About the PC Fleet


ABOUT THE PC

This is the first wooden One Design racing sloop designed and built especially for Southern California waters. Designed by George Kettenburg Jr. in 1929, the PC has survived over 77 years and is still enjoyed today. While the largest of the fleets is in San Diego, there are smaller groups in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles and Washington State. Of the 84 hull numbers assigned, all but 19 of these lovely vessels have been identified as never built, lost, destroyed, on the hard or still sailing! Many have been totally restored to live another 77 years! Hull #8 WINGS, believed to be the oldest hull in existence, is now on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum.

I hope you enjoy visiting our web page and encourage you to share any history, photos or information with our webmaster so that our webpage continues to grow! For now, take a trip down memory lane and see what present PC skippers are up to as well!

THE BIRTH OF THE PC

The year was 1929. Herbert Hoover was president of the United States. The stock market had crashed. Within the last 10 years, the population of San Diego had exploded from 74,361 in 1920 to a whopping 147,995 people by 1930. Through the generosity of business man and philanthropist, G. W. Marston, San Diego citizens were invited to visit the new; Presidio Park above our Old Town. From there we could see San Diego Bay with sail boats coming and going. Ruben H. Fleet would soon move his aircraft business from New York to San Diego to spur the growth in population and employment even more. This was a city on the move.

On the water front in San Diego Bay, the now popular Shelter Island was still a natural bar of sand, accessible only by boat. The San Diego Yacht Club, while having moved several time since it's inception in 1886, would soon move again to its present location. It would be 5 additional years before the SDYC would see its first female Flag member. The Commodore was the young Joe Jessop, of the Jessop Jewlery family. Those taking the trolley out to the commercial basin area or Roseville, could see Star Boats, Starlets, R boats, 6 meters and such racing in the bay. Jessop was known for his racing skills and often went to New York to sail in races. Among the boats he favored were the S Class yachts, designed by the father of modern day boat design, Nathanial Herreshoff. Word of mouth stories tell of Jessop coming back to San Diego and meeting with friends asking why there was no boat built especially for Southern California winds and waters that could compete with such boats as the S Class.

George Kettenburg Sr., having retired at the young age of 40, moved his family from back east and bought a home with an expansive lot on Kellogg Street. Point Loma was largely undeveloped at this time. It was here, in the back yard of the Kettenburg home, that George Jr. spent his time building boats as a hobbie.. With his father interested in motorized speed boats, George Sr. asked his son to assist with the construction of a 24' power boat from plans he has purchased. Admired by local yachtsmen, George Jr. set about to build others as each was sold. Seeing his son's designs and efforts being successful, George Sr. elected to finance his son's endeavors and officially founded Kettenburg Boat and Engine Company. With the father acting as machinist, George Jr. did all the wood work. An entry into sailing boats came with the request of 4 Alden Design 22' knockabout sloops. Soon to follow were the Star Class vessels and eventually the Starlets. Launching of all these vessels in the early days must have been a sight to see, when the Kettenburgs and their crew hauled the vessels down the hill from their Kellogg Street (high above what is now La Playa in San Diego Bay) and waited for high tide to launch! Jump ahead to 1929. Bye this time, George Sr.'s passion for power boats had the family designing and building fast and award winning boats powered by aircraft engines (purchased at bargain prices from the US Government!) while George Jr. had proven his talent with the design and construction of several sail boats. While in his 20's, George Jr. was already an accomplished wood worker and was, among other things, building dingy and fishing dories as well. In fact, the local Portuguese fisherman often bought his creations, swearing by their worth.

Seeing that their combined efforts were seeing some success, the Senior Kettenburg elected to buy property and relocate to the Commercial Basin district (on the north east side of San Diego Bay). The business name was officially changed to Kettenburg Boat Works. A new building was constructed and this location on the water made launching easier, to say nothing of making the Kettenburg neighbors happy with no more aircraft engine testing in their back yard!!!

Kettenburgs two sons, George Jr. and Paul, were friends of Jessop and shared his interest in boats and sailing. Following a recent return from back east, Jessop approached his young friend George and asked him what his thoughts were about creating a sail boat for San Diego waters. They talked about the S boats and other local known one designs. They discussed what features this new boat might have and which "improvements" might make this a unique vessel for local sailors. Most importantly, the boat was to be built within the "rules" of the S Class, (thus a One Design) so that competition between the two boats would be fair without the need for handicapping. Thus the concept of the PC (Pacific Class) came to mind.

George Jr., with no formal naval architect, engineering or mathematical training, gave the project much thought. After some time, he picked up a block of wood, and with a whittling knife, cut away at the block until the chips freed, and thus reveled, the hull of what would become the first PC. Sand paper gave improvements to the hull design that only George could feel and see in his minds eye. With no lofting plans and lacking the talent or formal knowledge to draw them properly, Kettenburg drew full size lines (as best he could) on the floor of his father's shop. With his father's permission, he went about building the first PC #1 SCAMP, (named after his young sister who, I'm told was often in the way).

