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The House That Lasers Built

Designer Bruce Kirby’s waterfront property is for sale.

November 9, 2016
Lasers race worldwide today.

Bruce kirby was drawing San Juan sailboats for the Clark Boat Company when he got a call in the 1970s asking for a car-top sailboat. His sketch during that call became known as “the million-dollar doodle,” evolving into the Laser, one of the most popular single-handed dinghies in history. “That was my most money ever made in the shortest time,” Kirby says. “It tripled my income.”

With his newfound cash, he bought a waterfront home in Rowayton, Connecticut, with views of Long Island Sound from every window. He scored it at a steal from an IBM comptroller.

The lawn overlooking the water.

“He had a purple motorboat in front of the house,” Kirby recalls. “He really didn’t know the value of the property for somebody like me, for a real boat lover.”

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Kirby didn’t need the tandem garage on the harbor side, so he installed a pair of 7-foot-long drafting tables. “I’ve done most of the boats here, I guess starting with the San Juan 30,” he says. “The space where my computer is, I turned it around so it wasn’t facing the water. It’s the only way I could get some work done.”

The land is a half-mile from Long Island Sound, with a hurricane shelter.

Kirby raised his kids here and taught his grandchildren to sail by way of the boats at his dock: Lasers, of course, plus others he designed, such as the Nightwind 35 and Norwalk Island Sharpie.

Now turning 88, Kirby is selling — but not to anyone with a purple motorboat.

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The home’s unassuming exterior.

“We’ve got the best spot in Rowayton — some people say in all of Connecticut,” he says with understandable pride. “I’d like to see somebody buy it who wants to do all that good stuff on the water. It’s almost like owning a yacht club.”

Kirby’s dock can take a 45-footer, and his launch ramp can handle 9 or 10 feet of beam.
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