Bill Lee (yacht designer)
Bill Lee is the designer of many famous ocean racing yachts, and one of the founders of the Santa Cruz school of boatbuilding, known to many as the Wizard. Several of his designs achieved notoriety in the 1970s, with Chutzpah and Merlin having won the Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu many times. Merlin set and held the course record several times as well, shaving days off the prior fastest times.
Mr. Lee's designs are noted for having been narrower and much lighter, often half the weight of competitors at times. His designs helped define the class of boat known as a ULDB, or ultra light displacement boat, which tend to excel at surfing downwind with spinnakers in heavy breeze. These boats required fewer crew, made better use of scarce resources in their construction, and generally attracted highly skilled sailors with big-wave surfing backgrounds at breaks such as Steamer's Lane, Ghost Trees and Mavericks. Many folks had to get their hair cut before sailing on one of Lee's ULDBs since they went so fast their hair often got quite tussled.
Mr Lee is also known for his boatyard on Hilltop Rd, Soquel, CA, known as "the Coop", as it was a chicken coop before Lee and his associates converted it into a boatyard.
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