made in the usa
I started selling Vipers a few years back. There was just a small handful on the West Coast. After looking at all the 20 something sportboats on the horizon, the Viper was a natural choice. Fun, affordable and fast. My staff loved the boat and, well, we had a shitload of fun racing in the class. That fun soon translated to sales.
Fast forward three years. 5 guys have started up something unique in the US. Rondar Raceboats, USA. We’ve built our first collegiate order, 20 Firefly dinghies for MIT. These infused beauties emerged from our Peabody, MA plant in December and currently lay next to the Charles River awaiting the thaw.
Ben Parker is the production manager. He’s a master fabricator with a ton of production under his belt. Paul Zimmerman was one of the fabled Maddie’s Sail Loft crew who brought the Viper back from the grave. He’s running operations, and still very active selling in the Northeast and supporting sales throughout the USA. Dan Tucker, past president of the Viper class heads up East Coast Sales and Paul Young of Rondar Ltd in the UK is our managing director. Me, I’m the Left Coast guy.
Our UK and European ties gives us some huge strengths in the world of small boats. Dinghies rule across the pond, much more than in the US, per capita. We’ve some wonderful connections throughout Europe that allows us to bring things to the USA efficiently and quickly. Some great things are on the horizon. Damn, there are SO many cool little boats over there!
We’ve just built the best 420 in the world, well, at least in our opinion. Seriously, this is a thing of beauty. We’re loaning out a few to some universities to sail and test. These boats will sell themselves. Built like brick-shithouses, but still very light and stiff. What do we offer the collegiate sailing programs? We can build them the boat THEY want. We work closely with their specifications and give them a product that lasts longer, is built better and will sell for more at the end of their use. We help them maintain their existing fleet and install new boats to keep things running smoothly.
We all love sailing the Viper and work hand in hand with the class association to grow the fleet nationwide. Hell, there are 49 Viper regattas on the books right NOW and it’s only February. We’ve just built new molds in the UK. Actually two sets. One set for Europe and yes, one for the USA. The all-new infused tool allowed us to remove all the quirks of the version we inherited. The hull mold is polished to perfection. The new deck mold incorporates many refinements including bigger cockpit lockers, new nonskid patterns, less aggressive on the seat tanks (and your foulies), more aggressive on the cockpit sole. The newly redesigned keelbox allows you to run aground without damaging the boat. All in all there’s two dozen plus refinements to the new tool. We’ll ship these molds to the USA in the Spring, firing up production in late May. Our first wave of USA built Vipers will likely be headed north to our Canadian brothers, duty free thanks to NAFTA. We’ve recently entered into a cooperative marketing agreement with North Sails where they will distribute the Viper and K6 throughout Europe and we will include North sails as standard, worldwide. The Viper’s popularity is a result of so many fanatics, including sailmakers, pushing development, so we will always offer the boat at a discount without sails. Doyle Boston and Ullman have dozens of sails racing throughout the Viper fleets nationwide.
Through all this, I have found a new love. The K6. This is one fun little boat to sail. I’ve always loved sailing two-up. Something about the dialog that happens when it’s just two. The K6 isn’t a mini-Viper, more like a 505 for guys who just don’t want to go swimming when they screw up. Great boat in Big Wind and light air alike. The price point will set a benchmark for 20 somethings too. $25K including sails and trailer.
We’re testing the K1, the first singlehanded sportboat (yup, it has a keel). Fun as hell. It’s a RS100 for those who don’t want to spend time swimming. We build it in our UK plant and could easily fire up production here. More on that in the future. Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for news about all of our current and upcoming products and opportunities to test sail Rondar Raceboats. Made in America is a good thing.