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.
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.
July 1984 I was invited to go to the Beaufort Sea, the western arctic by boat, a 65 foot motorsailer belonging to John Bockstoce,” Mr. Arctic.” A completely new adventure for me, non racing. Such an interesting group, I read everything I could before I joined the boat.
I have included photos of ice and whales as it is what one thinks of when speaking of the arctic, I found it to be much more.
The photo of the boat with the grave marker in the foreground, in memory of a whaler from New Bedford.
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”
When I start to write one of these entries it is more about what to exclude, as there is for me, simply too many threads,each significant in it’s own way.
It would be no surprise to anyone that the personalities play an important role in any of these tales. the boats are usually a reflection of their owners. The events selected certainly play a role.
Geroge Moffett was no exception, an exceptional sailor, one of the most natural helmsman I have ever seen. An ever curious mind.
I had sailed the 1966 Bermuda race on “Guinevere” unable to sail the trans-atlantic race that year as I had a job waiting at home.
we placed in the top of our class each time in the Bermuda Race. In the Trans-atlantic race we won our class and finished second overall. Our German hosts gave out fabulous prizes.
This was a long race,taking just over 22 days. The track took us north of Scotland across the North Sea through the Skagerrak down the Baltic, through the Danish Archipelago, finishing at Fehmarn lightship making sure we did not wander into East German water.
the photo of a rock is Rockall a few hundred miles west of Scotland.
We had a contest during the course of the race as to who was the fastest helmsman, I won, as I did in 2005
Tucou our dog, is 20 years old, I think he is actually 22, but there is disagreement about that fact. The first photo is the day he was chosen, taken from his siblings. The next is tucou today having been immortalized by my wife of 35 years in metal. Whichever age is correct, he has been such a part of our family.
1978-1979 I sailed aboard Intrepid about 100 days each season. I was the crew boss, responsible for scheduling crew as we were having tryouts. I was also the tactician, and sometime helmsman. additionally I had to make certain the boat was prepared each day.
Gerry Driscoll was the skipper, as good as I have ever sailed with. We raced France 3 again and again, Bic had visiting skippers, Bill Ficker, Lowell North and others. Gerry would quietly say to me , were do you want me to put them, He never lost a start and we failed to be first at the windward mark only once in the two seasons.
No story about yachting is complete without “Carina” belonging to the Nyes. There is probably no boat in yachting history that won more races. There were several yachts bearing the name, all belonging to the Nye family. The success was a father,son story, complementing each other perfectly.
I started sailing on the last “Carina”a 48 foot sloop built in 1969, designed by McCurdy&Rhodes. They had been tasked to design a boat that would rate well under any rule and sail fast naturally.(The rating rule was in transition and no one knew exactly what it would be, the existing CCA rule in America was being melded with the RORC rule in the rest of the world.)the boat is still winning races today.
In 1969 of 32 starts I believe there were 29 firsts, the rest were 2nd or 3rd. We won our class in the Trans-atlantic race from Newport to Cork, Ireland. From there we went on to Admiral’s Cup and were part of the winning United States team.
1970 we won the Bermuda Race. and probably the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy, give for a cumulative score based on several races, block Island race, Stamford Vineyard race, Marblehead-Halifax race.
For me the Bermuda race was pier head jump flying in from the intercollegiate national championships.
1971 we sailed the boat across the atlantic again to participate once more in the Admiral’s Cup and Fastnet race.
I only sailed those three seasons on the boat, but it’s indelible mark was with me forever.
Independence US 28, skippered by Ted Hood. I was the bowman, and responsible for the rig. Conceptually the boat was good but simply not as fast as Courageous. We arrived in Newport with a boat that was just not fast enough. A summer filled with anecdotes of the personalities involved. The last summer of real amateur america’s cup sailing. Turner was unstoppable that year, he won every contest he entered.
It may have been the last year the “America’s cup demitasse” was run. Conceived as a fun event during a layday in the America’s cup summer. Two crew from each boat raced in Dyer Dhows. Turner won, Jobson was second, I came third.
the America’s Cup Jubilee held in 2001 in Cowes, England. The Woodstock of sailing as it has been described. Was truly a remarkable event. The Royal Yacht Squadron set the standard of how to make people happy. 38 twelve meters assembled in one place for the first time ever; along with so many other fabulous boats. For those of us who love sailing it truly was the best of the best, with no end of the “eye candy”.
White Crusader and Ecosse(USA) sailing upwind. Vanity V with 5 Vargas girls spinnakers;
the crew photo is Olin Stephens with a smile from ear to ear posed with the crew of Nyala sailed by Troben Grail
Columbia, the 1958 defender in the America’s cup aboard which I sailed, in a foul tide with the cliffs of the needles in the background.
Finally a photo of a water spout with Corsica in the background. taken while sailing Columbia from Sardinia to Monaco.
the 2003 trans-atlantic race from Newport, RI to Hamburg, Germany, sailing aboard “Snow Lion” a 50 foot Nelson/Marek. The race took not quite 20 days. we had 12 days of over 200 miles a day. Our best being 275 miles in 24 hours; unfortunately for us that same 24 hour period one of our competition sailed 475 miles.
once again the fellowship that only the sea can forge was created with this fine group. It is had to cross the Atlantic with out one storm, ours was only 50 knots, as you can see we sailed with the #4 and a double reef in the mainsail, we hit our fastest recorded speed in this combination, at 26 knots.