Marblehead Boatbuilder Anchored in History and Innovation

By Vicki Staveacre
Marblehead Reporter
October 26. 2015

When Marblehead boat builder Chris Hood first started building boats, he had a clear vision.

“I wanted to build boats that are distinctive and unforgettable, when you first see them you know you have to have them,” he said. “It ‘s like when you first see the woman who becomes your wife, you see the most beautiful woman in the world – I wanted to do the same for boats.”

Hood started his boat building and restoration business in 1990 and after creating four acclaimed powerboat designs he turned his sights to sailboats and created the Hood 32 This daysailer has proved to be Hood’s most successful design yet, winning the prestigious Sail Magazine’s Daysailer of the Year Best Boats Awards in 2011.

The nephew of the legendary Ted Hood, a Marblehead sail maker and boat builder who won the America’s cup in 1974, Chris Hood’s destiny was foreshadowed early on. He virtually grew up in his uncle’s boatyard in Marblehead’s Little Harbor. His father Bruce would take him there on weekends and from an early age he became adept at disappearing.

“I would just go off crawling around the boats as there were a load of old schooners and sloops so I would just crawl into one and pretend it was mine,” Hood said.

He spent his childhood fixing up old wooden boats and remembers when he was 10 working on a Herreshoff twelve and a half footer and an International One Design (IOD) which was his favorite.

He started racing at the age of 12 and was out on the ocean with his father in an IOD while his uncle Ted and cousins were out on their IOD and his grandfather, who would have been 82 or 83 then, was out in a powerboat.

“Grandfather never stopped coaching” Hood said, “he was always telling my dad and Ted what to do.”

Hood started C.W. Hood Yachts with the help of his friend and fellow boatbuilder Chris Stirling. In the mid 1990s he launched the Hood designed Wasque 26, which brought together traditional yacht quality with advanced composite manufacturing.

This was followed by the Wasque 30, the award winning CW Hood 43, the Hood 50 motoryacht and the Katama 30 jet boat. The company was also awarded a prestigious contract to build the IOD yacht class and it built 18 of them.

In the winter of 2009/2010 Hood started doing some sketches of a sailboat and as the design developed he asked a friend, Bruce Dyson, to take a look at them. A couple of hours later Dyson called back to say he had shown the design to Frank Morse who wanted to buy one.

Morse became the first Hood 32 customer with Hull #1, “Dream” and his order was quickly followed by two more from Marblehead residents Tom McManus who got “Diane,” and Paul Mazonson with “Grace.”

The country was in the depths of a recession and Hood said he recalled thinking, “anyone coming up with a new yacht design must be crazy.”

But thanks to the early support from his Marblehead customers the business is now working on Hull #20.

It was the 2011 Sail Magazine award however, that caught the attention of Gary Jobson, a world class sailor, TV commentator and author based in Annapolis, Maryland. In the summer of 2014 Hood got a call from Jobson, who said he was interested in the Hood 32 design and after two test sails the order was placed and “Whirlwind” was delivered on July 17, Jobson’s birthday.

“There are so many clever things about the boat,” Jobson said. “It’s a very classic looking boat but everything is modern, the keel shape, the equipment are all very modern hidden within a classy exterior.”

He said he liked the big cockpit and the angle of the back and the fact that it is still comfortable even with four or six people on board. Hood also displayed true Yankee ingenuity when it came to storage, he added.

“I turned 65 and got a brand new boat, what could be better?” Jobson said. “Ted Hood always made fast boats that looked good and clearly Chris has inherited his genes.”