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The Rebirth of the Banshee – Part One

 Banshee Sailboat at ShorlineThe Hull

In the back of our boat yard there is a yellow hull that seemed doomed. Doomed because once a dinghy hull becomes separated from its rig, sails, lines, and blades its future is very dim. Even the ubiquitous Sunfish is disheartening to save if a hull is all you have. But, this hull, being a pretty cool little 13 foot hull, whose lines are pleasing to the eye, made us dig a little bit to see what we had. It turns out to be the hull of a Banshee. Ah. . . What a cool name. . . A scary Gaelic name. . . Let’s see if we can make it sail again.

The Origin

Banshee designer, Richard (Dick) L. Reid, was born in 1935 in Santa Cruz, California and passed away in January of 2013. From all accounts, he was an avid racer and won many trophies (see Santa Cuz Sentinel). In 1969 he was building Flying Juniors and saw the possible need for a boat more comfortable than the popular Sunfish. Working with the lines of the Flying Junior, he made a few minor modifications. His Banshee was born and first sailed as fleets in Foster City and at the San Jose Sailing Club. Richard began building these first boats himself under his company named Marine Plastics. He gained capital to establish Banshee International, which took over production of the boats with Richard as VP. Boats were built in Santa Cruz from 1974 and Scotts Valley from 1982. Abbott Boats of Ontario, Canada was licensed to make 500 boats. Abbott’s suffered from a massive fire in 2006 that destroyed its Wayfarer molds. If they had the original Banshee molds, they would also have been lost in the fire.

The Followingbansheerack1

The following is an example of how devoted people are to the Banshee:
“I grew up sailing Banshees on the Foster City lagoon before all the buildings screwed up the wind. The wind used to howl in off SF bay every afternoon. The Banshee simply hauls ass. It is an incredible ride. The daggerboard comes half way up and shifts forward in the trunk so the trailing edge is slightly aft. Perfect light balance on the helm. The boats are getting a little old so you have to watch a few things. The mast step and the sterns. When it is really windy you can sail with two and go like hell. In the years since, I have raced I-14s 505s 29ers Nacra I 20s and many other boats, but the memories of sailing the Banshee in a winter gale are still vivid.”

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