Word has it that Dick Newick, one of the great pioneer multihull designers, passed away on Wednesday night. I met Newick a few years ago here in Portsmouth (he once maintained a home across the river in Kittery Point, Maine) and was struck by a fundamental boat-design axiom of his that he shared with me. There are, he claimed, three desirable characteristics that most clients would like to see in any boat–performance, low cost, and comfort. “You can have any two,” he told me. “But you can never have all three.”
Pretty much every time I test-sail and review a boat for a magazine I think of that and remember Dick. So far I have yet to find a boat that proves him wrong.
Design-wise Newick himself mostly favored performance, and sometimes low cost. Few of his boats were very suitable for cruising, but he had an enormous impact on multihull racing. He jump-started trimaran design in the 1960s and ’70s by moving away from the boxy utilitarian designs of people like Arthur Piver toward much more organic looking and more hydrodynamic designs that were strong enough and fast enough to actually win major ocean races.
Echo, 36 feet, was a typical Newick design, with gorgeous curved amas and crossbeams that flowed easily into the form of the main hull
Those with long memories will also remember it was Newick who first rediscovered, and reinvented, the concept of the proa. In 1968 his 40-foot Cheers, which he termed an “Atlantic proa,” was the first multihull to achieve a podium finish in the singlehanded transatlantic OSTAR race. Sailed by Tom Follett, she finished right behind two larger monohulls, in spite of having followed a course that was nearly 1,000 miles longer.
Cheers was the first proa created by a Western designer and the first multihull to place in the OSTAR. Her skipper, Tom Follett, was also the first American to ever finish the race
Of course, the boat that really put Newick’s name on the map was Moxie, the famous 50-foot tri that Phil Weld sailed to victory in the 1980 OSTAR.
Moxie is still alive and sailing today in France, where she is revered as an iconic boat
For many casual students of yacht design, Moxie may be the only Newick boat they remember, but there were in fact several other designs that were quite influential. For an idea of the full sweep of Dick’s career, you should check out this excellent profile that Steve Callahan wrote just three years ago for Professional Boatbuilder.
And for a good idea of what it was like sailing on a Newick tri back in the day, you can clap orbs on this viddy of Moxie flying across Vineyard Sound back in 1987. You can spot Dick in the cockpit there, in amongst those younger guys with smiles on their faces.
RIP: Richard C. Newick 1926-2013
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