I’m John corby and have had a passion for boats all of my 56 years. Going back a decade or so I was designing racing yachts with successful results. I also built several of them with my own hands often with a crew of unconventional but loyal artisans, becoming very practiced in one-off construction in a variety of materials including wood, foam and carbon fibre.
However things move on, and about 10 years ago when the new commissions started to thin out we found ourselves in the extreme refit business. With both design and build skills under one roof we could get older boats into the shed, redesign them, chop them around with large power tools and recreate them into better, faster and shinier than new, unbelievably satisfying.
Design consultancy has been particularly busy this winter, with other boatyards doing the physical work. Meanwhile our own workshops have recently been upgraded and I expect to be building a new boat quite soon which will be an exciting step into a whole new direction.
The Corby transom first appeared in 1995 on Mustang Sally. I schemed it up with Giovanni from SP Technologies, using uni-directional fibres in tension along the top and in compression on the angles, as a structural solution to stiffening up the stern to oppose the immense backstay loads we expected. Since then it has become an instantly recognisable, and dare I say popular, visual signature.
A long time ago I was an Etonian and a Royal Marines Officer. I have two grown up children, Sophie who works at Deloitte, and Seb who works for Amey.
And my Dad invented the electric trouser press.
86 boats on the planet + numerous dinghies
26 repeat owners
16 different countries, race, regatta & championship wins
20 custom builds in house
19 other boatyards have built Corby designs
5 'Yacht Of The Year' Awards
3 designs in the Royal Thames YC model room (by invitation)
1 design included in Yachting World's '50 Yachts that changed the way we sail'
2014 - 2017 Vast number of refit projects and Cowes Week Black Group overall win twice more by Yes!, plus RTYC 'Yacht of the Year' twice and overall winner of RYS Bicenterary Regatta.
2013 Major refit of Mustang Sally into Yes!, winning Cowes Week Black Group overall for the 2nd time.
2011-2012: No new designs but huge amount of refurbishment and special projects, including non-Corby designs.
3rd Corby Cup, this time in Dublin, won by Impetuous.
2010 Rockall & Roxy 1st and 2nd Overall in class in Commodores Cup. 2nd Corby Cup, in Cowes, won by No Retreat!
Launched MiRC App for iPhone and iPod touch. Since developed into race finishing iPad app with RORC.
2009 Possibly best ever year of results.
2008 - 2010 Major refurbishments to older Corby designs: Gloves Off, Cracklin’ Rosie, Independent Bear, Rosie/Rockall.
2008 Quokka: overall class winner in Commodores Cup and top boat in top team. Turkish production started.
Inaugural Corby Cup to celebrate 20 years in business, In Cowes, won by Rosie (became Rockall, and then Jessandra)
2007 Retro style Catherine launched. Full Metal Jacket & new Flirt built in NZ and Oz respectively.
2006 Blondie 3 (now Impetuous) mixed wood and carbon fibre to great effect. Top scoring yacht in Commodores Cup until protested out by another
Irish yacht. Prototype Bullitt powerboat also built, famous for garden chair seating.
2005 Polish production range started, 29, 33 & 26. 29 Yes! won every race in Cowes Week and Black Group Overall.
2002 Corby Yachts built their largest yacht to date, the original Flirt 50ft. Now in Australia and called Vamp. Recent Hobart class win
2001 John refitted and raced the 12 Meter Crusader in 8 regattas including the America’s Cup Jubilee
2000 Barlo Plastics (now Hummingbird) and Gloves Off won just about every major regatta in the UK & Ireland. Production 25 started.
1998 3 Corby designs widened to counteract massive rating increases by RORC. (All are now thin again)
Cracklin’ Rosie won Ford Cork Week overall, and a car. Launch of Zzap youth skiff dinghy.
1997 Independent Bear won so much with ease that the RORC Rating Office rewrote CHS.
1996 Mustang Sally won ‘windy tuesday’ in Cowes Week by 15 minutes, (Silk nosedive day) as well as the lightest day, and Class 2 overall for the week.
1995 Mustang Sally: total change in design direction. 33 firsts from 53 starts in first season. First appearance of Corby Transom.
Several more commissions followed including Cracklin’ Rosie.
1994 Frenzy built in Dublin and first ever Irish Corby. Since then around 45 Irishmen have bought Corbys.
1993 Converting Machine (now Njos) considered too radical with its bulb keel, non-overlap jibs, asymmetric spinnakers on retractable sprit, sweptback spreaders and no running backstays.
1992 - 93 Corby Yachts built 3 custom yachts over the winter in what is now Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre.
1992 Joyride: 35ft, plywood, 1500kg. Regularly 20 knots +. Cowes Week radio RIB couldn’t keep up.
1988 Chance meeting in Pier View pub in Cowes led to commission for design & build of 27ft light displacement CHS yacht, so set up own business.
2 boats built from same hull mould, one now in France other in Dubai.
1986 - 88 Taught myself CAD and got a job with an established design office.
1976 - 86 Sailing prior to designing: Transatlantic; Fastnets; Bermuda Race; Swan Weeks; Onion Patch; IOR Half; Three Quarter and Two ton Level Rating; IOR Maxi; RORC offshore; AC trials; JOG; Solent Points; Cowes Weeks; Etchell; Dragon; Daring; J24s; Flying Fifteens; Tornado; Int 14; Contenders; 470; Laser; Lark; Firefly; Illusion.
88 - 89 High Street, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7AW, UK
DESIGN - BUILD - REFURBISH