In 1995 a group of local sailors comprised of Arthur Strock, Phil Ramser, Bill Palmer, Pete Pallette, and Grant Baldwin began to realize the need for a day sailing/racing boat that was suitable for sailors who have a very broad range of skills and experience, have a desire for sailing with friends and family, and have a desire for a boat that is both forgiving of error and rewarding of excellence. They wanted a boat that would appeal to men and women ranging in ages from 30 to 80+ years, have an ease of boat handling either solo or by a husband and wife crew, yet be large and comfortable enough to accommodate a family outing. It was an equally important goal to develop a good, one-design fleet racing program that would be encouraging and inclusive of a broad range of age and skill levels, and at the same time, develop a strong and active social program.
The committee first defined the program and then the boat. Specifically, the following boat criteria were established:
- Competitive with a very broad range of age, crew weight, physical strength;
- Easily single-handed;
- Accommodating of six adults in a day sailing mode;
- Fast in light air yet manageable in a blow;
- Easily maintained;
- Wet sailed (thus avoiding hoists and trailers);
- Reasonably priced;
- Good looking.
After an extensive search of the national market, no suitable boat was found that met all criteria. The group then began to think seriously about a new design and asked Tom and Steve Schock of W. D. Schock Corp. to propose a design that would meet the above criteria at a competitive price.
Tom and Steve were able to meet the criteria, both functionally and aesthetically. The team effort among the builder, the naval architect, and the user – the fleet committee – resulted in the Harbor 20. Its sail area, displacement, and waterline length make it a very large 20 footer and is accommodating of a broad range of uses and users.
The first Harbor 20 was launched in May of 1997, and true full production began a few months later. Initially, there was skepticism about the electric auxiliary, but now virtually all of the boats have them. The addition of the auxiliary motor actually provides the functional equivalent of two boats – sail boat and bay cruiser. Importantly, the Harbor 20 fleet has developed an organizational, operational, and social format that appeals to and supports all of its members, racers and day sailors alike, regardless of skill level; it has a strict set of one-design rules that includes sail purchase restrictions to ensure economy and retention of value. The Harbor 20 program and boat have indeed been successful. If numbers on the water are an indication, the Harbor 20 will continue to serve sailors’ needs as a competitive, durable, and functional bay boat for a long time to come.
Written by Arthur Strock, edited by Hollie Sutherland.