The Corbin 39 Association

The Corbin 39 Association is an informal not-for-profit collective voluntary co-operative effort by Corbin 39 owners, crews, and enthusiasts worldwide. They form our Members.

The Association has a minimal, but hopefully sufficient, organisational structure so that it can deliver its aims for many decades to come, because the Corbin 39 fleet is likely to be long-lasting but is also highly dispersed.

The Association was put together in its current structure in 2019, some forty years after the first Corbin 39 was launched in 1979, and builds on earlier co-operative efforts that go back to those first years.

The aims of the Association are:

  • to keep owners, crews, and enthusiasts in touch with one another;
  • to bring as many owners into the fraternity as possible;
  • to provide a long-lasting forum and means to securely store & share relevant information.

From a historical perspective a Corbin 39 association has been through three stages of development so far, and it is worth summarising this history so that there is an understanding of what now exists, and why this is so, as it affects some key organisational decisions we have taken in this third stage.

The snailmail years

Because most Corbin 39s were owner-finished the factory starting issuing a paper ‘build-manual’ in instalments to subscribers. These were sent by old-fashioned postage stamp mail (or ‘snailmail’ as the internet generation later termed it). The factory, with Marius Corbin as builder with a team of trades-people, and Robert Dufour as designer and naval architect served as an ‘anchor’ to this. In USA and Canada clusters of individuals and families who were fitting out their boats co-operated to share information and ideas more locally, and various co-operative buying efforts for major equipment or bespoke items were formed. Production of hulls from the factory ceased in 1989 and as the in-build projects were either completed & launched, or lay dormant and unfinished, this phase drew to a close in the later 1990s.

The early internet period

On 16-October-2001 the internet domain name was registered and Lester Helmus who was the US-based owner of #10, Insouciance started running a Corbin 39 website and occasional newsletter. Co-operative community efforts became focussed on this and owners shared their experiences and adventures this way. They would email in with questions, or supply answers and information, and relate their various experiences and Lester acted as a de-facto Corbin 39 association secretary. This became more and more important as the Corbin 39 fleet migrated all over the world, and many boats changed owners and homeports. Lester sought to charge an annual fee ($25 by 2015) and it was unclear whether he was operating on a for-profit or a not-for-profit basis, although it is believed that any profit was donated to a charitable orphanage. By 2015 Lester’s service to the community became more sporadic and by 2017 website outages had begun to occur, together with prolonged unresponsiveness. Although in 2015 he confirmed the website would continue, the facts are that in 2019 all the content had been taken down and he was apparently seeking to sell the domain name. We learnt that Lester died towards the end of 2019 and we were able to arrange with his estate that all his website content could be used, but by then the .com domain name had been taken over and is outside our control. For sure we owe thanks to Lester for the important contribution he has made in the past, and you can read an obituary of Lester Helmus here.

Later internet renewal

Some members of the Corbin community had established various other networks with each other, and amongst other things were discussing this situation. In 2019 these coalesced, primarily through the nexus of Ken Lund and David Sharman. Ken is a Canadian-based enthusiast, specialising in double-enders / canoe sterns, who owns a Windjammer 34 “Full Circle”, not to be confused with the Corbin 39 of the same name. David Sharman is a UK-based owner of Corbin 39 hull #123, “Bockra”. Together they were – amongst other things – both trying to track down all the Corbin 39s that had been built, and what had become of them. They pooled their private efforts with Ken initially setting up his personal ‘just-for-fun’ Facebook page to publicly photo-index the known Corbin 39s; and then Ken set up the public Facebook Group that is now titled “Corbin 39 Group” as a more open forum for interaction. Just so everyone understands, the Corbin 39 Facebook Group is the place for most direct chit-chat, gossip, questions, etc. so please sign up there (see more info here).

As they had anticipated very quickly it became obvious that a more suitable longer-term information storage and sharing solution would be needed. This is especially because many Corbin 39s are embarking on fairly substantial mid-life refits under new owners who are by-now highly geographically dispersed worldwide. So David then took the lead in putting together a new website using the domain name and setting up the loose organisational structure of the Corbin 39 Association to co-ordinate efforts and ensure that (hopefully) the community is never again at risk of one person becoming unresponsive for whatever reason. From the start it is being made clear that the Association exists as a completely free collective voluntary co-operative not-for-profit effort to bring together owners, crews, and enthusiasts from around the globe, and the Aims are clearly set out. The web site is now up and running and is the longer term information archive.