Sail magazine recognizes Bucksport-built boat as one of the best

Posted Dec. 01, 2010, at 12:33 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:55 a.m.

BUCKSPORT — A national sailing magazine has named a 30-foot Maine sailboat as one of its top boats for 2011.

Sail magazine has named the Presto 30 from Ryder Boats in Bucksport the best cruising monohull under 50 feet after putting the boat through its paces at the annual U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., earlier this year.

“The boat’s construction is impeccable,” according to a review of the Presto 30 on the magazine’s website.

The review describes the boat as a “simple, trailerable, beachable boat that is fast, fun and easy to sail.”

“We sailed the Presto twice before inspecting it again at the Annapolis show and were impressed by its speed and agility,” the Sail article notes. “Though designed for gunkholing in thin coastal water, we reckon this boat is plenty seaworthy enough to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.”

Gunkholing is a boating term that means meandering from cove to cove in shallow waters.

The boat, which has a base price of $110,000, is 30 feet long with an 8-foot-6-inch beam. It has a 5½-foot draft with the center board down and a 1-foot-1-inch draft, with the board up.

The Presto 30 was built in Bucksport by the Union River Boat Co., which is owned by Richard Ryder and his wife, Pat. It is the first boat designed specifically for the company. Richard Ryder formed a new company called Ryder Boats with his daughter Belle to market the new design.

“Union River Boats is still the builder of record,” Belle Ryder said Tuesday. “But we figured that if you’re going to leave a design behind, a legacy, you might as well name it.”

The praise from Sail magazine is a nice way to start the new venture, she said.

“To have our first foray into building and selling a boat be recognized by Sail, that’s a big pat on the back for us,” Ryder said.

The design grew out of the work Union River had done on boats for the Outward Bound organization, which provides active learning expeditions. Designer Roger Martin, who had designed the Outward Bound boats, reconfigured the hull and deck for Ryder Boats.

The Presto 30 boat features a cabin with room for four. Sail noted its easily handled rigging — “a pair of sexy freestanding carbon masts flying square-headed full-batten sails set on carbon wishbone booms.”

“We took a bit of a risk; this is not the kind of boat you see at the boat shows,” Belle Ryder said. “You don’t often see a camper boat, a light-displacement, trailerable, shoal draft boat at the shows. But my dad and I have never marched to the beat of everybody’s drummer.”

But the response so far has been positive, according to Ryder, with six boats already sold. Two of the Presto 30s already are on the water — the first one was purchased by designer Martin and a partner. The second sails out of Rockland. A third boat has completed its sea trials and is ready to be shipped to Florida. Two more are under construction and crews are ready to start the hull for still another boat. The sale is pending on a seventh boat.

“Things are looking better,” she said. “The work we have now will take us into May. It’s good to be able to hire people and to know that you have work for more than just the next two months.”

The Presto 30 will be the company’s primary product, and Belle Ryder said Ryder Boats will wait to get its sea legs with the first boat before expanding the line.

“Launching a new boat design is like giving birth,” she said. “You need time to forget how painful it was before you do it again.”

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