(1931 - 1996) - Javelin Class Designer
As most of you will be aware John
Spencer, the designer of the Javelin died in 1996.
I thought it would be appropriate to
have something to remind us of the man behind the class.
| "A brilliant designer and supurb
craftsman, John's lifelong passion was to get as many people as
possi-ble particulary youngsters - onto the water in their own
"Knowledgable in many areas, complex and multi-talented, well-read, or
quick mind and keen humour, popu-lar and generous, many believe that
only Johns modesty and dislike of pub-licity kept him from being a
"He was the champion of the amateur boatbuilder. Next to affordable,
his boats had to be simple and fun. They were always fast."
"In his final years John returned to his roots - to his affinity for
small boats, dinghies which kids could build with their parents.
Earlier generations had grown up with Spencers Flying Ant, Cherubs,
Javelins and Frostplys. Now kids and their parents were discovering his
Jollyboats, Firebugs and Firebirds."
"Internationally John is best remem-bered for his series of radically
fast, lightweight but strong keelboats. Yachts like Infadel (now
Ragtime), Buccaneer, New World, Whispers II, Sirius and many others
changed forever the old concpets of a performance off-shore sailboat."
"More than anything in his life, John abhorred 'bullshit'. Expensive
ways of doing things which could be done as well, if not better, in an
affordable way were the worst 'bullshit' of all."
Timeline, of the
"1957-58 - The Javelin was designed along with a "much-improved"
"1960 - More cherubs on the water, an improved Javelin and new keel
"1962 - He was building a number of Javelins, Cherubs and powerboats up
Prolific Letter Writer
"John was a prolific letter writer, often sending and recieving as many
as 17 letters in a day, to and from all corners of the world."
Some excerpts from his more than 300 letters to Peter Tait:
"One and a half weeks to go to the pension. Will believe it when I see
it on the bank statement. I wonder if they pay it before or after. I
suppose they would not pay it in advance in case you dies before the
fortnight was up."
"Social Welfare department informed me today that my first 'guaranteed'
retirement income will be deposited in my bank account tomorrow and
henceforth every 2nd Tuesday. I brought after much hesi-tation this
afternoon, a plastic bottle of $19.95 gin to celebrate. It is as good
as any other London Dry but had one and decided I had lost my taste for
it. I guess it's all just habit but why can't I get a habit for fruit
Reproduced with permission. - Boating New Zealand, April 1996