Getting out on a Hinckley Pilot

Back in the 60s and 70s, the gold standard for a sailboat was the Hinckley Pilot. 35-feet long. Fast. Comfortable. It was a boat that could cruise anywhere and win a lot of races too.  

Originally designed by famed boat designer Aage Neilson, the Pilot was made popular by Hinckley, which started producing them in fiberglass. This early move from wood to glass was a huge evolution in boatbuilding. In total, Hinckley made some 117 fiberglass Pilots

Pilots are beautiful, fast and easy to sail. With classic lines, they are what comes to mind when you think: Sailboat. And some 50 years after production, many pilots still on the water. Recently, I sailed on one, Loon, which is owned by some close family friends.  

Loon has made multiple trips across the Atlantic. Her original owners even took her to Spitzbergen, Norway, which is just about as far north as you can go on a sailboat. As boats have gotten bigger since then, it’s mind blowing to think of going so far in a 35-foot boat. Though, still totally possible

Today, Hinckley is probably most widely known for their Picnic boats, handsome jet-propelled beasts that come in around a quarter of a million dollars. Some 450 hulls have been made. The company also just launched their new Bermuda 50 design, which features an aggressive bow and modern lines akin to a Volvo Ocean Race boat. Both represent huge advancements in design and technology, much like the early fiberglass Pilot builds. 

Though certainly not as fast, or roomy inside, as some of the more recent designs Hinckley has splashed, thanks to their beautiful lines and superior build quality, the Pilot is still an incredibly functional boat ready for just about any cruise you could imagine. And, it’s an amazing piece of the Hinckley story.

Big thanks to the Dodges for a great day on the water.

See also:

The Return of Pardon Me

Howard Blackburn: Hero Adventurer

Twenty Eight Feet: Life on a Wooden Boat