Pacemaker - Boothbay Harbor One Design - #33 - (One of 9 racing)

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Vessel Owner: Larry Gassman.

Captain and Crew: Larry Gassman, Tom Port

Vessel Designer: Geerd Hendel (original)

Vessel Model: Boothbay Harbor One Design

Builder: Hodgdons Boat Yard

Vessel Type: Sloop

Year Built:

LOA: 21'

Beam: 5'5"

Draft: 3.6'

Construction: plank on wood


Pacemaker (BHOD # 33), originally Capicua and seen in the photograph with sail number 29, is skippered by new owner Larry Gessman. For the last ten years, Capicua was co-owned by Reverend Robert Ives and the Carpenters Boat Shop in Bristol, Maine. Carpenters Boat Shop also owns BHOD Rosebud, sail #29, and mixed up the sails when selling Capicua to Larry. Under Reverend Ives' ownership, Capicua was sailed by apprentices in Round Pond on the Bristol peninsula. For the last four years she was dry docked. Three years ago, Larry took a boat-building course at Carpenters taught by Reverend Ives, who is also a boat builder, and saw Capicua in the barn. This year, after joining BHYC, Larry purchased Capicua, renamed her Pacemaker, and moved her from Bristol to her original birthplace at Hodgdons Boat Yard in Southport.


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 - https://www.offcenterharbor.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Waterline-Summer-2006_edit-4.18.20.pdf








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