Thus San Diego Citizens looking out at the bay had the pleasure of seeing SCAMP sail proudly. She was immediately immensely popular and it was not long before friends of George Jr. requested that he build hull number 2 and 3 and so on. And so begins the tale of the Kettenburg PC Class.

PRE WAR BOATS

The PC Class was an immediate success. The PC Association was founded and boats were racing up and down the bay on a regular basis. Skippers were convinced that this One Design would not only compete with R boats and the S Class, but beat them in races! By 1931, a total of 7 hulls were completed. Joe Jessop, acting for the San Diego Yacht Club, contacted the S Class fleet back in New York, and challanged them to a 4 boat match race in Hawaii at the Honolulu Yacht Club. With "navy town connections", 4 PC's were transported across the Pacific via US Navy ships. The following is a list of the hull numbers and skippers who participated in the PC/S Class 1931 Regatta:

#2 Joe Jessop BLUE JACKET

#3 A. E. Childs TIANA

#4 George Jessop JEAN

#7 Bob Mann JADE

The PCs were, in fact, sucessful and smartly won the series. The vessels proved to be so popular in Hawaii, that all were purchased by local yachtsman! Previous owners returned to San Diego with the regatta trophy, but without boats to sail. In most cases, owners immediately ordered replacement boats. The next hull number to follow was #8 WINGS.

By this time, the PC was the rage of Southern California and intrest was being developed as far up the coast as Washington State as word spread. By the time hull #29 was completed, the PC experienced some interior changes. Owners wanted V berths to spend the night on. Stoage compartments developed into small galley areas. Talk of heads in the cabin was becoming a reality. Another change was addition of a raised "dog house" at the cabin entry way. Some were tired of banging their heads on the entryway, thus a dog house seemed to be the answer. Hull #30 and 31 were dog house boats. In fact, the idea did not catch on. People saw the dog house more of something to contend with rather than a huge benifit, thus the idea was scrapped.

By this time (1940), the PC had made it's mark. Boat yards up the coast and as far away as Hawaii were asking permission to build the, now patened design in their yards. The Kettenburgs agreed that hull numbers 32, 33 and 34 would be build in Hawaii. Sadly, before construction began, the Japanese bombed the Islands, and these hulls were never completed. The "pre war" PC production ended with hull number 35. Pacific Class production came to a hault along with most "pleasure boat" construction. The Kettenburg yard was now producing comercial fishing boats and work boats to assist with the war effort. The young men of San Diego were leaving their boats and homes and becoming soldiers, Marines, navy sailors and air force pilots. Leisure sailing would be at a lull until the war was over.

POST WAR BOATS

WWII was declared over! Our young men and women were returning home. People were laughing and dancing and smiling again. The economy was beginning to grow and more money was being into pleasure and leisure instead of a war effort! The Kettenburg yard was now being flooded with requests for boats. The PC was now back in popular demand. With 35 hull numbers to serve as "test models", the PC was in for the first significant changes since 1929! Owners had complained about not having enough cabin space. They wanted more head room, sliding hatchways, windows for improved lighting, V berths and such ammenities that a small crusing boat would have. More importantly, rigging changes were in the wind. In order to make the rig more efficient and cleaner, the jumber was raised 3'. The headstay (from the bow to the mast head) was removed and the old "diamond rig" was done away with and replaced with the jumper strut arragnement. The double Jib stay was moved forward by 1' to take more of the load in order to compensate for the missing headstay. In order to stay within the "one design" rules, the longer foot of the jib was compensated for by shortening the leach, thus the sail area was unchanged. Post war boats are easily recognized by their elongated cabin that runs afore the mast. Most post war boats have a hatch afore the mast for light and ventilation. While many of the pre war vessels have added windows and sliding or cut out companion ways, their absence (and other features mentioned above) make it easy to determine whether a boat is pre or post war. In some cases (#72) past owners have cut the cabin in order to make a cleaner sweep of the jib while tacking, however most post war boats still have the extended cabins. These were the only changes allowed in order to stay within the class rules. The PC Association, over the years, has approved very few changes and set down few rules. Examples such as specificing the location of the jib car track, limiting the use of modern sail materials (kevlar, etc), lead keel shaping and hull weight have been carefully controlled in an effort to keep competation between pre and post war boats fair.

Because the PC popularity increased, the Kettenburgs were somewhat receptive to hulls being assigned to being built in other boat yards up and down the coast. In fact, hulls 13, 15 and 17 were built by South Coast Boat Yard in Newport, Ca. Hulls 56, 57, 58 and 59 were built in British Columbia and hull numbers 80, 81, 82 and 83 were built by Kettenburg in San Diego, however shipped upside down via rail to Seattle where they were finished. The last Pacific Class yacht completed (in the late 1950's) was hull #83. To date much effort has gone into locating and identifying which vessels are still in existance. 64 of the 83 hull numbers assigned have been identified as lost, sailing or on the hard. 19 boats are yet unaccounted for. 47 of the original 78 boats BUILT are known to be still sailing. 17 hull numbers are classified as never built (4), converted and no longer a PC (1) and lost or destroyed (12). My search continues. Any information you might offer will be helpful and appreciated.

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