflecting for a bit, Bill surmises, “Perhaps
the 65-foot schooner “Kaiulani” She is such an
unusual boat nowadays - she had to be strictly gaff
schooner above the waterline, but below, she is quite
slippery. She is cold molded, and her builder has made
a work of art, both inside and out. I believe her current
jaunt is taking her around Cape Horn.”

Bill may be quiet, but in his polite way he
projects competence. His clients understand that they
are dealing with someone who has been designing
boats a very long time, someone whose life is
inseparable from designing boats and someone who
has never questioned his ability to design boats well.

But beyond the professional sphere, there is Bill
Crealock the man. Unfailingly polite and civil, his
friendships and business relationships go back a long
way. He still keeps in touch with those he’s cruised
with; he still believes in the reliability of a handshake
over the intimidation presence of a lawyer. Those of
us who have worked with him sometimes feel
frustration when, in the middle of a project, someone
calls about an ancient Clipper 21 they’ve just bought.
Can he tell them how to fix the drop keel, and can he
send a sail plan? Bill will dig through the files, come up
with what they want, and get in the mail, even as a
deadline clock ticks over his head.

Bill’s stature as a naval architect is
indisputable. But beyond that, he remains a living
example of the perfect gentleman.

A longtime sailor and designer who lived aboard for 10
years, Rod Kulbach has known Bill Crealock 25 years.

This article originally appeared in the September 1993
issue of “Cruising World”. Copyrights have reverted
back to Mr. Kulbach. Mr. Kulbach was kind enough to
grant me permission to copy the original text and post
it on this personal website. Judging from our all too
brief telephone conversation, I can only say that Mr.
Kulbach is as much a gentleman as he describes Mr.
Crealock to be.

Thank you Rod,

Joe Cox

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