Snark sailboat

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Snark sailboat
Current specifications
Crew 2
LOA 11 ft (3.4 m)
Beam 3 ft 2 in (0.97 m)
Draft 12 in (0.30 m)
Hull weight 50 lb (23 kg)
Mainsail area 45 sq ft (4.2 m2)

The Snark is a lightweight, two-person, lateen-rigged sailboat manufactured and marketed by Meyers Boat Company of Adrian, Michigan. The Snark was initially marketed by Snark Products, Inc. of Fort Lee, NJ and has been marketed with numerous slight variations, prominently as the Sunflower, Sea Snark and Super Snark.

The sailboat was marketed heavily in numerous co-branding campaigns. The New York Times reported that the Snark outsold all other sailboats in 1970[1] – and that over 48,000 Snarks were sold in an 18-month period in 1971 via a mail order campaign with Kool Cigarettes.[2] By 1973, over 200,000 Snarks had been sold[3] and the New York Times reported that by 1976 that Snark had manufactured more sailboats than any other manufacturer.[4] The manufacturer currently estimates that nearly a half million[5] Snarks have been manufactured since 1958.[6]

Noted for its 11' expanded polystyrene hull and marketed as "unsinkable," a 1971 Popular Science reviewer doubted there was a sailboat "more foolproof."[7] Originally, the purchase of a Snark included a 16 page booklet on 'how to sail,'[8] and a 1975 Popular Science article described the Snark as the least expensive and lightest sailboat on the market.[9]


Early Snarks featured an unclad one-piece injection-molded EPS hull and weighed a total of approximately 30 lbs. Later versions featured a vacuum formed layer of ABS (later ASA)[7] bonded over the EPS hull for a total weight of 50 lbs. Snark Products had patented the cladding process (which they marketed as "stronger than fiberglass")[10] to eliminate the possibility of voids within the injection molded hull. Under Snark Products Inc., the technology was marketed as Corelite[7] and is now trademarked as Armorclad.

Snarks (currently Super Snarks) have a monohull length of eleven feet; beam of thirty-eight inches; draft of .17 foot; and weight capacity of 310 lb. Features include a lateen-rigged nylon sail of 45 square feet; aluminum mast, spar, and boom; wood rudder and an integral center sleeve molded into the hull to support a removable wood dagger board. With an overall depth of 12 inches, the sailboat can be stored upright in a depth of 12 inches, and the boat is described as "car-toppable."[11] The boats arrive as a knock down kit in a cardboard box and can be assembled in an hour.[7]

The Sunflower model features yellow ABS cladding as well as a covered foredeck (or "splash deck"). As of 2014, Sunflower had been revised with its hull two inches wider, sides two inches higher, and 23% more sail area (mast 2 feet taller but same boom length) than the currently marketed Super Snark. Sunflowers were North American Yacht Racing Union (NAYRU) class certified[7] and a Sunflower was displayed along with other American recreational equipment in a 1974 U.S. Information Agency exhibit touring Russia.[12]


1973 Advertisement featuring the Snark sailboat, as a giveaway and co-branding promotion with Budweiser

Snark Products Inc. was co-founded by Jim McMullen in Fort Lee, NJ.[13] For the sailboats primary construction, Snark outsourced the EPS injection molding to a company in Connecticut; later expanding to its first production facility in Port Clinton, Ohio on lake Erie[13] in order to bring the work in-house. McMullen would later conceive successful marketing tie-ins for the sailboat, including the award winning Kool cigarettes campaign.[13]

Snark Products marketed the boats to Montgomery Ward and Sears (as the Whirlwind,)[14] the latter becoming the company's largest client,[13] as well as to hundreds of dealers across North America and internationally to licensed dealers in Japan, Germany, UK, and Canada.[13] Snark Products Inc. provided licensees with manufacturing molds and marketing materials.[13]

In 1972, McMullen sold Snark Products to Doyle Dane Bernbach (now DDB Worldwide),[13] the world's third largest advertising agency, keeping a two-year management tenure.[13] DDB subsequently sold the company to San Francisco-based Kransco. Boat manufacture moved between several locations, including Virginia Beach.[3] In 1984, Lockley purchased Snark from Kransco, merging the two companies, to be subsequently purchased by Entwistle of Hudson, MA. Entwistle manufactured the boats in New Castle, Pennsylvania. In 1996, Snark was purchased by Meyers Boat Company and production moved to Adrian, Michigan.[13]


Advertisement for the $88 Kool cigarettes Snark sailboat offer
1968 Advertisement featuring the Snark sailboat, as a giveaway (San Francisco Chronicle, June 6, 1968, comic section)

The 'unclad' Sea Snark retailed for $119, the Sunflower with its yellow ABS cladding was marketed at Sears in the late sixties and early seventies for $199.[10] A 1971 ad in Boating magazine called the Sunflower "the Volkswagen of Sailboats."[10]

In 1971, Kool cigarettes initiated an advertising campaign where consumers could mail order a Snark with the Kool logo on the sail – for $88 (later $99) along with one KOOL carton flap – which included delivery. These were early (non-ABS) versions and retailed at the time for $120. As one of KOOL's highest scoring ads, the company received over 18,000 orders for "Sea Snarks" in 1971 and the campaign was repeated in 1972.[15] The Snark/Kool campaign won a national POPI award (given by the Point of Purchase Institute) as the most creative and inventive ad of 1971.[13] The KOOL Snark promotion was repeated in 1972, adding the option of credit card payment, and again in 1975 for $139.

