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The first time I got in a lightweight, planing dingy, I learned two things:
The first was that in a fresh breeze on a reach when the boat jumps up on a plane-there was no MORE EXCITING experience to be had in a sailboat! The second was that after I turtled that I realized I was too old for this stuff! So the inspiration came… how to have the first experience and do away with the second.

With lots of encouragement from an enthusiastic and talented friend like Paul Keller, a master model maker, the thought of building something to suit my desires was not out of the question. The first order of business was to come up with a wish list which got refined as follows:
1) Easy and comfortable to single hand and go fast.  Doing regattas solo was a must.
2) Taking an occasional passenger without torturing them.
3) ZERO maintenance.
4) Light weight, easy to rig and launch.
5) Relatively inexpensive…. No exotic materials.
6) Racy looking…. Traditional looks are usually heavy and hard.
7) Difficult to capsize.
8) An engineered location for your “beverage” of choice.
9) To be determined...

With these set of goals, we set about the drawing board (ok, so it was a computer) doing some trial and error stuff with shapes, waterlines, wetted surfaces etc. Thinking that we had a good design, I set about cutting templates and framestations during my Christmas vacation of ‘96. With lots of help from Kenny Allen and Paul, we had the hull mold completed and the first boat sailing with a very makeshift plywood deck during April of ‘97. The first rudder and dagger-board were carved from mahogany planks and the spar was made from four pieces of aluminum, each a different diameter and stiffness. Joe Waters of Waters Sails lent us a used sail from a US I and we were proudly off sailing. Little did we know, however, that our real work had just begun.



With the makeshift deck and no floatation in the wings, every time a puff hit, the wings would act like water scoops and we would get to find out how the self bailing cockpit worked…. frequently! We entered a few regattas starting out with a 96.5 Portsmouth rating. Needless to say, our rating was not questioned. The boat was slow in light air and would fill up with water in heavy air. However, on one heavy air day on a broad reach we did see some boat speeds in the low teens. Not to be discouraged we finished our deck mold during the winter of ‘97 and added a prototype deck to our creation. With wings that would now support hiking out, we knew we had a diamond in the rough on the first test sail. We named our first creation “The Victim” because we knew what we were going to put it through.
With much mast and sail tweaking, performance and satisfaction were beginningto appear. Sail number 5 gave us better performance and now some improvements were necessary in the hull shape. Back to Paul’s shop for two weeks and “The Victim” was back in the water with more floatation in the stern and less transom drag.  Performance and stability were both improved. It was now time to test for our design criteria no. 7.  We found that the only way to capsize in light to medium air was to climb the mast several feet and pull the boat over. Once down, the hull would self right when the mast was released. Grab onto the wing and it will pull you back in too!
We were starting to finish in the money in a few regattas and things were looking very up.  At last, our rating was beginning to be questioned; a true indication that we were doing good. The last serious trial we wanted to put the design through was to try it out in some big seas. Christmas vacation of '98 provided the setting for this criterion on the Atlantic coast in Del Rey Beach, Florida. Tough duty, but someone had to do it. Launching off the beach into the surf was exciting as the breakers rolled over the boat and me. The oversized drain ports in the transom were very efficient and as the rollers passed, the boat was sailing before I was ready. I spent about three hours in five to six foot swells and in about 10 kts. of wind. It was wet and fun and the boat behaved excellently.
It was at last time to incorporate the changes learned from “The Victim” into the molds and make a “for real” boat. We added an untried change to the bow section at the same time but were confident it would be an improvement. The first hull out of the “real” molds went to Paul. He christened it “Pandora” just in time for the ‘99 Cherry Blossom Regatta in Macon, Georgia. With a new Mylar sail design from Waters Sail Loft and the new hull being some 80 pounds lighter than The Victim, the performance of the boat was pleasing to say the least.  With less than a year of sailing experience, Paul finished near the front of the fleet and scored second in the day-sailor class behind our other prototype (The Victim) Raider. The improved boat speed of Pandora however, was apparent.

 The next hull out of the mold was mine and we finished it just in time for the ‘99 Mug Race. I wish we hadn’t. Yours truly got severely T’boned by a Morgan 25 and I was out of commission for several months. The Raider survived much better than I did. Paul had it looking new within a few hours work. I wished he could have done the same for me! While I was laid up, the development went on. New carbon fiber spars and blade sections were developed that were faster and more durable than the old. More regattas were entered resulting in more complaints about the rating. This was good! We lowered it to 93.5. It was starting to be real fun! We let Yevgeniy Burmotav and Joe Waters have the next new boats for a few regattas and the results were startling. In September ‘99 we finally got a rating from US Sailing of 91.5. Mission accomplished!-John Drawe, Designer




The story continued...

In the fall of 2000, a larger mainsail and an asymmetrical spinnaker was added to the package and many other new rig innovations were incorporated during 2001.

In the fall of 2002 after hull number #25 had been built, Johannsen Boat Works of Vero Beach, Florida was chosen as the manufacturing and development facility for the Raider line. In 2003, radial cut, Mylar sails became standard equipment on all the boats.

Near disaster struck Johannsen Boat Works in late summer 2004 with the one-two punch of Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in the Vero Beach area. Luckily, there was little or no damage to the production molds and the operation was able to be restarted. In 2005, improvements continued as composite foils finished in gel-coat were added as standard.
In the autumn of 2009 with the hull count approaching 100 units, Johannsen solicited master sailor Dave Ellis to help in the re-design and development of the new Raider II series incorporating the jib. Ellis was supplied with a modified Raider and a jib furnished by Joe Waters of Waters Sails in South Carolina to undertake an extensive testing program.
Much experimenting was done with the mast rake, jib lead position, spinnaker launch and retrieval systems and blades; and after many test sails in various conditions, recommendations for changes to help the boat reach it's maximum potential were submitted by Ellis to the rest of the Raider design team. Johannsen took the hull plug to master shaper, Paul Keller, of Georgia, who reworked the bow, gave the hull more rocker and moved the dagger-board trunk forward a couple of inches to balance the jib. The result was a more balanced rig with less wetted surface and much better wave entry. More innovations were added, testing continued and by June 2010, the formal production launch of the Raider II series of boats took place. The Portsmouth rating is now down to 89.1 for the jib and spinnaker equipped boats!

In 2014, the Raider II Turbo received another upgrade; a choice of either a conventional  asymetrical spinnaker or a new furling screecher sail with Harken furler mounted on a retractable carbon fiber bow sprit. 

So whether it be the refined combination of mainsail and jib on the Raider II Sport or the spinnaker/screecher equipped Turbo operating at peak hull performance, the boat is suitable to a wide range of sailing conditions, applications and abilities.  And the Raider "team" is committed to keeping it that way!  

The Raider website is being redesigned.  Please check back soon as the story continues...

For more Information on sales or parts please contact:

John Drawe