Carl A. Alberg

Gothenburg, Sweden

April 11, 1901

 – August 31, 1986

Carl A. Alberg

Carl A. Alberg

Gothenburg, Sweden

April 11, 1901

 – August 31, 1986

Carl Alberg designed a series of small cruiser/racer sailboats that have attracted passionate sailors.  Over the course of his career, he designed more than 50 yachts – with many still actively being raced today.  He was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States in 1925.  Alberg studied naval architecture at Chalmers Institute of Technology.  At first, he worked in several New England shipyards before joining John Gale Alden as a rigger and spar maker in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Eventually, Alberg moved to Alden’s design staff and worked as a draftsman on wooden offshore yachts and cruising vessels.  One of the yachts he drew the lines for was Stagehound, which won the Transpacific Ocean Race in 1953 and 1955.  Alberg served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His charge was converting pleasure craft into useful vessels for the war effort.  During the Korean War, Alberg joined the U.S. Coast Guard and worked on working vessels for service.

Fiberglass was a new material that was becoming popular for yacht construction.  Alberg was turned off by modern yacht design and wrote in Sail Magazine about his concept for sailboats, “My boats are strictly family-cruising boats.  In all my designs, I go for comfortable accommodations and boats you can sail upright without scaring the life out of your family or friends.  I gave them a good long keel, plenty of displacement and beam, and a fair amount of sail area so they can move.”   He was not inspired by fin keels, spade rudders and flat bottoms.  His design philosophy was to create boats with long, graceful overhangs, low sheer lines, a narrow beam and full keels.  Alberg’s boats were generally heavier than other designs, but he wanted them to be easy to sail in a seaway.

Alberg’s philosophy worked.  In 1959, he started a production run of a 28-foot sloop called a Triton.  Over the next eight years, 707 Tritons were launched. His Alberg 30 debuted on San Francisco Bay in 1962.  An impressive 710 boats were built.  A fleet of Alberg 30s still race on Chesapeake Bay and are popular throughout the USA.  He joined Everett Pearson on a new one design concept for family sailing and launched the first Pearson Ensign in 1962.   More than 1,600 Ensigns have been built – and like the Alberg 30 –  are still a popular racing class.  His next line of work was for Cape Dory Yachts.  Among his designs for Cape Dory was the 19-foot Typhoon and the Cape Dory 28.  Alberg wanted boats to look “normal,” be comfortable and sail easily.  He insisted that his line of boats was well built and used reliable fittings, rigs and deck gear.  More than 10,000 of his 56 designs were built and are still sailing today, which is a testament to this pragmatic yacht designer.

~ Gary Jobson

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