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Flying Dutchman by J-W. D. Gulcher Nov.2013 | Tag Yachts

Flying Dutchman by J-W. D. Gulcher  Nov.2013

What is a Flying Dutchman?  A man flying on wings such as Icarus from Dutch descent?  A ship that sailed the 7 seas for centuries, bringing bad luck to those that encounter it?  Or a flying super Constellation in the 1950th owned by the KLM Airline company?  And last but not least a dinghy that was innovative in design with a powerful rig making inroads in the sailing world and the Olympics.

All of the above are correct accept for an Icarus as most Hollanders / Dutchman are not foolish to go on such a quest.  Although ice sailing in the Middle Ages was then seen as maybe foolish, when ice did not have the carrying capacity for a ton and a half wooden sailing boat.  But yet it was innovative for the time as can be seen on many Dutch master paintings.

Being in the sailing world I want to ponder over the sailing dinghy Flying Dutchman as it is in my blood and was virtually born in it. The first statement I like to make is “that its innovativeness and design is as Johann Sebastian Bach is for the music industry”.  Basics and design limits were readdressed and changed to provide the design envelope it required.  How this was achieved is for most young sailor unknown and I have therefore attached a synoptic history of its development.  My notes here are to explain what the reason was that this came about and how it still influences us today.  As the eldest sibling in the Gulcher household everything revolved around sailing.  Although my Father was in insurance this would be discarded the moment he arrived home and replaced by the eagerness of developing something exciting that would be a joy to sail.  Conrad’s ethos was based on fun and sharing in the world of sailing and bring this sport to a greater variety of people worldwide.  In the initial years between 1951 and 1956 he made use of his good friendships with sailors around the world to provide constructive information for the development of the Flying Dutchman as everything in those days was at an amateur level very different from today.  Many a time Rosalie my mother would get a call in the afternoon that we would have a guest for dinner to talk sailing and the Dutch hospitality would spring into action.  The family and guests would interact before during and after dinner at all levels and that included us youngsters

Besides all the great names in sailing that would visit Holland, as a family we always had an open invitation for anyone to come home and talk about the future of sailing. And so we had guests from all over the world such as sailors from behind the iron curtain and the Shah of Bahrain who bought a big yacht and 10 FD’s to start a fleet in his country came to have a barbeque on the front lawn with some of his wife’s and a string of Rolls Royce’s.  On a trip to Sweden Conrad came back with one of the first Optimist than called A-Joll which was build in the living room and became my first boat on the park pond in front of the house.  Construction:  slatted frame with Mazonite paneling.  Not a light dinghy and required a good coat of paint and maintenance in order for the Masonite to last.  When the Flying Junior was designed I was promoted to start sailing in a fun and exciting new dinghy that emulated its performance from the Flying Dutchmen on a smaller scale

The innovative way in which the class association was set up and run from the attic of our home where all of us did the first prints of the Flying Dutchman bulletin.  Group meetings of sailing friends around the world that would come for dinner and were challenged in a running race around the park pond at our house at 11 o’clock at night to see who was the fittest sailor.   Fun events in the south of France at Bandor and Bandol during the world championships were part of the ethos of the flying Dutchman fraternity.  A mixed bag of international sailors coming together and sharing all its development of new innovations in rigging and design.  And as the brothers Kraan would say if you can only speak Dutch “just speak louder and they will understand you”

If it wasn’t for its unprofessionalism the sharing would have been hampered and some of the well known innovations may have been lost.   At one of the world championships in Barcelona a team of the than Iron Curtain USSR came with two boats on an army truck a polite bureau Chef and the hush hush attitude with covered boats only to be revealed 30 minutes before the race.  We would jock with the sailors who were totally embarrass but could do nothing just towing the line and to find out later that the chef was looking for a means to defect.   Musto sails and clothing was born out of the FD

Such as J. S. Bach has had a great influence on the music world so has the Flying Dutchman been instrumental in opening new horizons in sailing designs and innovation far beyond its glory times during the sixties and seventies

And the Tag 60 as a high performance catamaran and in the same way a fun yacht to sail is clear evidence that nothing was wasted time by Conrad in the fifties and sixties.  I can trustfully say that the Tag 60 has all the ingredients that involves the ethos from so long ago and to sum this up in a simple list of performance and sail ability I would say the following

TAG 60 is a cruising catamaran that is designed to provide to its owners

  • Fun to sail
  • To holiday sail or race all in one yacht with modern innovative sail handling systems
  • Sail as well as mono hull
  • Be faster than a mono hull of similar size in most wind conditions
  • Sails faster than the true wind up to 12 knots and is designed to sail at  speeds of 30 knots
  • Is a world cruiser
  • Provide spacious accommodation of high quality
  • A sail plan that give the true sailor a powerful rig to play around with
  • Space for the whole family to go on long distance traveling without compromise
  •  Its stability for pleasurable sailing is one of the best in the CAT world


This cannot be a new Bach of old but rather a Symphony of grace power and agility to be taken to the far corners of the world for those that want to experience fun and exploration




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