back story

While looking for an unrelated article, we stumbled upon this  from our friends at Professional Boatbuilder, who published a good interview with George Cuthbertson of C&C fame. Sure, the article is from early 2013, but we bet most of you missed it.   Who can forget the mighty C&C 61? We put one of the better questions below….

cuthbertson-drawingGeorge Cuthbertson was a founding partner of Cuthbertson & Cassian yacht designers, one of four companies that in 1969 formed C&C Yachts in Ontario, Canada. The year before, his 40′ (12.2m) Red Jacket, said to be the first boat ever built with a balsa core, won the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit. Its racing success helped propel C&C Yachts to astonishing growth and a domination of the North American sailing market. For detailed histories of C&C Yachts and Red Jacket, see Professional BoatBuilder No. 92, “C&C—Then, C&C—Now,” and PBB No. 115, “Red Jacket Revisited.”

Now retired in Burlington, Ontario, Cuthbertson has donated his papers and drawings to the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, in Kingston. I visited with him in the spring of 2012, and what follows is an edited version of our conversation.

DS: What was the hardest thing for you about running C&C? Managing people?

GC: No. There were several troublemakers you had to deal with. The hardest…I wouldn’t want this to be labored…but if I had to pick one instance, when C&C was formed, it was a separate organization. The four subsidiaries retained their identities. It was a holding company. Hinterhoeller was the production manufacturer. Belleville Marine was a smaller equivalent. Erich Bruchmann was the custom shop. And we handled sales and marketing as well as design. So when C&C Yachts was formed, that was left untouched. The only thing that was different was C&C Yachts, the parent, took over sales and marketing, leaving the design office just design. And it also took over financial management, thereby relieving us of keeping our own accounting. We were freed of certain burdens. And that was fine.

The first president was Ian Morch of Belleville Marine, not me. I had first known him as an engineer, a graduate of University of Toronto as am I. The primary reason Ian was the first president was because he went on to take a business degree at University of Southern California. He was the only one of us who had any education in business. He was the obvious choice.

I don’t know if this was his schooling coming through or not, but he decided we should go through a statutory amalgamation. And the four separate companies would disappear as separate identities. Belleville would be closed down entirely, and combined with Niagara-on-the-Lake, giving us a larger production shop.

When he first advocated that to the board of directors [60% of the stock was held by the six principals], the idea did not appeal. And that settled that for a about a year. Belleville was closed down. Then Morch came up with the idea of amalgamation again. To put it in the simplest words possible, I continued, as did most of the others, to oppose it. If asked for one reason, I said: “It’ll cost us George Hinterhoeller.”

When the subject came up…Helen and I and Nona, George’s wife, and George had dinner right down here at a good restaurant. George was absolutely adamant: “No way!” I was confident it would be defeated. To my surprise, at the board meeting the next day George voted for it. Read on.