Sailboat survey-NO. 6


C&C 24,30,36

...a pragmatic quest for perfection

Project Consultant
Mark Decket

The Company

In the ten years since it became a public company, C&C Yachts has done well. It is the largest boat builder in Canada and the tenth largest in the world.

C&C is the result of a merger of established boat building and design talent George Cassian and George Cuthbertson (from which C&C is derived) who in the mid-Sixties had formed a design group George Hinterhoeller who since the formation of C&C has gone back into business for himself, Brookman Manufacturing Ltd., a custom boat building company, and Belleville Marine in Belleville, Ontario. As is true of many boat builders a reputation was quickly gained through successes champion, Red Jacket, a series of six 61 foot yachts began gamering a disproportionate amount of silver. Among these was Robon which was first to finish and was the Class A winner in the 1972 Bermuda Race and Condor, another SORC winner.

Today C&C has three manufacturing facilities in North America. The custom division is in Oakville, Ontario. In Niagara On The Lake, Ontario, a holdover hamlet from the Victorian era, C&C manufactures the 27, 30, 34, 36 and 40, which in April became a production model. In Middletown, Rhode Island, in a newly constructed facility, the 24, 29 and the new Landfall 38 are produced. The race oriented C&C 38 which was produced at the rate of 25 - 30 a year is not currently in production although the tooling has not been destroyed. Also, the Mega 30 is not being produced reflecting a general softening in the aerospace industry. C&C recently opened a plant Kiel, West Germany.

In addition to its own line of yachts, C&C Design Group is responsible for the Newport 28 built by Capital Yachts, the Mirage 24 built by Mirage Yachts Ltd, the Lancer 29 MK III and Lancer 30 MK V, the Baltic family built in Finland and others.

"We don't manage the walls. We manage
the people inside the walls."
- Robert Forsey -- Chief Operating Officer

Labor-management relations within C&C appear to be good. Labor is represented by a carpenters union in the Niagara-On-The-Lake Plant with an average hourly wage of 7 - 8 dollars. There have been strikes: Two years ago the workers were out for eight weeks, but layoffs have been minimal with quick substitutions of another boat being made on the line when a particular model was discontinued. C&C, to our knowledge, has not missed a payday.

All this has led to a good degree of loyalty on the part of the workers.

C&C has nurtured this with fringe benefits and incentive plans such as permitting a C&C employee to purchase a boat at cost although recently the market demand for boats has been great enough that employees find it difficult to get their requests approved.

C&C has a sailing school and sailing program for its employees. This, coupled with a new apprentice training program funded by the province of Ontario, we think are important factors if the boating industry is to once again be comprised of boat builders and not merely assembles who are alien to sailing and its imperatives and traditions.

Workers are periodically rotated form one job to another to develop a sense of the total manufacturing process, although some workers we interviewed had done the same job for over four years.

At the C&C plants there are safety committees, and employees on each shift trained in emergency medicine There are monetary incentives for a safe working record as well as a suggestion program for improving plant efficiency with cash awards.

Once in a while the workers sneak something past management as happened in one cabinetmaking shop where it was discovered that leftover teak was being cut into small pieces so there would be no big scraps for management to see.

If there is a collective consciousness among C&C workers it may be reflected in a small clipping from an ice hockey journal that we found pinned over a work bench. It quoted the famous Montreal Canadien goalie Jacque Plante:

"How do you like a job where when you make a single
mistake a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"

After a careful inspection of the Niagara plant and three tours of the Middletown facility we have the overall impression that, in the main, the C&C workers care about their work. They seem generally aware that there is reputation to maintain and that "Good Enough" isn't good enough.


We liked the openness of the C&C organization. It denotes a confidence in their product. The officers were accessible and well informed. C&C owners that we interviewed were unanimous in feeling that when they had visited a C&C plant, they were not talked down to, they were not hurried and that no part of the operation was closed to them.

We liked the fact that C&C is run on a thoroughly business-like basis. While the boat are carefully planned to compete in a price market and while better cost saving techniques are constantly being introduced, we do not feel that compromises in quality or safety have been made in these boats. There were several instances of people saying that C&C :doesn't build 'em like they used to" but upon further questioning the distinctions could not be pinpointed and in one case the older boat in question had been a custom-built one.

