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The 41 Foot Rhodes (Bounty II) was one of the prototypical fiberglass racer/cruisers that launched a boatbuilding revolution and brought to the public a new genus of larger, lower-cost, mass-produced sailboats.
THE 41-Foot RHODES BOUNTY II was one of the prototypical fiberglass racer/cruisers that launched a boatbuilding revolution and brought to the public a new genus of larger, lower-cost, mass-produced sailboats. This boat and its contemporaries permanently redefined who would participate in big-boat sailing. But perhaps most amazing of all, long after the Bounty IIs had been retired from the race-course and their design relegated to antique status, these seaworthy stalwarts are still around as a cost-effective, no-nonsense boat for cruisers going places. This was a classic Phillip Rhodes’ Designed sloop. Rhodes and his firm were pioneers in the development of fiberglass construction methods. The Bounty II for Coleman Plastics in 1956 became one of the earliest yachts built of fiberglass, and established the viability of the new material for larger production boats.
The Pearson Rhodes 41 is derived from the slightly earlier Bounty II and comes from the same mold which Grumman/Pearson Yachts acquired in 1961. (In the Rhodes archives, both are listed as Rhodes design #658.) The RHODES 41 was given slightly more free-board, two smaller windows in the dog house, and lead ballast. The mast was moved aft, the engine re-located behind the companionway. They also installed a more traditonal interior with more wood trim.
The Bounty II project was undertaken by Fred Coleman and Vince Lazzara at Aero Marine in California, using Rhodes’ design work and Bill Garden’s engineering input. With all the talent brought to bear, it’s no surprise that the vessel became an instant success. Its heavy scantlings and the building team’s precautionary approach with the new material called fiberglass paid off in the long run. Their “thick as a plank” hull skin may have been overkill, but the results speak for themselves—many of these classic plastics still easily pass survey today.
When Aero Marine closed its doors in 1960, an enterprising group of Grumman executives with a keen boating interest and a desire to diversify the company bought Aero Marine’s assets and shipped the Bounty II tooling to a New England boatbuilder in which it already held a controlling interest. Cousins Everett and Clint Pearson had entered into partnership with Grumman, and under the Pearson label, some changes were made to the Bounty II, creating a sloop that Pearson dubbed the Rhodes 41. Perhaps the best measure of the success of this effort lies in the fact that of the approximately 50 Rhodes 41s (built from 1961 to ’68), not only are nearly all still around today, but a cult following has arisen that makes them one of the most sought-after oldies-but goodies afloat...