Concordia Yawl

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With proper dignity the editors of Nautical Quarterly, in the Summer 1983 issue, called the Concordia yawl “as much a classic as any sailing yacht in the world for its beauty, its superb construction” and its racing success. One owner described the boat more succinctly: “She is breathtaking and sails like an angel’s wing.”

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The story of this iconic sailboat, with her distinctive star-and-moon cove stripe, starts with a storm. The Great Hurricane of 1938 roared across Buzzard’s Bay and up into Padanaram, Mass., with little warning, hurling boats moored at the Concordia Co. onto the beach and bridge.

Among the lost fleet was a Colin Archer pilot boat named Escape. Built in 1890, it belonged to Llewellyn Howland, whose son, Waldo, ran the Concordia yard with Marblehead, Mass., racer and designer C. Raymond Hunt.

With a dedicated yachtsman’s tenacity the elder Howland immediately began thinking about a replacement boat. It would be a yawl, for versatility, and bred for a Buzzard’s Bay chop, where whitecaps seemed to breed in the afternoon breeze. It would be simple and graceful in design, efficient on all points of sail and comfortable down below. It would turn out to be a classic, the first of what would become known simply as Concordias.

Hunt and Waldo Howland got to work on the company’s design No. 14, a graceful 39-foot yawl named Java with a lean, shapely hull marked by a long cove stripe with a star at the bow and a crescent moon at the stern. The interior, with its knotty pine cabinetry and corduroy cushions, recalled a New England home.

“We never had any plan to build more than one,” Howland would later say. “It was not designed with an eye to production.”

But others saw how Java sailed, appreciated her homey comforts and admired her looks. During the next 28 years 102 more “Design 14s” would follow, bought, sailed and loved by dedicated, if not fanatical, owners. Concordias have won the Newport Bermuda, Halifax-to-Marblehead and Annapolis-Newport ocean races, as well as cruising countless nautical miles. Through it all they’ve been lovingly preserved, with 102 of the 103 boats still extant.

January 2013 issue