Author: Tom Darling

Racing

College Sailing Goes Offshore – 1928 to 2024

By Tom Darling

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Keelboat racing was the original form of intercollegiate sailing. From the McMillan Cup, first sailed in 1928 and formalized in 1930 as a quasi-national championship for college big boat crews, sprung a small number of spinoff events like the Kennedy Cup. Focused on the larger offshore keelboat fleets of the service academies, this form of intercollegiate big boat sailing was mega one-design competition. In the 1970s, that offshore schedule expanded with events like the Corinthians, rebranded in…

Conversations with Classic Boats

A Champion Forever

By Tom Darling

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Betsy Alison and 38 Years in Modern Women’s Sailing By Tom Darling, Conversations with Classic Boats In last month’s WindCheck, we interviewed our old friend and Princeton classmate Marilee Allan. From a Southern California sailing family, Marilee anchored the team that won the 1974 Women’s Intercollegiate Championship and went on to win them through 1977. She was a pioneer who along with her Newport Beach neighbor, the late Nina Nielsen, were the first female inductees into the…

Community

Marilee Allan: Women’s College Sailing Pioneer

By Tom Darling

Women racing sailboats isn’t new. The picture on the cover of Mystic Seaport Museum’s book on women and boating, On Land and On Sea, depicts the wife of an English lord at the helm of a massive J boat. In barely two generations from that time, women’s sailing has catapulted to an international sport across hundreds of countries. In the next two issues, we’ll present a few moments in time over the last fifty years of women’s…

Yachting History

Club Classic Keelboats: From the NY 40 to the Ideal 18

By Tom Darling

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In the Gilded Age, gentlemen sailors looked to designers like Herreshoff, Crane and Burgess for their custom sailing yachts. As the 20th century unfolded, however, a new age design emerged, that of the semi-custom keelboat, purchased by like-minded sailors interested in competing in fleets as one-designs. We call it the “Club Classic Keelboat.” The idea of designing a boat to a single design or class was a 20th century phenomenon. When young Clinton Crane was commissioned in…

Yachting History

A Busman’s Tour of this Summer’s Boating Museums

By Tom Darling

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By Tom Darling, Conversations with Classic Boats I have been accumulating my travel notes over the past six months of crisscrossing New England and present this Baedeker of my favorite nautical museum venues present and future. These collections are as classic as their contents. From the 2022 opening of The Sailing Museum in Newport, RI to the exciting prospect of a dramatic new home for the watercraft collection of the Mystic Seaport Museum, there has never been…

Community

Maverick Marketing: Bob Johnstone Writes the Book

By Tom Darling

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I recently had a gam with the co founder of J Boats, the company that launched 16,000 boats beginning 1977. I listened to him spin me the history behind his dedication to performance boating. I knew that already. But how many 80-somethings write a memoir and go on the road to promote it? He is Bob Johnstone, and he is a brand new author. His book is a memoir called Maverick Marketer: Time to Get Creative. Published…

Conversations with Classic Boats

A Modern Classic: The Cal 40 Turns Sixty

By Tom Darling

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  There are always boats that have stuck in our mind; some for their size and speed, some just for the impression that they made on you the sailor at a time in your boating life. Some of those boats have had an enviable and remarkable lifespan. For me, one of those boats was Illusion, the Cal 40 from Larchmont, pitch black. The black Cal 40, a Left Coast design that transported to the East in overnight…

Classic Conversations

Classic Conversations: Dave Perry

By Tom Darling

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With Conversations with Classic Boats, “the Podcast that Talks to Boats,” in its fourth seasons, we listened to our focus group. They were calling for conversations with famous people. We obliged. For Episode 1 of the Classic Conversations Sailors Log, we recruited the ever-optimistic Dave Perry, back on the circuit giving his well-known live shows on the Racing Rules and heading to France in 2024 as Rules Advisor to the U.S. Olympic Team. We caught up with…

Community

Sixes in Seattle: The Search for the Lost Fleet

By Tom Darling

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A century ago, the establishment of a U.S.-UK challenge, the British American Cup (“BAC”) brought with it a golden age of innovative racing keelboat design. In our 2021 Conversations with Classic Boats series on the development of the Six Metre, we marked the BAC as an inflection point in modern yacht racing. The BAC was a challenge in 1921: You designed a boat to the International Six Metre rule (then virtually unknown in the U.S.). Each side…

Community

Hudson River Ice Yachting History

By Tom Darling

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Our Hardwater Sailing President By Tom Darling, Conversations with Classic Boats Who would have thought that the 32nd President of the United States, a known yachtsman, honed his skills in hardwater sailing on the Hudson River. In fact, Franklin Delano Roosevelt followed in a long family tradition of ice yachting.     Records at the FDR National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York tell the story of the active ice yachting scene on the Hudson in…

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