Preview: Fine Boat Designs – LEGEND, A Straightforward Fast Cruising Sloop of 1951

Fin keels and separated rudders, short ends and flush decks are what many “normal”  50-foot racers have now, but 65 years ago when Costa Mesa, CA, boat builder Carl Chapman launched LEGEND for Charles Ullman, she created quite a stir. Not a jaw-dropping beauty, she was strong, fast, simple, and relatively inexpensive. This was in the pre-epoxy, pre-cold-molded days, so the hull was strip-planked and just painted, without sheathing. She won race after race, living up to her name, and in this article, several years afterwards, designer Wendell Caulkins gave The Rudder the rundown.

Unlike today’s race winners which generally are over the top in cost and complexity, economy played a big part in this boat’s creation. The concept makes sense: a narrow hull, a small rig, a flush deck with headroom under it, and the sea kindliness of a double-ended hull. A person could do a lot worse!

Wendell Caulkins favored double-enders, fin keels aft rudders, and strip planking. His Caulkins 50 grew out of LEGEND, as did a number of his other designs. The sporty-looking SPARKLE that had proven so fast over the four years preceding LEGEND may have inspired the Caulkins double-enders, but that’s only a guess.

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