The Remarkable History of the Legendary Red Jacket, a Canadian Sailing Icon

Brion Jorgensen Red Jacket Launch 1966

Apr 8, 2021

At the Red Jacket Launch, 1966-67 (l to r) George Cassian, George Cuthbertson, original owner Perry Connolly’s daughter, Sheila, who launched the boat; Eric Bruckmann Photo CREDIT – Brion Jorgenson.

Last night, April 7, Rob Mazza presented the remarkable history of the legendary Red Jacket, a Canadian Sailing Icon. Naturally, this was a virtual event with an admission of $5 benefitting the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston.

The Canadian yacht Red Jacket, designed in 1965 by the Canadian Design firm of Cuthbertson & Cassian (later C&C) of Port Credit originally for sailor Perry Connolly, represented a quantum leap in both design and construction. Her short overhangs, stripped out interior, separate keel and spade rudder, large sail plan, and attention to detail would become the hallmarks of all future Ocean Racers. However, it was her obsession with light weight combined with high strength construction elements, embodied in her use of a fully balsa cored hull (the first vessel in North America to do so), that pioneered the way, not only for racing yachts, but the whole composite industry that followed. She was the first Canadian and non-American boat to win overall title at the Southern Ocean Racing Conference.

Red Jacket 2Red Jacket had a huge impact on the Canadian racing and sailing scene and industry and literally changed quite a few lives. One of those was Mazza who at the time of her fame was in 2nd year in Engineering at Queens. “When I read about Red Jacket’s 1968 SORC victory in The Globe and Mail, I wrote George Cuthbertson a letter (yes, by hand) and he arranged that I should work in the Custom Shop that summer. Next summer I worked in the design office. The rest, as they say, is history.” Mazza stayed with C&C through its history designing and collaborating on its well-respected line of popular yachts and custom racers.

A virtual full house joined Rob Mazza as he explored the Museum’s most recent acquisition, bequeathed by Red Jacket‘s last owner, Peter Milligan. The Museum expects to receive the vessel in spring-summer 2021.
Red Jacket GHC 115

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