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Fiddler's Green

Jan 1, 2003

Richard Bertram

1916-2000

Richard Howard Bertram - racer, boatbuilder and yacht broker - died on April 28, 2000, at his home in Stuart, Fla. He was born Feb. 4, 1916, in East Orange, N.J., and started sailing with his parents on Barnegat Bay. He acquired his first boat, a 15-foot sneakbox, when he was 8. At 10, he supposedly stayed up all night planning how to win his first race, and came in last. He persevered.

In 1936 and 1937, he captained intercollegiate championship boats at Cornell. By 1949 he had twice won international championships in Lightning sloops, started a small brokerage office in Miami, and begun to race bigger yachts.

In 1958, Bertram was running the foredeck aboard Vim in the America's Cup trials off Newport when he was amazed by the sight of a 23-foot power tender designed by Ray Hunt. "Knifing through those six-foot seas at 30 knots, this little 23-footer stopped every sailor in the fleet in his tracks. No one had ever seen powerboat performance to approach it," Bertram wrote.

He commissioned Hunt to design a similar deep-vee 31-foot utility boat for use around Miami. This became the historic wooden Moppie, the surprise winner of the 1960 Miami-Nassau race. She set a new course record despite conditions so rough that most boats turned back. The constant 24° deadrise proved its worth in spades. Bertram decided to use Moppie as a plug for a run of fiberglass boats, and Bertram Yacht Co. was born. "There were so damn many yachtsmen waving checkbooks at me that I had to go into business," Bertram once told a writer. Before the molds were finally retired, the company built 1,860 Bertram 31s over 16 years, and they are still prized.

Bertram sold the boatbuilding company in the mid 60s but continued both his brokerage business and racing career with much success. Under power or sail, Bertram eventually won or placed high racing Miami-to-Nassau 13 times, Newport to Bermuda 10 times, the Lipton Cup six times, transatlantic four times, and Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro twice.

Bertram will always be remembered for that first race in Moppie, when the aluminum chairs collapsed soon after the start and the crew had to stand the rest of the way. "It changed the face of yachting forever", said Jim Martenhoff, a former boating editor for the Miami Herald. "No other single event has had as great an impact on power boating as the 1960 Miami-Nassau race."

Peter Barrett

1935 - 2000

Peter J. Barrett died in his home state of Wisconsin on Dec. 17, after a two-year battle with cancer. He had distinguished himself in many aspects of sailing.

In 1957, Barrett was a member of the University of Wisconsin sailing team that won the Collegiate Championship. In 1962, he won the U.S. Single-handed Sailing Championship (George D. O'Day Trophy), and crewed for Jim Payton to win the U.S. Men's Championship (Mallory Cup).

He went on to compete in three Olympic Games. In the 1960 event in Naples, Italy, he finished 11th in the Finn class. Four years later in Tokyo, he won the Silver medal in the Finn. Then he crewed with Lowell North for a Gold medal in 1968 Star class sailed off Acapulco. During his long racing career, Barrett also won the 470 Nationals, the Finn North Americans, the C Scow Blue Chip, and the A Scow Inlands.

Barrett was a contributing editor to Yacht Racing/Cruising (now Sailing World) for many years, and he also co-designed the Aquarius 23 with Stan Miller. In the early 60s, he became manager of North Sail's Newport Beach, Calif., loft; a decade later he became executive vice president of the company and returned to his home waters in Pewaukee, Wis. After 10 years helping to make North a dominant and worldwide company, Peter switched gears and became a professor of business and accounting at the University of Wisconsin.

Boats.com quoted Peter Harken as saying: "Every right-minded parent would want their kid to emulate Peter Barrett on how to win against all odds without sponsorship, earn it yourself, do it yourself, and how to live and treat your fellow man during and after your quest for success.

Patrick Royce

1922 - 2000

Patrick Royce was born in Casper, Wyo., far from the sea he came to love. His father was the last U.S. Marshal of the Wyoming Territory, perhaps the final vestige of the Wild West.

Royce struck out for New York City to pursue a career as a technical artist, with mixed results. During World War II, he was called to Naval Headquarters in Washington to illustrate training manuals for sailors - sometimes illiterate- who handled cannon shells and bombs.

Back in NYC after the war, Royce tried to get work as a magazine illustrator. Supposedly one publisher told him, "I could find artists on the street with better illustrations, but I do like the marine artwork. It's different. Now stop wasting my time and yours." Royce and his wife Hilda eventually heeded that advice and published the first Royce's Sailing Illustrated in 1956. This led to a long career in marine publishing, along with a boating life in Southern California.

Royce's Sailing Illustrated, written and illustrated with humor and exuberance, has been through many editions and is still in print. The Royce's Powerboating Illustrated is also still in print. Innumerable boaters have built and broadened their knowledge with these books.

