DesIgned by Norman Owens and built as the Owens 40 Cutter by the Owens Boatvard in Baltimore, USA in 1948, Rubicon was constructed with a technique and materials used for motor torpedo boats in WWII (see below). According to a contemporary advertisement, her list price was $11,500 and she was marketed as a fast cruiser/racer with a record of regatta wins in the American north east.
She was listed in Lloyds Register of American Yachts 1955 to owner (and was perhaps built for) Mr JM Sherwood of Gibson Island, Maryland. Owens Boatyard was later acquired by Hinckley ,which continued to build the design into the 1950s.
Rubicon was bought by a UK owner and shipped across to Southampton in 2006, with refit works in Cowes.
She was berthed in Lefkas, Greece when bought by her current owner in July 2019. Sailed back to Majorca, she underwent an extensive, 13-month refit at Santa Ponsa from October of that year to September 2020, completing afloat in Puerto Alcudia in November. She is currently berthed at Bonaire, Majorca.
Rather unusual for its time, the Owens cutters were constructed with conventional mahogany carvel strip planking externally and a diagonal quarter inch plywood interior plank. This was to reduce weight, increase strength and prevent the planking opening up:
- oak backbone and oak and bronze floor timbers
- double planked 7/8th mahogany fore and aft
- ¼ Inch diagonal inner layer plywood on laminated oak frames
- bronze strapping and fastening on the opposite diagonal
- laminated and solid oak structural keel
- 6,000 Ibs exterior lead ballast
- epoxied and Awlgrip plywood deck with bright mahogany deck trim
- mahogany deckhouse and toe rail
- Awlgrip trunk cabin
- mahogany and teak cockpit with ash tiller
The objective of the refit was to investigate, repair and modernise, the latter especially in the interior and systems, while retaining Rubicon’s classic nature.
The work was carried out ashore at Santa Ponsa, using both the SNI (Servicios Nauticos Integrados) yard and a variety of local craftsmen. The whole project, part of which took place during Covid lockdowns, was expertly managed by Majorca-based surveyor Tim Rowe.
The only change on deck was to remove the pushpit, and to lower the pulpit and rail so as to emphasise her form. When built there were none of these. The previous owner had re-
installed a wooden mast and made sail-handling easier for a two-person crew by fitting boom roller-reefing, together with a single electric halyard winch. A flush forehatch and traditional coachroof openings had replaced the original perspex hatches.
The external hull was essentially sound, and works were mostly to replace old fastenings, secure the bow fitting and replace the horn timber.
At some point in her history the hull planks above her keel had been changed, necessitating removal of the inner plywood layer which was not then replaced, so weakening the hull and, especially, the hull/keel joint. New oak frames were fitted in this area, and bronze strapping re-secured where it had sprung throughout the inner hull.
Slats across the frames throughout the accommodation were removed, allowing 70-years of dirt/mould to be cleaned away. The varnished slats were replaced with white, several of the cupboard doors removed, and the galley/heads worktops replaced with corrian, all to give a light and airy feel to the accommodation.
The fuel tank, two water tanks and calorifier were replaced with new. The original gymballed alcohol stove was replaced with an induction hob, and all the electrics and plumbing stripped out and replaced. A tidy switch panel replaced a multitude of older switches and instruments, while a new recess for drinks and another for a Nespresso machine and phone charging, plus new internal LED lighting, mattress and saloon cushions, provided the ‘modern’ which complements the ‘original’ layout, joinery, brass fittings and (now decorative-only) cabin heater.
New canvas work for the sprayhood, hatches and liferaft cover and, of course, a complete re-paint/re-varnish externally and internally, complete the look.
Owner/skipper Simon Timm has previously owned a Halberg Rassy 39, in which he competed in the AZAB (Azores and Back) two-handed race in 2003 winning 3rd in class. Prior to buying Rubicon, he owned an Oyster 53, in which he crossed the Atlantic three times (twice westward with the ARC and once eastward), winning the Oyster Cup for fastest crossing by an Oyster in ARC 2005.
He competed in Antigua Week 2006 and in subsequent Oyster regattas in the Caribbean and UK, as well as three in Palma, Majorca in the years up to 2018.
He has crewed on the Southern Ocean leg of the 2015 Clipper Round the World race, and on a passage from Galapagos to Tahiti aboard an Oyster 56 participating in the Oyster World Rally 2022-23.
He competed in the 2022 Vela Clásica Mallorca as his first classic regatta, and will do so again in 2023, along with Cormoran Regatta in Puerto Pollenca and the Copa del Rey in Mahon. He sails with with a crew of family and friends.