Aquarius Sail Inc. was established by Tom Haberman in the early 1970s to
provide sail, trampoline, and canvas repair to Midwest sailors. Within a few
years Aquarius Sail was not only doing sail repair, but providing parts and
service to the catamaran community. In 1980 the owners of Aquarius Sail
visited the Chicago trade show and met two gentlemen from a sailboat company
called Formulae Racing Sailboats. One of these gentlemen was
and they were promoting their new catamaran design, the SuperCat 20. The
owners of Aquarius Sail were so impressed by the new design that they
immediately signed on to be one of the first dealers for SuperCat
The early 1980s brought many changes for Aquarius Sail, including the move to a larger location, a wider selection of parts for all makes and models of sailboats and the SuperCat dealership. The early 80s also brought many changes for SuperCat, these changes included the introduction of the SuperCat 17, SuperCat 19, SuperCat 15, and the change in ownership to Boston Whaler powerboats. After being owned by Boston Whaler for one year, production was moved to Erickson Yachts in California. The production and management of SuperCat remained in California for two years when it was again "For Sale" in 1984. The owners of Aquarius Sail were so impressed by the SuperCat concept that they purchased company in the fall of 1984 and moved production and sales to Minnesota.
As the 1990s arrived Aquarius Sail teamed up with Bill Roberts of Roberts Catamarans to introduce the SC-22 and continue production of the RC-27, which Bill had developed on his own in the mid 1980's. The joining of forces between Aquarius Sail Inc. and designer Bill Roberts helped to develop the highest performance and quality catamarans available on the market today. Aquarius Sails has introduced Bill Roberts leading designs, in 1991 the SC-22/ARC-22, in 1996 the RC-30, in 2000 the ARC-21 and now in 2003 the ARC-17 . Throughout the 1990s and now into the 21st. Century the products built and designed by the team of Aquarius Sail and Bill Roberts has raised the benchmark in high performance sailing.
The name change of the SC-22 to ARC-22 in the year 2000 reflects Aquarius Sails philosophy of being committed to a strict one design fleet program. The superior performance of the 22 design has been demonstrated in both long distance and triangle racing venues since 1992. The decision to solidify the design was in response to the current 22 owners desire to level the playing field in the future.
Bill learned to sail
and first began racing sailboats in the Snipe class at the age of 12. He
sailed during the summer months on a Tennessee river reservoir near
Chattanooga. He was fortunate to grow up in a very active Snipe fleet with
some of the top sailors in the country. By the age of 17, Billy, as he was
called at that time, had won the US Snipe Class National Junior Championship
twice. This was to be the beginning of many top level sailing achievements.
The next year he attended Vanderbilt University where he studied Mechanical
Engineering, while sailing / racing was set aside for a few years.
After graduating in 1960 Bill went to work in the Aerospace industry for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft at the Florida Research and Development Center near West Palm Beach Florida. There he did design and performance analysis work on the J58 jet engine and SR71 aircraft better known as the "Blackbird." In the 1970s and 80s Bill worked on the F100 engine and the F15 and F16 fighter aircraft. Bill continued his full time career in the Aerospace industry in the 1990s by working in Pratt & Whitney's Advanced Design Group investigating advanced engine and aircraft concepts. Bill holds several patents relating to Jet engine design which he acquired throughout his 37 years in the Jet Engine Business.
Now back to Sailing. Bill returned to sailing on the Flying Dutchman in 1965. This was the two man Olympic boat with one trapeze and a spinnaker. It was here that he designed, developed and patented the "spinnaker launcher and retraction system" that has spread to many classes today. Bill and his crew made an Olympic effort in 1968 where they finished third in the US Olympic trials. In 1970 Bill began sailing in the Contender class, a one man trapeze boat. This boat originally came out of an International Yacht Racing Union design competition and was targeted for the Olympics. Bill was US national Champion on the Contender six years in a row.
In the mid and late 1970s Bill began designing wing sails, sails with thickness, and then beach catamarans. In 1978 Bill and a partner started a boat company called Formulae Racing Sailboats under which they designed and produced the SuperCat product line. The SuperCat catamaran design included several unique patented features. One of these features was the elliptical hull shape to reduce the pitchpoling tendency of multihull sailboats. This design feature has become an industry standard in multihulls of all sizes. Many of the big ocean racers, both cats and tri's utilize the elliptical hull shape. The foredeck of these high-speed ocean racers frequently run underwater as much as they run on top of the water, flat decks just won't cut it! Examples include TEAM PHILIPS, SEABAGO, FURY, and the amas on most of the recently designed large ocean racing trimarans.
In 1980 Bill went to Holland and sailed the Round Texel Island Race. The conditions that year were some of the fiercest that the race has ever been held in. Bill took line honors that year and set the lowest elapsed time record for the race on a SuperCat 20. That record stood for several years before it was bettered by another SuperCat 20.
In 1981 Boston Whaler purchased Formulae Racing Sailboats. That same year the SuperCat product line attended Yachting Magazine's "One Of A Kind Regatta" at New Orleans. Here the SuperCat's dominated the races, taking line honors in every heat and also taking first and second place overall based on corrected time while sailing against the top teams sailing the California designed boats. Bob Bergsted sailed the SuperCat 17 even up with the Nacra 5.2, a "beach boat" pitted against what was considered to be an excellent "board boat." The SuperCat 20 was the only US designed and built boat to ever win this race.
Throughout the 1980s Bill remained active in the catamaran industry by sailing, promoting and designing new boats. In 1984 Bill started designing and developing the RC-27, a design which would set the standard for many boats well into the future. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the RC-27 set numerous records in the US and Europe. In 1989 Bill, his son Eric, and Peter Zboyan set the record for the lowest elapsed time in the Miami Key Largo race at 1 hour 44 minutes for the 42 mile course, that is an average speed of 26 knots! Bill along with his son Eric and sail maker Dave Posey also hold the record at 2 hours and 53 minutes for the 38 mile MUG Race at Jacksonville Florida.
In the early 1990s Bill teamed up with Aquarius Sail to continue production of the RC-27 and introduce the ARC-22 (introduced at that time under the SC-22 nameplate). In 1996 Bill continued his commitment to the design of high performance catamarans with the introduction of the RC-30 and in 2000 the ARC-21.
After leaving Pratt & Whitney in the early 2000’s Bill spent his days near the water designing and testing his latest sailing designs. Bill continued to race but had given up the helm to his son Eric whom he crewed for. Throughout the years Bill not only set, but raised the standard for catamaran design and sailing today. Whether it was on a SuperCat, ARC-21, ARC-22, RC-27, or RC-30, Bill helped to shape the catamaran industry over the past 40 years.
We are sad to report that Bill died peacefully in April of 2019 at his home on the St. Lucie River in Palm City, FL doing what he loved best, preparing his RC-30 for the upcoming Miami to Key Largo and Mug Races. Bill, may you always sail faster than the wind!