SoCal Classics: Ragtime

In this new feature, The Log looks at notable boats — sail and power — that continue to turn heads in Southern California harbors.

Boat Name: Ragtime

Length: 65 ft.

Beam: 11 ft.

Draft: 11 ft.

Year Built: 1964. It was built by a boat designer named John Spencer in Auckland, New Zealand. “He believed in really light construction,” said Chris Welsh, owner of Ragtime. “It’s just two sheets of 3/8 inch plywood glued together over a wood frame of rings – hard chines.”

The boat was built for Tom Clark, an industrialist and repeat customer for Spencer who bought a 38 foot vessel from the designer in 1963.

“Clark came back in a year or so and said ‘give me the biggest boat you could build,’ and that was driven by the size of the shed,” Welsh said. The shed was about 58 feet long, the boat was 62 feet and actually stuck out the door.

“It’s safe to say it was the boat that had everyone’s neck turning at the time,” Welsh said. It was light and nimble and easy to push through the water. It weighed 26,000 pounds when I got it, it weighs 24,000 now.” Notable Moments in Boat’s History:  Ragtime, originally known as Infidel, was built to compete in the A-Class Catamaran World Championship. In 1967, she beat out Ranger, a boat that had won every race it had entered for 30 years, in the A-Class Catamaran World Championship.

The boat was brought to America in the ’70s, where it would go on to win the 1973 Transpacific Yacht Race.

The boat won by four minutes over Windward Passage.

Ragtime returned to compete in the Transpacific Yacht Race in 1975 and was the first to finish again. Her other claim to fame is that she’s competed in 15 Transpac races and one L.A. to Tahiti race, which she won in 2008. Ragtime also won, in its class, the Sydney Hobart Race in 2008.

 Famous Skippers Who Have Been Aboard: “Clark was basically the father of the America’s Cup in New Zealand,” Welsh said. “He was sort of a center point of the fundraising.”

Once a Ferrari formula once privateer, Clark was injured in the mid ’60s when his car rolled in a practice race. He never had the heart for formula one again, so turned to sailing, turning his original pit crew into a race crew.

Almost every sailor sailed the boat at some time, Welsh said. “I constantly meet people sailing that tell me they sailed on the boat in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Pat Farrah, the co-founder of Home Depot previously owned the boat. Genny Tulloch, an upcoming sailor and part of the Morning Light crew from the movie “Morning Light,” sailed aboard. John Jourdane, an accomplished navigator and author of “Sailing with Scoundrels and Kings,” navigated for Welsh on Ragtime during the Sydney Hobart Race. He also got married on it.

Recent Notes: In the late ’80, Ragtime got a scoop added to her stern, taking the vessel from 62 feet to 65 feet. Welsh has taken 2,000 pounds off the boat, replacing the keel, rudder and rig.

Currently, Welsh is looking to do one more massive overhaul to the rig and sail-plan, to create more power and less weight. He also plans to race Ragtime in the Caribbean, East Coast and Mediterranean over spring, summer and fall.

Where Currently Berthed: Newport Harbor, Calif.

Have a favorite yacht in your harbor that should be covered as a SoCal Classic? Email suggestions and/or photos to or mail to: The Log, Editorial Dept., 17782 Cowan, Ste. C, Irvine, CA 92614.

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