Eight Bells: Dick Newick

30 Aug

Dick Newick

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 under sail

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.

Proa Cheers

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 under sail

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


  1. AL Levenson

    It has been 50 years since I met Dick in a sugar cane field in Christiansted, St Croix where he was building a 36′ Tri (Maybe that was Trice(?)) from triple diagonal 16th inch doorskins and industrial staples. Dick was a design genius humble in every part of his life except his trimaran designs. (“This will revolutionize the industry)” All the most exciting sailing adventures of my life were on Dick’s boat in his company.

    I don’t miss Dick, the memories are too strong.

  2. Mike Erhardt

    I worked with Dick on the crew that built Three Cheers in 1971-72 in Christiansted. It was an exciting time to be in the Caribbean, and an exciting project. Getting to know Dick, I learned so much about what it means to focus and to stand by a few basics, with outstanding results. The day we launched her, there was a big twin-screw Bertram that swore he clocked us at 26 knots. Well, those guys lie, but it was an exhilarating sail to St. Thomas! Three Cheers was, after the 36-foot “Tricia,” built for Dick’s charter fleet, the first declaration to the world of those stunning Newick lines. Great memories ~ RIP, Dick. The only comfortable passage is a fast passage!

  3. Tony Bertram

    When Dick Newick was at his prime I was working for Hoodsailmakers UK. I wrote to him after witnessing the incredible Val tri achievements. He wrote back to me by hand to my utter frustration I seem to have mislaid his fine words. Last year in Brittany (France) I walked thru the mud to view his more recent work beached on a swinging mooring, his work to me was iconic, pure and a true delight to the eye

    Dick Newick took my life time passion for sailing to new heights

    Tony Bertram

    Sailor UK

  4. Pingback: Dick Newick inducted to Hall of Fame - YachtForums.Com

  5. Pingback: Dick Newick has Passed | Thomas Pappas Photography

  6. Pingback: R.I.P. Dick Newick - SailNet Community

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