Evolution of yacht design discovered

Published on August 2nd, 2021

Tom Munzig, Commodore of Los Angeles Yacht Club, shares this update from the club’s past and present history:


Lost and found. No, it’s not on the scale of stumbling upon Machu Picchu high in the Peruvian Andes or opening King Tutt’s tomb in Egypt, but for some Los Angeles Yacht Club Members, it might come pretty close.

Many of you know the story: With the growing use of fiberglass in the early 1960s it became feasible to mold a boat’s hull into practically any shape. Knowing this, LAYC Member George Griffith conceived of building a boat for the Transpac Race with a relatively flat bottom hull that wouldn’t struggle to push water out of the way, but instead would actually surf over it.

After enlisting the help of fellow Club Members naval architect Bill Lapworth and boat builder Jack Jensen, the Cal 40 sailboat was developed which went on to win multiple Transpac races. Over time the boats have become somewhat of a legend as that flat bottom hull concept influenced how race boats have been designed and built ever since.

George Griffith received the first Cal 40, Hull #1, which he named Persephone and later sold to America’s Cup skipper Dennis Conner. However, for many years that original boat, Hull #1, seemed to have been lost forever, but it has been recently found.

Hull #1 was in an empty lot near San Francisco where she had been stored unattended in the open for decades. The photos would break your heart, but she’s been found alive! Now the next chapter of this fabled story will begin. Who will restore this wonderful boat? If interested in the boat, contact the owner Mike Hurlahee at (480) 280-6716.

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