John Westerbeke

1910-2000

On May 8, John H. Westerbeke died in Squantum, Mass., at the age of 90. Up until the week before he died he had maintained his normal work schedule of four days per week at the Westerbeke Corp. in Avon, Mass. Westerbeke was instrumental in popularizing diesel engines for small boats. We asked contributing editor Chuck Husick for comments on how Westerbeke developed diesel technology:

"It may seem a long time ago to most of us, but as recently as the late 1930s many marine diesel engines more closely resembled a steam engine than what we know as a diesel. They were large, very heavy (often weighing 60 or more pounds per horsepower) and ran very slowly, with a top speed often less than 100 rpm. Their low speed allowed the engine to directly drive a massive, often five-foot-diameter, prop. With no gearbox or clutch, reversing the engine was accomplished as in a steam engine. The engine was stopped, the valve gear shifted, and the engine restarted to turn in the opposite direction. Starting was accomplished by blowing compressed air into the cylinder from a pressure reservoir kept filled by an engine-driven air compressor. Often, the pre-heat system consisted of some kerosene-soaked cotton waste, placed in a small, bowl-like depression in the top of the cylinder head, set alight with a match.

"In the 1930s John H. Westerbeke was captain of the trawler Vagabond, out of Boston, fishing the Grand Banks. His boat was powered by one of these slow-turning, direct-reversing diesel engines. He was aware of the new, for the time, relatively fast-turning diesels that were beginning to be used for various landside purposes. Equipped with gearboxes to reduce their seemingly very high operating speed to a more useful level, they produced as much power as the engine on his boat, but they were far smaller and lighter. A smaller engine translated into more useful room on the boat. Westerbeke took hold of the idea of making the fast-turning engine useful in the marine world and created the Westerbeke Company, a pioneer in the application of diesel power to numerous maritime applications."

The Westerbeke Corp. is now under the direction of his grandson, Robert Westerbeke.

Samuel Merrick

1914-2000

Samuel V. Merrick died on April 17, 2000, in Medford, N.J. He had competed in one-design sailboat races since 1926, and in 1984 led the U.S. to its best showing ever in Olympic yachting.

Merrick was trained as an engineer and lawyer, and made a career in labor and Congressional relations. He retired in 1977 and became the unsalaried director of the United States Olympic yachting committee.

His efforts for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow ended when the U.S. decided to boycott those games. Merrick persevered, and brought a team to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics that he thought could win medals in six of the seven boat classes. They outdid his expectations, winning medals (three gold and four silver) in every class. Merrick was later awarded the Nathaniel G. Herreshoff Trophy for his Olympic work.

Merrick's enthusiasm for one design racing was honed in Solings, Thistles, and E Scows, which he raced year-round all his life. Buddy Melges beat Merrick for a place on first Olympic Soling team in 1972. Years later, Melges got another look at Merrick's competitiveness. He told The Washington Post: "Merrick invited me to race with him one day. He hopped around his Soling like a man half his age. He sailed every Sunday through the winter, he said, and grew enraged whenever archrival Stuart Walker slipped by for a win." At the time, Merrick was 71 and Walker 62.

Stanley Ogilvy

1913-2000

Charles Stanley Ogilvy, who raced and wrote about racing when not employed as a mathematics professor, died on June 21, 2000, at his home in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Ogilvy said he was "a water rat from the start," growing up on the shores of Long Island Sound near New Rochelle. When other boys were learning baseball, he started as crew on a Star boat. He continued to race Stars for more than 30 years, placing third in the hotly contested world championship of 1949, and winning North American and Austrian championships. He then moved up to Etchells 22s, in which he competed primarily at the Larchmont Yacht Club, where he was a member for 62 years and the official historian. Ogilvy taught at Hamilton College for 20 years, and wrote several books on mathematics.

Ogilvy wrote three books on one-design racing, Successful Yacht Racing, Thoughts on Small Boat Racing, and Win More Sailboat Races. John Rousmaniere said the books, published from 1952 to 1977, were characterized by "their affection for the sport, graceful expression, rigorous analysis, and extreme generosity with ideas for racing success that many other sailors would have regarded as proprietary." Ogilvy even ventured to suggest that winning is not everything. "As soon as the importance of winning the race takes command, the sun is blotted out, the black clouds descend, and before you know it you are wearing an angry scowl and can see no farther than the bow of the boat, if that far," he wrote.

The Etchells Class created the C. Stanley Ogilvy Award for the top skipper more than 50 years of age at the world championship.

GAY LYNN

1937-2000

Gay Stirling Lynn of Newport and Abaco passed away on July 25, 2000, in Boston. She was one of the first women to be recognized as an International Sailing Judge and Umpire, and was also a pioneer advocate for accessibility to sailing by the disabled.

Lynn enjoyed crewing for her husband, William Harcourt Lynn, aboard Stars and Etchells in the 50s and 60s. Together they raced in many regattas including the Etchells World Championship and Cowes Week. In the 70s and 80s, Gay moved into the management part of the sport, serving as executive secretary of the Etchells Class Association and as vice president of the United States Sailing Association.

In the 90s, Lynn served as a judge for many of the world's biggest events, including the Star Worlds and Key West Race Week. At the time of her death, she was a juror at the Rolex IMS World Championship in Newport.