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A typical example of the booming young builders is the Bell Boy division of Bellingham Shipyards. Three years ago Bellingham wasn't even in the fiber glass boat business. Last winter at the Seattle Boat Show their Bell Boy boats set a sales record of $250,000 off the floor, the company's entire productive capacity until May for all nine of their models. The other leading concerns like Glasspar (tops in the nation with over 3,000 hulls per year), Wizard (2,000), Lone Star, Winner and Crosby Aero-Marine are experiencing the same exciting growth.
So far, structural problems and a tendency of polyester to fatigue at points of stress have limited mass production to craft of about 24 feet and under. But bigger vessels like the 42-foot ketch Arpege or the Platzer Boat Co.'s 65-foot twin diesel cruiser are being built, and some grandiose plans are in the works. An official from the Navy's Bureau of Ships has said that the department is ready to spend up to $14 million on plastic boats in an effort to cut the $15 million lost each year on rot and corrosion in wood and steel boats. And last month in Los Angeles, Zenith Plastics Co. launched the first of a fleet of 25 36-foot plastic landing craft for the Navy. The Coast Guard is currently testing three plastic versions of its 40-foot patrol boat.
In the civilian market, with a good slice of the motor-boat field already in hand, the plastics people are moving into sailboats. Classes like the Rebel, built exclusively of fiber glass plastic, have reached the seven hundreds after only three years of production; and many older classes—Comets, Snipes, Moths, Ravens—have authorized its use in standard or experimental models. This spring even the dignified old Atlantic Class, long closed to anything but its existing 100 wooden boats built 27 years ago in Germany, threw itself open to fiber glass.
With advancing research and the gradual elimination of substandard builders, the future of the fiber glass boat appears unlimited. It would be ridiculous to say that some day all small craft will be made from fiber glass, but it is perfectly accurate to say, as Winner's President I.M. Scott did not long ago: "Here's a material that's perfect for boats. As a matter of fact, I'd say that fiber glass is better for boats than it is for anything else; and it's better for boats than any other material."
OUTBOARDS OF THE FUTURE
In the middle of the nation's biggest, busiest outboard season, with manufacturers racing to meet public demand for more and faster engines, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED asked Brooks Stevens, noted designer and architect of the-popular Evinrude Lark and Johnson Javelin, to take an authoritative look into the outboarding future. Stevens' designs of tomorrow, shown for the first time on these pages, reveal some startling possibilities, a few of them perhaps 40 or 50 years from realization,, many less than 10 years away. Turn the page for more future outboards.
Production of the Brooks Stevens ideas and those on the opposite page done by Designer Charles Clarke for Scott-Atwater will be delayed until manufacturing costs of heat-resistant high-alloy steel can be brought down. Other complex problems, such as scaling down the hefty gas turbines of today, must be solved, and the consumer market has to be prepared for the radical change from present designs. Within these limits, however, even the 100-mph racing jet below and the sun-powered unit opposite may appear on the outboard boats of tomorrow.