O'Day Corporation became one of the largest sailboat manufacturers in the US but most of that story happened after the period in which we have interest. What we are interested in is the period from around 1956 to 1966 when George O'Day, a top level racing sailor, with the help of his 'Associates' got this company going. Separating the man and his company in this period is hard to do but we are going to try. Click here to go to George O'Day, "the man who loved to sail", and read more about him.
O'Day had an interesting corporate beginning. In the 1950's George O'Day had been selling boats, primarily dinghies, built by others, including both US and European builders, using the entity name of G. D. (or George D.) O'Day Associates, Inc in Boston, MA. He was a big believer in the future of fiberglass boats and was frustrated with his European dinghy suppliers' reluctance to switch to fiberglass. His decision, in 1958, to get Uffa Fox to design the Daysailer, which would go on to sell over 13,000 boats, meant that he would have to obtain fiberglass manufacturing sources and know how in the US.
O'Day's interest in fiberglass boats, and his awareness of the outstanding racing success of the Shaw 24 MORC racer Trina, led him to Sparkman & Stephens where Bill Shaw worked as a designer. The result was a commission to design a "Junior Ocean Racer' in fiberglass which Marscot Plastics would build for him.
George O'Day had been a sales agent for Palmer Scott's Marscot Plastics Company selling their Rhodes 19, among other boats they produced. Palmer Scott was an early fiberglass power and sail boat pioneer, and also formerly built both large and small high quality wood sail and power boats. The wooden boat part of his yard in New Bedford, MA was destroyed in the major hurricane of 1954 and only the Marscot Plastics division survived. To read more about Palmer Scott and his very interesting boat building career click here.
Bob Larson, an original investor in O'Day advised us that, in 1958, Palmer moved his company's business, equipment and experienced workforce from New Bedford to a mill building O'Day reportedly bought for $10,000 in Fall River, MA. The driving force for this activity was to obtain manufacturing capacity for the new Daysailer. Eventually O'Day acquired Marscot Plastics but exactly when is not clear. It seems pretty clear Palmer Scott was one of George's 'Associates'. The 1960 Dolphin 24 brochure says that Marscot Plastics is a division G.D. O'Day Associates, Inc.
The first Dolphins were built in 1960 by Palmer Scott and Marscot Plastics, Inc. of Fall River, MA for G. D. O'Day Associates, Inc. This can be seen by looking at the name plate of hull #10, Passage. Click here to see a larger image. The fiberglass parts were laminated in Fall River then trucked across the river to the old Carl Beetle yard in New Bedford where they were bonded together, the interior and exterior woodwork done, and the finished boats commissioned for sailaway buyers. Alan Tripp, of Tripp and Sons, advised us that Marscot Plastics may have been experiencing financial difficulties in this period due to problems they had with some fiberglass boats they had built for the US Navy in the mid/late 1950's.
In any event, at some point, Palmer Scott reportedly swapped his Marscot Plastics business for stock in the newly formed O'Day Corporation. This is the nameplate of Tiki, Hull #28, reportedly built in late 1960. Note that Marscot Plastics is now O'Day Manufacturing Company and G.D. O'Day Associates is now O'Day Corporation. With these moves George O'Day's O'Day Corporation obtained one of the pioneer fiberglass boat builders in the US and the critical manufacturing experience he needed to launch his company.
Corporate reorganization was rampant - In this same period, US Yachts was formed. The afore mentioned Bob Larson was an 'associate' of O'Day. He was a dinghy racing friend of George's, who, with other O'Day investors, formed this company in late 1960. This company was to handle the sales and marketing of the Dolphin and other boats from 1961-1964. Some sales literature in this period says the company was an affiliate of O'Day. Sales of the Daysailer and other small boats were handled 'in house".
Phil Zerega, who in 1960/61 built Teal (your webmaster's Marionette) on a bare O'Day hull (#12), took some pictures of the Marscot/O'Day plant on his visits in 1960. Click here to see them.
|Found in the S&S files was this picture of Hull #1 which may have been (see August 9, 2011 entry below) the 1960 NY Boat Show boat and which was delivered to Dick Bertram who had a yacht brokerage business in Miami. Click to go to a larger view and more - including a beautiful dolphin interior that was not to be..
Marscot/O'Day employed at least 3 other companies to build Dolphins in the early 60s - Lunn Laminates of Port Washington, NY, F.L. Tripp & Sons of Westport, MA, and J.J. Taylor & Sons of Toronto, Canada. A fire at the Marscot Fair Haven plant in 1960 was the reportedly the reason for the first subcontracting to Lunn Laminates, but it also seems that the Dolphin may not have fit in well with other manufacturing going on at the plant.
