With her long overhangs and graceful CCA lines, this Pearson Yachts, 41-foot Phillip Rhodes’ design is sure to be one of loveliest yachts in any harbor. She is an evolution of the famous Bounty II, the first production fiberglass yacht longer than 40-feet. Her interior features a master stateroom forward, master head to port, and large living area. This review covers her features especially in comparison to those of her forerunner the Bounty II.
The story starts in 1939 when Phillip Rhodes designed a 38′ 9″ wooden sailboat for Fred Coleman of Coleman Boat and Plastics Company named the Bounty. Built on the US Atlantic coast, the Bounty sold well for a low price and gained fame winning races until World War II came around. After WWII in 1956, Fred Coleman decided to make another foray into production boat building. Due to the increasing costs of skilled carpenters and scarcity of wood, Coleman decided to built in fiberglass. He teamed up with legendary Vince Lazzara to form AeroMarine in Sausalito, California. Their first offering would be the Bounty II. Though the name suggests a close tie to Phillip Rhodes’ Bounty, she is a reproduction of another Phillip Rhodes sloop, the Altair, designed in 1955. The Bounty II has a foot shorter waterline length of 28′, an updated rig, and a roomier interior due to the reduced sized scantlings needed for fiberglass construction. William Garden consulted on the tooling and layup scheduling. She debuted at the 1957 New York Boat Show for $18,500. They built over 100 hulls of the Bounty II in the succeeding years.
In 1960, Grumman Manufacturing, the parent company of Pearson Yachts, contracted Coleman and Lazzara to built the Pearson Triton 28 on the West Coast and then purchased AeroMarine itself. In 1962, they liquidated the company, eliminating every model except the Bounty II. They shipped her tooling to their homebase in Portsmouth, Rhode Island where, in 1963, Grumman introduced a slightly modified version renamed the Pearson Rhodes 41, the subject of this review. It is generally believed that Pearson used the same mold with minor modifications. Phillip Rhodes decided the changes were so minor that the Rhodes 41 did not merit a new design number in his accounting. The Rhodes 41 has the Bounty II’s design number. Pearson launched fifty hulls from 1963 until production ended in 1968, and the IOR days of yacht design took hold.
The Rhodes 41 is optimized to the 1962 Cruising Club of America (CCA) rule changes with her long overhangs, double spreader masthead rig, and narrow beam. She features the same full keel and connected rudder underbody arrangement as the Bounty II with higher freeboard. The increase in freeboard is minimal and line drawings seem to bear out a higher bow if anything. Her sloop rig connects to the masthead instead of the Bounty II’s seven-eights fractional rig and is set slightly further aft to increase her J-dimension. Again the change in the mast location is minimal and difficult to verify outside of Pearson advertising. There were optional yawl rigged versions.
Pearson replaced the single, large cabin trunk window on each side of the Bounty II’s doghouse with two smaller windows to increase the integrity of the cabin house on the Rhodes 41’s. The cockpit was made less subject to flooding with improved drainage through her scuppers. The interior has the same basic layout with a single stateroom forward, master head portside aft, and large living area with galley and dinette. Pearson traded dressers in the forward stateroom for extra lockers and a bureau in the main cabin. Instead of upper-lower berths, the Rhodes 41 has pilot berths and slide out settees.
The Rhodes 41 like the Bounty II is essentially a wood design built in fiberglass. She is overbuilt as no one fully understood at that time the strength of fiberglass compared to wood. While the detailed layup instructions of William Garden are available for the Bounty II, little is known about Pearson’s techniques. Yachtsmen marveled at the accommodations which, though narrow by today’s standards, are spacious compared to comparable vintage wood yachts with their elaborate framing structures. Rhodes boasted that with her 28′ waterline she had the accommodations of a 30′ waterline yacht. The finish work down below is a surprisingly modern mix of white Formica and Gelcoat with the traditional Herreshoff style mix of teak trim and joinery. The tanks are integral fiberglass. They switched to lead ballast from iron to accommodate the taller rig. The engine was moved from out of the bilge to behind the companionway for better access and dryness.
The Pearson Rhodes 41 has classic CCA lines with long bow and stern overhangs for a lovely look. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) rules penalized waterline length but only when upright. Naval architects added long overhangs which increased waterline length – and therefore hull speed – when the yacht heeled. They made the yachts tender so that they quickly immersed more waterline length. The Rhodes 41 quickly heels 25% and locks in for high speeds on reaching courses. A Rhodes 41 named Restless won the 2000 Bermuda Race.
» Henderson, Richard, “Phillip Rhodes and His Yacht Designs”, pp. 251-261
» Spurr, Daniel, “Heart of Glass: Fiberglass Boats and the Men Who Made Them”, pp. 99 – 103
» Stavis, Ben, Bounty II-Rhodes 41