Malcolm Tennant is already missed, and he passed away only five days ago. Our world is indeed a sadder and a poorer place today.
I will particularly miss his erudite and at the same time gentlemanly comments on our Power Catamaran List. He seemed to me to be the very guru of our list, yet he cheerfully responded to our questions. Particularly the silly or poorly informed ones. He was remarkably generous with his unrivaled knowledge and experience, and still somehow he managed to explain the most arcane topics so clearly that even I could understand them. He treated us with what seemed like limitless patience, as an indulgent parent might.
His power and sail catamaran designs reflect an exceptional mastery of scholarly naval architecture tempered by the diverse experiences of his long career and handsomely spiced with his unique and inquisitive imagination. His innovative designs and their underlying concepts will not only survive, but will continue to grow in popularity as the rest of
the world increasingly understands his vision.
As an enthusiastic power catamaran owner I knew him chiefly through the window of our Internet list, and from admiring the boats he designed. Proudly pinned to my bulletin board is the flattering comment he recently made endorsing one of my dogmatic sermons on how carefully designers of catamarans work out the weight and balance for our boats and how we should be particularly careful about changing the weight or position of significant components.
Malcolm Tennant was the best kind: innovative thinking with disciplined engineering. And glad to share all this hard-won knowledge. A sad pasing.
In the summer of 2000 I went to New Zealand to see Malcolm Tennant after reading in an article on the Erebus, a power catamaran designed by Malcolm Tennant. The result of that trip was that I built the "PH8", an aluminum sistership of the New Yorker, probably one of the few, if not only aluminum cats designed by Malcolm Tennant and his friend Alan Walker.
Malcolm really believed in the efficiency of his power catamarans, a goal he relentlessly pursued. The PH8 fully met my expectations and more and is now a tribute to his design.
The catamaran community has lost one of its foremost, uncompromising designers.
I was saddened when I read of his passing, as I always read his postings on the list. He looks like I pictured him, a nice easy going guy. I'm glad I got to see one of his designs first-hand (Wild Wind IV).
Such a waste, especially such an accident, doing what he enjoyed.
Few people in the world of catamaran design are as recognized as Malcolm Tennant. His knowledge and his wit, his wry comments and his common sense were legendary. Catamaran design was his passion, his lifelong work, and his hundreds of designs contributed to the growth of the industry worldwide.
Rolling back to Long Beach Trawler Fest, September 2000. JP and I had signed up for the weekend just to see a catamaran that was coming from New Zealand and to hear a 50-minute talk by Malcolm Tennant. As it turned out, the boat had burnt during a fire at the NZ boatyard where it had been under construction. So, JP and I loafed around, talking to a few people, including a little old guy with glasses who was also wandering alone. The talk rapidly turned to catamarans, and the little old guy with glasses started to reach into a huge burlap bag hanging from his shoulder. One after the other, he pulled out designs of catamarans: The Erebus, The Ice Bear, The New Yorker, The Globetrotter . . . everything we had dreamed of and more!
"Who are you?" asked JP.
That's how our friendship started. Later that day, we went to listen to Malcolm's talk on "Why Power Catamaran?" and were shocked to see that only four people were in attendance: JP and I, Malcolm's friend and catamaran-owner from California, and one boat builder. Nobody seemed interested in catamarans then, and Malcolm had come all that way to talk to three neophytes (his friend excluded.)
Later that weekend, we talked to more people about catamarans and got various kinds of responses: "You're building a WHAT?" or, "Those things? They capsize all the time!" or, "That's not a boat!" Yet, Malcolm was always ready to take the naysayers head-on if he had to and pull his graphs and data out of his burlap bag.
A year later, we were planning on meeting Malcolm again at Trawler Fest in October 2001. Of course, the event had been cancelled after 9/11 and Malcolm wheezed through California without seeing anyone but his old California friend. Another trip for naught, but Malcolm was not deterred. Like a preacher with his bible, he went around the world with his burlap bag and talked breathlessly about cats.
Malcolm certainly made hard-core catamaran fans out of us. Whether at his home in Titirangi, or between two planes at LAX, or on the floor of the Fort Lauderdale boat show, he guided us through the design of Domino, the power catamaran we are building in Paraguay.
Malcolm, as I write this, I can still hear your chuckle: "Form follows function . . . If you won't use it, don't put in in the boat . . . For Chrissake, Marie, forget wood and marble: paint everything!"
So long, Malcolm, we'll miss you but you will always remain a part of us and of Domino.