About the Inventor: Pete Estrup
Peter Estrup was born and raised in Manatee County Florida, and lived most of his life on the waterfront of Floridas’ west coast. He worked as head building engineer with a large development company during the building boom of the 1970s and supervised a variety of projects, including bridges, restaurants, and large multi-story condominiums.
Pete Estrup had experience with boats of all types, having worked as a commercial fisherman “on and off “ since he was a boy. Around 1980 he shifted his interest to commercial fishing. He knew that there was money to be made supplying grouper and snapper to the many seafood restaurants in the area and around the country. He understood that traveling hundreds and even a thousand miles for two weeks at a time on an offshore fishing trip in a large traditional motorboat took a lot of fuel and it was not unusual to have a fuel bill of over $1,000.00 per trip. This cost was greatly reducing the profits of the trip.
These modifications to their basic hull design and his successful venture commercial fishing attracted the interest of the CSY Company. They asked Pete to work with them to develop a production version of his sailing commercial fishing boat. The result of these meetings between CSY and Pete was the “Bottom Line 44” production series fishing sailboat produced by CSY. Many of these boats were made, and many are still successfully operating as commercial fishing boats.
It was these sailing fishing boat experiences that encouraged the creative thinking that led to the conception and develop of the Balanced Rig™. The many sheets and rigging wires of the sloop rig were continually fouling the fishing gear. This complicated the hook and line fishing operations. After a hard time offshore Pete would come in saying there has to be a better, easier way to sail. On trips offshore he pondered this problem for weeks at a time . He made sketches, read books on sailing theory and design and arrived at his unique idea for rigging sailing boats, the Balanced Rig™.
During this period of time he started a long lasting relationship with Joan Bergstrom. Joan was recently divorced from Lars Bergstrom who was famous worldwide as a sailboat designer and sailing theory expert. He was best known for his work with Sven Ridder who was his partner in B&R Designs. B&R Designs developed many original sailboat and sailboat equipment designs. They were best known as the inventors of the ”Windex”, wind direction indicator. Because of her more than 10 years as the wife of a world famous sailboat designer and inventor, Joan recognized the value of a new unique idea that would make sailing simple, easier and safer.
Joan and Pete worked together for several years developing small prototypes of the Balanced Rig™. These rigs were put in many small sailboats: Lasers, Butterfly scows, proas, and other boats were retrofitted with the Balanced Rig™ and all of them performed extremely well. During this time many expert sailors looked at the new rig, sailed it, and confirmed the excellent sailing characteristics and unique qualities of the rig.
In 1986, Joan Bergstrom and Pete Estrup attended a conference in New London, Connecticut on the Safety of Sailboat Design, where Estrup met with the guru of sail theory, Tony Marchaj. When he saw photos of the Balanced Rig under sail, he said. “It is fine to see that a Viking (Pete was of Danish descent) has finally reinvented an efficient square-sail.” Due to the success of the test boats and encouraged by the positive response of some world famous sailors, Joan Bergstrom and Peter Estrup worked together to obtain a patent for this new rig. The US Patent for the balanced rig was granted in 1990.
After enjoying his years to the fullest all of his life, Pete and Joan Bergstrom took time out to cruise the Western Caribbean in his sailboat the “Odyssey.” His final days were spent tinkering with the Balanced Rig™ prototypes, building houses of his own design, cruising the Caribbean with his long time girl friend Joan Bergstrom, spending time with his daughter Lorna Yankee, and playing with his grandchildren. In 1991 Pete Estrup died of a heart attack at the age of 49 years old.
After over 15 years of testing, the Balanced Rig™ continues to prove that it is a good solution to traditional sailing problems. It is also a fitting testament to the creative mind of one man, Captain Peter Estrup.
Estrup’s creative solution was to retrofit a 44 ft. CSY sailboat for “commercial long line fishing” for grouper and snapper. This creative move cut his fuel cost to 1/5 the normal cost, due to the efficiency of a designed displacement hull with a small Perkins 80 hp diesel engine. The main salon area of the boat was converted to a large ice hole. The forward area was used for crew quarters and equipment supply area, and the aft compartment was the Captain’s quarters with an enclosed “wheel house” over the cockpit. After successfully fishing the 44 ft. CSY as a motorboat, Pete decided to add a traditional sloop rig. This plan served two purposes. First it cut the fuel cost even more, to less than 1/10th the usual cost on traditional grouper fishing boats. On some trips, the motor was used only to come into the port and to dock the boat. Second, the motor sailor was safer because if the motor broke, you could always sail in. If there was no wind, you could motor in.