The first taste of the adventure, and the longest race I ever sailed. 3700 miles. I sailed my first Bermuda race and my first transatlantic race aboard “Guenivere”
I am about to start my 9th transatlantic race on 7 different boats. I have sailed with a number of people as a result; and have warm memories of each race, each boat, and each and every person.
It is a fraternity that one can only join by competing.
I had news a few days ago that another of that fraternity had died. Peter Van Dyke passed away. A loss to our group.
I first met Bill when he was sailing on “Spirit” and then “New World”. Later of course during Cowes Weeks and while he was working for Jeremy Rogers. Our paths crossed less frequently as time passed; one of the last times was when Bill brought “Nancy” to the Six meter world championships in Newport, RI. god’s speed.
This is in response to those who asked:”Who are you?” It is a least a dimension.Boats have always been a part of my life. Naturally interwoven with the story of Newport.
I sailed my first Bermuda Race with Alan Gurney aboard George Moffett’s ” Guinevere”, and the 1968 transatlantic race, as well as other races. We corresponded some in the intervening years, not recently however. I am left with that feeling of one more thing I might had said or asked.
I did hear from the individual who recently purchased “Guinevere” and is in the process of restoring her. The photos he sent she looked rather sad.
EIGHT BELLS ~ ALAN P. GURNEY
By Ted Jones
Alan Gurney designed boats the old fashioned way with drafting pencil on
velum, using splines and ducks (weights), a planimeter, and a seaman’s eye.
He thought like the water through which he had sailed, in England,
transatlantic, the USA, both polar regions and much of what lay in between.
As a young lad, he would make boats out of toilet tissue (which at that
time had characteristics of waxed paper) and float them in his bath. He
spurned a career in the army to pursue a career as a yacht designer, and
ultimately moved on to an early passion, Antarctic exploration. He had
amassed an impressive collection of hundreds of photographs of every known
Antarctic penguin species.
I had the great good fortune — a privilege — to be his friend, and to
have had lunch with him frequently as he was in the process of drawing the
myriad details of what was to become “Windward Passage”, the world famous
dream boat of lumber tycoon, Robert F. Johnson. During each lunch-time
visit, I would meet Alan in his basement studio on New York’s East 54th
Street, and he would show me the most recent drawings.
Johnson had selected Gurney for the new design having been impressed by the
performance of George Moffett’s “Guinevere”, a 48 foot Jacobsen-built
aluminum yawl which had won the SORC in 1966, the second of two ocean
racers Alan had designed for Moffett. The first was a wood-built boat, the
Nantucket 38, aboard which I had the sailed in the 1964 Bermuda Race.
Later, I transferred to Humphrey Simson for whom Alan had designed a yawl
similar to “Guinevere”, the 47 foot Derecktor built “Kittiwake”, aboard
which I sailed in the 1966 SORC, Bermuda, and Transatlantic races.
“Kittiwake” did well in her class in the SORC series, overshadowed only by
Ted Turner’s legendary Cal-40, “Vamp X” which won everything in her class
that year including the Transatlantic race from Bermuda to Copenhagen.
I had met Alan Gurney in 1960 following that year’s Bermuda Race. I was a
yacht broker in the office of Tripp & Campbell in New York City when
Englishman Gurney was brought around by G. Colin Ratsey (of the English
sailmaking firm) to meet yacht designer Bill Tripp. Still only 24, Alan had
won a prestigious competition for a modern “club racer” sponsored by the
British magazine, “Yachting World” which brought him to the attention of
Chesapeake Bay yachtsman Jack Lacy for whom Alan had designed a 35 foot
sloop. While nothing came immediately of the meeting with Tripp, both
partners at Tripp & Campbell had been impressed, and when Tripp’s design
assistant resigned a short time later. The firm offered the job to Gurney
who flew back to New York to accept it. — Read on:
The transatlantic race of 1968 from Bermuda to Travemunde was my longest both in distance and time. It was 3,800 miles. George Moffett was a wonderful man, curious and interested and a fine sailor. As we approached the vicinity of “Rockall”, George said we should change course to see it, he was met by a chorus “but George we are racing”. Without missing a beat George responded ” Who knows if we will ever be here again?” I have never been in sight again, although very close by on several occasions.
In this race our times were taken at two points; at the Skagen light ship and at Fehmarn lightship. Our finish times shown on the last log entry. Many stories, of ship life and the race from other boats still hold fond memories.
In 1968 I sailed the Bermuda race and then the trans-atlantic race from Bermuda to Travemunde, West Germany aboard George Moffett’s 48 foot sloop”Guinevere”. A wonderful boat designed by Alan Gurney, probably most famous for “Windward Passage”