The Snark was used as a promotional tie-in with numerous companies including Coca-cola, Vicks and Budweiser.[13] In 1968, the San Francisco Chronicle ran ads for Mail-a-way, offering Snark sailboats as a giveway in a promotion of their Kodak film processing service.


  1. ^ "Advertising: D.D.B. Becomes Own Client". The New York Times, Philip H. Dougherty, November 11, 1971, p. 69. year ago the agency acquired Snark Products Inc., Fort Lee N.J. And Joseph R. Daly, president of the agency, will be happy to tell you (as he told us yesterday) that the low-priced Snarks outsold other boats last year. The company more than tripled its sales to $3.33 million, and expects to make more money this year than it did during its 10-year history. Those figures all have to do with the sale of its Sunflower ($199), Sea Snark ($119) and the Triumph ($349) all sailboats, but doesn't include sales by Sears of the private-label Jetwind. 
  2. ^ "Advertising: D.D.B. Becomes Own Client". The New York Times, Philip H. Dougherty, May 2, 1978, p. 49. Incentives can run from the products of Al's Goldfish Lures... to Snark Product's sailboat, which once went for $88 for Brown and Williamson's Kool cigaretttes. 48,000 were sold over a period of 18 months. 
  3. ^ a b "Ohio Firm Chooses Beach". Virginia State Chamber of Commerce, 1973, Volume 40, p.36. Snark Products Inc., a builder of small sailboats, is moving its U. S. manufacturing operations from Port Clinton, Ohio, to Virginia Beach. The North Bergen, N.J.-based firm is a subsidiary of Doyle, Dane, Bernbach Inc., a New York advertising agency. More than 200,000 boats of its first model, called the Sea Snark, have been sold to date, Mr. Bruce said. 
  4. ^ "There is a Small Sailboat for Everyone". The New York Times, January 11, 1976, p. 15, author R.G.B. The Snark people (makers of the Sunflower, Mayflower, Wildflower and all the little Snarks) have undoubtedly made more sailboats than anyone else.  line feed character in |quote= at position 114 (help)
  5. ^ "Snark". Meyers Boat Company. 
  6. ^ "Sea Snark (Super Snark)". 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Sunflower". Popular Science, November 1971, p. 131. 
  8. ^ "Snark Products". Motorboating, January 1969. 
  9. ^ "Set Sail for under $1000, Swimsuit Sailboats". Popular Science, June 1975, p. 66. 
  10. ^ a b c "The Volkswagen of Sailboats". Boating (magazine), Jan-May 1971. 
  11. ^ "The 57th Annual New York Boat Show". European Stars and Stripes, January 31, 1967, Page 12. If the prices lack appeal, take heart. There are still companies willing to set you afloat for less than $100. A fine example of budget boating is the lightweight, unsinkable Sea Snark for those who like to sail close to the water, and who don't mind winding up in it occasionally. Some 35,000 of the cat-rigged little craft were marketed to date, according to Jim McMullen of Snark Products, Fort Let, N.J. The display models of the sprightly 11-footer were getting plenty of attention from the family trade and people who like to take a car-topper on shore trips and vacations. The hull weighs only 30 pounds and stores in 12 inches of clearance against a wall in shed or garage. It is a one-piece affair made of the same kind of expanded plastic used in life preservers, but compressed more firmly.The Snark come with an aluminum mast, spar and boom, plus 45 square feet of sail, for only $99.75, and McMullen insists the plastic hull is so rugged "you couldn't crack it if you tried." 
  12. ^ "Outdoor America... Inside Russia". Popular Mechanics, 1974, p. 99. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of Snark Sailboats". 
  14. ^ "Sears and Roebuck, Whirlwind 11". 
  15. ^ "Kool Brand History". Also in 1971, KOOL initiated a self-liquidator campaign whereby consumers were given the opportunity to purchase an 11-foot sailboat with carried KOOL 1ogo and usually sold for $120. Consumers could purchase a "Sea Snark" for $88 and one KOOL canon and flap. The purpose of the offer was to increase the effectiveness of the ad; it was one of KOOL's highest scoring ads and was used again in 1972. KOOL received over 18,000 orders for "Sea Sharks" in 1971. A POP test was conducted in 1971 comparing the "Sea Snark" floor display with a non-liquidator KOOL display. Stores using the ordinary display failed to increase sales enough to justify the $6.00 store payment. KOOL sales re "Sea Snark" display rose enough to more than cover the display payment and cost. KOOL's Sea Snark promotion was repeated in 1972, adding option payment through charge cards. 1975: The Sea Snark offer was repeated in a self-liquidator campaign for $139. 

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