Richard Cooper Newick, a pioneer in the design of multihull sailboats that have transformed competitive sailing, died Aug. 28 in Sebastopol, where he spent the last nine years of his life.
The famed 87-year-old designer died of complications from late stage cancer, his wife, Patricia Ann Moe, said Tuesday.
Newick, a mild-mannered man who has been described as honest and loyal and who loved inspiring young people, was at the forefront of the resurgence of multihull boat design in the 1960s. His boats with two and three hulls often bested larger, costlier — and slower — conventional yachts in major races. He contended that old-fashioned vessels had one advantage: they made nice floating decks for cocktail parties.
“People sail for fun,” he once said, “and no one has convinced me it's more fun to go slow than to go fast.”
The AC72 catamarans with 130-foot-tall wing sails now competing for the America's Cup in San Francisco Bay descend from concepts Newick helped develop.
“Dick Newick's contributions to the development of multihull design in the second half of the 20th century simply can't be overstated,” said Dave Gerr, director of the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, when Newick was inducted into the North American Boat Designers Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Not only would multihulls look different today without Dick's innovations, but his designs paved the way for the universally acknowledged offshore-capable speedsters they are.”
Newick lived in Sebastopol with his wife on the same street as his oldest daughter, Lark Blair. The couple moved to Sebastopol almost nine years ago after leaving their home in Maine. Moe said that just before settling along the North Coast, she and her husband had considered moving to Mexico, to a small town north of Puerto Vallarta. But they decided against it because they feared the town was becoming too touristy.