A good example of sound business practice is C&Cs method of keeping a parts log on every boat produced. This means that ten years from now if a particular part needs replacement, C&C can tell you who the supplier of that part is, what its order number is or what make and model part has replaced the original equipment. It is practices such as this that protect an owner's investment. Emphasis has also been given to standardization of parts, many of which are designed and manufactured by C&C. The importance placed on parts standardization, inventory control and quality control we feel in part explains why so may yard personnel who commission C&C yachts for dealers feel that C&C ranks among the highest in ease of commissioning. We were told that "all the parts are there and everything fits. About the only thing missing now and then are winch handles."

We like C&C's draftsmanship. The drawings of their boats are excellent. (See the renderings of the Baltic 39 below-a C&C design.) Even the owner's manuals, attractive vinyl loose-leaf binders with fully reinforced pages, contain precise and comprehensible illustrations of such things as the thru-hull locations, the fuel tank and fuel line systems, wiring diagrams and other useful information.

The C&C organization received generally high marks for direct customer service. Service was rated slightly better when it concerned a part of product than when it entailed a written reply to a customer question. For example, several owners reported receiving replacement parts or cans of gelcoat very promptly (and the bills for same not so promptly. One owner said his gelcoat came in three days and the bill in three months.) Another owner reported writing C&C about a replacement gate valve and was told it could be picked up in most and hardware store. It couldn't. The same owner reported far better success this year in obtaining a researched reply.

One "service" several owners were delighted with was having C&C personnel actually go sailing with them and not just on quick shakedown spins around the harbor.

An interview with the president
of C&C Yachts: George Cuthbertson

by John Turnbull

JT: You have some particular concerns about the way the boat-building industry has developed in North America.

CUTHBERTSON: Yes. Let me go back to a remark I've made several times about looking at the industry as if it were an industry instead of looking at the romance of the product-which is what usually get the attention.

In very round figures there are something like 50 separate, independent, identifiable boat-builders in Canada and there are something like 300 in the United States. And we're just talking about the sailboat industry. The market may have grown enormously in the past several years but it's still one of the minor markets in the country.

As far as we can see there is something like 200 to 250 million dollars' worth of boats sold in North America every year. Now that's not a lot when you consider the independent companies in other fields that do 10 to 20 times that volume. And that's our whole market divided among more than 300 builders.

What that means is that absolutely nobody can get long-enough production runs to really sink their teeth into it and do a job. It's intensely competitive and the margins don't allow anybody to do a proper job of research and development. We try more that anybody else but we know dam well that one way to increase our short-term profit is to fire the designers, stop the R&D projects and forget it. For a year of so we'd do much better. But that's never been my attitude and we're not about to do it.

Other factors enter into it: many of the builders exist for artificial reasons whether it's the hobby of a wealthy owner or the whim of an influential bureaucrat,. The industry tends to be cluttered and tends not to work according to normal rules of commerce, because too many of the participants exist for artificial reasons. I suggest that's bad.

JT: You see consolidation of some of the industry as a solution?

CUTHBERTSON: Take the automobile industry as a too-simple analogy. One can be very critical of the state of the automobile today, its effect on our society and the attitudes of the industry, but for the moment let's permit the debatable argument that the automobile is, on balance, a good thing- though I'm not sure it is. Certainly the auto-makers have done a heck of a job of putting the car within reach of the average consumer. Do you think that could possibly have happened if the auto industry today were as it was in the 1920s? Of course not. Maybe we'd all be better off today if it hadn't happened, but that's a different question.

What I'm saying is that only when consolidation occurs will the boat-builders acquire the strength and single-mindedness to plan their goals and get their product within the reach of the average consumer. The ultimate beneficiaries would be the consumer and the labor force.

You're going to ask if I'm advocating that it come down to a big three. No. I'm not going that far because, as we've seen in the auto industry, that can lead to very suspect situations. But there is a happy medium. Surely 20 or 30 efficient builders would do a better job supplying the market, build better boats and employ more people in total.

"The industry tends not to
work according to the normal
rules of commerce..."

JT: You see a pattern to the industry that C&C is conforming to.

CUTHBERTSON: What you have seen since fibreglass-and there's no point going back beyond that-is that firms reach the top level, stay there for two or three years and then begin to decline. And that's been the history without exception. The best examples would be Cal and Columbia.

