Robert B. Harris


Best known as a designer for Sparkman & Stephens, a partner in the firm of Maclear & Harris, designer of the Vancouver series of cruising boats, and a pioneer in the world of multihulls. In 1942, after being appointed a cadet at the US Merchant Marine Accademy Harris saw wartime service in the Merchant Marine. After the war, with a mate’s certificate, he sailed aboard the Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Society’s big ketch Atlantis. He then moved into a four year apprenticeship Crosby Yacht Building Yard in Oyster Bay, NY. In 1948 he designed and built his first catamaran the (Naramatac). In 1950 he joined Sparkman & Stephens where he stayed until 1957. Also at this time, he was designing and building early catamaran’s, notably the cold-molded Tiger Cat, which won Yachting Magazine’s ‘One Of A Kind’ regatta in 1959. Harris worked for Grumman Aircraft, then Robert Derecktor for a short time, before entering into the well known partnership with Frank Maclear. Maclear & Harris specialized in multihull design as well as other projects. When the partnership ended in 1967, Harris rejoined Sparkman & Stephens for several years before going back into multihulls in the early 70’s. In 1972 he moved to Vancouver BC and set up a small office at first with with Bill Heacock, a graduate of the California Maritime Institute. At this time he drew the VANCOUVER 27, the smallest and first in a series of boats of that name. Besides his work with multihulls, and commercial naval architecture, Harris is known as the designer of many production monohulls, mostly for Taiwanese Yacht Builders, including a number of the Tayana models. His two books on multihulls, Modern Sailing Catamarans, 1960, and Racing and Cruising Trimarans, 1970, were recognized as pioneering work in the field. The best information about his career, as well as other subjects, is contained in his autobiography, ‘Tracks on the Water’.


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