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Pure Genius: Bob Johnstone

He changed sailing forever.

December 21, 2016
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Bob Johnstone
Johnstone started a revolution from the depths of his brother Rod’s garage. Billy Black
Bob Johnstone
Bob Johnstone has made his mark in both the sailing and powerboat worlds. Onne van der Wal

Bob Johnstone has made his mark in both the sailing and powerboat worlds, and his contributions are not soon to be forgotten.

Johnstone is perhaps best known as the co-inventor, along with his brother Rod, of the J Boat in the mid-1970s.

A former marketing executive with Quaker Oats, Johnstone felt that the sail industry was not advancing efficiently, so the avid sailor struck out on his own. The Johnstone brothers began selling a boat designed after one Rod had built in his garage. That model, the J/24, became the most popular recreational offshore keelboat in the world.

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The Johnstones ended up selling more than 7,000 different sailboats of various sizes. Like others on this list, Johnstone eventually moved to the power side, when in 2002 he founded MJM Yachts, the only American brand offering prepreg epoxy composite hulls.

Unsurprisingly, the company already has a strong foothold in the competitive Downeast market.

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