Now we're at that stage. We're right up there with the top half-dozen or fewer in terms of dollars and the pack is not too far behind. I continue to believe that the day will come when, whether it's today or ten years from today, somebody is going to break out of that pack and get enough market share to really do a proper job. In other words, create a real industry out of a cottage industry, which I believe is a desirable thing to have happen.

JT: When that happens, how is the boat builder going to benefit?

CUTHBERTSON: I want to get this company to the stage where we've got enough market distance between us and the competition that we can start bringing our prices down to the consumer, build up more market share, then turn around and do some things that are really important.

JT: You've also remarked on the number of models of yachts that are offered on the market.

CUTHBERTSON: That's another thing that's totally ridiculous to my way of thinking. You go through the magazines and your mind boggles at the number of marvelous new whatsits. You look at the darn things and they all tend to be pointed at one end and blunt at the other and the differences are just d
kidding. And yet time and time again models are touted as "new"-- there's nothing new about them. That's wasteful.

JT: Why has the industry developed that way?

CUTHBERTSON: It's so cheap to get into it. All you need is a shed and enough money to buy a drum of resin and a roll of glass. There's no such thing as type certification, you don't need costly dyes.

The product is romantic. Everybody thinks, "Well, I enjoy sailing; I guess I'd enjoy boats as a career." I'm guilty of that. That's exactly what I said to myself 30 years ago. I hope I've matured since then; I think I have but I got into it for those reasons too.

There are several projects of the shelf, such as gelcoat. Gelcoat is just and atrocious problem for the industry. The material is a poor finish for a boat. There are alternatives, but nobody is strong enough to study the alternatives and debug them. Even if they were debugged, nobody's strong enough to say, "As of June 1 we're going to switch and use a finish that all the wise men say we can have complete confidence in and five years down the trail we're going to honor the warranty." Nobody's strong enough to do that, so we keep putting on an inferior finish.

JT: Taking gelcoat as an example, do you think you might find yourself fighting a consumer taste for a brittle, shiny topside finish that your industry actually created? Buyers have been trained to be suspicious of anything that isn't glossy. Could that be the case in other areas as well where people have a fixed idea about what a yacht should look like?

CUTHBERTSON: The example that I think speaks to your point is teak. I'm very concerned about that one at the moment. The market has ben brought up to believe that teak, particularly on interior surfaces, means tradition. Nothing is further from the truth.

Everybody talks about a teak deck as the ultimate. Before the war a teak deck was unheard of except on a sampan. A builder like Herreshoff or Nevins would never use a teak deck-It's far too heavy for decking. They'd use a long -leaf yellow pine or another wood native to North America, not an enormously heavy lumber that comes all the way from the Orient. This business about teak is not true but the public has been told it's true.

Why? Teak, when it was first used about 20 years ago, had the virtue of sparing the builder the work of finishing it. He could just leave it there or smear on a coat of grease and call it a hand-rubbed finish. Hand-rubbed finish nonsense. It was an excuse to save labor. At the time, teak was worth about $1000 or $1300 per thousand board-feet. Today, it's around $4500 and the industry is trapped. Not only is there the expense but there's the supply problem as well.

"...firms reach the top, stay
there for two or three years,
then begin to decline"

I'm not proposing that we end the use of teak altogether, but that we use less and put a better finish on what we use. Meanwhile, we'll continue to consider alternative materials. People would be horrified, after all, if Mercedes-Benz introduced a car with an all-teak interior, but it's no less ridiculous.

JT: You described C&C as a company that has held on to its designers longer than it should have considering short-term profit. Is that due to your background as a designer?

CUTHBERTSON: I think I'm capable of putting that aside and being fully objective about it. I didn't mean to suggest earlier that we stop generating our own designs but I did mean to suggest that we could achieve short-term profit by not trying to be imaginative and innovative in our design. The drawings have to come from somewhere. If they don't come from inside we would have to buy them from Bob Perry or whoever. I'm talking about the way we've worked at advancing the product and exploring ideas. Of course once in a while we "come a cropper." On the balance though we tend to be right seven times for every three times we're wrong. Sometimes we get berated in the press for it and that hurts.

