The C&C History

How much do you know of the history of the C&C name? Here's the scoop, courtesy of Rob McLaughlin (Sales Manager), Tim Jackett (Head Designer) and Tom Onich (CEO of C&C International).
The Whole Story...

C&C started in 1961 when the two "C’’s got together to start a design business. They were, of course, George Cuthbertson and George Cassian. (Just think, it could have been G&G or George Yachts.) Cuthbertson was a mechanical engineer and Cassian was an aircraft designer. When they started, they worked with three primary builders, Bruckman in Oakville, Belleville Marine and Hinterholler Yachts in Niagara.

They designed and built a lot of boats. In 1968, they finally made the big league when they won the SORC with a boat named Red Jacket. This was quite a feat, as they were the first non-US boat to win this prestigious event. The next year, they decided to create a single manufacturing company, and with their three builders, they started C&C Yachts.

For a few years, they built boat in the three locations, but later closed one, and focused the manufacturing of production boats in the Hinterholler shop on Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Bruckman shop was kept open to build custom yachts. Once under one roof, C&C was one of the first companies to bring quality, production-line techniques to the boating industry.

The company went public and seemed to be the training ground for most of the talented people in the industry today, including Rob Mazza (the person behind Hunter’s new product), Barry Carol of Carol Marine, Steve Killing and Rob Ball, who was hired in 1972 as chief designer.

C&C did well in the 70’s, and they opened two new manufacturing facilities, one in Rhode Island and the other in Germany. In fact, Baltic Yachts was owned for a short time by C&C. The German plant didn’t last long as it was too hard to run a plant so far away with the technology of the times.

C&C dealers referred to the line as the easiest to sell. Customers would walk into their offices, put down money and say they wanted a 40-footer. No selling required. Too many times, after the factory notified the dealers what boats they would be getting for the year, the dealers would beg for more, or try to get other dealers to give them some of their allotment.

Being the first to make production boats using balsa core, C&C was always on the leading edge of boat building, hence the good times ran into the early 80’s (In 1980, C&C posted a 1.7 million dollar profit on sales of 39.6 million dollars.)

They were so good, that they caught the attention of one of their customers, Jim Plaxton. Jim had bought a production 36, then a custom 40 and then in mid-1981, he bought the company in a hostile takeover for 7.3 million dollars.

Once, Jim was in control, George Cuthbertson was out, and C&C began to design larger and faster boats. Unfortunately, as the economy turned in 1982, people started to hang onto their boats longer as they were not holding their value as in the past. To encourage new boat buyers, C&C changed products almost yearly, making sure no boat design was over 4 years old. C&C also tried to cut costs and consolidate by closing the Rhode Island plant and the custom plant in 1985, only to move the entire operation to Niagara.

In 1986, Brian Rose of North South Charters, bought the company as a limited partnership for approximately nine million dollars. European boat sales were doing well, and in an effort to increase sales in the US, C&C designed and produced aft cabin boats such as the 30, 34+ and 37+. These boats kept C&C alive.

In 1989, Brian was forced out of C&C by the main share holder of the limited partnership and replaced by Bob Stubing. Bob’s intial thinking was to close the company down, but after becoming enamored with the industry, he tried to keep it going. Unfortunately, by the middle of 1990, bank pressures forced the close of C&C.

After 14 months, C&C was finally sold to Anthony Koo and Frank Chow of Wa Kwang Shipping, which was at one time the fifth largest shipping company in the world. The new company, C&C Yachts International, started out with grand plans. In no time, they had production of a 51 and an IMS 45, including an endorsement from Dennis Conner. By 1994, things had turned around so much that the plant had trouble keeping up with sales. In addition, C&C Yachts International acquired SR sailboats of Florida, a line of sport boats that proved to be fierce competitors in racing.

In April of 1994, C&C was devastated by a fire that destroyed 40 molds, three 51 boats that were in production, the factory, the boat building records, plans, etc. They tried to recover, but ultimately failed. Insurance only paid a portion of the total loss, and C&C tried to resume production, only to find the recovery cost was too much and closed the factory in August 1996.

The land was sold and the assets of the company, including the trademark, were put up for auction by a closed bid process. Frank Chow of Wa Kwan Shipping purchased them for to million dollars.

The future of C&C is a bit cloudy right now. These are solid facts.

The C&C 36 tooling was sent to China to be possibly built there for the Asian market. C&C will not be built again at the location at Niagara-on-the-Lake, as that land is now owned by a hotel ownership.

C&C has entered into a joint venture with Tartan to build a new C&C line of boats. Fairport Marine was created as well as a new line of C&C's, known as the Xpress Series.  The first 110 is expected to be finished in late March of 1998.

Hopefully, the C&C; star will continue to grace new boats for years to come.