Originally Posted by bpw
While poking around yacht world for unstayed rigs the other day I came across a Sparhawk 36. Not much info on the net but an interesting boat.
Anyone know anything about them? Sailed one?
The Sparhawk 36 and 42 were designed by my friend Richard Black who is now retired, living in Seville, Spain, and is an accomplished (and famous) Flamenco guitarist. The first Sparhawk 36 (or maybe the first 2-3) were built in Southern California. The others were built by Cat Ketch Yachts, originally in Miami and Honduras, later relocated to Port Arthur, TX. Just a handful of 36s were built, and only 2 42s were built, if memory serves. I designed the carbon fiber masts for both boats.
Cat Ketch Yachts also built the Herreshoff Cat Ketches, designed by Halsey Herreshoff. They came in models of 27', 28' 31', 33', 38', 40', and 45'. The first few Herreshoffs all had wooden spars, but they were really heavy, so they came to me to design carbon fiber/S-2 glass spars, which all the models adopted. The most popular of these was the 31'er. It was during this time with the Herreshoff's that I had a call from Richard Black, whom I had met a few years before when we both lived in Ventura, CA, and we talked about new masts for his Sparhawk 36 design. I put him in touch with John Newton, who owned Cat Ketch Yachts, and they made a deal to build the boats and I would design the masts. The Sparhawk masts are all-carbon, built on the same mandrel as the Herreshoff masts, but different lay-up. I still have all that engineering and design work here in my office. John Newton, by the way, is also well known as the builder of the original Grand Banks motoryachts (along with his brothers) in Singapore back in the 1960s. He is mostly retired now and lives in Venice, FL, although he does keep one of his companies (not marine related) going.
The Sparhawks are excellent sailers, and people seem to hold onto them for a long time. The Cat Ketch Yacht versions were all built on male formers (no female tooling used) with Airex foam core. All the boats were sanded and painted, no gelcoat used. At least one and maybe a few of the 36s were fitted with the Warwick Collins keel, which is a two-blade (fore-aft arrangement) keel with a huge delta wing shape connecting the tips.
My wife and I had completed our sailing cruise from England in August 1978 in Ventura, and that is where I first opened Sponberg Yacht Design. A few months later, Richard called me on the phone to say he was a part-time boat designer and that he was moving his family to Ventura in order to build his first design, the Shearwater 28, a cat ketch. (His real job was as a counselor to criminal teenagers.) That's how we met, and I consulted with Richard on the build of his boat, along with Craig Ashby, a multihull builder who also moved to Ventura then, to build Richard's boat along with a trimaran he was going to build. (Craig died when he fell off the mast of the trimaran just before it was to be launched.) I designed the masts for Richard's Shearwater, the first free-standing masts I ever designed. They were built in aluminum (tapered aluminum tubes).
So, if the Sparhawk that you found is in good shape, you'd likely be quite pleased with it.
I hope all that background helps.