We could lapse into doing something thoroughly conventional. If there's a philosophical difference between George Hinterhoeller (builder of the Shark, Niagara 26, Niagara 35 and Nonsuch 30 and former partner in C&C) and myself, I'd have to say it's exactly that. George wants to go on building Sharks and Niagara 35s and it's just not in my makeup to do that kind of thing. It's retrogressive. But you can not only get away with it-you can prosper at it-for a while.

"Only when consolidation
occurs will boatbuilders get
the product within reach of
the average consumer"

JT: What are some of the other facets of construction that you have marked down for study?

CUTHBERTSON: Just reading at random from the list, refrigeration is inadequate on boats. Interior construction systems: ridiculous amounts of materials and labor are consumed on interiors. Fibreglass headliners: fibreglass is a high-strength, high-cost material and it's ridiculous to use that much of it for a cosmetic purpose. Windows: we've made changes in the last year but we're only at an intermediate stage. The average window that 90% of builders use is awful. You have a Lucite pane in an extruded-aluminum frame. The frame is bent around the pane and there's a butt joint which leaks. Then you set the frame in the house so you've got another potential leak. We're now down to one potential leak instead of three because we mount the Lucite pane directly into the house.

Ventilation: very badly done. The opening portlight is strictly nonsense. To think that by opening a little flap that has a screen in it you can move a significant amount of air is just kidding, as anyone who has tried to endure below decks on a hot summer day will tell you.

Lucel 7: this is a basic structural system which could be as revolutionary as the balsa core that I used first on Red Jacket in 1967. And I had all kinds of dire warnings about mice and toredos, rot and everything else, but the boat just keeps on going on and on. But back to Lucel-7. We build molds out of it regularly but we're just not ready to put it on the market and hang a warranty on it.

Water and plumbing: a prime source of trouble in all boats. We had a 36 sink in Chicago last summer. Went glub. The owner didn't shut off the seacock after used the boat, the venting system didn't work so the toilet siphoned and the boat went down at the mooring. You can placard the thing all you like; "Dear owner, please shut off the seacock when you leave the boat," but sinking shouldn't be possible even when he does forget.

Another are is propulsion" the internal-combustion engine is not a suitable auxiliary motor. It's an inefficient consumer of fuel particularly with the kind of use it gets a sailboat. Propellers are vulnerable, and again, they're inefficient so we're exploring that.

[The remainder of the interview focused on the Mega 30 and its lack of acceptance by the traditional yachting market. The following is an excerpt from that discussion.-Ed.]

CUTHBERTSON: The bastion of conservatism has not been prepared to accept Mega. And yet we've sold a bunch of them and they continue to sell. Mega was our best seller in January.

A third lesson which I found exceedingly interesting: the boat reads too sophisticated for many buyers It has a number of features which we feel make it easier and simpler to handle -roller-fulling headstays- "What's that, I don't understand that." Self-tacking jib. The man looks at it. The wife looks at it. The kids look at it. All they see is an obstruction on the foredeck. They see a line-up of halyard stoppers on the cabin-top. They don't like the looks of those. The tabernacle for the mast: "What's that for?" "Well that's so you and your wife can lower the mast." "The hell I will." The man distrusts it. And then, when you talk about pressing a button and hoisting a ton of iron into your living room, that does it.

What this says to me is that we tried to do too much but that's easy enough to correct.

The Boats

"Basically, we design and produce a product that is somewhat pointed at one end and rather blunt at the other. To stop it from falling over sideways, we hand a big blob of lead underneath."

-George Cuthbertson
-- Chairman of the Board
C&C Yachts Ltd

Owners feel that the boats can withstand severe punishment with little or no significant damage.

Barry Blaisdell of Marblehead, Mass. Reported being out in winds gusting to fifty knots this past Fourth of July. He sailed double reefed with a working jib in 7 - 8 foot seas on a 4 hour beat in his C&C 30." said Allen Stone of Skokie Illinois, "was its ability to withstand tough weather. Nothing breaks." Charles Rolling of Medina, Ohio said the same thing about his C&C 30.

The dilemma of the C&C 24 is that she is not a small daysailer and not a big cruiser. We consider her a very fine long weekender. The C&C 30 and C&C 36 have the capacity and capability for comfortable extended cruising free from claustrophobia and the asceticism thought to be the essence of sailing.

