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Did 1971 Mail Order KOOL Boat Pave Way for Today’s Dynamic Carbon Sleds?

Sep 14, 2017 | Sailing, Favorites, Lifestyle

How to get your very own KOOL boat DIY KOOL boat kit to make in the backyard!

For just $88 and one KOOL cigarettes carton end flap, you can mail order your cardboard box kit. Assembly takes an hour. Hoist it onto your Buick — it is “car-toppable.” This Styrofoam sailboat glides through the smooth puffs. Get your KOOL Snark sailboat. Step aboard your 11-foot expanded polystyrene, thirty-eight inch beam and .17-foot draft beauty. She boasts a weight capacity of 310 lbs. and a hull oozing with confidence, courtesy an iron-clad “unsinkable” claim. Early versions were made of one-piece injection-molded EPS (expanded polystyrene or Styrofoam) and weighed approximately 30 lbs.

One Hull of a KOOL Boat

Successive 50 lbs. hull designs adopted a vacuum formed layer of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which later yielded to use of organic compound ASA or Acrylonitrile)* bonded over the EPS. Manufacturer Snark Products patented this cladding process (marketed to be stronger than fiberglass), labeling it Corelite; today trademarked Armorclad.

Your 1971 KOOL boat comes with a 16-page learn how to sail booklet, plus a 1975 Popular Science article extolling it to be the least expensive and lightest sailboat on the market. You get a lateen-rigged nylon sail of 45 square feet, aluminum mast, spar, boom and wooden rudder. An integral center sleeve is molded into the hull to support the removable wood dagger board.

The KOOL boat Snark sailboat was marketed heavily in various co-branding campaigns. According to the New York Times, in 1970 the Snark Kool boat outsold all other sailboats. During an 18-month period in 1971, more than 48,000 left the factory, due largely to a mail order campaign with KOOL cigarettes and sailors. By 1973 the tally had reached 200,000+ and by 1976 and the New York Times stated the company had built more sailboats than any other manufacturer (Snark estimates nearly a half million models have been manufactured since 1958).

Kool boat

KOOL Boat Success in a Cool Best Small Boat

The mail order promotion turned out to be one of KOOL’s highest scoring ads, with more than 18,000 cash orders in 1971. The campaign was repeated in 1972, this time offering a credit card payment option, and once again in 1975 with low cost boat price $139. Industry leaders recognized the campaign by bestowing a national POPI award (Point of Purchase Institute), citing it the most creative and inventive ad of 1971.

Kool boat for sailing old DIY boat kit

This Side Up Snark owner in Michigan reports that he had had this KOOL sailboat in the family for 47 years.

Kool boat Renegade Sailing

About Snark Products, Inc. Manufacturing

Snark Products, Inc. was located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The company initially outsourced the injection molding to a company in Connecticut, but later brought that operation in-house within a new Port Clinton, Ohio, plant. Snark co-founder Jim McMullen was the marketing mind behind the KOOL cigarettes campaign.

In 1972, Snark Products was sold to advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB Worldwide). DDB subsequently sold the company to San Francisco-based Kransco. In 1996, Snark was purchased by Meyers Boat Company and production moved to Adrian, Michigan.

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Tacking back around, how snarky would it be to say that KOOL was cool before carbon? When drooling over the hot new hulls, such as the Pac52 at this week’s ROLEX Big Boat Series in San Francisco maybe, just maybe, you start noticing design similarities between the two? You’ve come a long way baby in the design evolution—oh yeah, that’s a different cigarette company slogan.

Acrylonitrile is harmful to aquatic life.
KOOL is an American brand of menthol cigarette, currently owned and manufactured by ITG Brands LLC, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco Company.

Like small boats? Catch some fun on J24 boats on San Francisco Bay.