Watermark, a Hinckley Bermuda 50 in Buzzards Bay. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HINCKLEY COMPANY

Hinckley Bermuda 50 turns heads at Block Island Week regatta

TRENTON — Years of planning, design and craftsmanship came to fruition when The Hinckley Co. launched Watermark at its Manset boatyard and sent the black-hulled sloop on its way to sail at the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week regatta in late June.

Block Island isn’t just any old regatta – this year marked the 50th anniversary of the prominent ocean sailing event. And Watermark isn’t just another big, fancy entrant in a fleet that numbered more than 150.

Watermark has the distinction of being the first Hinckley Bermuda 50 to hit the water. The design is the first new sailboat design introduced by the Trenton boatbuilder in more than a decade.

The new boat traces its heritage to 1958, when Henry R. Hinckley asked naval architect William H. Tripp Jr. to design a 40-foot sailboat to be built of the largely untested medium of fiberglass and sailed offshore in comfort and safety. The result of that collaboration was the Bermuda 40, a keel-centerboard yawl first launched in 1959 that lured sailors to part with significant amounts of money for the next 32 years.

Fast forward to the early years of this decade. When a knowledgeable sailor went to Tripp Design Naval Architecture to discuss plans for a fast, elegant racer-cruiser, principal designer William H. Tripp III came up with a modern 50-foot sloop with a plumb stem, a lifting bulb keel and a triple-spreader sloop rig. Like the Bermuda 40 in its day, Hinckley Sales Vice President Phil Bennett said, the Bermuda 50 is “kind of racy looking,” but in a contemporary way.

In 2013, the company announced that it would re-enter the luxury sailboat market after having switched almost all of its production to waterjet-powered picnic boats and cruisers. The B-50 would lead the way to a new age of sail. It didn’t take long for two customers to seize the opportunity to have Hinckley build them really new, really luxurious sailboats.

Although Watermark was the first B-50 out the door of the shop, it is Hull No. 2 in the production series. Boat No. 1, which was built primarily as a cruiser, is still in the Trenton shop undergoing some last-minute tweaking before delivery, Eric Roos, Hinckley sales director, said.

Watermark opened its racing career on Monday, June 22, little more than a week after first going in the water at Manset. Over five days, the new boat sailed 11 races and finished seventh among the eight boats in one of the most competitive classes at the regatta. The boat had two third-place finishes – one in the very first race – and was first over the line on most of the starts, Roos said.

The Hinckley crew “would much rather have had two more weeks,” to tweak Watermark and for the racing crew to learn more about how the boat sails in different wind and sea conditions.

New crew notwithstanding, with the wind gusting near 30 knots on the second day of racing, Watermark was clocked reaching at 14.5 knots and topped 22 knots downwind with the spinnaker flying. “The owner’s thrilled,” Roos said. “The real push for him was to make the boat go fast.” And he did.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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