Newport


I live in Newport, RI, The bridge completed in 1969, has become an icon of sorts for Narragansett bay. The center span was being lifted into place as I was leaving for the start of the 1969 trans-atlantic race to Cork, Ireland. The photo of the bridge and the ferry must have been taken that fall.

I returned from my summer of sailing in europe having no idea what Woodstock was; one of the defining events of my generation. For me, the event that I remember was the walk on the moon, the BBC, which normally signed off at midnight, stayed on air to transmit the event, we were mid ocean, cold wet, everything was damp, huddled around the Nav station, listening to a static filled broadcast.
The other photographs show the moods of the bridge and the bay.


VERY COOL BOATS



What do Bill Hubbard, Jimmy Gubelmann, Jack Cummiskey and Stephen Lirakis have in common beyond a love of sailing? Two very cool boats. These are exact one-third scale full sailing models of the IACC class boats that competed for the America’s cup.
Where did they come from? You might notice the BMW/ORACLE logo on the bow.
27 feet long, 4 feet wide, and a draft of 5 feet. displacing 2050 pounds.(1650 pounds are the lead package) All carbon fiber, with six suits of sails. awesome.

Guinevereous Liraki



The British Museum of Natural History gave each yacht entered in the 1968 trans-atlantic race a log book asking each crew to record sightings of mammals including where,when, and under what conditions the sightings occurred. There were many sightings, I had forgotten until now, I described the porpoise in the photo, Geroge Moffett, the owner of the boat turned the log in at the end of the race. About a year later he wrote to me that the porpoise had been identified as a unique species within the family of Phocoenidae and that the Museum had attributed it the name “Guinevereous Liraki”

I have no substantiation of the story as I have long ago lost the letter.

windsurfing



I had the first windsurfer on the East coast(sail #48) and won the first New England Championships, which qualified me for the world championship held on Mission Bay, San Diego,CA.(November 1972) I finished sixth, six points out of first, tight racing. As a consequence, I became friendly with Hoyle and Diane Schewitzer;having many wonderful adventures with them. Hoyle has been credited with inventing the sport and the board.

This is a photo of me winning the New England Sunfish Championships, unfortunately I do not remember the date.

Lirakis safety Harness




The 1972 Bermuda race convinced me there was a better design for a safety harness, I am an inveterate tinkerer, always trying to improve on something. Simplicity is the key. Over the next few years I worked in my spare time on developing and refining my ideas. The first harness was sold in 1978. Shortly thereafter I left my job and started producing them full time, I continued to sail until finally the company grew to the point where I was forced to choose.

The harness was simplicity itself; which made it practical and user friendly in today’s words. It was followed shortly by the bosun’s chair, which brought the position of the bowman on a boat into the modern world. It redefined the responsibilities and activities of the man on the bow. Again it just made sense.
The Business continue to expand into many other areas, and responsibilities followed, sailing became a distant memory, but never gone.

1966




1966 the year I graduated from high school. In March of that year I traveled to Europe on a hockey team modestly called ” The United States All Stars.” A group assembled from schools principably around the Boston area. The photo taken in Sweden after our toughest match of the tour. The majority of the team went on to Harvard, and four of them signed with NHL teams.

June,1966 was my first Bermuda Race, on “Guinevere” the 48 foot alan Gurney design belonging to George Moffett. We placed well in Class. I sailed back from Bermuda on the 72 foot yawl “Katuna”
In September I postponed my entry into my freshman class in order to sail the English Speaking Union International Dragon Races. I had been loaned a boat by Archibald van Beuren.
The boat was not really competitive, however the experience was memorable.

1976 Mediterranean



Another even year, Bermuda Race time again. A new “Charisma” designed for Jessie Phillips by Sparkman&Stephens. Olin always said that Jesse was his favorite client. The Bermuda race turned out to be the worst finish I have ever tallied in my sailing career. a number of factors contributed to that.

