March 1, 2024

What Tribute?

Main-stream boating media tribute to naval architect and previous racing hull specialist designer Don Shead, who left for the better World the past third February, was rather flat and sad.  Nearly everyone and all just copied and pasted, the Sunseeker press release.

While Don Shead was Sunseeker head designer for three decades, from the end seventies till his retirement in 2007, his tribute to boat and yachting goes beyond in helping the Poole boat builder find its feet and run, and become one of the most famous boating brands in the World.

Once you start to dig about Don Shead early career, from the early sixties where he started up as a racer, to his early designs at the end of that decade, it is a mind blowing journey.  Beyond Sunseeker Don Shead most important story, are his early racing days, with his career coming full circle when his designed CUV 38 hull, was the first to stop the fourteen year dominion of Class One by US made and designed hulls.  Not even Renato Sonny Levi's hulls, which were the biggest challengers to the American made and designed boats in that era ever managed to beat the Americans in the World Championship.

Another part of Don Shead story are his first Cowes race wins with his Avenger boats in the end sixties, and his believe in alloy build hulls, rather then fiberglass for racing.  But probably in all of this Don Shead most important career changing aspect is that unlike most and nearly all deep-Vee architects he started as a racer first, becoming a naval architect after, to be exact seven years later. 

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