In 1956 George D. O’Day’s
day job was selling insurance in Boston.
At night he was importing sailboats
designed by Uffa Fox, the famous British
designer who had earned a worldwide
reputation for innovative dinghy designs
including those for the developmental
International 14 class. O’Day,
who was an enthusiastic International
14 sailor, had met Fox a year or so
earlier and the two had started a friendship
and a collaboration that would last
for many years.
long after the two had met O’Day
told Fox about his concept for a 17-foot
fiberglass boat that would appeal to
the emerging family market in America.
O’Day envisioned a centerboarder
that would have a beam of about 6 feet,
flotation fore and aft, a small cuddy
cabin, and an aluminum mast and boom.
The two traded ideas and plans back
and forth across the Atlantic and then,
early in 1958, the two finally agreed
on the lines and the general layout
for the boat that O’Day would
call the Day Sailer.
boats were built in a small facility
in Fall River, Massachusetts, and
O’Day marketed them from his
office in Boston. Even though Fox
never did accept O’Day’s
cuddy, O’Day was equally adamant
that it was a crucial part of whatever
success the boat would have. “That
enclosure was the perfect answer for
cold kids and new sailors,”
O’Day would say later.
there were other features, many of
them revolutionary at the time, that
helped make the boat an immediate
success. It had an outboard bracket,
a spinnaker and reasonably comfortable
sleeping arrangements for two. O’Day
also placed the boom almost three
feet above deck, which made it possible
to put a canvas tent over the boom
and create even more living space.
Day Sailer was built for more than
20 years by the O’Day Corporation,
and is currently being produced by
Cape Cod Shipbuilding Co. And even
though there were minor modifications
along the way and a name change from
Day Sailer 1 to Day Sailer 2, the
planning hull that Fox had created
and the cuddy cabin and special features
that O’Day had insisted upon
remained essentially unchanged.
than 13,000 Day Sailers have been
built since hull number one rolled
out of the Fall River plant almost
45 years ago, and today there are
more than 60 active Day Sailer fleets
in North America. Each year, the class
hosts more than 30 regional and national
regattas that emphasize family participation
for the boat’s two-person racing
crews. The Day Sailer has more than
delivered on the promises put forth
by its creators so many years ago.
It is a boat that is spirited but
also forgiving enough so that it can
be sailed easily by beginners of almost
any age. And it has been a favorite
for generations of families who want
to experience the pleasure that comes
when a design is matched perfectly
to the wind that brings it to life.
- Charles Mason