All three boats are raced. The C&C 24 is available in a competition model. Several owners we interviewed have campaigned their boats hard and with success. An SS staff member who test sailed the C&C 36 in Annapolis thought the boat would be a good choice for a club racer in the Chesapeake Bay.

A shoal draft C&C 30 and keel/centerboard C&C 36 are available where draft is a consideration.


There were no exceptions; all the owners interviewed for this report said that the quality of materials, workmanship and design were the criteria for purchasing their C&C boats. Price was generally not a major consideration. "When you look around it's the best built,"said one owner.

We like the fact that the C&C boats seem overbuilt without being overweight. We admire C&C's commitment to experimentation. It is a pragmatic quest for perfection. They pioneered the much copied hull/deck join utilizing the full length perforated toe-rail. (We looked carefully at several of those toe-rails and found that the perforations were radiused to prevent sliced toes.)

We consider the joiner work to be some of the finest in the marine trade.

Overall, it's as the legendary shoeshine man said in Grand Central Station; there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

C&C boats are not inexpensive boats by any means, but not only do you get what you see, you get a lot that you don't see. And you do get a yacht.


We like auxiliary engines to be in boxes with lots of insulation against fire, odor and noise. The engines of the C&C 30 and C&C 36 are not in boxes. They are not insulated. There is nothing to keep the contents of the seat lockers from falling onto the engines and this has happened. There is nothing separating the fuel tanks from the engines. If a fuel tank should rupture or break loose from its mounting, it might easily spill its contents onto the exhaust manifold. While this might present no problem with a diesel it most certainly would with a gasoline engine.

We urge C&C buyers and owners to give serous consideration to installing an automatic fire fighting system such as Halon 1301.

In the course of our investigations we received only one report of serious alleged structural failure. The owner of a 198 C&C 36 has his boat surveyed by a reputable marine surveyor from Stamford, Conn. The surveyor found 23 apparent voids the size of dinner plates in the balsa cored hull. According to the owner, C&C's position was, and is, that the surveyor is incorrect in his findings and that the hull is not delaminating. According to the owner, C&C has not sent anyone to examine the boat,(as of October 28, 1979) but did offer to extend the original ten year hull warranty to the next owner for five years. "If I take a core sample to determine if the hull is delaminating and find that it is, then, C&C will repair the hull. But if the hull is okay, then I have to pay for repairing the hole where the sample was taken, "said the owner. Because the matter remains unresolved the owner has been unable to sell his boat and in six months he has dropped the asking price from $60,000 to $45,000.

We are at a loss to fully explain this situation for several reasons:

1. C&C has used balsa core construction as long as anyone. Red Jacket, the very successful C&C racer, had a one-piece sandwich hull of balsa wood and fiberglass skin and that was over ten years ago. Fundamentally, we think it would be extremely difficult to find anyone in the boat building industry who know more about building with balsa than C&C Yachts.

2. The second reason making this matter difficult to comprehend relates to the inherent properties of balsa wood. Not only is it the world's lightest commercial wood and one of the most buoyant, (it will support more than 55 pounds dead weight per cubic foot) but end-grain balsa offers excellent resistance to impact. Not only does it absorb and distribute impact loads but it has a compressive strength of up to 2,500 psi. According to the Baltek Corporation, which manufactures "blankets" of end-grain balsa blocks attached to an open weave fiberglass scrim, their tests demonstrate that a cored section can withstand loads 9 to 10 times greater than an uncored laminate.

In addition, end-grain balsa has a high moisture resistance and will not transmit moisture across the grain. If the hull is punctured the moisture should be limited to the punctured area.

Clearly, the C&C 36 hull in question cannot have been punctured in 23 spots both above and below the waterline

We would also advise prospective buyers of the C&C 30 to give careful consideration to their choice of steering gear. Once the boat leaves the factory it is a considerable amount of work to install pedestal steering. This is due to the rudder stock being canted aft which makes aligning the radial drive a time consuming task. Also the fuel tank greatly reduces access to the area of installation.


"The C&C 36 and the Peterson 34 are the finest true production racing boats on the market and it's hard to call the Peterson a true production boat. "That is the summarizing statement of a former owner of a C&C 36 who now owns a Peterson 34 and who campaigned his C&C 36 to more victories than any other C&C 36 owner on the Atlantic seaboard. According to this owner, the C&C 36 does best in light to moderate air in smooth water and performs worst upwind in sloppy water. These findings are consistent with those of other C&C 36 owners. All reports are that the boat points exceptionally well and close hauled is very stiff with very good controllability (our word).

