Mutineer 15
Class Association
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Men Behind the Mutineer


                      
Rod Macalpine-Downie and Dick Gibbs are the Men Behind the Mutineer, and combined they were responsible for over 80 other sailboats.  Rod was the genius behind the designs.  Dick had technical know-how regarding construction, fiberglass, and sailmaking.  Together, for 23 years, they made up one of the greatest design teams in the history of sailboats.   Most notable was the incredible respect and trust they had for each other, a spirit that may possibly influence those who are attracted to their boats.

Dick was very humble, always deferring the glory to Rod.  As evidence is the Chrysler literature which lists only Rod as the designer.

Rod and Dick designed some 80 sailboats with a combined production in excess of 150,000 units for builders in the U.S., UK, Germany, Italy and Japan.  Thirteen of the most commonly known boats in the US that they co-designed include six that were built by the Chrysler Boat Corporation.   Click here to see pictures of the sailboats listed below:


Shark -  1962
Dingo 15 - 1963
Man-O-War* - 1964
Phoenix 18 - 1965
Sidewinder 16 - 1968
Buccaneer 18* - 1968
Copperhead 14 - 1970
Bandit 15 - 1972
Bandit 17 - 1972
Mutineer 15* - 1972
Musketeer 17* - 1973
Pirateer 13* - 1974
Dagger 14* - 1976

* = produced by Chrysler


The following historical background is by Michael Connolly:

Dick Gibbs formed Gibbs Boat Company in 1950 when he was 21 years old.  Dick built wooden and later fiberglass boats in his plant in LaSalle, MI. The Gibbs Boat Company had produced some 6,000 sailboats by 1972 when he sold the business to MFG in Union City, PA.  The principal boats built during this time period were Y-Flyers, the Rhodes Bantam, the Shark, Phoenix, Dingo catamarans and the Thai MK4 catamaran designed by Rod Macalpine–Downie.

 

Rod Macalpine–Downie was a brilliant King’s Scholar at Eaton College who had no formal training in yacht design. Rod had seen the Shearwater catamaran, which was the latest rage in the UK, and felt that he could do a better job.  The Thai MK 1 class B catamaran was the first boat Rod designed. Rod handily won the UK One of a Kind Regatta with ‘straight bullets’ in 1961.  Shortly after, Rod Licensed Dick to build the Thai MK4 for the U.S. market.  Dick had built about 100 Thai MK 4’s by the time they first met in person.

 

In 1962 Dick and Rod finally met at the First International Catamaran Challenge at Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY, where Rod raced his Hellcat class C design to yet another victory.  It was during this time that they agreed to corroborate on the Shark Catamaran Project.  They were to campaign the Shark prototype throughout the United States.  This barnstorming adventure would begin in Montreal in 1962, travel as far west as El Paso, TX, back to the America’s Cup at Newport in September, down to win the President’s Cup in D.C. and on to Yachting’s One of a Kind Regatta in Miami in February of 1963.  While in New Orleans during this adventure they formed a boat design partnership, which began with a handshake and continued until Rod’s death in 1986.  During that time Rod and Dick designed some 80 sailboats with a combined production in excess of 150,000 units for builders in the U.S., UK, Germany, Italy and Japan.

 

Their business relationship was a simple one, begun with a handshake and based on a steadfast trust in and respect for each others’ talents.  Both men were competent designers.  Rod’s strength was in hull form and Dick’s in production engineering.  While both participated fully in all deliberations of design, they agreed early on that in areas of disagreement Rod had the final word in hull form and Dick in production engineering.  Dick fully appreciated that it was Rod’s genius in hull form design that made the Buccaneer and the Mutineer the fine boat that they are.

 

Chrysler had purchased in 1964 or 1965 the Lone Star Boat Co. in Plano, TX and in addition to the Lone Star 13’ and 16’ they had added a Gus Linell design; the ‘Barracuda’, a 13’ dagger board, cat rigged scow.  There had been a major surge of sailboat production during that decade and demand for Chrysler’s sailboats was dwindling.  In (1968) the Marketing Director of Chrysler Marine, who had recently moved over from MFG, employed Rod Macalpine-Downie and Dick Gibbs to submit designs for sailboats that would help bolster Chrysler Marine’s position in the sailboat market.

Prior to associating with Chrysler; Downie-Gibbs had designed the 16’6” ‘Upstart’ for Bud Sanxter of Starcraft in Goshen, IN and the 15’5” ‘Sidewinder’ for Art Hansen of MFG in Union City, PA. along with several other designs for the UK and German market.  In 1968 the 15 foot prototype of the Man-o-War, originally designed for Starcraft, had recently been completed.  When Bangor Punta bought Starcraft he decided to get out of the sailboat business and backed out of Starcrafts’ contract to build the boat.  The Man-o-War was then made available to Chrysler to become the first design by Downie-Gibbs to be produced by Chrysler. The next in line was the Buccaneer 18’ followed by the Mutineer 15’, the Musketeer, a 16’ catamaran, the Pirateer 13’ and the Dagger 14’6”, an updated version of the Man-o-War.

