history of the Seezunge                                                          last updated 2016-11-15


In the country of its origin, America, catboats do have a long history. In difference its history in Europe and Germany is comparatively young.

How came the idea to Europe?
 In the late 60´s of last century the former editor of germans at the time largest yachting magazine "Die Yacht" - it was no less than the well-known journalist, publicist and movie maker Horst Stern - came up with the idea, to introduce an easy-to-handle small family cruiser to the german market. The boat should be easy for trailering, should offer enough room for a small crew and a centre board should allow for sailing in shallow, near coastal waters.

The design:

As designer Gerhard Gilgenast joined the team, although he designed also some sailing yachts, as the "Ventura", but he gained his high reputation by the designs of numerous motor- and superyachts (i.e. Kalamoun, Octopussy and many more). Gilgenast had been working since 1964 for some time at Sparkman & Stephens (USA) with Phil Rhodes and during this time in the USA he learned about the american catboats. They had not only an easy-to-handle rig but offered already much of Horst Sterns ideas. As this type of boat had been known in Europe and Germany only to a little extent, the american catboat had been adjusted to european demands and conditions. A concept had been made and a drawing was done. To be more precise actually 2 drawings had been made! Because from the very beginning of this project 2 different sizes had been planned on. The smaller one, the Seezunge type A offered a length of about 17 ft at a beam of 8 ft and the somewhat bigger type B had a length of about 22 ft at a beam of  9.5 ft. Apart from that the difference was almost just the scale. The beam of the smaller type had been limited to 8 ft , which is the maximum permitted width of trailers on european roads. Further differences to its american originals are the somewhat reduced sail area and the positioning of the mast, which is built-in a little further back. The reduced sail area was a tribute to the concept towards comfortable and family friendlyness of the boat. The backward positioned mast offers a significantly improved handling when anchoring as in front of the mast now sufficient working area had been created. On american designs often a bowsprit had been installed in order to ease anchoring. The fathers of the Seezunge wanted to avoid from the very beginning costly needs for modifications of any kind.

The construction:

There were not only variations in size but also many other options: GRP, plywood or wood, all materials should be possible. The GRP types had been built in the beginning at the bootbuilder Michelsen at lake Constance, while the wooden types were manufactured at the boatbuilder Fricke & Dannhus at the small lake Dümmer in Lower Saxony. In old magazines also other boatbuilders had been mentioned, like Rawell and Stöberl at lake Constance, Peter Linnekuhl at the Steinhuder Meer, Albert Kühl at Schönningstedt. But if ever a Seezunge had been built at Rawell and Stöberl is not clear as of today. What had been confirmed is that also a version had been built in steel at the Hamburg based shipyard Feltz. Also at Kühl a seezunge type A with an extended cabin had been built. Would be very interesting to find out about where these boats are today. In the late 1970´s production of the Seezunge at Michelsen had been stopped. At Fricke & Dannhus GmbH & Co.KG the manufacturing is still being done until today with GRP and wood in high quality boat building.

 

Publications:

In the magazine "Die Yacht" edition from 1969  details of the plans had been reported and the first boats had been ordered by "Die Yacht" in order to get a first mould built and to get this project on the road. And so the first Seezunge was born and built in 1969. Reports about the first boats that had been built, had been published 1970 in "The Yacht" at the time already with participation of Harald Schwarzlose, who later became chief editor of        

the magazine and also became known as author of several books about small sailing cruisers. Schwarzlose also was author of the first test report of the Seezunge, which was published in 1971. On the project "Seezunge" exactly 10 years later in 1981 once again "The Yacht" had picked up on this issue in an article by Joachim F. Muhs. This article was a review of the history of origins of the Seezunge and the number of boats being built within the first three years had been reported with 100. Also it had been mentioned that once again they could get Gilgenast to revise and fine-tune on the design. From this changes definetely an updated version of the rudder design had been adopted by the boatbuilders. Also a built-in diesel was possible now. If also the somewhat fine-tuned lines of the hull, a more fully designed bow and a smaller transom had been adopted is not known.  

 

 

 

sources:

Article on the idea of the Seezung from editor of the magazine "Die Yacht" Horst Stern, "Seezunge für Zwei" 1969, edition 10, page 2

Article on the increasing requests on the Seezunge "Romantik 1970" from "Die Yacht" 1969, edition 13, pages 20 + 21

Article on the idea for the Seezunge "Mal sehen, wie ernst Sie es meinten" aus "Die Yacht" 1969 edition 19 , S. 56

Pressenotizen aus "Die Yacht" 1970 editions 1+5 on the presentation of the first Seezungen

Boat presentation "Seezunge auf Eis" from "Die Yacht" 1970, edition 2, S. 22-25, Horst Stern

Yachttest from "Die Yacht" 1971, edition 22, S. 108-109 Harald Schwarzlose

Article"Segeln mit Cat-Booten, Seezunge-Herausgeber Art" from "Die Yacht" 1981, edition 8, S. 26-31, Joachim F. Muhs