TED HOOD 1927-2013

A twilight sun cuts though the clouds,
Shining down on wind swept seas,
Where one man forever longs to be,
Facing the wind and sailing free.

But he settles not for meaningless miles,
Fast through the waves, to his face brings a smile,
So down on his knees, to work and to sweat,
To try and to test, new ideas to perfect.

From all of this came a bird swiftly flying,
Or a fish gently gliding, and a man who belongs,
In the hearts of us all, especially mine,
For he somehow found time, to bring me along.

The sport of sailing, and the boating world at large, lost an icon over the weekend with the passing of Frederick E. “Ted” Hood on June 28. Hood, who was born in Beverly, Mass., on May 5, 1927, was a longtime member of the New York Yacht Club, joining in 1960. He was 86 years old. [Please note memorial information below]

“Ted was such an important part of the heritage of the New York Yacht Club,” said New York Yacht Club Commodore Thomas Harrington, “And he’ll be sorely missed.”

Hood, who grew up in Marblehead, Mass., was a complete sailor. He started his career as a sailmaker, and when he couldn’t find sailcloth to his standards, he built a loom and started making his own. He then branched out into yacht design and construction. He was also a remarkable innovator when it came to sailing gear and technique. He is credited with the grooved headstay, roller furling, and the dip-pole jibe, among other things. And, of course, through it all, he was a superlative skipper. His signature performance on the water was a 4-0 win in the 1974 America’s Cup, driving Courageous. But he was a dominant force in ocean racing for decades, winning races from the SORC to Marblehead Halifax, usually at the helm of one of his many boats namedRobin. His record puts him on par with any of the top skippers of his generation, or any generation. His understated, gentlemanly manner may have contributed to his accomplishments being overshadowed by those of more outspoken sailors.

“Ted Hood lived in a time when specialties were not the norm,” said New York Yacht Club Vice Commodore Rives Potts, a veteran of the 12-Metre era of the America’s Cup. “He was the most forward-thinking, the most complete yachtsman of that generation, and maybe of generations to come. Nowadays, we have guys who are excellent helmsmen, or tacticians, or bowmen or are good yacht designers or sailmakers. Or maybe a good yard manager. Ted Hood was all of those and more.”

In the mid-1980s, Hood sold his sailmaking business and focused on boat design and construction. He purchased the Melville Boat Basin, in Portsmouth, R.I., from the government and built the Ted Hood Marine Complex. Little Harbor Yachts, which he started in the 1960s, was initially a sailboat company. But as the market for sailboats softened and the demand for powerboats increased, he shifted his focus. He was among the first to embrace jet drive propulsion for power boats. He sold the company to Hinckley Yachts in 1999. Soon after he started Ted Hood Yachts, which has a broad line of ocean-going poweryachts and motorsailers.

According to a biography posted at tedhood.com, he was refining and improving his designs right into his last days.

Memorial information: In honor of Frederick E. “Ted” Hood (May 5, 1927 – June 28, 2013), the Hood family cordially invites all he has touched to a celebration of his life to be held at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court, Newport, RI on Friday, September 20 at 11 a.m. Parking at the Club may be limited; overflow parking will be available on Wellington Ave. Carpooling where possible is encouraged, as is arriving early. All are welcome to stay for refreshments and to share stories following the service.

 

MORE 1974 AMERICA’S CUP

The Bermuda Race is now history, prizes awarded, boats already on their way back. In 1970 when we won on “Carina” we arrived at Montauk the morning of the 4th of July, to the sight of a whale sounding. That night we were entertained by the fireworks at every club and town on each shore all the way to our destination, Greenwich, Ct.
“Courageous” was launched in May. History would show just how good she was. Still today a benchmark boat. The Australians arrived in Newport with “Southern Cross” a Bob Miller aka Ben Lexan design, full of progressive ideas. Her fatal flaw was probably too much wetted surface. She had long overhangs, the theory being that when heeled, waterline length increased. All the foreign boats suffered from inferior sails. It is one area where the United States excelled.
One of the stories that merits mention is the one of the helmsman of “Courageous”. Bob Bavier the skipper of name, had replaced Eric Ridder as helmsman in 1964 and was credited with the remarkable turnaround in the success of “Constellation”.  By 1974 he was no longer up to the task, “Courageous” the clearly faster boat was struggling to beat “Intrepid” a better sailed boat. Bob Bavier was replaced by Ted Hood and Dennis Connor came aboard from “Mariner” to start the boat.
Bob McCollough, close friend of Bob Bavier was the one who had to speak to his friend. This remained a bitter moment for Bob Bavier the rest of his life.

america’s cup 1977 Independence



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.