Alan Carwardine hasn’t always designed sleek catamarans for a living, for a good portion of his adult life he banged drums for a living.

Alan grew up in Wollongong (90 minutes south of Sydney), where he learned how to sail on Lake Illawarra, starting at the Oak Flats Sailing Club, aged nine. Though Alan’s father didn’t sail he urged his young sons to get into it and Alan and his elder brother Geoff soon built their own boat, an 8’6” Manly Junior, the most popular training boat in New South Wales at the time (it was a two-hander with a mainsail, jib & spinnaker). Alan played other sports when he was young, but quickly took to sailing like a duck to water and it became his favorite sport.

Alan lived underneath his brother’s shadow for a while as his brother was the skipper and Alan was the crew. But in time, Alan’s brother became too big for the boat they built and moved up to the intermediate class leaving Alan as the skipper in charge of his crew, which he did for two years until he moved up to sail with his brother again in the VJ class. The two boys won the VJ state championship (80 boats) when Alan was 12 and his brother Geoff was 14.

Alan’s father then bought him the boat that came third in that VJ championship and he spent the winter fixing it up. He started to sail separately from his brother, beating him often and realizing he was a capable sailor and not someone racing in his brother’s shadow.

2. Alan second right and one of the many bands he played with ed

When he was ten, Alan (second from right above in one of his many bands) discovered his other passion when he started playing the drums; at 16, he bought a proper drum kit and started playing in pub bands. Everything was about music for him back then, and soon afterward he started making a living as a musician. For 21 years, Alan played the drums professionally (from ages 23-44), performing in many different bands – remarkably he still has good hearing.

Alan met his wife, June, 44 years ago, through music, and one of the first things he asked her was “Have you ever been sailing?” She hadn’t but was keen to learn as she loved outdoor activity and challenges so Alan bought a Gwen 12, and taught her how to sail. The couple has been sailing competitively ever since.

June is from near Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, and she encouraged Alan to move there just as the music industry and the alternative lifestyle was booming in that area in the late 60s, thru the 70s, and into the 80s. A huge amount of people were moving out of the cities and north to the Byron Bay area, buying five acres of land and rediscovering themselves.

The couple has two kids, a daughter, Mia, and a son, Ben. But Alan’s job as a musician was difficult on the family because of its late hours. He was going to work when his family was going to bed.

3. Building Cruise Missile the very 1st Stealth ed

Alan (above building Cruise Missile, the first Stealth) had trained as a mechanical engineer, though he never did work as an engineer. But he liked to build things, so he built a 28-foot yacht, to give his kids a taste of sailing and caught the sailing bug again. He then took his son to sign him up at the Richmond River Sailing Club, but they didn’t have a coach for that age class, so Alan volunteered and soon had 15 young kids under his wing (similar to the program the Phuket Yacht Club is running now under Scott Duncanson).

Alan then bought a dinghy, an NS14 (Northbridge Senior), a two-handed Frank Bethwaite design, with no trapeze, no kite (similar to the 15ft Tasers, same designer). It was at about the same time the music industry (live entertainment) started to die for three-fold reasons: noise pollution limits, the growth of video and drunk driving laws.

Alan and the young sailors at the Richmond River Sailing Club started racing competitively against some of the sailors that he had sailed against as a kid and a group then approached Alan asking him if he would be interested in building redesigned NS14s (Force Five) in a shed on his farm. He jumped at the opportunity as he was looking at a way to get out of the music business. And by the time he was 42, he was the third biggest builder of NS14s in Australia, building 35 in total (25 in Byron Bay), before moving to Brisbane in 1997, with some of his boats going on to win six state championships and three national championships.

But how did Alan learn how to build boats properly so quickly? In Tweed Valley, about an hour away, lived a shipwright, a “Kiwi guru” named Neil Petford who ended up moving to Phuket years later. Every Friday, Alan would drive up to see Neil at Chincogan Catamarans and pick his brains about his latest build and what he could do better the next time.

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Sensing it was time to get the kids into better schools and realizing the need to operate out of a big city, Alan moved the family (above) to Manly, on the water in Brisbane. Although Alan had decided to make the move, he still didn’t have a place to build his boats but just before leaving Byron Bay, he received a call from Geoff Berg, the owner of Allyacht Spars. He offered Alan a place to work and build his boast at the back of his facility if Alan would like to look after the rigs and masts of boats under 30 feet, while Allyacht Spars took care of the bigger boats. Quite a transition from working on his small farm in Byron Bay to work in Allyacht Spars multipurpose, modern and high-tech facility.

Alan started designing his own version of the NS14 (Mach 3) and the more sporty MG14, the same hull with a spinnaker and trapeze added. It turned out to be a rocket ship. Alan was stunned he had designed a superfast boat. He made the waterline straighter, taking out the humps and curves, following the philosophy, “water does not like going around corners”. He then built his first Stealth, a Stealth 7.8, mulberry colour with the name Cruise Missile in chrome, which is still in Sydney. He went on to build six more Stealths (7-8.5 m), which dominated the sportsboat scene in Australia for many years.

He did that for four years. Then in 2000, Alan was asked to be an employee of Allyacht Spars, and so he sold his business to Geoff Berg’s brother, Brian. Within a year, Alan became second-in-charge of the company, and in six months, after Geoff took sick, Alan was placed in charge. He had only spent 18 months working for the company at that stage.

Geoff Berg then signed Alan to a five-year contract to be the general manager of the company with the condition that he nurture one of his sons to be his successor. That ended up being Joel, who in his spare time has sailed on many Stealths in Phuket regattas (two of Alan's creations, Hurricane & Gale Force seen below).

8. Top Cat Hurricane off to the races ed

During his time at Allyacht, Alan designed and built the first stealth catamaran, a Stealth 12 called, As mad as a cut snake, in 2005 when he was the Manager of Allyacht Spars.

At the end of 2009, Alan and June moved to Thailand, under the encouragement of Mark Pescott and Arnie Duckworth. Alan also knew Mark Horwood as all the Latitude 8 boats were using masts and rigging from Allyacht Spars.

Alan and June had always wanted to live and work in Asia. Everyone told him, “If you want to live in Asia and enjoy sailing, move to Phuket.”
Lady luck smiled on Alan again when just before he was to move to Phuket, he received a call from the UK, out of the blue, to see if he would want to work as the Asia-area manager for the deck hardware company Lewmar, covering13 countries, but based in Phuket. He ended up working for the company for four years. In 2013, he started Asia Catamarans merging with Roger Diggelmann’s Composite Yacht Construction. The company has built a mix of 21 power and sail Stealth catamarans to date.
Neil Petford taught Alan how to build boats and Geoff Berg taught him how to be a manager. That knowledge and legacy continues to live on with every Stealth that rolls out of the Asia Catamarans boatyard in Ao Chalong.

Drum roll, please…

For a rundown on all the Stealths that Asia Catamarans, including Coconuts below,  has built go to http://www.asiacatamarans.com/stealth-designs/a-success-story/
(Btw, Alan’s son Ben is a qualified superyacht captain and has worked on, Addix, Kokomo 5 and is working as a first mate on Red Dragon now, based out of Palma in Spain. His daughter Mia is the Operations Manager of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, having previously served with Conservation International in East Timor.)

10. Coconuts one of the latest Asia Catamarans creations ed

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