The Mab

Mab (sloop: yacht), Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island, Calif., 1939. Yacht on display at international Exposition Photographed by Moulin Studios. San Francsico Maritime National Historical Park, P88-064.3x (SAFR 17584).
Mab at the Golden Gate International Exhibition, Treasure Island
Seventy-five years ago William Crosby, editor and yacht designer, published the complete plans and instructions for his new "National One-Design" class racing sloop in the January 1937 issue of the Rudder. Published during the Great Depression when yachting was a rich man's sport, the simple and elegant lines of Crosby's National One-Design allowed amateur backyard boat builders and small commercial boat yards to create speedy and stable yachts particularly suited for inland waters for an estimated cost of $200. This new class of racing sloop, rooted in the Snipe class Crosby had designed two years earlier, was characterized by a shallow hull with a narrow and deep centerboard, an inboard rudder, a lofty rig with a high aspect ratio sail plan, a moderately beamy hull overhanging a hard chine, and a sweet sheer. These characteristics enabled the National One-Design to sail exceptionally close to the wind with excellent maneuverability and stability and made the new class swift, graceful, faster, and more responsive than other boats of the day. In addition, the National One-Design foreshadowed the much larger 12-meter yachts that revitalized America's Cup racing in the 1950s.

During 1937 the Palo Alto Boats Works, owned by John and Pete Gambetta constructed a National One-Design sloop for Professor Smith of Stanford University. The sloop, named Mab, displayed exceptional workmanship. The highly-finished joinery and unusual quality of care and craftsmanship earned the Mab an invitation to be a featured part of the 1939 yachting exhibit at the Golden Gate International Exhibition held on Treasure Island.

Around this same time, Pete Gambetta repurchased the Mab and spent the next 30 years sailing her on San Francisco Bay. His daughter, Barbara, sailed the sloop to victory in races sponsored by the Palo Alto Yacht Club in 1945 and the Sequoia Yacht Club in 1946.

First Place National One-Design, 1945, trophy (SAFR 17583)
First Place National One-Design, 1945, trophy (SAFR 17583)

NPS photo

First Place, Fall Regatta, 1946 trophy (SAFR 17582)
First place, fall Regatta (SAFR 17582)

NPS photo

As a National One-Design racing sloop, the Mab is 17 feet 5 inches in overall length with a waterline length of 10 feet 3 inches. Her extreme beam is 5 feet 8 inches and her draft is only 6 inches with the centerboard up and 3 feet with the board all the way down. She is constructed of cedar planking on oak sawn frames with Honduras mahogany on the cockpit coamings, thwarts, and transom. She carries two sails and her 137 square feet of sail area is divided between her mainsail (78 square feet) and her Genoa jib (59 square feet). Built with a roomy cockpit, side decks, and fore and aft decks, the Mab has a big boat feeling while offering adequate storage area and comfortable sailing for 6 adults. When racing, her simple sail design only required a crew of two adults.

The classic-rigged National One-Design offered families comfortable day sailing as well as competitive sailing for the hard core racers. Since 1937 the National One-Design class has been managed this class and its activities and promoted National One-Design sailing and racing in Europe and the United States.

In December 1987 members of the Gambetta family donated the Mab to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and the beautiful little sloop became a part of our small craft collection. In addition to the sloop, the family donated two trophies won by the Mab and a collection of family photographs.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2 Marina Boulevard, Building E, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-7000
The public information office is open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. PST during weekdays and we will respond to all messages within two business days.

Contact Us