Living , Modern




Dave Hubbard played a seminal role in the development of the wing sail. Among his notable contributions are his collaborations with Duncan MacLane on the designs of the wing sails for the Patient Lady series of 20-foot C-Class catamarans used for the Little America’s Cup and the semi-rigid wing on the Stars and Stripes catamaran in 1988.


Little America’s Cup

In 1975, Patient Lady III, a Hubbard/MacLane design, won both the International World’s C-Class Championship and the North American Catamaran Championship trophies. Patient Lady III went on to win the Little America’s Cup in 1977 in California, defeating Australia’s Nicholas II by a score of 4-0. The cup was defended successfully in 1978 (Patient Lady IV), 1980 and in 1982 (Patient Lady V) against Italy 4-0 each time, before losing it to Australia’s Victoria 150 in the 1985 defense by Patient Lady VI.

America’s Cup Challenge, 1988

In looking for a suitable design for his challenge, Dennis Conner turned to Patient Lady V and its wing sail concept. Dave Hubbard and Duncan MacLane were two members of the six-person development team. Two 60-foot catamarans were built, based on scaled up versions of Patient Lady V, one having a conventional fully battened soft sail and one with a full wing sail based on the Patient Lady V wing. After the wing-sailed version defeated Conner who was sailing on the soft sail version in 10 consecutive trial races, the renowned yachtsman switched to the wing sail concept.

Dave Hubbard was invited to join the BMW Oracle Team to help them design a wing sail for their 90-foot trimaran challenger for the 33rd America’s Cup. A wing was designed, built and tested and proved to give superior performance, in terms of efficiency and power, over the original conventional soft rig. In 2010, the challenger BMW Oracle beat the Swiss defender Alinghi.


HWT X-1 – Unmanned system prototype

HWT X-1, was launched in 2006 and was a proof of concept and technology demonstration funded by a follow-on research and development contract for the U.S. Navy. The wing was 35 feet tall, capable of 360 degree rotation. The second wing was 60 feet tall and was launched on a second, larger prototype in late 2011.


A brief History

Although many refinements have been made over the years, the original concept of the wing sail was made feasible several decades ago at Roton Point in Rowayton, Connecticut, by developments to then cutting-edge wing technology by designer MIT mechanical engineer David W. Hubbard.

Photo above: Roton Point, 1973. Patient Lady II (US71) is ahead, carrying Dave Hubbard’s third wing iteration. She is followed by an over-canvassed Tornado in second place, Mountain Lion (US17) in third, Rick Taylor and Ned Damon’s Hawk (US77) in fourth, and Lee Griswold’s Taku II (US68) in fifth place. (unknown photographer, from Gene Miller’s collection)


Dave Hubbard’s C-Class designing started when he and his brother Jerry designed Sea Lion, which represented the U.S. in England for the 1964 Little America’s Cup. It lost 1-4 to the UK’s Emma Hamilton. The world’s first successful solid wing sailed boat was Patient Lady. Hubbard designed Red Herring for Van Allen Clark, a radical 55-foot canting keel lightweight fast cruising ketch. It was several years before canting keels were adopted for high performance sailboats.


Hubbard raced, as navigator, on the 80’ Maxiyacht Nirvana on the U.S. East Coast, England, Bermuda, the Mediterranean and Australia setting course records in the Fastnet, Sydney/Hobart and Bermuda races. He co-owned a series of 35′-44′ wooden cruising yachts that were restored, chartered and sailed on the East Coast between the Chesapeake Bay and Maine.

Hubbard has also cruised in various yachts in Maine, Cape Cod, Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. He has raced in many Long Island Sound events including over 10 Vineyard Races as crew, navigator, watch captain or co-owner.


  • Filter Nominees

  • Reset

Preserving America’s Sailing Legacy

Engaging Sailing’s Next Generation

Stay Connected to the National Sailing Hall of Fame