Ultimate 20: Ultimately Alive

Ultimate 20
Ultimate 20
Mark Allen’s Junta, competing at the 2013 Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD, is part of a growing fleet of Ultimate 20s on Utah’s Great Salt Lake.Tim Wilkes

The Ultimate 20’s fans say it was cool way before sportboats were hip, and that even today, as the Jim Antrim design approaches its second decade, it offers one thing flashier new boats don’t have: simplicity. And it’s this trait, says U20 stalwart Don Corey, that keeps the class alive and active, even as it’s passed from one new builder to the next, the latest being W.D. Schock, which now builds U20s at its Corona, Calif., plant.

“This is our sixth builder,” says Corey, who currently owns three U20s. “I don’t know if it’s anything to brag about, but if it was a bad boat, it would have died a long time ago.”

The W.D. Schock chapter continues the U20’s storied history. According to Corey, Ron Moore built the first 35 boats in Santa Cruz, then Santa Cruz Yachts built the next 20 or so, and Ultimate Sailboats International produced the bulk in the late 1990s before going bankrupt.

That’s when Corey stepped in to buy the molds on behalf of the class. “I did it to keep the boat around,” says Corey, who shipped the molds to Abbott Boatworks in Sarnia, Ontario. After a fire leveled Abbott’s factory in 2006, the molds went back west to Columbia Yachts. That, too, was short-lived. “They weren’t really into it,” says Corey, “so we started looking around for a different builder.”

The search led them to Schock, where Corey is confident the boat’s future is in good hands. “It’s a simple boat to build because it’s so well-designed,” says Corey. “The old ones are holding up really well. W.D. Schock recognized it was an active class and still worth building.”