Robert "Bob" Perry

June 25, 1946 -

Sydney Australia

Robert Howard “Bob” Perry has spent his career designing comfortable, attractive, and easy to sail yachts.  He has over 380 designs to his credit which have resulted in over 6,000 boats that have been launched.  He looks back on his career noting, “My hobby has been my occupation.  So far, I’ve had a good ride.  I’ve weathered a few squalls along the way, but when I survey my collection of designs, I’m proud of my productivity and durability.”  One of his most notable designs is the Valiant 40, which was called a “performance cruiser.”  The boat featured a canoe type stern with a fin keel and skeg hung rudder instead of a traditional full keel.  Other builders Perry has designed yachts for include Tayana, Cheoy Lee, Valiant, Baba, Ta Shing, Hans Christian Yachts, Islander, Passport, Pacific Seacraft, and Saga.  He is a student of his craft and has taught yacht design at Evergreen State College in Washington.  Readers of Sailing magazine are familiar with his boat reviews that have been published in every issue for over forty years.

In 2008 Perry published a review of his own career with an overview of his approach to naval architecture.  The book is titled “Yacht Design According to Perry.” It is an easy-to-read overview with helpful drawing, diagrams, and pictures of his vast collection of designs.  He explained his goal for the book, “If I’ve mixed the right ingredients in the right proportions, this book – I hope – will be something any sailor can chew on and find nutritious.”

Perry was born in Toledo, Ohio.  His mother was from Australia and talked the family into moving to Sydney when Robert was one year old.   They returned to the USA in 1957 when Bob was 12 years old.  The family traveled on a Liberty ship that barely sailed at 9 knots across the Pacific Ocean.  Perry reflects on the trip, “Looking back, I think the month-long voyage played a seminal role in my obsession with boats.  I enjoyed every day of it, including the three days we spent riding out a typhoon in the North Pacific.”

The Perry family settled in Seattle, Washington.  Bob raced Penguin dinghies and crewed with renowned yacht designer Bill Garden and even served as his apprentice one summer.   He was bored and broke and called yacht designer Jay Benford to show him a series of his yacht designs.  Perry was hired on the spot.  He spent one year with Benford before launching his own career that has been successful ever since.

Gary Jobson

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