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Butch DALRYMPLE-SMITH is the co-founder of Classic Works in 2002 with Alex LAIRD.
Butch grew up with sailing yachts, owning his first dinghy at the age of 7. Nine years later he built his own boat, a plywood Enterprise. Between school and university he took the job of skipper of the R.O.R.C. club yacht Griffin II. Even while at university, Butch was sailing at the highest competitive level, racing in the Admiral’s Cup in 1963, 1965 and 1967. After leaving university, he was an engineer with the Amey Group, working on the design of road building and gravel processing machinery, while also collaborating with Dick Carter in the design of his boss’s new race boat.
In 1969 Butch went out to Australia for the Southern Cross Cup, intending to come home after the event. As it turned out, he stayed over four years, campaigning a Sydney 18ft skiff while earning a living as a boat builder and sail maker before establishing his own small spar building and rigging shop. During this period he also raced offshore, which included winning the One Ton Cup for Australia and also becoming involved in match racing, which was at that time a very new branch of sailing.
After the 1973 Congressional Cup in Long Beach, Butch returned home to Europe, tuning racing yachts and consulting on IOR ratings. In fact the winners of the top three classes of the 1973 Fastnet Race were all his clients.
A few days before the start of the first Whitbread Round the World Race, Butch was conscripted onto the Swan 65 Sayula II as watch captain.
Despite capsizing in the Southern Ocean, the yacht went on to win the race, which was the first, and till now may be the only international sailing event ever won by Mexico.
Back on dry land, he trained the Spanish Admiral’s Cup team for the 1975 event, before moving to Ireland to write a book. While there he started to help out in the design office which Ron Holland was just setting up. The book was soon forgotten as the design business grew. Butch handled the technical side of the business and ran the drawing office, while Ron marketed the yachts, dealt with the business side and added his artistic talent. This partnership went from success to success for seventeen years.
A necessary part of the design development process was to sail on the boats themselves. This often involved sailing on under-performing yachts to understand how to improve them, but there were also opportunities to sail at the most competitive level, where Butch notched up World Championship wins in the Quarter and Half Ton classes as well as winning a large number of regattas for maxi yachts, multihulls and many smaller classes, all on the designs done in conjunction with Ron Holland.
When it became obvious that the business required consolidation rather than innovation, Butch decided to move on and went to Germany to work for Fr. Lürssen Werft as their sailing yacht specialist. After two projects (building the 40 metre ketch Twirlybird and renovating the classic schooner Aschanti) there were no more sailing yacht orders, Butch took the post of Chief Designer at Camper & Nicholson (Yachts) Ltd. This involved military work as well as superyachts. During his tenure he was responsible for all the systems designs and technical supervision of the construction of the 35 metre schooner Yanneke Too.
After two years, the attraction of the South of France proved irresistible, and he moved there with his French wife in 1996, establishing an independent design and consultancy business. Here, as well as new build designs he works on modifications and MCA conversions, such as the refit of the 74 metre four masted Phocea, winner of the Showboats award for the best yacht refit of 1999. "Refit work is particularly interesting because when reviewing a yacht which has been operational for several years you quickly appreciate what works and what does not: how to select reliable equipment and how to install it to be easy to maintain and give satisfactory service." One of his projects was the design of the 48 metre sloop Georgia (with structural engineering by Paolo Scanu and styling by Glade Johnson). She was winner of two Showboats awards in 2001 and at her launching was the world’s largest sloop.
In 1999 Butch moved from Cannes to La Ciotat and set up his design office in the enormous shipyard complex which was just beginning to be redeveloped as a centre for superyacht maintenance. In 2002, he formed Classic Works with Alex Laird and the design office currently has two other areas of activity apart from the main one of supporting Classic Works with drawings and technical advice, that is: giving this same service to other companies established in the La Ciotat shipyard and undertaking its own design projects.
Butch is very busy with both Butchdesign and Classic Works, however he is very keen to transmit his passion to future generations. Accordingly, he is the acting historical professor at the European Institute of Design in Venice, on the yacht design master course.