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Volume 16, Issue 41 - October 9 - October 15, 2008
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Where We Live
by Steve Carr

Man, Bay, Boat

Annapolitan Brian Jones builds a Boat-of the Year contender

Look out Annapolis: There’s another Problem Child on the loose.

Brian Jones, the owner of Blue Collar Boatworks, just launched his dream, a BC27 sailboat that has the sailing community taking notice.

Jones is a quiet legend in local sailing circles. After designing and building the original Problem Child, back in 1993, he won the prestigious High Point Award for the best boat on Chesapeake Bay in the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet B class six out of the last nine years. The son of a Naval Academy sailing instructor, Jones grew up sailing 420s — 4.2-meter-long dinghies sailed by a two-person crew — out of Severn Sailing. Even as a junior at Severna Park High, he always wanted to be a boat designer.

Jones is a soft-spoken fellow who doesn’t brag. But his eyes twinkle when he reminisces about the first Problem Child. “I’m a self-taught guy,” he says. “A friend gave me some computer software so I could play with various hull designs. I wasn’t an engineer, but to me, it was never about that anyhow. It was always about art. If it isn’t beautiful, why bother?”

Independence aside, the name Problem Child isn’t about “the rebel thing.”

Instead, Jones says, “I was driving over the Severn River Bridge one day and an AC/DC song called “Problem Child” came on, and I was like, Man, that would be a great name for a boat.”

The Right Surmise

Brian Jones and friends christen his newly designed Problem Child. You can see the craft at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis this weekend.

From the beginning, Jones has operated by the seat of his pants and ignored conventional wisdom. Most sailboats on the Bay are designed so that the deepest part of the boat is in the middle. But Jones surmised that prevailing Bay conditions were light wind with lots of surface chop. Consequently, he made the deepest part of Problem Child up near the bow. The trophies lining his Cape St. Claire home are testimony to his design.

Jones owns a marine electronics business, and he spends most of his time working on other people’s boats. It pays the bills and affords him the time and luxury to turn his dreams into reality.

“Designing and building the new boat was a balancing act,” he says. “It kept me from going crazy — while driving me crazy at the same time.”

The new Problem Child is metallic gold with accents that separate her from the rest of the sport boat pack. Sport boats are skimmers. They are made to race.

The BC27 made her racing debut at Annapolis Race Week. Decked out with brand new Quantum sails, the golden rocket took five firsts and one second and ran away from her competitors, catching the attention of the Chesapeake sailing world and even Sailing Anarchy. The hip website that highlights sailing around the globe featured a picture of PC sailing to victory.

Sailing World magazine is considering it for its Boat of the Year. Sailing magazine may put the boat in its vaunted design review section, where boat designers the world over critique the latest models. What makes the new Problem Child so special?

Jones studies his hands as he considers the question. “I designed this boat to be light, exciting, simple and fast. It’s the kind of boat that anyone can master. It has no spinnaker pole and the drop-keel design allows you to trailer the boat easily.

“And the cockpit cooler allows you to grab a cold one during a hot race.”

Jones hopes to sell his new design to an existing manufacturer because he doesn’t have the resources to pump out a fleet of Problem Children. In the meantime, if you want him to custom build a PC and are willing to put up the bucks, he’ll be happy to start production right away ( He will be taking prospective buyers for rides on Problem Child (by appointment) during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis.

The christening for the new boat brought out a who’s who of the Annapolis sailing elite. After doing the champagne number off the carbon bowsprit, Jones thanked his friends and held back a tear as he remembered his mother who had recently passed away.

“I just wish my mom could be here today to see the new boat. She was the one who always encouraged me to dream.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as we raised our glasses.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.