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Craft of Unconvention, Part 2

On Friday, we told you about some unconventional vessels that have graced West Coast waters. Many of these are so-called backyard builds, labors of love that congeal in sheds, parking lots and the far-flung corners of boatyards.

But some craft of unconvention come from a deeper, more deliberate creativity and experience — and are conceived, designed and built by some of the sailing world’s greatest virtuosos. Take the Rosie G, the brainchild of Bay Area native (but longtime Maui resident) Barry Spanier.

“It’s our Antrim 42 happy cruiser with a ‘modern’ Chinese junk rig,” Spanier told us in an email last year. “I don’t know about her being a ‘demon upwind,’ but dry and stable and easy will be enough for us (71 and 68 at the moment). Currently we have a Westsail 42 (#24) and are finding some of the aspects — multi sail handling, six-step companionway ladder, stern cabin pass-through, diesel power — may be too ‘young’ as our cruising time goes by.”

The Rosie G is currently under construction at Berkeley Marine Center by none other than Cree Partridge.

An early rendering of the Rosie G, designed by Jim Antrim.
© 2019 Barry Spanier

“I did the original drawings for this boat in 1978 while living in Tahiti during a cruise on my self-built Atkin Ingrid called Seminole. Then shipwreck and life got in the way until a few years ago when I dredged up the ideas and was further inspired by the success of the Raison scow-bow in the Mini Transat. I went to my old friend Jim Antrim, and he took the bait — and here we are.”

Jim Antrim’s involvement is certainly not accidental. “If people have an unusual idea, I have a reputation for designing it,” Antrim told us in our West Coast Boatbuilders series last year.

A legendary lineup. From left: Barry Spanier, Cree Partridge and Jim Antrim pose in front of the Rosie G last week, as the craft of unconvention was still in her earlier stages.
© 2019 Samantha Spanier

The scow bow is certainly the most unconventional aspect of the Rosie G. It’s a feature that Spanier, who enjoyed “fame and fortune” in the windsurfing industry, has long sung the praises of.

“Don’t forget, the [new monohul] America’s Cup boats will have scow bows, too.” Spanner said, citing his experience “as a longtime windsurfer, especially on formula boards. [The AC75s] will need that to set down off the foils without completely submarining. I just can’t figure how any designer of the Volvo Ocean Race or other crazy machines are willing to make the slab side bows that pick up whole waves and dump them on the deck. These bows throw tons of water onboard; it’s constant assault from the sea, being constantly wet, and even the danger of being washed overboard. It seems the pointy thing on the end will be gone in all boats within 20 years. I’m ready to be heavily flamed for this crazy boat idea!”

The not-so-pointy end of the Rosie G.
© 2019 Barry Spanier

Spanier recently wrote about his far-flung adventures (which include a friendship with Bernard Moitessier) in his book, Dear Mom: The Bare Chronicles. Last year, Spanier said he expected to sail the Rosie G out the Gate sometime in 2019, “Just like I did on the Seminole in 1974. I swore I would never sail on the Bay again when we first left. Too damn cold. I’ve been a tropic bird since then.”


  1. barry spanier 5 years ago

    i just read the AC rules for the new boats and they specifically ‘disallow’ scow bow shapes. a threat to the paradigm?
    i’ll stand by all the rest though.

    • andy 4 months ago

      Barry if you’re still alive and sailing the scow I would very much love to hear your thoughts now, after you’ve sailed in many conditions.

  2. Barry spanier 4 months ago

    Definitely still alive, more so now than ever. It’s been a long time since I was ‘out there’ and the last week confirms that is what I was meant to do.
    We sailed 350NM from SF to Santa Barbara. Averaged 5.5kt. Saw dead calm, many hours of under 10kts, and had long periods of surfing at 10-11kts with 180Apparent, driven by the hydrovane, nothing touched for hours.
    Watching the bow, she roils a big white froth and then seems to surge forward on the cushion of bubbles moving the bow waves back almost to the mast, spraying them away from the hull rather than upward. The wake was flat and had bubbles streaming full across the transom width. There was never water on the deck, we didn’t power, other than to add a a couple hundred RPM (under 1KW draw) to keep way on and generate apparent. Arrived with 55% battery after 3 1/2 days.
    Still alive, more than ever.
    Barry and Samantha

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