 


The Bayliner Buccaneer

In 1981 Bayliner Marine Corporation "popped" a TMI or Chrysler Buccaneer and made glass masters producing at least one Bayliner Buccaneer.  Click here to read the documents detailing this attempt to hijack the Buccaneer.


Rod Macalpine-Downie

By Dick Gibbs
J.R. (Rod) Macalpine-Downie
1934-1986


Gained his interest in sailing and science from his father, an offshore sailor and specialist in hypervelocity artillery shells and armor to resist his newest weapon.

Rod won the King’s Scholar Award at Eaton. He majored in biology and seriously considered a career as a concert violinist. One of his professors at Eaton said he remembered him well, because an IQ can be accurately tested to 170, but his :went off “ the scale.

While chicken farming in Scotland in 1961, he saw a Shearwater Cat and although he never designed a boat, concluded he could do a better job. The first boat was Thai MK4 which won all six races of the 1962 European, “one of a kind” regatta. He followed that with the winning of the first International Catamaran Challenge in 1963, and had seven more consecutive wins.

He was the first with the UNA rig and wing masts. A series of crossbow designs won 5 consecutive competitions in the world speed sailing competition at Portland harbour, Weymouth and Dorset England at a top official speed of 36 knots in 1980, the last year the Crossbow sailed.  Unofficially it was clocked at 60+ knots.  At the time of his death a new Crossbow was underway, which he believed capable of 70+ knots.

The partnership with Dick Gibbs in 1964 put 80 boats into commercial production, resulting in 15,000+ boats. When measured both as a commercial and design success, the Mutineer and Buccaneer were the most significant, with a combined production run to date of well over 10,000 boats.

In the technical sense, the most successful design was a 15 foot centerboard sloop which after capsizing, would right itself unassisted and yes, with a wooden centerboard full up in the trunk! The design proved the old adage; “beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone”. No one wanted to be saved by the ugly thing.

The partnership with Gibbs began with a hand shake, and continued for twenty plus years without a formal agreement and neither ever saw or questioned an accounting for the income/expenditures the their respective half of the business world each administered.

Rod Macalpine-Downie was a man admired by all who knew him.

More Background from Internet sources:

Before the relationship with Dick Gibbs, Rod was busy designing boats in England.

By the late 1950s Brightlingsea had become the centre for multihull sailing in Britain. John Fisk, a member of the fledgeling multihull committee within the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), approached Macalpine-Downie and  Reg White to design and build a 25ft catamaran to challenge the Eastern Multihull Association in the US to a one-on-one match. This was inspired by the America’s Cup, which the New York Yacht Club had just reinitiated in 12-metre class keelboats. Fisk planned an event which he called “a little America’s Cup” — a match race series that is now at the pinnacle of multihull racing.

The first wooden prototype, Hellcat, was launched in 1961, and was followed by a glass fibre version, Hellcat 2, which Fisk and Macalpine-Downie used to defeat the American catamaran Wildcat 4-1 in a match held on Long Island Sound.

Hellcat

White and Macalpine-Downie continued to develop what became the International C-Class catamaran, beating off a succession of challengers from America and Australia between 1963 and 1968. They were also one of the first to develop an effective wing mast, using it on Lady Helmsman in 1966 to beat the American challenger Gamecock 4-2.

Rod designed the Crossbow and Crossbow II which both held world sailing speed records.  These were skippered by Tim Coleman.

1975 Crossbow 31.10 knots
1975 Crossbow II, 31.80 knots
1977 Crossbow II 33.80 knots
1977 Crossbow II 34.40 knots
1980 Crossbow II 36.00 knots



Crossbow

Crossbow II



Crossbow II

 



Rod MacAlpine-Downie

 

Dick Gibbs

 

Dick began his sailing career at age 14 by rebuilding a 14 foot catboat.  By age 17 he had won a major championship in Interlakes and two years later in Thistles.  Under the tutelage of Mr. Alvin Youngquist,
the designer of the Y Flyer, Dick received intensive training in boat design while still in high school.  On graduation he was capable of designing sailboats.

Dick opened his boat building business in 1954 building Jet 14’s, Y Flyers and Rhodes Bantams.  He also opened a sail making business building over 25,000 sails per year for a number of boat manufacturers.  In 1961 he was licensed to build the Thai Mk14 designed by Rod Macalpine-Downie.

With similar goals, Dick and Rod opened their joint design firm.  Their first joint design was the Shark Catamaran followed by 14 other designs for commercial US production.  The result of their joint efforts was over 40,000 sailboats 20 feet and under.  The most noteworthy being the Mutineer (over 8,000) and the Buccaneer (over 5,000). 

The following are sections of a video of an informal interview of Dick Gibbs by Michael Connolly.  Michael was the Buccaneer Class Historian at the time of the interview,
March 29, 2001.

Click on the section name to view:

Beginning of Dick's career in boats.

Dick's relationship with Harry Sindle and Rod.

Chrysler's entry into boats, Roy Bacon.

Chrysler's line of small sailboats.

Production numbers, costs.

Relationship with Rod in the design process.

Comments on builders, Chrysler to TMI.

Comments on builders, TMI to Wellcraft.

Comments on Builders, Wellcraft to Cardinal.

Wrap up, classic design.