North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Sarah Unwin


Local Legend With A Long Sailing History In Vancouver

Grant Brandlmayer shares the history of locally known Spencer 34 Coho, still raced out of Royal Vancouver Yacht Club going on 35 years.

What made you  decide to build Coho?

 The decision was made to build the Spencer 34 Coho to race and feature the Spencer 34 in local races; while at the same time enjoying sailing this modern IOR boat.

 Why did you choose to build with Spencer Boats?

 In fact Spencer Boats Ltd. was a family boat building company that was formed in 1954 by my parents, an uncle of mine and a good friend of my parents.  The company started by building plywood and glass runabouts as finished, as well as selling them as frame kits that many people then built at home.  In 1958 they built the first moulded fibreglass sailboat from a female mould. It was 28ft. in length with a wooden deck.  A total of 12 were built.

Spencer 34, first manufactured in 1978. The Spencer 34 was designed by the well-known Vancouver sailor, Vladimir Plavsic.  The first Spencer 34 Spearhead was built for David Spears  for the North American 3/4 Tons Worlds held in Victoria in 1978.  The Spencer 34 Coho was then built for the Brandlmayr family in 1979 with sails by North Sails.  At this time the sails were built under the guidance of David Miller.  In addition I recall that Rob Pallard was working for North Sails in Vancouver and was very involved in the build of the first set of sails for Coho. In fact he sailed on Coho during the first Juan de Fuca race that we did in 1980.

 Tell us a bit about the design process of building Coho.

 As noted above the Spencer 34 Coho was designed by Vladimir Plavsic.  He developed the overall hull form, rig dimensions and all aspects of the boat to meet the IOR Rule of that time to be able to race in the ¾ Ton division. Spencer Boats Ltd, as a very experienced builder of FRP sailboats, then prepared the production design including the lofting of the hull, deck, keel and rudder to allow construction. 

 What challenges did you face while building your dream boat?

 No specific challenges that I recall.  The construction procedures and methods, which had been developed by Spencer Boats Ltd. during the building of the earlier semi production models, had developed into a rather mature process.

 The original sails are North Sails, who at North did you work with to design and build your sails?

 As mentioned above it was a pleasure to work with Dave Miller who designed and built the sails for Coho. In addition, I had the pleasure to work with Rob Pallard who was with North Sails at that time in Vancouver.

 What were your favorite races when you owned Coho?

 Starting in 1980 and until Leslie (my wife) and I sold Coho (Spencer 34) to Sarah and James McDonald, we entered Coho in many races and many different types of races all of which we very much enjoyed. To name a few, we did the VARC, both regatta and distance series for every year of the 35 years that we raced Coho. The Wednesday night race series at RVYC, which we did almost every Wednesday night race for the same 35 years on Coho. We also did the Whidbey Island Race Week for 10 years in a row starting in 1995. We enjoyed all the races plus the delivery trips with family and friends.

 Any interesting facts you would like to share about Coho?

 I think that any of those are generally covered in the combination of the other sections.

 What are your favorite cruising destinations?

 We enjoy sailing so the delivery rather than the destination has always been our favourite part. 

You sold Coho to James and Sarah McDonald, what was it that prompted you to purchase a new boat, what is the new boat and how are you enjoying your new boat?

 The size of our family had been growing with the addition of our wonderful grandchildren and having a slightly larger sail boat with three cabins but still a high performance cruising boat that we could race had become more invitingThat said we still very much enjoyed and appreciated the all round pleasure we had both racing and cruising Coho. It was a tough but wonderful choice/decision to make. 

When our close friends Dan and Carolyn McGreer asked if we would consider being boat partners with them in their Beneteau 36.7,  it seemed to be the best of both worlds.  We had sailed as two families with Dan and Carolyn and their three beautiful girls for over 25 years; not to mention Dan being an integral part of our racing for over 25 years.  For several years we had been racing Coho in VARC and RCYC racing in the spring, summer and fall and the Beneteau during the winter months in Point Roberts where the McGreers were keeping the Beneteau.  So, the decision was made to combine forces and we put Coho up for sale.

When Sarah and James McDonald showed an interest in Coho this just seemed like all things were falling into place as we could not think of two more wonderful people to enjoy a boat that sails so very nicely and was well built.  We  are very happy that Coho found a new home with people that continue to enjoy racing and cruising the boat. 

Story Contributors

Customer Spotlight: Coho headshot
Sarah Unwin

Office Administration — Vancouver, British Columbia

Sarah grew up in Vancouver, BC. Sarah spent summers in the Royal Vancouver YC learn to sail program, cruising on her family's boat, and winters downhill ski racing. Sarah moved to Whistler, BC after high school to coach and instruct...

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