ABOUT THE CATALINA 37s
In 1990 Catalina Yachts’ president, Frank Butler came to the Long Beach Yacht Club with a vision and a proposal – design and build a fleet of eleven purpose-built boats and maintain them as a fleet owned by a foundation, not by individuals. This vision, for the sixth type of boat used for Congressional Cup racing since 1965, was executed by VP and Chief Engineer Gerry Douglas, and was unlike anything the match racing world had ever seen: eleven identical boats; powerful masthead jibs and spinnakers; durable with glass construction making them strong and easy to repair; uniformly tuned to make them easy to sail; oversized keels and rudders to maximize control and allow the helmsman to put the boat anywhere he or she wanted; and a flush deck for easy crew work and no interior. Frank Butler’s vision has translated into the most successful match racing boat in the world.
The Catalina 37 fleet, now lovingly maintained by the Long Beach Sailing Foundation, remains after more than two decades, the most level racing platform in the world. New sails are provided on a regular basis and are used the same amount of time; new Samson running rigging is replaced on a regular basis; new bottoms are done by Marina Shipyard, and all this is done under the supervision of master rigger, Todd Wheatley of Bahia Marine. All boats weigh the same and float on the same lines, have keels and rudders that are monitored for damage and maintained and the boats are rotated through a sailing calendar during the year to ensure equal use.
The original design concept of building a durable boat has often been tested by sailors as they vie for the Congressional Cup’s Crimson Blazer. There have been lots of dings and dents and some crashes and smashes, but nothing that could not be fixed overnight. The eleventh boat is always on the race course ready to be put in the rotation, should it be necessary. The Catalina 37’s fleet of proven and evenly matched warhorses has never failed to answer the starting gun.
World-class sailors recognize that in Long Beach, they can find a level playing field and are not hindered by drawing “the slow boat.” There is no slow Catalina 37. Often the “slow boat” of one year goes on to win the following year. So, “it ain’t the boat; it is the skipper and crew.” The Catalina 37s have been chartered by top America’s Cup teams as training platforms and many AC teams have followed the Congressional Cup model and constructed a set of even boats for training. So the vision offered by Frank Butler is the norm today.