Born and raised in Nova Scotia but schooled in Britain, Commodore Fraser Fraser-Harris flew carrier-based fighter-bombers and fighter planes throughout the Second World War, and later captained surface combatants ranging from destroyers to an aircraft carrier. He ultimately closed a decorated military career as Canada’s assistant chief of naval staff. As a civilian, Fraser-Harris managed a yacht yard in Grenada, skippered large charter and private yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, and then became a yacht surveyor, specializing in FRP construction and forensic cases. In the 1980s, he brought his extensive experience to bear in nearly 30 technical boat-reviews—some of the best of the genre ever written—for the hardcover magazine Nautical Quarterly, which ran them as “surveys.”
One of Fraser-Harris’s survey reports, published in NQ’s Winter ’84 issue, was on the Tempest 44. That boat is the progenitor of the nominal 44-footer now built, on contract, by Tampa (Florida) Yacht Manufacturing as a fast coastal interceptor or search-and-rescue craft for the international military market.
As for Tempest Marine’s 44, that inaugural model had been rolled out the previous winter. Since the company built fewer than a dozen boats per year, Fraser-Harris likely reviewed a first-generation product. The designer of record was Adam Erdberg, an Israeli gunboat vet and mechanical engineer who’d resettled in the United States. Before joining Tempest, Erdberg worked initially for Bertram and subsequently for Cigarette. At the latter shop, he shepherded into production a 41-footer (12.5m; later extended to 43’/13m), Cigarette’s first big diesel-powered boat. Cigarette’s 41/43 influenced the Tempest 44 reviewed by Fraser-Harris. The Tempest 44, with its twin 355-hp (265-kW) Caterpillar diesels and 15,000-lb (6,800-kg) displacement, was moderately fast (40–50 knots) and intended for long-range cruising.
Fraser-Harris praised the Tempest 44’s performance but was critical of its aerodynamics in the cockpit. Having piloted warplanes whose canopies could be slid back in flight, Fraser-Harris “suggested” to Erdberg “that thought might be given to curved ‘venturi’ airflow deflection to reduce the wind effect which, while exhilarating…can become equally enervating over longer periods of exposure.” Interestingly, the “wind effect” Fraser-Harris describes seems to apply to Tampa Yacht’s 44 FCI, despite a foredeck different from the original Tempest 44’s.
Tampa Yacht co-founder and CEO Bob Stevens told me he believes the Tempest 44 tooling he acquired when TYM bought the assets of Tempest Marine, in 2008, were molds for one of NASCAR driver Sandy Satullo’s raceboats, called Copper Kettle, designed by Jean-Claude Simone. Copper Kettle was an endurance offshore racing machine, meant for extreme distance events like Miami-to-New-York and often the only entrant fitted with diesel engines.
Fraser-Harris’s Tempest 44 survey in NQ was folded into a larger feature written by Pete Smyth about Gasoline Alley—one of the nicknames for N.E. 188th Street in North Miami Beach, where Tempest Marine would later move its operations, from Fort Lauderdale. Smyth, a close observer of who designed what at the numerous speedboat shops on Gasoline Alley, confessed to being unable to tease apart the “tangled web” of copying and hull splashing that obscured the true design origins of the various brands building performance powerboats on N.E. 188th.
Tampa Yacht Manufacturing, however, has effectively rendered moot much of the narrative above. The Tempest molds for its 44 that Stevens found have since been remade; design credit for the TYM/Tempest 44 FCI belongs to Rob Kaidy.
Kaidy’s professional resume includes stints at Fountain, OMC Advanced Design & Engineering, and Ocean5, the Stuart, Florida, naval architecture firm he founded. Currently, he is vice president of engineering and senior naval architect at SeaVee Boats, headquartered in Miami. There was also a period of freelance consulting, during which he re-designed Tampa Yacht Manufacturing’s Tempest 44 product.
About the Author: Paul Lazarus is Professional BoatBuilder’s senior editor.