W.I.B. Crealock dies at 89; yacht designer and author


W.I.B. Crealock, a yacht designer, sailor and sailing author, died Sept. 26 at his home in Carlsbad after breaking his hip in a fall. He was 89.

Crealock was part of the “golden age” of fiberglass design in the 1960s, when the use of fiberglass made boats quicker and less expensive to build and easier to handle.

He worked for several boat makers, and some of his designs became bestsellers.

“He was a good designer, a good sailor and a very good shipmate,” said Richard Valdez, retired founder of Orange County-based Columbia Yachts.


Crealock was known for his meticulous concern for details and his rigorous work ethic. He rode his bicycle to work and could be seen late into the night working at his office in Newport Beach.

He became friends with many of the Hollywood set, including Rock Hudson, Jane Russell, Claire Trevor and Natalie Wood, through their interest in boating. For Trevor and her husband, he designed the Lady Claire, a 56-foot trawler yacht.

When CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite bought a boat designed by Crealock, he called the designer to express his admiration.

In 2002, one of Crealock’s designs, the Pacific Seacraft 36, was inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame. The citation called the craft “a classic American sailboat with an honesty of design that, combined with the highest standards of boatbuilding . . . has shown the sailing industry that there is a place in the hearts and budgets of sailors for a boat created expressly to go to sea and bring the crew back safely.”

William Ion Belton Crealock was born Aug. 23, 1920, in Westcliff-on-Sea, about 35 miles east of London. His father was a railway bridge designer for the British government, and young Crealock spent much of his childhood in India.

He studied nautical architecture at Glasgow University and worked in the Glasgow shipyard during World War II. He attempted to enlist in the military, but shipyard work was considered too valuable to the war effort.


In the 1950s, Crealock and three friends pooled their money and bought the ancient cutter Content and began a sailing trip around the world. Crealock chronicled their adventures in his first book, “Vagabonding Under Sail.”

Other trips and adventures followed, including a typhoon in the South Pacific aboard the 105-foot schooner Gloria Maris and the subsequent perilous trip to Okinawa for repairs. Finally, Crealock settled in California and joined the burgeoning boat industry.

When computers began to be used in design work, Crealock said he preferred working by hand, mixing art and engineering in his designs. Crealock’s designs were used for every craft from dinghies and brigantine-rigged sailing ships to catamarans and 70-foot powerboats. He even made some preliminary designs for a charter submarine.

In the 1970s, he moved to northern San Diego County and ran a boatyard in Oceanside. After that, he worked at his home in Carlsbad.

He is survived by his wife, Lynne; a daughter, Anne; a stepson, Bevan Iredell; and a grandson.

Crealock’s ashes will be scattered at sea on Nov. 8. The public can watch from Point Fermin Park in San Pedro. Instead of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s Brigantine Project Completion Loan,