Later that summer I joined Ted Turner in Marseille,France to once again sail the One Ton World Championships on “Pied Piper” the Peterson design that had been sailed by Lowell North and beaten us the year before. Ted ended up leaving the regatta early and Lowell appointed me the starting helmsman. We finished second for the regatta by a few feet, in the last race. regrettably I have no photos from the regatta.
A few weeks later I was aboard “Charisma” once again, for the Mediterranean Championships in Palma di Majorca ,Spain As noted in the photograph of Jesse, we won about everything there was to win. I was one of the helmsman

Fall 1975

Following Cowes Week aboard “Gitana VI” I raced the Fastnet with “Guia” belonging to Georgio Falk. “Guia” had been built for the previous Admiral’s Cup as “Ginko” a 44 foot Bob Miller/Ben Lexan design. A light fast boat, having scored well in 1973 and had won an inshore race in 1975. Again, a mixed crew of talented Italians and French, and again English was the language on Deck, except when faced with a crisis.

It was the ride back from Fastnet Rock, where this occurred, the Wind freshened, to 30 plus knots. We were scudding along at 15-17 knots; A spinnaker change was necessary, I opted to steer staying out of the language barrier problem. From here our fate took a turn for the worse; as I watched the competition shrink on the horizon ahead. Both spinnakers were wrapped around the headstay and required cutting away.
I returned to the United States, to sail the One Ton Worlds, in Newport, with Ted Turner on “Vamp” a Peterson design. A hard series, we faired well, however, being beaten by Lowell North in “Pied Piper” also a Peterson design, so Ted bought Lowell’s boat. which we sailed in the 1976 One Ton World’s. a story for another installment.

1974-1975 England

In the fall of 1974, We moved to the Isle of Wight, England, where I started work at Souter’s Shipyard, lofting and buildiing cold-moulded boats. The face at the right is of a by-gone era. I skippered a boat, the prototype of the Swan 41, called “Gunfleet of Hamble”, We were vying for a spot on the English Admiral’s Cup team. We practiced, the selection trials were fiercely competitive. Going into the final 200 mile race, we were tied for third with Yeoman, Robin Aisher’s boat. All we had to do was beat them and we were in. we could effectively ignore the other boats. The owner, got nervous and changed three of the crew, who had helped us get here, and listened to an “expert” weather consultant, claiming there would be light air all weekend. we left our heavy air sails ashore along with our steady crew. We did not make the cut.

I left shortly after that race to join “Weald” Frank Cummiskey’s Swan 48 for the trans-atlantic race from Newport to Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Shortly after the start, we encountered a strong low, 50 knots plus. We were just settling in to the conditions when our headstay came down. Sailing to Marblehead , a new headstay was installed and we restarted, managing to chase down a few competitors, however without hope of winning . Greeted along the way by the usual sea creatures.
After arriving in Cowes I joined “GitanaVI” a 66 foot S&S, belonging to Baron Edmond Rothschild, which had also taken part in the trans-atlantic race; for Cowes week racing.It was a culturally mixed crew ,comprised of Italians, French, and myself. In moment of crisis each would revert to their native language, English had been established as the language on deck. This led to some amusing moments. I should add that the food and clothes were without equal.



1974



1974 was both a Bermuda race year and an America’s cup year. I lofted and built “Courageous” US 26, designed by S&S, the last two time defender of the America’s Cup at Minneford’s Yacht Yard, in City Island,NY.The story really started in 1973.

Sailed the spring races in Long Island Sound on “Weald” a Swan 48 also designed by S&S, followed by the Bermuda Race with a crew, many of whom I still sail with today.(I believe we finished 3rd in class) Of note, our navigator for this race was Chick Larkin, a legend long before he came aboard. Not only a man of tremendous charm, but with a wonderful intuitive sense of where to place the boat on the race course. Remember this is long before GPS or Grib files.
From there I raced my first Chicago-Mackinac Race aboard “Country Woman” a Doug Peterson one tonner.
The reader will start to see a number of threads starting to appear. As many of the people I sailed with re-appear at various times in my history.