The C&C 36 receives a very fair PHRF rating of 123and an I.O.R. rating, considered excellent, of 26.7.

The only suggested modification owners made was for a slightly deeper keel to improve upwind performance.

The keel/centerboard model of the C&C 36 is not considered by owners to perform as well as the standard keel version and should not be considered if the boat is to be raced.

Running under spinnaker is not "squirrelly" if the driver is good and if the boat should broach, the recovery time is considered to b quick.

Under power with an Atomic 4, 30 hp gasoline auxiliary, peak speed in flat water was approximately 6 knots and the fuel consumption rate was a gallon an hour. The fuel tank capacity is 20 gallons.

C&C 30

We interviewed the owner and crew of a C&C 30 shoal draft model in use on the Great Lakes. They felt this boat was similar to a modern half-toner and that it was extremely fast off the wind and did well in heavy air (20-30K).

Going to weather in light air, it was not successful and "pinching was not the answer." In contrast to the above, the standard keel model C&C 30 is considered to point well in heavy or light air. Several Great Lakes racers said that this was where they almost always made up time. Sailing off the wind in light air was not considered to be the boat's strong point but in heavy air on a broad reach the performance was excellent and exciting.

Oscillating under a spinnaker was not considered any problem by most owners and this includes some generally inexperienced families. One family successfully handled their new spinnaker and spinnaker gear in 25 knots of wind with a 4-6 foot sea.

The C&C 30 is considered by many who have sailed her extensively, to be a very stiff boat even in heavy air. It takes a lot of wind and owners report that when really hard on the wind it usually requires 20 knots of wind before reefing is necessary. Even then, reefing is done primarily to take out helm.

Under power, using the Atomic 4, 30 hp gasoline engine, maneuverability is very good and owners acclaimed the boat's ability to snake through marinas with ease and using the standard 2 - blade prop be able to stop with precision. Owners of C&C 30s with the Martec folding prop had trouble stopping. It was also felt by several owners that use of the Martec folding prop on the C&C 30 provided very little racing advantage.

The consensus: The boat is extremely seaworthy, maneuverable, and comfortable when anchored.

C&C 24

"At 10.5 knots you get a rooster tail! In light air you get killed, "exclaimed one owner who races his boat often. "Two weekends ago," he continued, "we were running in a squall with 35-40 knots of wind with our chutes up, in very little sea, and the only boats that didn't roundup were me and an Evelyn 26. My boat was very manageable but I'm telling you we just sat there looking at each other's white knuckles."

Several owners voiced frustration at not being able to sheet in hard enough with the stock main sheet arrangements. Because the boom is not long enough it cannot be sheeted to the taff rail. It is therefore sheeted either to the cabin top or to somewhere in the cockpit.

The answer lies, we think, in the double mainsheet system. The boom can be brought farther to windward than with any stock system.

We asked Leonard Totten of C&C in Middletown, R.I. how he had set up the double mainsheet system for several C&C 24 owners.

"I attached padeyes to the aft corners of the coach roof-one on each side. The bale on the boom was moved forward and two fiddle blocks were attached to it. To the padeyes, two fiddle blocks with beckets and snapshackles were attached. Cam cleats were used for quick releasing. The system acts like a traveler and the half that's not in use can be used as a vang or preventer."

Under power the C&C 24 has the limitations normally experienced with outboard motors. In a brisk wind headway is difficult because the prop does not id deep enough in the water. But then, in a brisk wind who need the motor? In reverse, a 6 hp motor generally cavitates and stopping ability is impaired considerably.

At anchor, with the rudder secured, oscillation was thought to be minimal.

C&C Yachts Manufacturing Ltd.


(Canadian dollars)

Period Ending September 30, 1978

Total Sales.................................................$23,468,000.00

Net Profit.....................................................$ 167,000.00

Total Assets...............................................$17,527,000.00

Number of Shares (Toronto Exchange)................998,000

Number of Shareholders.............................................761

with two major stockholders..............................................

Current price per share (Oct. 24, 1979)....................$3.25