GLAA

   

HISTORY



Jerry Kedey was interviwed in February 2005 and this article was published
(1) in the Winter 2005 Great Lakes Alberg Association Newsletter.

It’s June of 1957 and Jerry Kedey has placed the following ad in the Toronto Star... WANTED a 24 or 25 ft sloop, must be easily single handed, a family boat for 3 plus and must handle 20 to 25 knots of wind.

Jerry had been racing Lightings out of Toronto's National Yacht Club, but with a growing family he wanted a competitive racer that could also be a safe weekend cruiser. At the dawn of the age of fibreglass, requests like Jerry's were being echoed across North America and would ultimately be the catalyst for the birth of an industry.

Everett Pearson was to establish Pearson Yachts that same year and by 1958 Pearson was rushing to finish Carl Alberg's 28ft. Triton design in time for the New York Boat Show. Carl Alberg had designed what was to be one of the first, if not the first, mass producd fibreglass yacht.

Back in Toronto, Kurt Hansen, a recent emigrant from Denmark, responded to Jerry's query. Kurt, while working for a Volkswagen dealership on Yonge St., had a plan to import Danish built Folkboats to Canada. He showed Jerry a black and white 8x10 photo of a small fleet of the rugged wooden 25-foot sloops sailing in the North Sea, under full mains and jibs in a 25-knot breeze. Needless to say, Jerry ordered a boat.

The first Folkboats arrived in time for the fall 1957 Toronto Sportsman's Show with a selling price of $1950.00. The boats were shipped with a main and a working jib on a 7/8 rig, perfect for the North Sea, but as Jerry found, under canvassed for the capricious breezes in "Slumber Bay". Jerry successfully experimented with a Genoa originally designed for a Dragon and with the addition of the big head sail, the growing Folkboat fleet became more competitive.

The Folkboats enjoyed vigourous racing rivalries among Toronto area Yacht Clubs then doubled as cruisers on family outings. Meanwhile, Kurt Hansen had moved from importing Folkboats to building them and by 1960, was producing a fibreglass, masthead rigged version called the Continental 25 at his Whitby Boatworks.

By 1962 Jerry was ready to move to a larger boat, so it was only fitting that he should contact the man who had introduced him to the Folkboat. Jerry required a boat that would compete within theCCA rules, sleep four, have a galley, standing headroom and be built from fibreglass. Sparkman and Stephens, Philip Rhodes and William Tripp were all approached to design the 30 footer that Jerry and Kurt envisioned, but all wanted hefty upfront fees as well as royalties on each boat produced.

The Carl Alberg designed Triton had been in production, in glass, for 4 years and the popular Pearson built boat was close to Jerry's requirements. Alberg was contacted and agreed to a per-hull royalty only, instead of the prohibitive fees demanded by the other designers.
This was the perfect arrangement for a young company.

Jerry Kedey and Kurt and Doris Hansen sat down with Carl Alberg at the Hansen's Whitby home in January of 1963 to finalize the specifications for the new 30 ft racer/cruiser . Carl felt that a stretched version of his 28 foot Triton would be a good starting point.

With its longer waterline and a fractional rig, the revised design would be an improvement over the Triton and be very competitive under CCA Rules. That winter, while Jerry formed a syndicate with four others, Kurt worked out design details with Carl Alberg. Kurt specified many of the scantlings, changed the design to a mast head rig and did much of the engineering needed to begin production of the new Alberg 30 design.

The official history of the Great Lakes Alberg Association cites Jerry Kedey's Opus 1, launched on July 7th '63(2) as the first Alberg 30 produced. While this is true, it's not the whole story. Sometime in the spring of 1963, Kurt Hansen had taken off from a local airport on a flight training session. The flight path was to take him over his boatyard and while approaching Whitby, he noticed a thick pawl of black smoke hanging over the harbour. As the plane drew closer to the site, he realized to his horror that he had a bird's eye view of his Whitby Boatworks engulfed in flames. The damage was extensive, the Alberg 30 molds were destroyed. As luck would have it, the frantic Whitby employees rolled the boat that was to be Jerry Kedey’s out of harms way. This boat became the plug for the new molds and after a short time, KC 1, a second Opus 1 was delivered to Jerry at the National Yacht Club, at Toronto's Western Gap. The first production run of Alberg 30's sold for $9700.00 including Carl Alberg’s $300 per-hull royalty. After an adjustment to the position of the internal ballast, Kurt’s Whitby Boatworks started a long and successful production of more than 700 Alberg 30’s.

The Great Lakes Alberg Association was formed at the National Yacht Club in the summer of 1964 using, with permission, the bylaws of the Lightning Association. And the rest is history.

(1) ©Copyright 2005 D Timmins
(2) pg 2, Great Lakes Alberg 25 Anniversary Book