Innovative Designer from Racers to Cruisers By Dave Ellis
Glenn Henderson. Courtesy photo from Glenn Henderson.
program and launched his career. His first offering was a 21-foot plywood creation called “Master Blaster.” It had racing success on Tampa Bay in the early ’80s. While sailing, he noticed that his stern wave seemed to form farther aft than other boats going the same speed. When he examined the construction frames of the boat, it was discovered that the frame forward of the transom of the boat was misplaced, making the aft section curve slightly back toward the water. He didn’t know at the time that C. Raymond Hunt had designed the first Boston Whaler powerboats the same way. It worked. The next project was a radical fiberglass 17-footer dubbed Sting Ray. The boat encompassed all of Henderson’s wild ideas of the time. It had curved wings projecting out along the sides, giving it a distinctive appearance. All lines led below decks through tubes. It was fast when it wasn’t slow. Champion St. Petersburg sailor Ethan Bixby opined that it was tough to sail to its potential. The Sting Ray’s debut was at the 1985 Yachting Magazine One-Of-A-Kind regatta at Long Beach, CA. He sailed in the small boat division along with the Windmill, Snipe, Lightning and others and was delighted to win the first race. Unfortunately, it was largely because others had missed a change of course and cruised beyond the finish line before noticing their mistake. The SR Max, at 21-feet, is a direct descendant of the Sting Ray, but a bit more conventional. This speedster is still a popular boat that has had much racing success. It was time to grow. The SR 27 opened some eyes in the late ’80s. This was one of the first “sport boats” that are prevalent today. The boat would plane like a powerboat in enough wind, yet had a keel. There was no money to produce a new design. So in August of 1990, Henderson brought a set of plans for a 33footer to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club bar The SR Max, 21-feet, designed by Glenn Henderson. Photo by Dave Ellis. and prominently displayed them. Jay
s soon as Glenn Henderson, who is today 54 years old, learned about sailing in the Boy Scouts at a young age, he knew that boats would be a part of his life. He enjoyed sailing the usual kids’ boats of the day, such as Prams and Sunfish, in Plant City, FL. But he figured he could design a better boat. His first homemade craft was fashioned from roofing tin. It floated. Henderson’s education is in biology, but a few years sailing the Caribbean on a Pearson Ariel was much more fun. While cruising, he took the Weslayan School of Yacht Design correspondence course. A seminar on glass repair and using computers in yacht design caught his eye. Established St. Petersburg designers Charley Morgan and Ted Irwin attended. For Henderson, it was an epiphany. He hocked what he had, bought the expensive design