March / April 2021

The Levant 15

A Herreshoff classic, updated
Levant 15

he Chuck Paine–designed Levant 15 is styled after the 1914 Herreshoff 121⁄2, but updated with a modern underbody, appendages, rig, and construction.

"He was just so far ahead of himself when he designed this thing,” said Chuck Paine as he showed me his 1937 Herreshoff 121⁄2, PETUNIA. He had purchased this iconic daysailer in 1972 when just embarking upon what would become an illustrious career as a designer of elegant sailboats. He’s replaced several of PETUNIA’s frames, the coaming, and transom during his ownership, and now, 48 years later, and sort-of retired at age 76, he remains as awed by the little boat’s details as he was back then.

PETUNIA was sitting on a trailer in Paine’s front yard in Tenants Harbor, Maine, having been recently hauled for the season. It was a perfect opportunity to appreciate the boat in its entirety, above the waterline and below. I asked him to point out some of his favorite features.

The large and comfortable cockpit came immediately to his mind, followed by sculptural hollow waterlines in the bow. Paine regarded the balanced ends—the subtle curve of the stem profile and the harmonious rake of the transom. Then he stood back and admired the overall shape. “The hull lines,” he said. “The topside flare is preposterous.” Stepping closer to the boat’s middle portion, he elaborated on this, running his hand from the waterline to the boat’s signature molded sheerstrake and describing how the hull is much wider at the sheer than at the waterline. “That’s one reason these things are so safe,” he said. “When they heel, they gain stability.”

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