Thus, in the beginning George O'Day and Associates evolved from a sales company and idea company whose "Associates" designed, built and sold his boats - including the Dolphin. At some point in 1958-1960 Marscot Plastics was acquired, and in 1964, the sales and marketing responsibility for the Dolphin, then at US Yachts, was brought in house. These consolidations became the core of O'Day Corporation. In 1966, Bangor Punta Corporation acquired both the O'Day Corporation, and Jensen Marine, manufacturer of the Cal 24 and other boats.
Despite its excellent racing reputation the Dolphin 24 had been suffering for years from poor sales and lack of attention and support by O'Day. With the urging of Sparkman & Stephens John Shumaker and Yankee Yachts started producing Dolphins. Based at least in part on an evaluation of what Dolphin owners had been doing to improve performance in their individula boats S&S designed an updated version which was to become the ongoing Yankee Dolphin. The process by which all this happened is a fascinating and as yet incomplete story. But we are working on it.
The 1960 O'Day original Sales Brochure (click here to see it)
Larry Taylor (Black Dolphin) sent in a price list with different options and accessories dated March 30, 1960. Click here to see it
August 1, 2009. Found in Peggy Benkard's Black Book was a September, 1960 George O'Day Associates ad that appeared on page 79 of some sailing magazine we have not yet identified. Click here to see it.
June 26, 2011. At the Wooden Boat Show going on this weekend at Mystic Seaport, your webmaster found a used nautical books seller with a collection of old Yachting magazines. Important to Dolphinites is the 1960 Boat Show, held Jan 16 - 24 at the NY Coliseum, 'reportedly' when the Dolphin 24 was first offered
A deal was made to purchase the 1960 and 1961 Boat Show issues. The 1960 write up for G.D. O'Day and Associates is on page 141 and appears below.
Note there are very few words, and no pictures, used to describe the Dolphin -
"...is joined by a smaller plastic auxiliary sloop or yawl, the 24' o.a. Dolphin which also has bunks for four, and which is designed to fit the eligibility requirements for Midget Ocean Racing."
OR YAWL!!!??? What's with this??...
Piecing together the minutia of the Dolphin 24 birthing 50+ years ago is a excruciatingly difficult task. There are clues though. There was no dedicated Dolphin ad in the January, 1960 Yachting Boat Show issue. O'Day did have an ad in the January issue showing many of their sailboats but that did not include the Dolphin 24. Why not?
We 'know' that the so called introductory ad first appeared in Yachting's March, 1960 issue. That ad does not have a picture of an actual boat, only sketches and a drawing (click here).
We suspect maybe there was not a full scale model of the boat presented at the NY Boat Show? Instead, they may have had Bob Baker's 1:10 scale "bea-oo-tiful" model that George O'Day commissioned, and that Norris Hoyt wrote of in his book Addicted to Sail. (Click here for that story)
We also know boat hull #1 was shipped to Dick Bertrum whose brokerage business was in Miami. The Miami boat show started February 19, 1960. The pictures of Hull # 1 in S&S's files had a note clipped to them dated March 19, 1960. (click here for Hull #1)
January 14, 2013. Thanks to Ralph Heinzerling and son Ralph (Jack Rabbit), we have the following picture and related story from the 1961 Boat Show in New York City
"This photo was taken at the NY Boat Show held at the NY Colosseum in 1961. In the cockpit facing the camera is (O'Day salesman) Dick Sheehan demonstrating the Dolphin. He had cut away window ports into the starboard side of the hull so that people could look into the boat without going onboard. Someone else had offered to buy the boat as is but Dick sold it to me because he knew that I would be racing it.
After the show I had the boat hauled out to Long Island. Shortly thereafter, O'day decided that they weren't making any money on the boats and wanted to contract out their production. They contacted Lunn Laminates on Long Island to build the Dolphins. Lunn asked to borrow my boat so that they could copy it without following the blueprints. I said ok but there was just one thing they had to do, fill in the holes. They did a perfect job, you couldn't see any marks where the ports had been cut. This was the early days of fiberglass and they built the boats thick. The boat was very fast in spite of the weight and won everything entered. The Dolphin was an outgrowth of the Shaw 24. Sparkman Stephens cleaned up the lines and it was a winner! The Shaw 24 a wooden boat had proved to be a very fast boat the previous year in MORC. I picked the number 33 because it was a lucky number to me."
(to be continued)