Lauren Williams in FastAlley's salon

Lauren Williams, the man – FastAlley’s designer

I bought my trimaran, FastAlley, 3 years ago in February 2008.  It is a Lauren William’s design so I went online and Googled “Lauren Williams”, but I found very little on him.  It was as though he had dropped off the Earth.

Over the past 3 years I continued to Google him every so often and occasionally I would find a chat thread with an email address.  I would email the people on the thread looking for information, but all my queries were a dead end.

Whenever I found a website where they talked about Arthur Piver, and his designer Lauren Williams, then I would email them looking for more news, but again a dead end.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Then one day I got a response to an email where the sender said that he knew Lauren was still alive and living somewhere in the Bay area, but that was as much as he knew.  So I went to WhitePages.com and entered “Lauren Williams” and dozens of names popped up (wish I had done that ages ago).  Fortunately the website lists the age of the person so I selected those names with 60+ years old and left voicemails for each.  Lo and Behold, a Lauren Williams called me back and said, “Yes I am the designer of your boat”.

I had been searching for LW for nearly 3 years – I was just thrilled to hear from him.

LW in FastAlley's cockpit

I invited him down to see my boat (his design) and I was as excited as a puppy with two tails when he accepted.  We arranged for 10am on Sunday.

I was chatting with JohnS when Lauren arrived so John stayed around out of curiosity, and to tell LW that I had been wriggling with excitement the whole morning.  I really was.  I was so thrilled to meet the man who had designed my boat.

I had so many questions – like how does water escape from the base of the mast section?  Apparently it doesn’t, the builder forgot to drill the drainage hole.  But I have a fix for that that I saw in the Practical Sailor so I will implement the fix.

Another question was – where are the fuel tanks?  I know where I fill the tanks, but I didn’t know how to get to them.  Lauren showed me.

Lauren explained the interior of the boat and how he was the first to move the sides of the amas (or floats as they were called in the early days) out to increase the interior space, and most importantly, to allow one to walk thru the amas.  This was an innovation in trimaran design at the time.

LW on the bow

I also thought that the strength and stability of the trimaran was enforced by the standing rigging.  Lauren said not at all, the standing rigging made no difference.  He showed me the cross-beams that comprise all the structural strength of the boat – so now I know where to put the straps when I lift it out the water.

I proudly showed him around FastAlley, and as he headed for the front v-section, I said “Careful, you have to duck to go into that section”.  Lauren grinned, “I know, I designed it”, he said.

It was such a treat to have Lauren all to myself for the day!

We were doing a dummy test on some servers for work, and I had a meeting at noon that I had to start up, but as soon as the team was underway I dropped off and left it to the techies.  But by that time it had started to rain.

LW said, “So are we going sailing?”

“But it has started to rain”, I pointed out.

“Let me tell you what my dad said to me when I was 8 years old and pointed out that it was raining”, said Lauren.  “My Dad said, It cant hurt you son, it doesn’t have soap in it”.

I laughed, and got out my waterproof jacket.

We fired up the engine, backed out of the slip, and headed for the San Mateo Bridge.  Once we got there we raised the sails but there was no wind, so we drifted around waiting for the rainstorm wind to arrive.  I was still so excited to have Lauren all to myself on my boat that I was bouncing off the rigging.

FINALLY the wind kicked in and FastAlley started to sail.

I adore my boat – she sails like a champion with a wonderful soothing rolling motion.  The wind was around 12 knots and we were flying along at nearly 7 knots.

One thing about having the designer on board, he sure knows the boat!

I have never managed to tack my trimaran – to get from a port tack close hauled to a starboard tack close hauled, I usually jybe all the way around from close hauled, beam reach, broad reach, dead down wind, and back up to close hauled on the other side.  Various people have offered various solutions, but still I couldn’t get FastAlley to tack.  Lauren adjusted the sails, took the helm, and FastAlley tacked with disdain.  Guess what, I had been doing it wrong all along and was trying to tack my 3 hulls like it was a monohull.  I was so thrilled I insisted on tacking over and over and over, and FastAlley happily obliged by tacking demurely.  I knew I had a silly grin on my face the whole afternoon but I didnt care… I was on my beloved FastAlley and she was sailing like a champion.

The wind was also excellent for a fun day of sailing.  It was around 13 knots and it held steady with no gusts – terrific sailing weather.  Unfortunately it rained a lot of time so we got somewhat damp – but it was glorious being out on FastAlley with the boat designer at the helm, adjusting the sails, and giving me pointers all the time.  HUGE THRILL – did I mention that already?!

LW arrived with some catalogs of his designs which I will scan and show on this website.  I spent hours with Lauren dragging his history out of him.  I have spent so long trying to find out all about him that now that I had the man sitting in front of me, I quizzed him for hours!  I wrote it all down to post later.

On Saturday I had been so wrapped up in getting the boat clean and neat for Lauren that I totally forgot about food.  I scrubbed, and polished, and wiped, and vacuumed, and washed.

Once we were out on the water I realized that I had no food on board.  The only food I had was some crackers and cheese left over from past weekends.  I brought out my meager rations and LW was too polite (and too hungry) to refuse the food.  Once we had eaten the few crackers, I only had some GoldFish crackers left – which LW and I finished off too.  After that we just starved.  I was mortified to be hosting LW with no food on board.

Later I called my son Kevin and was burbling with excitement as I told him about my day.  He said, “Let me guess Mom, you forgot the food.  You ALWAYS forget the food.  Every time we go out with you, you only ever have moldy cheese and stale crackers that someone else forgot on your boat!”.  I burst out laughing, he had hit the nail on the head.  When I told him that was all we had to eat, he howled with glee.  He said, “Mom, you are so programmed that way!  You haven’t done that just once or twice – it happens EVERY time.  You never remember the food.  Now we know to bring our own”.

I have invited LW to come back for some winter sailing – and this time I promise I will remember to have (hot) food on board….. well, with my history maybe I shouldn’t promise?!


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