REVERED: Captain Jack and the Mushroom Crew

Published on March 25th, 2013

If it weren’t for email, pity the postal carrier who would have shouldered the load for comments received at Scuttlebutt World Headquarters headfollowing the passing of Jack Sutphen, as reported on March 25. We include here some clips from a column Rich Roberts did on Jack Sutphen for ‘The Log’ publication in 2005:

Regarding the Mushroom name…
“How the Mushroom came about was in Hawaii. We built three boats – Stars & Stripes ’85, ’86 and ’87 – and ’85 became my boat. Duncan Skinner, one of the sailmakers, was the mainsheet man on ’85. One day we were out there in T-shirts waiting around for Dennis [Conner] and [tactician Tom] Whidden to make up their minds on what they were gonna do, and Duncan said, ‘You know, we’re just a bunch of mushrooms. We live in the dark; we could be canned at any time.’

“So we got ashore and people kept calling each other, ‘Hi, mushroom!’ Duncan got hold of some material and made a big white flag with a mushroom. In Australia we put it up and everybody got to know us as ‘the Mushrooms’ and would wave to us.”

Nationalism in the America’s Cup…
“I feel very strong about it. When we went to Australia we had an American boat, the Italians were all Italian – so loud and yelling at each other – and at the end they came over with their Gucci shirts, and all our women … Jean was [saying], ‘Oh, God, Jack, get this shirt, get that shirt.’

“And the French … [Marc] Pajot was a nice guy. When there was a French team, an Italian team, a New Zealand team and an Australian team it was different. Every other boat you went by they’d yell at you in a language you didn’t understand. Now you can’t tell who’s on any boat.”

An Insider’s View of Dennis Conner…
“He’s very good to the people that are dedicated and loyal to him. Our crews, every time Dennis would win a Cup, he would have all the Mushrooms get on the boat to come in from the course and everybody would get thrown in the water. So you’d feel you were really a part of it, even though you never sailed in a race.”

This was written as Sutphen was being inducted into the Rolex America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Sutphen’s Mushrooms, from front to back, were Stu Silvestri, Bill Harrington and John Stanley, bow; Chris Hamilton, mast; John Sangmeister and John MacCausland, tailers; Bruce Deeter, pit; Tom Darling and John Grant, grinders; Duncan Skinner, mainsheet; Robbie Haines, tactician, and Dory Street Vogel, navigator.

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