A fleet of catboats from the Quincy Yacht Club in Massachusetts beats to windward in this big, bold, 23x40 oil painting by Richard Loud. But there’s more to “Catboats Racing off Cape Cod” than just an exciting scene. The work speaks to the artist’s boating heritage, from which his inspiration is derived.
Richard Loud is so familiar with catboat racing history that he can almost reach out and touch this scene from the 1920s. “I was a member of the Quincy Yacht Club back in the 1960s,” the artist says. “I remember the old images on the wall of the racing cats.” He also remembers the sights and sounds of his father’s Quincy boatyard, where the youngster learned boat design and construction from the ground up.
Back in the 1920s, Quincy—located on a bay south of Boston—was the epicenter of regional catboat racing, where local builders such as C.C. Manley were turning out updated versions of the traditional fishing catboats for fervid competitors. Some of these racing machines came as big as 28 feet. The bow sprits and headsails shown in Loud’s painting were distinctive attributes of the local “D” Class cats.
In this work, a racing scene comes alive under Loud’s watchful eye, with a combination of detail and impression. Loud spent time as a deckhand on a 114-foot motor yacht and did work as a draftsman as a young adult; those experiences lend this piece accuracy and a true sense of the sea, and helped earn the artist a reputation for giving viewers a sense of both time and place.
Maritime artist John Stobart put it this way: “His love of the turn-of-the-century yachting scene and dedication to the excellence of the craft sets him high above others in the field. But the real guts of Richard Loud’s work lies in an intuitive understanding of how ships relate to their element, how the wind hums in their rigging and the water dances around their hulls.”
This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue.