The History of C&C Yachts

CC Castle HillBeginning in the mid 60’s C&C burst upon the international yacht racing scene. A two-man design firm, Cuthbertson and Cassian, rocketed from obscurity to dominance. Not only were their boats fast, but they were well engineered, extremely well built, and always beautiful. As the trophies stacked up, so did the orders for new boats. Seemingly overnight, C&C became one of the largest sailing yacht builders in the world. Certainly it was the leading performance boat builder in the world through the 1970s. The names are legendary: Red Jacket, Robon, Sorcery, Arieto, Evergreen, Rampage, Archangel and thousands of other well-designed, fast, and graceful boats that are still sailing today. The boats are the beautiful, tangible results of C&C, but they aren’t the whole story.

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 Three things explain the C&C phenomena:AmaziingGrace83E People, people, and people. George Cuthbertson proved himself more than a world class yacht designer, but also a master of assembling talented people to achieve a common goal. Starting with his partner, George Cassian, he enlisted the brilliant boat builder George Hinterhoeller early on. Another memorable artisan from the original days of C&C was Erich Bruckmann. Hugely talented, Erich built the C&C custom shop into the premiere race boat builder in North America. His artistry and demand for excellence set the standard that the production shops always strove to emulate. His legacy is carried on by his son Mark Bruckmann, who is still exhibiting the highest skills of the boat builder’s art at Bruckmann Yachts.

MagistriSharpenedC&C was a design driven firm. The design office became the heart of the operation, by creating leading edge designs and technical innovation for builders around the world, not just for C&C. Rob Mazza, Rob Ball, Steve Killing, Mark Ellis, Bill Goman, Rod Gerrard, Bill Dickerson, and many others staffed one of the most talented design businesses of their era. Their names have earned a well deserved place in the history of Canadian sailing.

The principal building facilities were Bruckmann’s Custom Shop, the production shop at Niagara on the Lake, and C&C Rhode Island. There were so many talented engineers, carpenters, laminators and mechanics – boat builders all – that C&C’s meteoric rise to success is really no surprise at all. Sadly, the economic woes of the 1980s, combined with other factors,including several sales of the company and finally a devastating factory fire in 1994, led to a pause in the storyline of C&C Yachts.

Fast forward to 2013. A new builder with talent,Cadence-52 vision, and drive is assembling a new team of designers, engineers, builders and sailors to carry on the C&C story. Randy, “Dunes” Borges grew up sailing C&C’s in Youngstown, New York, right across the Niagara River from the home of C&C. If ever there was case of idol worship, it is Dunes’ attitude toward the “Georges” and his boyhood heroes at C&C. His  understanding and respect for C&C is bone deep.

Dunes started working on C&C’s as a kid at RCR Yachts. He literally grew up sailing commissioning and caring for C&C’s but his boatbuilding education was just beginning. He apprenticed at some of the finest custom builders in America. Dunes cut his teeth building America’s Cup and custom boats at Newport Offshore and at Williams & Manchester. His sailing and boatbuilding talents took him to Freemantle, Australia as part of the America II campaign. He worked for several high end custom builders, where he always tried to make the next boat faster, and better than the one before.

Over the past 25 years, Dunes has grown a small, part-time ‘hobby shop’ known as Waterline Systems into a multi-million dollar company. Best known as a world renowned speed shop, Waterline Systems evolved from fairing foils, painting, and servicing race boats, to a full-line yacht service and repair facility. They still do a pretty slick bottom job, but at heart, Dunes is a boat builder, and the boatbuilding segment of the business continues to grow. USWatercraft is the licensed builder for some of the best known production race boats ever. They build the J/22, J/24, J/80, and J/105 under license to J/Boats. USW is also the licensed builder of the Mumm 30 (Farr 30) and Farr 40. They have built everything from the Herreshoff Alerion 26 to a custom Kerr IRC 38.

Somehow, while building his business and growing his family of five children with his wife, Beth, of 20 years, Dunes managed to find time for racing. He has three World Championship titles in the J/22 and J/24 classes, a 1987 America’s Cup campaign, and wins in just about every major regatta from Newport to Hong Kong. He knows race boats from the lofting floor to the foredeck. Wanting to re-establish the C&C legend and living up to it is not the same thing. Much like George Cuthbertson many years ago, Dunes understands that people are the core of the business.

The recent move to the former TPI facility in Warren, RI provides USWatercraft over 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and service space. It is one of the largest boat building facilities in the country. Acquiring True North Yachts and Alerion Yachts gives USW a broad based market, and greater strength as a company. However, the heart of C&C Yachts today, as it was when George Cuthbertson first assembled the company, is the people. The company is staffed with accomplished engineers, boat builders, and sailors.

CC30InteractiveIn the beginning, C&C was known for world class design. Today, nothing less will do. C&C has employed Mark Mills to design our first two new boats. Mills Design is internationally recognized as a leader in performance yacht design.  Their portfolio of winning 40 foot IRC & ORC is beyond compare. Their most recent design, the Mini-Maxi ‘Alegre’ is widely acknowledged as the most modern, competitive boat in that very hot class.  Mills employs the same CFD and aero modeling tools on every project he undertakes for C&C.

The in house team Dunes has assembled at C&C is well-versed in engineering, building and sailing race boats.  Read about the C&C Team here.

 

The C&C logo and designs might be new, and the address has changed, but the team that is building today’s C&Cs is deep with talent, experience, and a heartfelt appreciation of the legacy that has been entrusted to them.

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