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Dudley Dix

Designer / Naval Architect , Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States

About Dudley Dix

Born 1949, I began my professional life as a Quantity Surveyor but retrained for yacht design through Westlawn. I have designed professionally since winning the 1979 Cruising World Design Competition as an amateur with my CW975 design.

I don’t lock myself up in theory but regularly test my own concepts by building them. During the ‘70s I began with designing and making surfboards for myself and friends. A unrehabilitated beachbum at heart, I continue to surf regularly.

Boats which I have built are a few dinghies, a 15ft catamaran and 3 offshore yachts of 32-38ft. The most recent big boat was the prototype of the DIDI 38 performance cruiser racer which I built to test new construction methods for plywood boats which I was developing. The result is a strong, light, speedy and economical method of building a round bilge boat mainly from sheet material. The newest project is the Paper Jet 14, a high performance plywood sailing skiff.

I have a strong reputation for designing practical concepts, probably arising out of my own boat building experiences and a dislike for things which are over-complicated. I have a wide range of designs drawn primarily with the amateur builder in mind but suitable also for professional custom builders. I also have designs suited for GRP production from a mould in sizes from 8ft to over 60ft.

The son of a provincial Flying Dutchman champion, I have sailed since I was a toddler and get onto the water as often as possible. Having been active in offshore racing in South Africa since the mid 70s, I have sailed in most of the major offshore races around the country. I have sailed across the South Atlantic 4 times, once double-handed and the others in crewed racing mode.

I was deeply involved in sailing management for a few years, serving for many years on the sailing committee of Hout Bay Yacht Club and on regional and national committees of the Cruising Asociation of South Africa and South African Sailing. The last 2 years of this period I was Chairman of CASA and on the Council of SAS.

My designs are carefully detailed so that builders seldom need to ask questions. Buying a set of plans also includes for backup support throughout construction, via email, fax. telephone or letter. If you have a question, it will be answered. Click here to review our backup policy.

Design awards that I have won are the 1979 Cruising World Design Competition, won with the CW975, and the 2001 Boat of the Year Award at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, won with the Shearwater 45 design.

Update January 2004. As of this month, we have moved from South Africa to USA. In future you will find us living in Virginia Beach, on the Southern side of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.

My design philosophy is founded on 6 basic principles, to which I stick as long as the concept permits.

The most important person in the design team is the owner. I must draw the best boat that I can to suit the owner’s requirements, not my own ego.

Detail it properly. As a practising amateur builder, I know the importance of good drawings. If I have a particular way that I want it to be built then it must go onto a drawing.

Keep it simple to build. I don’t enjoy building something which is too complicated. Why should my clients?

Draw it for a small crew.I enjoy short-handed sailing so I design for as small a crew as the concept permits.

Draw it to be fast. It is bad to draw boats which look fast but aren’t. It is great fun to sail a boat which looks slow but sails past those who have written off its performance on looks alone. Some of my more traditional designs, particularly, are faster than they look.

Back up the builders.The aspect of a design purchase which is most often forgotten is “how good is the back-up”. If you are building one of my designs and have a question, please ask me not the guy next to you in the club bar. Modern electronic communications bring me as close as the designer in the next city so distance need not be a consideration.

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Dudley Dix

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