Article courtesy of Rarotonga Sailing Club and the NZ Herald
Des Townson.......affectionately known by all Electron owners as 'God'...is the builder of these electronic boats and personally handcrafted each Electron which is an exact scale replica of his highly popular 34 foot sloop.
A respected, honoured and world renowned builder of boats since any of us can remember...'God' resides in Auckland, New Zealand, and from his home work shop personally manufactures the 'Electron' radio controlled yacht, which takes about a week to build, and exports them all over the world.
Once delivered, the 'Electron' is complete in every detail...and any modifications inevitably bring on the wrath of 'God'.
Each boat has its own sail number and to date sail numbers are already in the early 700s. (Now over 1000). Boat number 1 is still sailed competitively, testimony to the quality and design of 'Gods' creation.
Over the years Des Townson has quietly become one of New Zealands most successful yacht designers, with more than a thousand boats to his centreboard and keelboat designs scattered all over the country, from the early designs, the Zephyr and Mistral, to his highly successful Twilight, which now numbers more than 70 boats.
Like so many others in his field, he is completely self taught, both in design and boatbuilding. Though he describes himself as limited compared with others, he is one of the most popular designers of gulf racer / cruisers and widely accepted as one of the best.
They say that he was born on his father's mullet boat, the Nomad. If it is true then this strongly influenced his early designs and still influences his boat's finished profiles - white with red bottom, dark sheer line, white coamings and blue cabin top. Des says, "I was keen on boats and what made them tick, and I enjoyed the sheer pleasure of sailing...something I still enjoy."
When he left school he wanted very much to be a boat builder, but boat building was not a very good trade to get into in those days, so he started an apprenticeship as a motor body builder, but this didn't last long. So he drifted into housebuilding, worked in a jam factory stamping 3000 lids and hour, soldered milk cans, worked at Kawerau...then one day a neighbour asked him to help build a dinghy...this was the start of 'Gods' path to boatbuilding.
Over all those years of designs and boatbuilding 'God' has collected a loyal band of followers, fiercely proud of their boats and their designer. He is himself a talented helmsmen, but sailing for the joy of sailing is more his line. He has, somewhat undeservedly, gained a reputation for being dogmatic, and at times intolerant. But underneath he is an honest, humorous, highly intelligent New Zealander, not afraid to speak his mind on touchy subjects, occasionally critical, but more often about himself than others.
He was a perfectionist, a skilled craftsman, who said, "I was always very interested in the beauty of boats...the grace...I was never really skilful with my hands, so thinking of boatbuilding was a simple way of expressing the beauty of boats."
1934 - 2008