Thoughts on Hall of Fame Inductees

Published on September 28th, 2014

The eight people who make up the 2014 class of inductees into the National Sailing Hall of Fame are: Yachtsman, historian and senior statesman of the sport Henry H. “Harry” Anderson, Jr.; mathematician and navigator Nathaniel Bowditch; boat builder and U.S. Olympic Sailing Team boatwright Carl Eichenlaub; brothers Olaf Harken and Peter Harken, boat builder and sailing hardware designer; naval architect and prolific writer L. Francis Herreshoff; 1960 5.5 Metre Olympic Gold Medalist and boat builder George O’Day; and Grand Prix yachtsman John B. “Jim” Kilroy, the recipient of the NSHOF’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

Steve Taylor laments missing the ceremony:

It was with great regret that I missed the National Sailing Hall of Fame ceremony this year after having participated in the 2012 and 2013 events. This year’s induction class included three wonderful friends and colleagues for which I wanted to share a few words….

Harry Anderson, among a great many other contributions to our sport, is truly the “patron saint” of Yale Sailing, and all of us who ever sailed (or, in my case, learned to sail) at Yale owe our friend Harry a huge debt of thanks and admiration. He’s the very best, and the Yale program would not be what it has long been without him!

The Harken brothers, Peter and Olaf, may have actually made real money on blocks and parts. But they were also instrumental, in the days that they owned Vanguard, in helping those of us who raced dinghies internationally for the USA to gain traction and become truly competitive. And it likely cost them a lot.

Myself and several others at Yale had the good fortune to develop the “Club 420,” and it only took one call to Peter & Olaf to get them to build them for us (and later, for many other colleges over many years). At the same time, they custom-built International 420’s so well that the second such hull they ever made won the 420 Worlds twice and the women’s world’s in between (same boat; different teammates). A year later, quite a number of us built Vanguard 470’s with various custom enhancements for the 1976 pre-Olympic cycle; these were terrific boats as well.

Two years later, I will never forget the look on Peter and Olaf’s faces when we showed up in Pewaukee with three friends to build custom FD’s for the 1980 cycle. Each of our east coast boatbuilding pals had blond hair down to his shoulders; the rest of us were equally scruffy, blooming with ideas and self-importance, and I could see the wince in Peter’s face when we arrived.

But they nevertheless allowed us the run of their factory. We connected ductwork made of sailcloth to the master heating system to create a convection oven, and we/they then made some vacuum-bagged, honeycomb-cored epoxy FD hulls in their molds that were finished on the East Coast by our blond friends. And these boats were fast. Each bare hull weighed 76 lbs without the transom (we needed to bend the stiff hull to pop it from the mold). I’m pretty sure that, along with one MORC-sized boat from Kiwi yachts, these were the first pressure molded, epoxy/honeycomb hulls ever built in the USA.

And Peter and Olaf made it possible through their open-mindedness and devotion to the US team, no matter how weirdly we must have presented ourselves to them at the time.

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