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Small Trimaran Design is excited to announce that the largest boat kit company in the world, Chesapeake Light Craft, is now offering quality plywood kits for the W17 sailing trimaran!

CLC Boats began in a basement in Arlington, Virginia in 1991, initially supplying plans for kayaks and shortly thereafter following with complete kits. CLC designs were initially featured in a series of widely read books and articles by founder Chris Kulczycki, spreading CLC’s ability to offer high-performance kayaks that were easy to build. John C. Harris joined the company in 1994 and in 1995 set up a kit manufacturing facility at the current location in Annapolis, Maryland, and the CLC line of boat kits then expanded quickly. To meet the exploding demand, a custom-built industrial-scale computer numerical controlled cutter was installed in 1997, and two years later, John C. Harris purchased the company while Chris moved on to other pursuits.

As CEO, John Harris then embarked on a major expansion program that included rowing and sailing craft, all with up-scale instructional materials that included videos, while a busy boat show schedule was set up throughout the United States, with boatbuilding classes and overseas dealerships in Japan, Australia, the UK, and France. In addition, John pursued contracts with other companies who could benefit from CLC’s specific expertise in kit manufacturing, including alliances with WoodenBoat Magazine, the WoodenBoat School, Guillemot Kayaks, Shearwater Boats, and the United States Naval Academy, among others.


Numerous companies now utilize the CAD/CAM technology of CLC for manufacturing projects and CLC also plays a role in corporate team-building projects, with a client list that includes the Harvard Business School, Outward Bound Professional, the World Bank, Monument Realty, and a number of other large organizations.

In 2009, CLC installed their third CNC machine (10’x20’), and in Nov 2010, delivered their 20,000th kit ! (so they seem on track to hit 25,000 sometime in 2014)

Chesapeake Light Craft has been the recipient of many business and product awards, including:
Sea Kayaker's Best Kayak Kit Award
Best Northeast Paddleshop.
Maryland's "More With Less" Award and ultimately to,
Maryland’s Chamber of Commerce ‘Small Business of the Year’ in 2011.

CLC has gained worldwide recognition for leadership in amateur boatbuilding and events like their ‘Family Boatbuilding’, showcase their unique ability to communicate the joy of building and owning wooden boats to people of all ages and backgrounds.  Their annual customer rendezvous, ‘OkoumeFest’ draws hundreds of boatbuilders from across the country to share their work and meet fellow boat enthusiasts.


Their 15 employees currently comprise over a hundred years of boatbuilding experience.  All senior staff are trained professional boatbuilders and include Landing School graduates and all employees, from shipping clerks to graphic designers, get free kits and individualized training, with this team still actively spear-headed by owner and CEO, John Harris. Since moving to the Annapolis location, they have always maintained a large and busy shop where they build prototypes and the occasional commission.  Visitors can even watch boats under construction, but if you really can't make it to Annapolis, then their Shop Cam has been streaming live on the internet for many years (http://www.clcboats.com/shopcam/shopcamlive.html). All boat kit manufacturing is done in-house and nothing is subcontracted and at CLC Boats, you will typically find more than 40 completed boats on display.

As a business, John Harris and CLC have been profiled in the Washington Post, Forbes FYI, the Washington Business Journal, Corridor Magazine, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, the Baltimore Business Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and many others.

A few years ago, CLC Boats took a huge step beyond their normal small boat production and developed a kit for a 31ft Pro called ‘Madness’ (the first of which is now for sale). This led to another interesting small sailboat called the ‘Outrigger Junior’, which is a mix of a proa and a catamaran, as the outrigger can be sailed either to windward or leeward. But the W17 will be CLC Boats first sailing trimaran kit and the plywood construction fits perfectly with CLC’s capacity to cut kits and we are confident that even John Harris himself will enjoy to sail this boat. It’s infinitely more comfortable than a beach cat, has high stability and with a decent 7ft long cockpit, you can even take your grandparents out in when the weather is right for them. The hull forms are unique and the pure, quiet efficiency of this boat through the water, is something you need to experience to appreciate.


Plans for the W17 will still be sold directly through this site, and only one page of clarifications is required to adapt the CLC boat kit to work with the original W17 Build Manual.

The ply part layouts for the kit were developed by Allan Witt of Australia and have already been proven out there, as several have already been assembled. What CLC Boats brings to this is high quality material and a competitive price. So let’s all celebrate and perhaps one day, we’ll soon see an assembled W17 at one of their boat exhibits too. Here is the link to CLC Boats site, for their W17 North American kit.

Mike — June 2014

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