Molar Express - Boothbay Harbor One Design - #20 - (One of 9 racing)

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Vessel Owner: Toby Clarkson Jr., Bobby Clarkson, Delly Clarkson, Samantha Clarkson

Captain and Crew: BHYC Youth Team skippered by Bobby Clarkson

Vessel Designer: Geerd Hendel (original)

Vessel Model: Boothbay Harbor One Design

Builder: Norman Hodgdon

Vessel Type: Sloop

Year Built: 1941

LOA: 21'

Beam: 5'6"

Draft: 3'6"'

Construction: plank on frame wood, wooden mast

Molar Express was one of the last BHODs built before WW II. She was originally Sea Rascal but has had several names: Paladin, Madcap, Bittersweet, and now Molar Express. Bittersweet was moored in West Harbor near the yacht club and used as a rental boat before being purchased by Maynard Bray in 2011. He had the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin restore her by skinning her with diagonally placed and epoxied veneers. She was then purchased by Jeff Hankins, a young member of the Nutt family with a deep BHOD history, who sold her to BHYC member Jon Dunsford in 2015. Jon made significant modern upgrades to her rigging and fittings. The Clarkson family purchased her in 2019 to be a racing BHOD for the four Clarkson children. All resemblances of her name to Dr. Clarkson's occupation as a dentist and her next-door-neighbor BHOD in the club mooring field, Polar Express, are purely coincidental.

Quoting from a Small Boats Magazine article written by Maynard Bray: "Shortly after the J-boat RAINBOW successfully defended the AMERICA’s Cup in 1934, her designer, W. Starling Burgess, moved to mid-coast Maine and hired Geerd Hendel as his chief draftsman. Their primary work, funded by Alcoa and loosely overseen by Bath Iron Works, involved designing high-speed military craft made of aluminum. For recreation, both men focused on the emerging fleet of Boothbay Harbor daysailers, with which Hendel was already deeply involved. Starting with lightly built, plumb-ended centerboarders much like those that raced on lakes back in his native Germany, Hendel was in the process of converting four of them to keel boats when Burgess arrived. (As centerboarders, they had proven not to be up to salt water’s more boisterous conditions.) Hendel’s experimentation led to SANDERLING, built by Norman Hodgdon for the summer of 1936. She was the Boothbay Harbor One-Design precursor—and the first sizable boat Norman Hodgdon built.

The mid-1930s were the bleak Depression years when small boats rather than big ones were receiving attention—quality attention—from Boothbay region designers, builders, and sailors. Boats with long waterlines and short overhangs began dominating the Boothbay racing fleet in those days, and top-echelon designers took notice. A long waterline means a faster boat; boats of these proportions came not only from Hendel and Burgess, but also from Charles Hodgdon of East Boothbay’s Hodgdon Bros. Yard, and from L. Francis Herreshoff.

Hendel introduced a boat called LOON late in the 1937 season, and was then asked to work with the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club, and particularly with its selection committee, in refining LOON’s plans to become a one-design class that would be cheap to build and fast to sail, and whose plans would be available to any builder—as these sailors intended to shop for the best price. The parameters echoed the fleet average of 21′ overall, about 19′ on the waterline, and carrying 200 sq ft of sail. After testing and massaging LOON, they agreed on what became known as the Boothbay Harbor One-Design (BHOD). It was an immediate hit, growing to 15 boats by its second season, 20 by the start of World War II, and 37 boats when wooden construction ended in 1966. (The final count came to 53, including the two subsequent batches of fiberglass boats.)

Geerd Hendel’s wooden BHODs were built upside down, then turned over and set atop their outside-ballasted fin keels—an efficient way to build any wooden boat whose design allows it. The BHODs’ flat transoms, as well, were an economy measure. The initial cost of these boats was in the neighborhood of $850.

BHODs were originally plank on frame construction with wooden masts (example racing this weekend Charisma, then fiberglass with aluminum masts (example Poler Express), then cold molded wood (example C Fever).

For a wonderful article on the history of all the Boothbay 20 footers, see this reprint of BHODs class newsletter Waterline reproduced by Off Center Harbor -

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